Somebody asked, “What do you think of Macklemore winning big at last night’s Grammy Awards?”
Occasionally, I forget that in such a racially heightened moment, people look for clues to why a celebrating Stanford alum is referred to as a thug and why a Harvard Law grad could be called a “food stamp president” with such ease. And then, I see the work of a young genius like Kendrick Lamar overlooked, I remember that the trades were unable to record a single instance of a black artist reaching the top of the pop charts, this past year and that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame failed to induct a single black artist in its incoming class. Them, the joy caused by watching a ceremony that saw my old friend Nile Rodgers win three Grammys and Pharrell win producer of the year dims. This is how institutional racism works.
And so my answer: The culture has expanded so far past it’s roots that it is often difficult to recognize it. That said, Macklemore made a vibrant, socially conscious pop record. His winning gives validation to the DIY/Internet model. He is an entrepreneurial genius. Kendrick made the best record that I’ve heard in the past year and a half. His was a landmark recording that reclaimed the art form for the sons and daughters of those who first created it. His poetry was from and for the streets. He deserved better.