The Grammy Awards this year highlighted an inequality in value of art, specifically in the music industry.
From the apparent sexism to the undervaluing of hip-hop and rap, the largest award show in the music industry failed to address the most popular music from last year.
Is this decision intentional? There are plenty of arguments against this view.
However, when looking deeper at the awards and its history, there is an apparent trend in how the industry refuses to recognize the artistic value of work created by people of color and women.
This year, Bruno Mars took the award home for “Best Album of the Year” against Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN,” Jay-Z’s “4:44,” Lorde’s “Melodrama” and Childish Gambino’s “Redbone.” Lamar and Jay-Z’s albums were considered widely influential rap albums, while Mars’ work was conservative in style and lacked any message.
This is a continued trend, considering Adele’s wins over Beyonce last year for the same award.
This isn’t to say that the artists who won did not deserve the awards. They earned their places alongside their peers.
Rather, it is a lack on the part of the Recording Academy to recognize that rap is the most widely consumed genre of music in America, according to an article in USA Today.
Out the top 10 most listened-to artists in 2017, eight of them are R&B/hip-hop artists.
The Grammys seems to halfheartedly commit to honoring the most influential artists in our generation and instead give awards to artists who appeal to more conservative traditions in music.
The problem with this is that it also shows the bias against an entire genre based on African-American culture. The Academy is perfectly comfortable with recognizing feats within the genre but refuses to recognize its influence across the industry.
The same can be said for female musicians. Along with the dismal number of awards given to women, the music industry continues to be a male industry.
According to a study by the University of Southern California at Annenberg, researchers found through examining 600 pop songs between 2012 and 2018, only 22 percent of popular music was attributed to women.
Moreover, the researchers found that the ratio of male to female music producers was 49 to 1.
Women become less visible in music unless they are the front or image of an artist. Only 9 percent of bands were female or included females.
Women continue to prove their expertise and talent in music but obviously aren’t treated equally in regard to opportunity in the industry.
“Music’s biggest night,” the slogan of the Grammys, is an irony in itself as the show continues to retain a narrow definition of what is valuable to the music industry.
The industry needs to reevaluate how it relates to its audience and how it represents the artists it embodies.