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From Cardi B to Drake, a night of come-ups, curves and side-eyes — The Undefeated

From Cardi B to Drake, a night of come-ups, curves and side-eyes — The Undefeated

No. Question.

Greatest acceptance speech goes to Drake. In a surprise appearance, he picked up a trophy for greatest rap track (“God’s Plan”) in individual. He additionally delivered some robust words to the Recording Academy (formerly the National Affiliation of Recording Arts and Sciences, or NARAS) about past Grammy snubs.

“We play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport. It is not the NBA.” — Drake

“Know we play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport,” Drake stated. “It is not the NBA. … This is a business where sometimes it is up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed-race kid from Canada has to say … or a brother from Houston … my brother Travis. You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you are a hero in your hometown. If there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here, I promise you. You already won.” Nice. He was, although, like so many, reduce off earlier than completing his remarks.

In the days earlier than the beleaguered present, which inched up in scores last night, there was a lot of social conversation about how the Grammys will not be and haven’t traditionally been welcoming to black individuals and individuals of shade.

So when it was reported by The New York Occasions just days earlier than Sunday’s telecast of the Grammy Awards at Los Angeles’ Staples Middle that three of hip-hop’s largest superstars — Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Childish Gambino — had turned down the opportunity to carry out at this yr’s show (Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift chose not to attend as properly), the message was quite conspicuous, especially on the heels of current Tremendous Bowl halftime performance anxieties.

Photograph by Kevin Mazur/Getty Photographs for The Recording Academy

“When they don’t take home the big prize, the regard of the academy, and what the Grammys represent, continues to be less meaningful to the hip-hop community, which is sad,” Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich advised the Occasions. Indeed, a hip-hop act has not gained the much-coveted album of the yr trophy since Outkast for their sensible 2003 double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Under. In the 61-year run of the Recording Academy’s celebration of musical excellence, the distinguished album of the yr has been gained by black artists solely 12 occasions, and, while he is little question a beloved genius, Stevie Marvel is single-handedly liable for three of those wins: Innervisions (1974), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1975) and Songs within the Key of Life (1977). So sure, there was a lot drama heading into the ceremony.

What we quickly found, amongst other revelations, was that 15-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys ought to be given the perpetual reins to host the getting older music awards present, much in the same means Billy Crystal did for the Oscars. She was that good, people. Also: Chloe x Halle, the sister duo who gave a pitch-perfect tribute to Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack with “Where Is the Love,” have a transformative cowl album within them. Beyoncé and Jay-Z have been nowhere to be found at music’s largest night to acquire their award for greatest city modern album for All the things Is Love. Yet, whereas there were some grand moments in black excellence, the Grammys still have critical work to do.

A second of Michelle Obama magic

Photograph by Kevin Mazur/Getty Pictures for The Recording Academy

“From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side …” That’s how she began. Perpetually first woman Michelle Obama’s surprise appearance on the Grammys was so surreal that even the opposite legendary ladies who stood alongside her — Woman Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Keys and Jennifer Lopez — have been overwhelmed.

But Obama was immediately drowned out by applause from the gang. “All right, you all, all right, we got a show to do,” she stated with a smile. And but the statement of ladies’s power was just the start. Viewers witnessed a report 31 wins by ladies recording artists and a sharp acceptance speech by greatest new artist Dua Lipa, who took a dig at outgoing academy president Neil Portnow, who as soon as said that female artists should “step up” throughout last yr’s ceremony. Calling it an honor “to be nominated alongside so many incredible female artists this year,” she jabbed, “I guess this year we really stepped up.” Ouch.

It’s Cardi’s world

Cardi B continued her fairy-tale run, snatching up rap album of the yr for her boss platinum debut Invasion of Privacy, thanking her daughter, Kulture, in addition to her husband, Offset of the Migos. “I’m sorry,” the Bronx, New York, rap queen stated, earlier than joking, “I just, oh, the nerves are so bad. Maybe I need to start smoking weed.” Cardi B turned the primary solo lady to ever win the category and introduced the house down together with her piano-driven, chest-beating 808 anthem “Money.” Rocking immaculate black peacock feathers and surrounded by a military of flapper-era dancers, Cardi earned a well-deserved standing ovation for her 1920s-inspired nod to Josephine Baker.

However Cardi B’s massive night was almost overshadowed by a tweet from Ariana Grande, who posted the phrase “trash” together with some stinging expletives because the rapper beat out the singer’s ex-boyfriend, significantly missed late hip-hop star Mac Miller. Grande, who gained her first Grammy for greatest pop vocal album, shortly deleted the tweet. Cardi B, nevertheless, responded on Instagram.

Woman Gaga turns it up to 11

The first award of the night went to an emotional Woman Gaga, whose “Shallow” duet with actor Bradley Cooper gained greatest pop duo or group efficiency.

Photograph by Emma McIntyre/Getty Pictures for The Recording Academy

And then music’s most earnest ham, clad in a glittery jumpsuit, reworked “Shallow” into a ’70s area rock exercise.

However can you play?

Photograph by Lester Cohen/Getty Photographs for The Recording Academy

Janelle Monáe got here out strapped … with a guitar. Inside her lustful “Make Me Feel” have been echoes of the Purple One, Prince. But Monáe was not alone in her throwback musician bliss. Singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes started out on piano and then switched to guitar. A assured Ne-Yo tickled the ivories as properly throughout an otherwise practice wreck of a Motown tribute (extra on that later). Submit Malone strummed an acoustic guitar on his somber “Stay” earlier than joining the Purple Scorching Chili Peppers as if he’s already counting down to the moment he’s completed enjoying on the hip-hop aspect of the tracks. But there was another artist who flexed probably the most spectacular talent of the whole night.

