Chance The Rapper and the Question If The Grammys Matter

Updated: Feb 9, 2020


The Grammys are the premier musical awards show in the world. It's been the de facto benchmark for English-language music since its inception in 1958. As music has evolved with more genres and accessibility, the Grammys have fallen a bit behind the times. Honestly, it tries to stay relevant via rap and alternative categories, but the biggest complaint with the Grammys is the relevance of experts and their judgement on a subjective art form.

Chance The Rapper is a Chicago-based MC who's been compared to both his mentor, Kanye West, and legendary lyricist Eminem. His slurred, high-pitched delivery and stream of consciousness content have made him a favorite among hip-hop heads. Similar to fellow underground favorite Run The Jewels, his music is all free; his mixtapes are available for download and he makes all his money from merchandise and touring. His growth of an artist since his debut on #10Day to his latest offering Coloring Book, he's gone from class clown to drug fueled to old school to the positive force of Chicago's youth. His public yet respectful criticism of the foundation's policy to only recognize physical releases led to his efforts being awarded with three Grammys, though somewhat out of date as far as his "best new artist" win.

#10Day was an acid and marijuana-fueled romp through some of the underground's most skilled producers. A teenage prodigy's ramblings and jokes were a welcome contrast to the drill movement starting to spread through Chicago's hip-hop scene. His second mixtape, and my personal favorite, Acid Rap was a millennial description of love, life, death and drugs in one of the nation's most dangerous cities. His side project as lead singer of The Social Experiment with bandleader Donnie Trumpet was a well-received surprise effort that was a hint on his new sonic direction, filled with hip-hop's brightest stars, undiscovered talent and legendary luminaries. Coloring Book was a positive flow that straddled and crossed lines. In four years and as many projects, Chance went from underground to be hailed by the president as a force for good in his native Chicago.

That's good and all, but being a good person unfortunately doesn't translate to being a good artist. The three categories he won could have easily gone to other artists. Best New Artist could have gone to Anderson.Paak or the Chainsmokers. Best Rap Performance could have gone to "Panda" or "All The Way Up", both smashes. Best Rap Album could have gone to "The Life Of Pablo", "Major Key", or "And The Anonymous Nobody...". But the Grammys aren't simply about awards. Between Grammy U and the Grammy Foundation, the Recording Academy is about building and cultivating American and Latin American music, whether that's through camps or schools. They fund this via an annual blowout of televised talent and their accomplishments. Do the Grammys matter? Ask a kid from the West Side of Chicago who recorded his first songs while suspended from school and was later praised by the president for his contributions via music. Ask someone who took his friends and family to the very top of the industry while not making a dime off any of his songs. Ask someone who has a safe place to raise his daughter because he followed his passion. Chance The Rapper is the unlikely face of the very essence the Grammys now encapsulate. Do the Grammys matter? Absolutely.

#Braven #HipHop #Editorial

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