Drake Cements the Grammys’ Irrelevance

The 61st annual Grammy Awards didn’t kick off so much as they sputtered into gear. In the show’s opening performance, Camila Cabello, the Fifth Harmony alumna, served up just enough razzle dazzle to prep audiences for the still-transcendent Ricky Martin. Katy Perry reached desperately for a broad range of notes during a later tribute to Dolly Parton, only to be outshined by the legendary country star’s goddaughter, Miley Cyrus. And Alicia Keys, first as the show’s host and later as a performer, was flatter than the hair she hid under an ill-advised scarf.

But just about halfway into the lethargic ceremony, a black turtleneck-clad Aubrey Drake Graham shook things up when he accepted his second career Grammy for Best Rap Song. There was no awkward declaration of affection for Rihanna, no heartfelt recounting of his own bar mitzvah. Instead, the rapper took an unexpectedly condemnatory tone when speaking about the industry that’s catapulted him to success and about the Grammys as an institution.

After he sauntered onstage to receive the trophy for “God’s Plan,” the rapper commingled critique of the Recording Academy and affirmations to fellow artists and at-home audiences: “We play an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport,” he said. “This is a business where sometimes it’s up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada has to say, or a fly Spanish girl from New York,” referencing the Bronx-born Dominican and Trinidadian American rapper Cardi B, who performed earlier in the show.

Prior to the rapper’s speech, no artists at the ceremony addressed the industry’s failures to reward the commercially and critically successful work of female musicians and artists of color in its broadest categories. The only meta references to the institution itself came in tonally awkward segments: Early into the show, Keys led a bizarre tribute to the concept of music itself, a Hail Mary that managed to be weak and unconvincing despite several remarks from former First Lady Michelle Obama.

The broadcast cut to commercial before Drake could finish his remarks, but the speech still marked a notable departure from the artist’s congenitally jovial awards show presence—and a clear sign of further artist divestment from the annual ceremony. But even prior to his onstage critique of the Grammys’ arbitrary mechanism of celebrating artists, Drake had already joined a slew of musicians who declined to perform at the ceremony.

Source:: The Atlantic – Culture


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