The 55th Annual Grammy Awards were somewhat anticipated this year, because you had names that were up for awards like Frank Ocean, Drake, Chris Brown, Adele, and a host of others that have been making noise in the music industry over the past year. LL Cool J (for yet another year) was hosting the show, and hopefully it was going to be entertaining, since last year’s brought about a lot of interesting sequences of events. I had to bounce between the 4th quarter of the Toronto Raptors beating down the New Orleans Hornets, but I hadn’t missed much, since the show decided (for God knows what reason) to open with Taylor Swift with a Nicki Minaj inspired set, performing that song that never ever ever EVER EVER EVER ceases to annoy me. The power of mute would hold firm and true for the majority of the night, which is usually the case for these music award shows.
Now, unless you had the chance to watch the Pre-Televised broadcast of the Grammys, you most likely missed out on the awards that you cared for (and I say that about a very specific group of people). The world had been hearing that ‘We Are Young’ song for the course of 365+ days, so you know it was going to produce some wins – it was inevitable, but one of the more controversial categories is always the award for Best Rap Album. Drake, Nas, Lupe Fiasco, Rick Ross (why?), 2 Chainz (why?), and The Roots were all up for awards. I’ve heard all of the albums, and although I was really shocked that they snubbed Common’s The Dreamer/The Believer, I thought that Nas had a fighting chance to finally get his award after having not won once (Hip Hop’s Martin Scorsese). But, since the “criteria” has changed over the years, and it’s seemed that the Grammys are more of a popularity contest when it comes to the more urban music categories, I just knew that Drake was going to win. In my opinion, it was bittersweet, because I didn’t like the album and I felt that Nas’ was better.
Shoot, it was probably the 3rd best album out of all of the candidates behind The Roots’ Undun. Life Is Good was a great album, and if it does end up being Nas’ last album, it would have been nice to see him go out on top like Ray Lewis – the story didn’t turn out that way. The purpose of the Rap Album Award is to: “honour artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.” No disrespect, but if Drake’s album hadn’t been dominating the charts for as long as it did, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have won. He’s the most popular rapper, and he makes good music, but in this batch, he wasn’t the best – in my opinion. On the plus side (let me stop playing the role of the Grinch), it’s a great win for someone who’s from the same city as I am. I know for a fact that it inspired a lot of people in the city (and Canadians all around the country), that they can achieve their highest dreams. I hope that more talent starts to flood out and make it on the global scene much like how Drake did. He did open a lot of doors for artists in the country, so you do have to respect that; a major congratulations to him. He also announced the title of his third album (Nothing Was The Same), and he released the video for his first single, Started From The Bottom, which is actually a good video.
Along with the Best Rap Album award, the prestigious Best Rap Song award. I think it was pretty obvious what was going to win, because it was all over the place, breaking records as it was performed between 6 and 12 times, and you just couldn’t resist the fact that white people from Alec Baldwin and Gwyenth Paltrow embracing the song (N-word and all) was pretty funny, given the fact that the media looked at it as the worst thing a celebrity had ever said – it’s a song, and I don’t think Jay-Z and/or Kanye West cared about that. I was most happy for Hit-Boy, because he had produced a song called Niggas In Paris, and for such a young guy, he had been producing gems left, right, and centre. The future is going to be really bright for this kid.
In addition to Best Rap Song, it also won for Best Rap Performance (don’t ask me what the difference is, because I really have no clue). Jay-Z & Kanye West weren’t finished winning awards, as they later collected an award for No Church In The Wild (Best Rap/Song Collaboration), and when Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, and The-Dream went up to collect their award, all eyes were focused on The-Dream. This guy…he was dressed like he was shooting a 1999 Roc-A-Fella video, with his best Dame Dash impersonation.
It was insane, and the jokes started pouring in, not before Jay-Z got his joke on first. “I’d like to thank the swap meet for his hat”, was the line said that got the internet going wild, as it just added to the hilarity of The-Dream’s get-up. But that wasn’t the only entertaining portion of the night.
Miguel was up for a couple of awards for his sophomore album, Kaleidoscope Dream (justly so – it was a great album), and he had already won Best R&B Song for Adorn – a song that I had to grow on, but it’s quite (as the white folks say) the toe tapper. Before he could find out if he was going to be collecting a second award, he was slated to perform his hit song, but what I didn’t know was that he would be performing with Wiz Khalifa. It seemed really weird, and the expectation for such a duo was one that a lot of people had thought would have come to be – disappointing because of Wiz. There are certain songs that don’t need to be remixed – this was one of them. A couple of Zebras were what were on my television – one pinstriped, one zigzagged.
Along with Miguel in the Best Urban Contemporary Album (this has to be a new award) were the two artists that just couldn’t seem to stay away from each other. I mean, they were the two kids in Kindergarten that you always had to separate because they were always fighting. And it’s funny because this has been going on for about a year when Chris Brown and Odd Future were having bitter exchanges on Twitter. It was pretty hilarious, but the beef escalating into what it became with Frank & Chris made this Grammy awards that much more intriguing. Channel Orange had been one of 2012’s most talked about albums because of the personal life of Frank Ocean that he decided to open up with the rest of the world. Many people have their beliefs that he got sympathy over Miguel and Chris Brown because of his ‘coming out’, and who knows, that may be true, but the only people talking about Chris Brown’s album were Team Breezy. Let’s keep it real here – it was between Miguel and Frank, and quite ‘frankly’, we all knew where it was going. When Frank won the award, the audience stood in ovation – except for Mr. Chris Brown.
Call it salty, but at least have some class towards your opponent. Adele had some words for Chris Brown since she was sitting not far from him. Good on her for doing so, because really, what can you say to Adele? She won a Grammy that night, and is up for an Oscar in two weeks which she’ll most likely win. All she does is ‘win, win, win no matter what.’
