We spoke about snubs at the Oscars, and next up, we have snubs at the Grammys!
If you haven’t seen it yet, on Sunday, during his acceptance speech for the Dr Dre Global Impact Award at the Grammys, Jay-Z stood on business and called the Recording Academy out for not giving his wife credit where it’s due, and we’re all here for it!
He said, “I don’t want to embarrass this young lady, but she has more Grammys than everyone and never won album of the year. So, even by your own metrics, that doesn’t work. Think about that; most Grammys never won Album of the Year, so that doesn’t work.”
Beyoncé holds the record for the most Grammy awards ever, with 32 wins. Beyoncé has earned these honours for her solo work, Destiny’s Child and The Carters, which she and husband Jay-Z created together.
The concept album Lemonade, released in 2017 alongside a visual album, and the cultural masterpiece and its respect to LGBTQI+, Renaissance, released in 2023, deserved great recognition.
The Grammys are a night of honour and an opportunity for musicians to get the flowers they deserve. Undoubtedly, any Grammy success indicates widespread industry acknowledgement. But something about the number of snubs that Black artists get doesn’t make sense.
This is not to take away from the wins of others. Still, the spotlight on Beyoncé’s snubs has only heightened attention to this more significant issue, exposing how extensive and systemic the undervaluation of Black artists remains.
Zandi, a 23-year-old music industry observer, articulates this frustration clearly: “They are making their preferences known to us, and one thing is certain—a black woman won’t be considered a winner for Album of the Year, even after endless hard work.”
Album of the Year is usually regarded as the most prestigious ceremony award. To even come close to an AOTY Grammy, black artists must go out of their way to create once-in-a-lifetime pieces of work, but even with these lifetime bodies of work, they don’t get to it at all, so now what?
Sandy, 24, echoes Zandi’s sentiment, pointing to the need for structural change within the Academy: “It doesn’t matter how much we go up in arms about this. Until the voting committee is entirely reorganised, nothing will change. Things will be the same each time.”
Since the first Grammy Awards in 1959, only three Black women have won Album of the Year. Natalie Cole in 1992, Whitney Houston in 1994 and Lauryn Hill in 1999. Since Lauryn Hill’s win 25 years ago, sixteen Black female artists have received album of the year nominations, including Janelle Monae, H.E.R., and Lizzo.
Between 2012 and 2020, black musicians accounted for 38% of all artists in Billboard’s Top 100 but just 26.7% of Grammy nominations. This history reflects the far deeper discrimination that lay within the institution. It is part of a more extensive historical practice of overlooking African-American innovations and contributions to popular music and its various genres.
Xoli, 22, highlights this issue’s historical context: “It makes me so sad that since 1999, only one black woman has won the award. This show has been on for years and years. It’s so unfair and discriminatory.”
The Recording Academy constantly defends its choices and voting processes, citing artistic merit and the individualised nature of admiration for music. It’s not the first time they’ve been prompted to correct themselves. However, they still need to make sufficient changes.
The industry has a lot of structural work to produce a more inclusive and diverse environment for black artists to thrive. And it needs to happen now.
What do you believe the Recording Academy should do to address the lack of recognition for Black artists, especially in major categories like Album of the Year, at the Grammys?