Words by Roman White
Jay-Z came into the 60th Grammy Awards last night with 21 Grammy Awards on his shelf. So lauded with awards and accolades for his music, the emcee has joked that he let’s his babygirl Blue Ivy use the golden gramophone as a sippy cub. And so, it would seem he might not care about winning another one. It might seem like any Grammy Hov might have taken away from Kendrick Lamar or Bruno Mars last night, would’ve been a footnote in his more than twenty year career — But nothing could be further away from the truth. Everyone wants another Grammy… and despite his cool demeanor, it certainly appeared that Jay did also.
Jay did not win any of the awards he was nominated for and the question is “why?” There are many possible explanations for the Grammy snub (more than other the fact that according to many the other records were simply better than Jay-Z efforts in 2017).
The rapper Jay-Z is no longer the “Money, Cash, Hoes” Jay-Z who in 1998 won his first Grammy for Best Rap Album with Hard Knock Life Vol. 2. Since then, he has changed in a number of ways. He is a husband and a father of three. He is approaching his 50s. His net worth is nearly in the billions. He is just different. He also doesn’t hustle in the streets any more… and his music doesn’t glamorize the hustle. He is “old”. Not old in the sense of corny… he ain’t never been corny. Old in the sense of mature; spitting lyrics that only people over 35 can relate to … and while he is a force and a mogul… he just ain’t “that guy.”
The fire that Jay-Z was in the late 90’s, Kendrick Lamar is now in 2018. Kendrick relates to this younger generation the same way the Jay relates to his own demographic – and last night officially ushered in a new era of hip-hop that belongs to the Compton rapper, and his five Grammy wins over Jay-Z are proof of that.
Kendrick started the night winning three pre-telecast Grammy’s for Best Music Video, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance with his hit song “Humble.” As a collective, 4:44 was a controversial project, the song “4:44” and “The Story of OJ” aren’t singles from the project that are comparable to the popularity of Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.”
Right now, Kendrick is in the prime of his career – and to release a song like “Humble” which sent hip-hop into a frenzy upon its release — it is hard not to award a track like that with a Grammy especially against a track like “The Story of OJ” which speaks specifically to a certain group, whereas fans of all backgrounds can fully comprehend and enjoy the fun lyrics Kendrick presents in the Mike Will Made It produced track.
This also applies to the Best Music Video award as well. In the thought provoking, controversial visual for “The Story of OJ” Hov uses animated depictions of black people that are considered racially insensitive with the curvy women and big lipped, watermelon eating male character, Jaybo – again speaking to a specific audience. Kendrick’s visual for “Humble” is more fun to watch with the woman with stretch marks twerking, and the group of bald men in matching black shirts nodding to the beat and all the other seemingly random cuts from this video that just seem to work for the masses who enjoy hip-hop as opposed to stoking controversy as Jay did.
Jay’s best hope for scoring a Grammy came in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category. “Family Feud” featuring Beyonce was nominated, but lost to Kendrick Lamar’s “Loyalty” featuring Rihanna. Kendrick deservingly cleaned up in the Rap category because he simply made music that this generation wants to hear, as opposed to the father-like lecture that Jay-Z released. More simply put, Kendrick Lamar is the hottest rapper right now, and the fans vote for the man or woman, not always the music.
Naturally, if Kendrick cleaned up in the rap category, it was less than likely Jay would grab the Album of the year, Record of the Year or the Song of the year Grammy. These are the categories that pop icon Bruno Mars made a killing beating Kendrick in all three categories.
Bruno Mars’ 24k Magic album produced hit after hit from songs like “That’s What I Like” which won the Grammy for Song of the Year and “24k Magic” which won for Record of the Year. When it comes to the main event awards like these, nine times out of ten, pop music rules.