Guest Contributor: CHIKA
The time to vote for this year’s GRAMMY Award winners has arrived. Following nominations, the final round of voting is one of the most important periods of the year for Recording Academy voting members. Starting Dec. 14 until Jan. 4, as music’s only peer-voted honor, all voting members, including myself, look at this year’s GRAMMY nominees and decide who best represents our community and who defined our year in music. All this to say, we want to see our peers shine and experience that one-of-a-kind feeling of hearing their names called on the GRAMMY stage.
I became a member of the Recording Academy in 2020 when I was 24 years old. I thought to myself, as someone who is notably chaotic, “Am I responsible enough to do this?” The age-old saying came to mind when becoming a voting member – with great power comes great responsibility. During the pandemic, I thought about how much I wanted to weigh in on the important things that were taking place in music. Becoming a member of the Recording Academy was a signifier that my voice is valued in those conversations. Especially as a young artist, becoming a member means my peers take me seriously as a music creator and care about what I have to say. My voice taken into account reassured me that I don’t just work for the industry, but my opinions are cared about. This industry can be cutthroat, so it’s an honor to be heard and to be able to actively support the music that means something to me.
I’ve learned that anytime you’re given the opportunity to speak and have your opinions considered, use it. One of the biggest myths we’re taught is that our voice and vote don’t count. When too many people have that mindset, we get trapped by the bystander effect, where no one raises their voice because they think everyone else will do it. Then, we’re left feeling unrepresented and uncared for when we don’t see ourselves reflected in the outcomes. We were hand-selected to be members of the Recording Academy for a reason, and we need to use that privilege to establish our voices.
Especially in rap – if we want our music to be represented, then we need to be active in the conversations that affect it. Whether it’s through participating in the GRAMMY Awards amendment process to help write proposals and ensure our music is accurately reflected in its categories or participating in the Academy’s Advocacy wing to help push legislation like the RAP Act to protect rap lyrics in court, the Academy has given us the microphone to use our voices. It’s vital for us to speak into it.
If you’re part of the rap community and you’re not voting, you’re allowing your peers to be represented by people who may not fully understand the impact of the music we’re making. We all need to be involved in the process to ensure those who are the culture push the culture further. As a past nominee, I can attest to how much it meant to have my music recognized and respected by my peers. Every vote has the potential to inspire future generations of creators.
As we vote in this last round to determine the winners for the 65th GRAMMY Awards, vote with integrity. Vote with passion. Vote by what has moved you and what you think is shifting our culture. Don’t be swayed by what you think is expected of you. Your voice is unique. Vote for the songs, albums and performances you think accurately document our genre and community. Vote for who you want to see holding that award high on the GRAMMY stage.
CHIKA is a rapper and GRAMMY Award nominee.