A star is born

Photograph by Lester Cohen/Getty Pictures for The Recording Academy

Imagine Lalah Hathaway jamming with Prince Rogers Nelson while sporting cooler-than-cool shades. That’s the easiest way to describe the music of singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist and all-around badass H.E.R. The enigmatic newcomer not solely gained two awards, together with greatest rhythm and blues album for her self-titled EP, she gave perhaps the night’s most dynamic present with the empowering “Hard Place.” Her seemingly easy soulful vocals have been backed by her cracking band — and violinists. And H.E.R. even shredded a translucent guitar, bringing the gang to its ft.

Childish Gambino has the last snigger

Infantile Gambino was a Grammys no-show. However that didn’t stop the renaissance man from taking residence two of the most important awards of the night for “This Is America,” his surreal and sneering indictment of gun violence and institutional racism. Infantile Gambino, who sarcastically appeared in a Grammy ad for Google’s Playmoji, turned the primary hip-hop star to win report of the yr and track of the yr.

Dolly, Diana and Aretha

Three of music’s most revered figures acquired well-deserved tributes. For country music crossover goddess Dolly Parton, who was joined onstage by Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Little Huge City and the night’s different huge winner, Kacey Musgraves, it was yet one more reminder that past her bubbly, self-effacing picture, Parton is a sensible songwriting machine defying genres. Simply take a look at her string of classics, including “Jolene,” “Here You Come Again,” “9 to 5” and her 1974 gem “I Will Always Love You,” which was given new life when Whitney Houston’s definitive cover turned one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Photograph by Emma McIntyre/Getty Photographs for The Recording Academy

An all the time regal Diana Ross, floating via in a flowing purple gown whereas celebrating her 75th birthday, moved the audience after a too-cute introduction by her 9-year-old grandson, Raif-Henok Emmanuel Kendrick. “Young people like me can look up to her for her independence, confidence and willingness to be her unique self,” he stated, beaming. “She has shown the world that nothing is beyond our reach. So, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my grandmommy, Diana Ross.”

And that was an understatement. Ross launched into “The Best Years of My Life” and her solo signature basic “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” imploring the gang to “don’t be lazy” and to get up. With 70 hit singles and a string of main function movie roles — together with her haunting, Oscar-nominated 1972 portrayal of Billie Vacation in Woman Sings the Blues — Ross is the template for Houston, Janet Jackson, Lil Kim, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé.

Finally, the late, great Aretha Franklin was celebrated with a rousing tribute by powerhouses Yolanda Adams, Andra Day and Fantasia for a once-in-a-lifetime efficiency of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Some viewers balked at the concept of Franklin receiving only one track as tribute. “I’m sorry,” stated one poster. “Aretha Franklin is one of the most if NOT the most decorated, talented, influential artists in the history of music. The Grammys gave her a ONE song tribute. Trash #Grammys.” Mood.

Berry Gordy Weeps

When it was first introduced that Lopez can be participating in a Motown tribute, the information was met with bewilderment and jokes from the Black Twitter contingent. But to the astonishment of viewers, Jenny From the Block wasn’t merely a supporting participant in an already questionable production, she was the star garnering extra stage time than the aforementioned Ne-Yo and Smokey Robinson. JLo proved it’s certainly attainable to lip-sync off-key as she stumbled via such Motown hits as “Dancing in the Street,” “My Girl” and “Please Mr. Postman.”

Free 21 Savage!

Fifteen-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys must be given the perpetual reins to host the growing older music award present. She was that good.

There have been no loud shout-outs or words of encouragement for the British-born Atlanta native from his fellow rappers. 21 Savage continues to be being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers for failing to depart beneath the terms of his nonimmigrant visa. Travis Scott made no point out of his collaborator during his efficiency of “Stop Trying to Be God” and the riotous “No Bystanders.” Submit Malone, who partly owes the immense success and the swagger of his career-making single “rockstar” to 21 Savage, apparently wore a 21 Savage T-shirt but was additionally silent. The first mention of 21 Savage was made by Swedish “This Is America” producer Ludwig Göransson, who warmly said, “He should be here.”

And album of the yr goes to …

Associated Tales

Country singer-songwriter Musgraves, whose Golden Hour picked up the highest prize. No diss to Musgraves, a gifted voice who will shine for years to come. However for the Grammys, it was yet one more telling reminder that black art continues to be ignored in probably the most coveted classes.

Tell the Grammys f— that 0 for 8 s—, Jay-Z rhymed on “Apes—” in response to the academy nominating his sensible four:44 for eight awards in 2018. He left with no statuettes.


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The last black act to win album of the yr was celebrated jazz pianist Herbie Hancock in 2008, and that was for the star-studded Joni Mitchell tribute album River. Since then, Swift has gained the trophy twice, Adele beat out Beyoncé’s monumental 2016 Lemonade and Bruno Mars gained in 2018 for 24Okay Magic, his love letter to Teddy Riley’s new jack swing. It’s a frustration that Prince knew all too properly: His genre-busting 1987 double album Signal o’ the Occasions lost to U2’s The Joshua Tree.

“I don’t go to awards shows anymore,” Prince stated in a 1990 Rolling Stone interview. “I’m not saying I’m better than anybody else. But you’ll be sitting there at the Grammys, and U2 will beat you. And you say to yourself, ‘Wait a minute. I can play that kind of music, too. … I know how to do that, you dig? But you will not do ‘Housequake.’ ”

Grammys … do higher.

Keith “Murph” Murphy is a senior editor at VIBE Journal and frequent contributor at Billboard, AOL, and CBS Native. The veteran journalist has appeared on CNN, FOX Information and A&E Biography and can also be the writer of the lads’s way of life e-book “Manifest XO.”

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