Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar dominate the 60th Grammy Awards

“Music’s Biggest Night” was on Sunday, when the 60th Annual Grammy Awards were held in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Hip hop fans were excited by the nominees in the Big Four Categories (Song, Record, and Album of the Year plus Best New Artist) this year. Names like Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, and Lil Uzi Vert made this year’s nominees the most diverse, and rap-heavy, in Grammy history. After years of passing over artists like Jay, Beyonce, and Kanye West for big awards in favor of pop stars like Adele and Taylor Swift, many hoped that the Recording Academy would finally recognize the genre and its artists as one deserving of music’s highest honors.

Bruno Mars essentially swept the night, becoming the first artist ever to win both Song of the Year and Record of the Year in the same year for two different songs (“That’s What I Like” and “24K Magic” respectively). Their parent album 24K Magic won Album of the Year as well, and Alessia Cara, whose powerful voice falls squarely in the R&B column, took home Best New Artist over the likes of Lil Uzi Vert, Khalid, and SZA. In fact, despite being the most nominated woman in a year when women everywhere have been speaking out and standing up, SZA won exactly zero Grammys Sunday night. Jay-Z, who received a Recording Academy “Icon” Award the night before the ceremony, also won nothing despite being the most nominated artist of the year.

None of this is to say that Mars did not deserve to win. In fact, there is little doubt that he ranks among the most popular, likable, and talented musicians in the industry today. His throwback R&B/pop sound, sleek dance moves, and noncontroversial lyrics combine to make irresistible hits that bring people together and let everyone have fun, which is exactly what Mars said he aims to do in his Album of the Year acceptance speech. The formula has worked amazingly well before of course, as in 2015 when he had the biggest hit of the year on Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”. That song won the 2016 Record of the Year award. Even so, the Recording Academy’s increasing unwillingness to validate the harder hitting rap and hip-hop of today only continues to raise questions about its overall credibility and place in supporting true artistry.

To see that artistry in full force, one need look no further than the Grammy performances themselves. Kendrick Lamar’s show-opening performance made a powerful statement about being black in America today. Childish Gambino made a Grammy moment for himself when he performed “Terrified”. DJ Khaled, Rihanna, and Bryson Tiller brought the house down with “Wild Thoughts.” These performances and more helped even the night’s score, but many fans, particularly the younger ones the Recording Academy would do well to bring under their tent, would have appreciated a true recognition of rap and hip-hop, rather than the obligatory nomination nods.

Check out the biggest genre winners and moments from the show below!

Winners: 

Best Urban Contemporary Album 

Starboy, The Weeknd

Best Rap Performance 

“Humble”, Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap/Sung Performance 

“Loyalty”, Kendrick Lamar feat. Rihanna

Best Rap Song

“Humble”, Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap Album 

DAMN. Kendrick Lamar

Best Music Video

“Humble”, Kendrick Lamar

Moments:

Childish Gambino performs “Terrified”

Bruno Mars and Cardi B perform “Finesse”

Kendrick Lamar Best Rap Album Acceptance Speech

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Dante Mazza