I said I wasn’t going to write my own post about this, but why else do I have a blog?
I don’t pretend to know everything about voting at the Recording Academy. But ever since Macklemore won Best Rap Song for “Thrift Shop,” I’ve had a sour taste in my mouth. I met a man who votes in the Academy. He’s an average middle-aged white man who teaches orchestra at a high school in Pittsburgh. He told me that he was assigned the category he voted in, and despite knowing nothing about Hip Hop or Rap, those were the categories was given. Like anyone faced in that position, he simply voted for whatever song/artist he’d heard most about that year.
That is when I started taking the Grammys as seriously as I take the VMAs.
Let the record show that I stan hard for Bey and Adele. The two of them together have such elegance and class and grace and humility. They really ought to make music together, but if that ever happened I would need a medic.
Lemonade was global. 25 was personal. Both albums were beautiful.
But Lemonade may have been “too black” for the Grammys. And that is so heartbreaking.
My dear friend Kyle texted me about this, because he knows I have strong opinions:
KYLE: How u feel? Do you believe it was racially motivated or do you believe it was commercially motivated? I personally do think that they went with the album with more commercial success. But I wanna hear your take.
ME: I do very much believe that Beyoncé not winning Album of the Year was racially motivated. And I’m not just being an SJW, I’m very serious about that.
I don’t think that the Academy itself is racist, I think that because of the blatant blackness of Lemonade, it had more of an impact on certain communities and also had more controversy surrounding its release. That controversy around Lemonade came from racists calling Beyoncé racist for being black. Because snowflakes don’t understand anything. It hurt her chances for this award and that’s unfair.
KYLE: I think it makes a lot of white people uncomfortable and angry.
Like Tammy Lochness.
ME: HA! Exactly. But it’s unfortunate because Beyoncé did this incredible thing with Lemonade by using it to tell black women I’m here with you. I’m one of you. And no matter how many white people bump to my music, my blackness is part of my artistry.
KYLE: Exactly. And I think people want to be able to relate directly to their artists, and a lot of white people can’t and therefore feel separation from [Lemonade].
“Not that we have to connect directly to it to love it and see that it’s very revolutionary.”
ME: Thank you! Exactly. In this time when intersectionality is so necessary to unite us and move us forward, Beyoncé’s album was so important. Lemonade did not win because many white people could not/refused to see that.
Lemonade was so incredibly and unapologetically black. And because of that, people were scared. And because of that, the Grammys were scared. I have no doubt in my mind that when people like that high school orchestra teacher were deciding who would take home these Grammys and who wouldn’t, they remembered the hype around both album releases.
When 25 came out, it was obviously well received. Everyone had been waiting with bated breath for Adele’s return, and when it came we were here for it. I had the privilege of going to her concert at Radio City Music Hall (#blessed #thankyouErik) and seeing her be incredibly humble and grateful for her success. We were all so proud of her and so happy that she was back. It was amazing. I also felt that love at her concert in Los Angeles last August. The album was deeply personal and made people dig deep within themselves for connections.
When Lemonade dropped, I was in Erie and I honestly didn’t watch the film live on HBO. I was out with friends, assuming it would be another doc with a bunch of tilted head confessionals that Beyoncé filmed in Photo Booth. I was wrong. I am sorry. It was a groundbreaking love letter to black women. But not everyone got that. There was controversy. Tommy Lard and her friends called Beyoncé racist. They criticized her for praising the Black Panthers, who they see as a terrorist group (they’re wrong on so many levels it’s depressing). There was so much controversy from white people finally realizing that Beyoncé is black. I don’t know how they forgot that, but they did, and they were shocked and appalled that she’d ever openly flaunt that. I’m shocked and appalled that these people exist and can fault Beyoncé when she fully catered to their snowflake souls with that country BOP “Daddy Lessons.” But on the other side, we loved Lemonade. It was personal and at the same time celebrated black womanhood. I had another privilege (#blessed #thankyouBen) to witness the Formation World Tour at M&T Bank Stadium last June. The sense of community among the crowd was heartwarming. We danced, we screamed, we drank lemonade (spiked, obviously). We were all in Formation. We all understood the importance of Lemonade and knew it needed to be celebrated. I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing how important and amazing Lemonade is, but apparently the accolades haven’t spread far enough.
In Adele’s acceptance speech, aka her ode to Beyoncé, she said she loved the way that Lemonade made her black friends feel. Some people cringed at that. I stood up and clapped. I’m so glad that Adele gets it. I’m so glad that my friends get it. Lemonade clearly wasn’t for everyone. But everyone can love it and see that it’s revolutionary. The fact that the Grammys chose not to acknowledge that is annoying, but again why I try not to take them to heart. I’m failing, because I’m not over 2014. Like Adele said “What the f*ck does Beyoncé have to do to win Album of the Year?”
I think it’s so important that Adele gave props to Beyoncé. It was women celebrating other women. It was a long time fan honoring an artist who has inspired her to create her own art. It was real. It was sweet. It was so perfectly done and I love Adele for that (and everything else about her).
At the end of the day, Adele won, and I understand her win, really I do. I know there are issues in the Recording Academy. I know there are problems in this country. But I take my cues from my queens. Always stay gracious.
And in the words of Gaga:
“Hey girl. We can make it easy if we lift each other.”
END NOTE: Kyle is actually part of the inspiration for this blog. When we are on different pages, we talk openly to each other and have such honest conversations. We can come from different positions and each feel heard. No matter how passionate we are about the subject or how heated the talk gets, we still love and respect each other. That is such an important thing to have in a friendship and it is so important to me personally.
Thank you so much for having Chik Chats with me, Kyle.