Grammy season is upon us, and like clockwork, suddenly everyone – including that friend of yours who thinks Pandora is code for “sidepiece” – has a point-of-view about who deserved their nominations and who needs to burn their studios and start over as a result of their snub.
Here’s a breakdown of who I believe fits each category.
Who Got Their Just Due?
Frank Ocean scoring six Grammy nominations – including three in the major categories Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist – lends further credence to the idea that R&B is finally back on an upswing. Also helping make that case is Miguel, who earned a Song of the Year nod for his hit single “Adorn.” It’s a much-needed reminder to other artists that – gasp – R&B, whether it’s forward thinking or more rooted in its tradition form, can still be viable and worthy of recognition if executed properly.
Meanwhile, SWV earning a Best Traditional R&B Performance nomination for their cover of Patti LaBelle’s “If Only You Knew” continues the recent swing of the Recording Academy acknowledging veteran R&B acts, particularly those now on independent labels like the legendary trio. Ditto for also doing it on her own now Tamia, whose Beautiful Surprise was honored in the Best R&B album category.
That I said a few did wince at Chris Brown’s Fortune, which was widely panned and sold poorly, getting a Best Urban Contemporary Album nomination alongside Ocean’s debut album and Miguel’s sophomore effort, Kaleidoscope Dreams. That album is about as R&B as Britney Spears night at the Abbey in West Hollywood. By the way, “Best Urban Contemporary Album” still sounds terrible. It might as well be called “What Are The Hip Blacks Doing?”
Uncle 2Chainz got three nods: two as part of the ensemble cast on the G.O.O.D. Music posse cut "Mercy" and one for Best Rap Album. He is 36 years old, so this will inevitably bring hope to old Negroes on the corner selling mixtapes all across the land.
Who Was Snubbed?
Nicki Minaj’s co-manager, Cortez Bryant, is not amused by the hip-pop diva not netting any Grammy nominations this year, as evidenced by his tweet: “They was on some bullsh*t for not nominating @NICKIMINAJ.”
Grammys: Unbreak his heart, say you’ll love Onika again.
As soon as it became clear that Minaj was snubbed, a na-na-boo-boo wave hit the Twitter, plus only made critics of the rapper louder. As awful a track as “Starships” was to many, it was a huge single. The same can be said of others such as “Beez In The Trap” along with many of the rapper’s features, which have been impressive throughout the year---albeit possibly overshadowed by her more recent antics.
Should she have been nominated in at least a few rap categories? I’d like to think so, but the problem with Nicki in her post-mixtape life is that she places too much emphasis on quantity over quality. Nicki’s sophomore release, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, is essentially two separate albums crammed into one project. On top of that, she releases video after video (many great visual, but still), then turns around and re-releases the second album mere months later. It’s too much, way too inconsistent, and while certain critics of her have been unfair, such is the price one pays when trying to please everyone.
Another mad man from management is Justin Bieber’s manager, who also took to Twitter to release some tension over the lack of nominations. Your little sister and cool auntie/uncle might be vexed over this, but I’m fine. Don’t hurt me, stans.
As for others who deserved a bit more shine, Rihanna did manage to be recognized in the Rap/Sung category although it’s surprising that her hugely successful “We Found Love,” didn’t get more attention – specifically in the Record of the Year category. The same can be said of her duet with Drake, “Take Care,” which wasn’t mentioned in the Rap/Sung category though the so-so “Talk That Talk” with Jay-Z was. Fret not, though, Navy, Rihanna already has one new album out and probably another due next winter. Vengeance is hers.
Lastly, I’m holding out hope that maybe Brandy’s excellent Two Eleven will received the nominations that its lead single, “Put It Down” featuring Chris Brown did not.
All and all, though, I’m not mad at these nominations. Thoughtful, well-crafted music from Black acts got major nods. Perhaps those that got shafted will use this as fuel for future recordings. If not, oh well. That said, I’m gleefully anticipating Miguel’s hair and spin kick while he performs “Adorn” in February. And I’m expecting him to wear some variation of Eddie Murphy’s classic purple leather suit.
Read the full list of Grammy nominees on GRAMMY.com.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his