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Why I almost boycotted the #Grammys, but Kendrick Lamar stopped me

buzzz worthy. . .



  By Mona Austin


For the first time I planned to silently boycott the #grammys (and I NEVER miss it) when I realized Lady Gaga was doing a tribute performance to the late David Bowie and the Grammys were foregoing post-humous recognition for other deserving American artists, who happened to be Black. Bowie, is well respected internationally, but he is not American and I think giving him a tribute spotlight in an American award show is unfair considering the other legendary American artists who passed away in the same time frame--particularly Natalie Cole and Maurice White. I inquired directly to the Recording Academy as to whether there would be a tribute to Natalie Cole and never got a response. I feared they'd snub the multi-Grammy winning vocalist who passed away at the start of 2016, at which point the production was written in stone.  (But of course, we've seen Grammy Producer Ken Elrich worked  his magic to honor Whitney Houston when she died the night before the Grammys four years ago, so I was holding out hope that Cole would get her props.  Reportedly, she will be "honored" in a video package.)  They'd already announced Earth, Wind and Fire will be recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, so I assumed the group's founder Maurice White won't be completely overlooked, but was still annoyed he would not get a special segment like Bowie. Run DMC was honor for Lifetime Achievement in the un-televised awards presentation.  These moments of "life and death" for Blacks artists  are too mammoth to be downplayed.  White deserved more.  


Another eye-brow raising Grammy decision was John Legend being the only Black artist announced to salute Lionel Richie, the MusiCares Person of the Year.  I can instantly think of two handfuls of other R&B artists that would have been better suited for the Richie tribute. Pharrell, Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder turned out for Richie so in the end it did not look white washed as some feared.  

Unfortunately, death has been rampant in the music industry and it must be hard to properly acknowledge everyone in the time allotted. So in a sense I get it. Is this a racial issue? Possibly. Maybe not. It's still worth addressing to ensure African American talent is represented in a more widespread regard before charges of racism are unquestionable as is the case in #oscarsowhite. It looks like the Recording Academy has worked  to cover everyone the music world has lost recently, which is not an easy task considering the number of deaths in the New Year alone. Yet, when it comes to icons like Natalie Cole and Maurice White being relegated to a video package and Bowie getting and 8-minute, 10-song tribute--that's like seating them at the kiddie table and I trust Neil Portnow, the CEO of the Recording Academy  can do better than that.  In fact, way better.   The segment should be shortened to make room for White and Cole not to set the stage for Gaga's comeback revolution or proves she still has that edge that made her famous.  

As usual I'll be tuning in, this time with a box of tissues nearby in case I shed a few tears and a side eye to their inexcusable omissions. More importantly, Kendrick Lamar is the real reason I'll be watching the 58th Grammy Awards when it airs tonight on CBS.  With the most nominations (11) tonight could truly be monumental for 28-year-old Lamar. By all accounts, he deserves to win big for the critically acclaimed album, "To Pimp A Butterfly" which even made President Obama a fan.  Two years ago number 7 (the quantity of his Grammy nominations) was not the lucky number for the LA based rapper who did not walk away with one single trophy.  Race aside, many people of all races thought Lamar was robbed of the win for Best Hip Hop Album in particular.  He was compared to McLemore and Ryan, the White group that snagged 4 Hip Hop Grammys that year.  Some people felt Lamar's losses were purely racial.  Will tonight bring Lamar's moment of redemption?  If not, I'd say there is no doubt that race is an issue in the Grammy's organization as how people treat the living is far more telling than how they treat the dead.  In the meantime, Yahoo details the expected in memoriam tributes that are planned and Bossip brings attention to the tribute snubs.