the grammys


Ive had my facebook feed going crazy with hip hop fans OUTRAGED YO!! all because this pasty capering idiot thing called Macklemore has been awarded a Grammy. According to the people who get to decide these things, he made The Best Hip Hop Album of 2013, and a lot of rap fans feel that, well, thats a bit shit. 

Their anger is understandable to a degree although I like to think that Macklemore is a wonderful performance artist, trolling the very concept of over exposed, wack white rappers, its actually quite likely that hes just rubbish. 

If youre not familiar with his work and this being England, and you probably being older than 16, why should you be he came to prominence with a song that had a pretty nifty beat and some kinda funny lyrics, all about wearing charity shop clothes.

Honestly? Its not bad. 

Here it is:

Now in the normal run of things THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN IT. Im talking Afroman. Im talking Ice Ice Baby. Im talking thank you, and good night Mr. Macklemore, youve had your fun, now fuck off. Ill see ya fat, botoxed and desperate on a reality show 10 years hence. Thats how it works with novelty hits you go in, you prance about, you collect your winnings, you leave. Always has been, always will. Or so I thought. But no. Macklemore, he do things different, see. Kids a wild card. A real crazy cat. He decided he was going to build a career. And those jocular shapeshifting lizard chaps who run the American entertainment industry realised that, since Marshall had gone all saggy faced and grumble-y looking, the once vibrant tapestry of Caucasian rappers was looking a touch threadbare.  Ahhh, go on, give him a chance they hissed over a cheeky brunch of baby brains. He cant be worsssssse than Machine Gun Kelly 

And so now, sure as the wrestling is faked, we have Macklemore winning a Grammy for rap. Just to put a bit more context to the strangeness of this, heres another track hes recorded. Ive got to warn you: its not as catchy as the last one. Its about being Irish. As far as I can tell, Macklemore is not Irish. Hes probably one of the biggest yanks Ive ever seen, but still, if he wants to claim Celtic blood, fine. They like doing that, the yanks. But the song?  The song is very bad. Maybe he thinks calling Ireland a nation of freckle faced hustlers is cute and everything. Maybe he should head to the North side of Dublin and start singing it next Friday night.  

 So, you wouldnt really think that guy was the best rapper around would you? Would you?

Unsurprisingly, lots of people are angry that the Grammy didnt go to one of the other nominees – specifically Kendrick Lamarr, what with his actually pretty fucking good ability at rap and everything. In fact, even Macklemore thinks it should have gone to Kendrick so much so that he texted Kendrick, to apologise for umm, Im not sure exactly? Not being very good? The racist imbalance inherent in the American system? Recording that horrific Ireland song? Well, luckily you can decide for yourself, cos Macklemore was kind enough to instagram his text. What a guy. Successful and humble. Here it is:

Theres been so many people going in on the sheer bullshittery of instagramming your own apologetic text online that I dont think I can add much. All Ill do is refer to this image of a clearly contrite Macklemore, meekly accepting a prize he knew wasnt his, heartbroken that the better man was passed over:

Here he is a little later, still gutted about Kendrick losing:

But look, in all this hip hop rage a huge point in fact, Id say the only point – is getting obscured. 

The Grammys do not have anything, anything at all to do with music. 

They never have and they never will. The Grammys are a record industry award. They exist to sell product. They do not exist as some sort of critical barometer. If you let the Grammys influence your taste by one tiny iota you. are. being. hustled. Every year the event is an opportuntity for the back slapping good ol boys of the American music industry to bestow a meaningless title on whichever brand they want to shift more units of, then shuffle on back to their darkened lairs to moan in pleasure over a tumescent spreadsheet. 

Lets look at the figures. The award for best rap album was created in 1996. It was a convenient ghetto with hip hops popularity soaring, this was a handy way of acknowledging hit albums (read: boosting sales) without ever having to concede that one of those rap guys might have released the biggest album of the year. Funnily enough, this was the exact same year that Clear Channel were launching an outright attack on the culture following Clintons Telecommunications Act (but thats another, equally unedifying story. Read Chuck Public Enemy D  talk about it here). 

Still, it wasnt enough to chuck hip hop in its own little sandbox the Grammys then went out of their way to whiten up the culture as much as feasibly possible. Youll find that morons* often come out with the argument that hip hop is everyones culture it belongs to us all. Bullshit. Hip hop is an African American culture that other people like watching and doing. If it makes it easier for you, think of Morris Dancing. Anyone can watch Morris Dancing. Anyone can try their hand at Morris Dancing. But if I start saying that Morris Dancing is everyones culture Im talking through my asshat. Why should hip hop be different? We know where it started and who started it. [*SPOILER* It wasnt Macklemore.] The Grammys though obviously dont think quite enough has been nicked off the black people of America, and have done their best to perpetuate this it belongs to us all myth – Since the rap categorys inception, Eminem has won the award a staggering 5 times. Thats more than 25% of all awards. Now Im as big a Slim fan as the next man, and yeah, The Marshall Mathers LP is amongst the greatest hip hop records ever made. But, Jesus, did he really make the best hip hop album of 2010 and 2011? I must have been napping. Of the rest of the awards, Kanye has grabbed 4, over 20%, presumably because they cant face giving him best overall album (depriving us of what would surely be a truly insane acceptance speech if he won. I feel cheated.).

The remaining 10 have been dished out in some kind of pin the tail on the rapper parlour game- Outkasts Stankonia one year, Puff Daddys No Way Out another.  Strangest victor until the magic of Macklemore has got to be Ludacriss Release Therapy in 2007 a truly, 100% crap album with no hit singles that even Luda would be hard pressed to defend. If there can be any doubt that the whole thing is pointless, consider that the following people have never been nominated: GZA, RZA, Method Man, Ghostface Killer, Jeru the Damaja, Gangstarr, Immortal Technique, 3 6 Mafia, Big L, RassKass, Death Grips, Lil Kim, Young Jeezy, Jadakiss, Noreaga, Common, Talib Kweli, Camron, Juelz Santana, Snoop Dogg, or Canibus. The following person has: Will Smith.   

My point is this; we need to stop paying any heed whatsoever to this kind of award guff. This applies to the Oscars, the Baftas, the Brits, the desperately-clinging-to-credibility Mercury, whatever. We dont need them. The internet is a beautiful, chaotic wonderland. It may not be forever, so lets enjoy it while we can. We can form our own award shows on a daily basis. We can speak to the knowledgeable, catch recommendations, and hunt out transformative, euphoric noise that will fill our soul and brim from our nostrils. We can completely circumnavigate the conniving cynicism of an industry hellbent (in the truest meaning of the term) on perpetuating divisions and stereotypes, and we can do it right now. In short, I dont give a shit that Macklemores won a joke award.  Give him 10 and a pat on the head. The sweet irony of it all; for most hip hop fans, the album of the year was given away for free, and that shit is never gonna get a Grammy. 

 *Iggy Azealia

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Ian McQuaid