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Grammys ’23: The Good, The Bad & The Questionable

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

Every year, The Recording Academy provokes, honor and incites conversation amongst artists and music heads alike with the release of their nominations list ahead of the holidays. This year was no different.

Surprises—good and bad—were sprinkled across the Grammys’ 91 categories. It was a delight to see GloRilla hold a place in the Best Rap Performance category less than a year into her rise for the ever-popular song of the summer “F.N.F (Let’s Go).” Meanwhile, Steve Lacy, who was rightfully nominated in the Record of the Year and Song of the Year categories was noticeably absent in the Best New Artist category—which is, come to think of it, always a chaotic mixed bag in and of itself.

The Good

The same song they was clowning me & my friends about saying we was Ugly & Dusty just got nominated for a Grammy !!!!!!!!! WHEN GOD IS ON YOUR SIDE YOU CANNOT FAIL 🔥🏆 — GloRilla 🦍 (@GloTheofficial) November 15, 2022

Let’s gooo! It hasn’t even been a full year since GloRilla skyrocketed to mainstream success with her breakout single “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” in April 2022, and she’s already getting huge looks from the Recording Academy. The Memphis rapper received her first-ever Grammy nod for Best Rap Performance, and she couldn’t be more deserving of this moment. “F.N.F.” is a banger that caught the attention of a wide array of listeners. Even if she doesn’t go home with the Grammy, this is a sign that she’s on the right track. —Jessica McKinney

Kendrick & Beyoncé Tie for Most Nominations This Year

The Grammys are always a mess, but at least Beyoncé and Kendrick got the recognition they deserved this year, leading all artists when it comes to total nominations. According to the Recording Academy, Beyoncé received nine total nominations (including one for Best Song Written for Visual Media due to her work on King Richard’s “Be Alive”) and Kendrick received eight.

They dominated the major awards, each earning nods for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year, which we have no issue with. Renaissance and Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers were blockbuster albums that dominated the conversation and lived up to each of their high artistic standards, and they both deserve an armful of awards. —Eric Skelton

The Bad

The Grammys’ “Underground” Rap Era is Over The Best Rap Album of the Year nominations for the 2020 Grammys were as follows: A Written Testimony, Alfredo, King’s Disease, Black Habits, and Allegory. It was only a matter of time before the Recording Academy stopped pandering to the “real rap” faction of hip-hop music fans, and it’s reflected in this year’s nominations, which includes more commercially successful albums like God Did, I Never Liked You, Come Home The Kids Miss You, and others. This is an unfortunate development because the rap albums nominated in the past two years were of quality and the nods gave these artists a much-deserved look on a major stage. The Academy has returned to focusing on more mainstream projects, and snubbing artists who released great projects that would be considered “underground” to the Grammys like JID, Denzel Curry, Vince Staples, Benny the Butcher, Smino, to the frustration of some. Back to our regularly scheduled programming. —Jordan Rose

A Lack of Women in the R&B Album Categories

Earlier this year, the queen of R&B Soul, Mary J. Blige, said “What I love about doing this is you get to see who is who…. That’s the beauty of vulnerability. It weeds out all the B.S.” It turns out, music’s most vulnerable genre is also seemingly its most misunderstood. Summer Walker’s album’s ironically got no love, despite “No Love”’s popularity and the feat of a project she offered as a follow-up to Over It. This mark’s the second snub for the young standout. Meanwhile, rising greats like Cleo Sol, Ravyn Lenae and Muni Long (who was nominated in the category Best R&B Song, and Performance for “Hrs & Hrs”), were righteously ignored in both R&B album categories as well. Blige beautifully holds down the fort here as the sole woman in both the Best Progressive R&B and Best R&B Albums categories, but it’s time the Academy recognizes that the folks who are holding down this genre are—and always have been—women. With two album categories (ten slots) to have highlighted what the aforementioned women and others are doing to propel this era of R&B forward, it feels like a huge miss to have nominated some mid albums in their place. —Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo

It’s been public knowledge that Drake isn’t a big fan of the Recording Academy ever since he told fellow artists “you don’t need” a Grammy at the 2019 awards ceremony. Since then, the rapper has been boycotting the Grammys. In 2021, he removed his 2021 album Certified Lover Boy from consideration, and didn’t even submitHonestly, Nevermind for consideration this year. The Weeknd has also followed suit. After the XO artist was shockingly snubbed in 2021 for his chart-topping album, After Hours, it was reported that he didn’t submit his follow-up project, Dawn FM for consideration in 2022. Both artists may be justified, but without their entries in this year’s nominations pool, the list looks somewhat incomplete. Dawn FM might have been beaten for the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 by Gunna’s DS4EVER, but it was still a favorite album of the year and met with critical acclaim. Drake’s Honestly, Nevermind was also a chart-topper. Though it may seem strange, their decision to sit this awards season out is a reflection of the Recording Academy’s out-of-touch voting system. —Jessica McKinney

The Questionable

Best New Artist Has Little to No Meaning The Academy defines those in contention for BNA as artists who have had “a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape during the year’s eligibility period.” That means that an artist like Anitta, who’s been deemed Brazil’s biggest pop star for years now, is in the same category as little-known (hilariously named) British rock band Wet Leg or “Invincible” singer Omar Apollo, who we’ve had our eye on since 2017. It also means that Steve Lacy, who released his solo artist-defining project this year and garnered the most attention (and numbers) of his career since, was missing from what was—definition considered—perhaps the most fitting category for the former member of The Internet. One-for-all categories like this one usually end up feeling more like all-for-none. —Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo

The Grammys Love Jack Harlow

The Grammys love Jack Harlow, and this honest journalist doesn’t understand why. Harlow’s Come Home The Kids Miss You snagging a Best Rap Album of the Year nomination turned some heads (especially for the active members of rap Twitter who would agree that the project is certified mid). The Grammys have never been a determinant of quality music, but the Recording Academy clearly didn’t care about what social media had to say when making their decisions this year, especially considering the other questionable albums nominated in this category. Harlow has also been a commercial darling over the last year as he’s made a push to super-stardom. He is also nominated for Best Rap Song for “Churchill Downs” featuring Drake. —Jordan Rose

Memes Are Powerful

“Pushin P” was undoubtedly the catchiest phrase of 2022’s first quarter, and it’s all thanks to a powerful emoji and a straightforward message. On January 7, Gunna dropped his single “Pushin P” featuring Young Thug and Future. With the song’s release, the phrase became an instant trend, with fans using the phrase along with the blue emoji with the letter “P” in Instagram captions, Twitter conversations, and group chats. Gunna’s context for the term was also pretty simple: either something was P or “player” or it wasn’t. Gunna’s Grammy nod shows the power in making meme-worthy music that is catchy and easy to follow. I think we can all agree that this is P, where he wins the Grammy or not. —Jessica McKinney

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