The Grammy Awards is known as a time to recognize “Outstanding Achievement in the music industry.” For music’s biggest night, the music industry comes together to celebrate the achievements of musical artists from the past year. However, Black artists’ work is often overlooked.
Despite Black artists continuing to create the blueprint for the music industry, time and time again they are robbed of the recognition they deserve at the award show.
The Grammys have historically boxed out Black artists from its big four categories: Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year.
During Black Music Month, we’re recognizing a few of the many Black musicians who have innovated, genre-bended, and/or shifted American culture, yet were snubbed on music’s biggest night.
Here are some of the Black artists that didn’t receive the flowers they deserved on the Grammy stage.
In 2013, the band Fun. snagged the Grammy award for Best New Artist leaving Frank Ocean snubbed. While their Some Nights album included the hit song “We Are Young,” the group proved to be a one-hit-wonder and vanished from the industry shortly thereafter. Compare that to Ocean’s Channel Orange, which is arguably already become a classic, and one is left wondering how the Grammys chose Fun. over Ocean who brought a whole new sound to the game.
The conscious rapper has been overlooked on the Grammy stage multiple times. In 2014, Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City was robbed of Best Rap Album with a win from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The category that year was stacked with Drake’s Nothing Was The Same, Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, and Kanye West’s Yeezus, but somehow the white artists walked away with the trophy.
Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly also lost the Grammy’s top accolade of Best Album to Taylor Swift’s 1989 in 2016. Although there’s no denying Swift’s greatness as one of the greatest modern-day pop stars, Lamar received over 11 nominations for TPAB, an album considered to have shifted the culture, but wasn’t awarded in one of the big four categories.
Beyonce’s Lemonade loss at the 2017 ceremony still stings in the minds of many. 25 by Adele won Album of the Year leaving music fans stunned by the Grammys’ failure to recognize Beyonce’s creative masterpiece. That night she faced multiple snubs including Best Pop Solo Performance for “Hold Up,” Best Rock Performance for “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Freedom,” and Record and Song of the Year for “Formation.”
Deemed one of the Grammy’s worst offenses, The Weeknd was nowhere to be found on the 2020 nominee list despite the chokehold “Blinding Lights” had on the nation. Songs from the After Hours album were played in countless commercials and on every radio station yet the Grammys failed to award The Weeknd’s 2020 domination.
Nicki Minaj has received 10 Grammy nominations but has zero wins to her name. Rap’s “Barbie” was most notably robbed of Best New Artist in 2012 — Bon Iver took home the award. In 2020, Nicki slammed Grammys for repeatedly overlooking her accomplishments.
“Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my best new artist award when I had 7 songs simultaneously charting on billboard & bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade- went on to inspire a generation. They gave it to the white man Bon Iver,” the rapper tweeted.
Black artists continue to make the greatest contributions to music, despite not always receiving awards to show for it.