There’s no question that the Grammy Awards, which will air Sunday night, are politically biased: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have at least one each. The party affiliation checks out, but what about racial diversity? Much as the Oscars were deemed racist this year for “snubbing” Best Picture nominee “Selma,” Rolling Stone magazine is asking if the Grammy Awards have a race problem.
Writer Raquel Cepeda lays out the evidence right away: none of the nominees for Best New Artist or Record of the Year is black. Even worse, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea is nominated in both categories.
… Iggy Azalea isn’t as harmless to hip-hop as one may think. She’s not an outright terrorist, but that doesn’t exclude her from the axis of evil. Nobody is perfect, sure. And leadership roles shouldn’t be foisted on people who may not want them. However, Azalea’s provincial view of hip-hop is to rap music what Lifetime is to anything urban: awfully wrong.
… Her act is an inauthentic recreation of urban life that ridicules it, music’s answer to revanchist gentrification, one that desecrates the culture and the people who Azalea claims to have been inspired by.
Plenty of people managed to agree that the Grammys have a race problem without mentioning colonization and revanchist gentrification.
That was … unconvincing.
So, Azalea might not be an outright terrorist, but she is apparently history’s greatest monster. The Washington Post published its own lengthy piece on how her nominations “remind us that the American record biz is still chillingly adept at using whiteness to sell blackness.”
…as rap’s borders continue to evaporate, the music’s future is riddled with uncertainties about race. Will tomorrow’s white rappers — and they will be legion — step into the spotlight as virtuous contributors or thoughtless colonizers?
As for her delivery, it’s a needling imitation of a black Southern voice, with syllables that twang in the wrong direction and vowels that curve into sour shapes. It’s pantomime devoid of personality. An empty white echo.
As hollow as it feels, it’s important to remember that Azalea has every right to strike this pose. But when the industry-folk who draft the Grammy ballots sanctify that pose as an emblem of excellence, we should all feel a twist in our stomachs.
How about if we just skip the show entirely?