One man who’s used to being on the winning side is Justin Timberlake. I’ve tweeted this guy repeatedly (I’m not the only one) over the course of 2 years or so, to get him back in the studio and to put out another album. He made his comeback by releasing Suit & Tie, and with that, his comeback had begun. Due to the rumbles of skepticism of the song (Jay-Z didn’t do much to help the cause), the show would go on and JT performed it, not before a very candid banter between Beyonce’ & Ellen DeGeneres. He did what Bruno Mars had done last year with the whole ‘distorting the colour of the TV’ effect. He performed with a live band, and the line where he says ‘get out your seat, Hov’, here came Jay-Z out of his first row seat to perform his verse.
That was pretty cool, no doubt about that. Before he had finished, he performed a new song from his album, and it sounded really good. Pusher Love Girl was the name of it, and that wasn’t going to be the last new song we’d hear from JT before the night was over. Mirrors (another song off the album) surfaced on the internet, and it was safe to say that JT was back at that point.
Rihanna is known for her shaky live performance vocals, but this time around she didn’t sound half bad. She performed ‘Stay’, and it was a nice duet with Mykko. Somebody said it best that ‘Rihanna performs better when she stays still’, and countless other tweets that filled with laughter void throughout the night.
A lot of the other performers and winners, I had no idea who they were for a majority of the time, but I had been familiar with their names. I can’t lie, I’m interested in listening to The Black Keys, Jack White, and Gotye (I keep trying to pronounce his name, so I’m just going to not bother with the struggle). There’s a lot of music that’s out there to be appreciated, but of course when you’re mainly focused on one or two genres (nothing wrong with that), then you’re going to miss out on a lot – it’s things like award shows that can bring you awareness to these new people that you’ve never heard of. One example was when Esperanza Spalding caused a lot of controversy by winning the award for Best New Artist and people of the Bieber and Drake clan lost their godforsaken minds. Speaking of Esperanza, she collected 2 Grammys for her album Radio Music Society, which is a great album – I was happy about that.
Now, one of the reason why a lot of people were tuned into this year’s Grammys (Jamaicans especially) was for the Bob Marley tribute. When it was announced days before that Rihanna was going to be a part of it, the not-so-quiet rumblings of skepticism were very vocal. For one, it doesn’t matter if Rihanna is a weed smoker and is from Barbados, there are A LOT of Jamaican artist or singers with Jamaican backgrounds that could have been selected. Damian & Ziggy Marley were necessary in the tribute, and then you had the random showings of Bruno Mars & Sting, although I wasn’t that upset at Sting. However, this is where everything went wrong; Bruno Mars performed his own song, Sting came out to help, they went into Could You Be Loved by bringing out Rihanna, then Ziggy came out, and then Damian came out and brought that Jamaican energy that was missing. It was a proud moment to be a Jamaican, BUT…that’s all they did.
Here’s my beef – you don’t just do ONE SONG for Bob Marley. The man has albums on albums on albums for songs, and at least give us THREE! I mean, the BET Awards does a better job at doing tributes, and obviously the Grammys isn’t the BET awards, but if you’re going to do a tribute for a man who pretty much put reggae on the map, you have to show the man the respect he deserves for it. It was a disappointment to be quite honest. It showed promise, but because it was just one song, there was no point having it at all. Opening acts for Toronto rap shows last longer than that tribute.
Frank Ocean’s performance was something that a lot of people were anticipating because it was his Grammy debut. Already having won the award for Best Urban Contemporary Album, the stage was set for him to perform a song from channel ORANGE. His visual creativity has been his main staple and it’s what’s really separated him from a lot of artists, so when the screen projection showed him running and then he appeared on the piano, that was dope. The song that he performed wasn’t one that I had expected him to perform, but when he’s been on the national platform, he goes beyond the unexpected. On SNL, he performed Bad Religion on Jimmy Fallon to set off the discussions of his sexuality, so what did he decide to perform this time? Forrest Gump.
It was really surprising and a bold move for him to do a song like this as his first, but it’s one of those things that people will talk about for a while. It looked as though he was really nervous as he was singing it, so that was understandable. It’s a nice song when you look past the subject context (if it makes you uncomfortable), so the fact that he performed it was really outside of the box, and it was fitting since it wasn’t exactly a traditional album. You’ve got to be happy for the man.
Also, what was unexpected was an old school hip hop performance that was partially dedicated to fallen Beastie Boy, Adam Yauch (MCA). When LL Cool J & Chuck D, with Travis Barker on the drums, performed No Sleep Till Brooklyn, the place was energized – the problem was that it was cut off and on by advertisements since it was the end of the show. That wasn’t cool.
Between the performances and other awards, the other notable things that stood out were:
- Jay-Z moving towards the mic as the ‘cut-off’ music was playing and it stopped
- Katy Perry & Kelly Rowland being the best dressed females (Katy’s boobs spilling everywhere for the world to see)
- Lupe Fiasco showing up the awards like a silent ninja assassin
- Nicki Minaj NOT showing up at the awards
- Prince walking out with a cane like a BAWSE (no typo – pronounce it as it’s spelled)
- Drake & Jay-Z’s reactions when Jennifer Lopez walked on stage with her magnificent leg hanging all out
There wasn’t a lot to be appreciated about this year’s Grammys, and it just seems to diminish year after year, but it is what it is. I can understand why people boycott watching it, but with social networking being right-at-hand-, you feel compelled to just join in on the conversation. The next edition of The Grammys will probably feature more music and a wide range of new talent. Only time will tell, but for now, we wait. Until next year
That’s My Word & It STiXX