Struggling to stay on pitch during a performance (like often times before) but still snatched up the AOTY award like Lemonade wasn’t industry-changing. They tried it last year with Beyonce’s Self-Titled, too. Harvard did a study on it’s innovative marketing. The album was released on a Friday instead of the industry standard Tuesday. This made labels and execs completely rethink the concept of the album. They even forced some of your faves to release flop ‘surprise’ albums that shocked no one but investors because of the lack of return.
Aside from business, Beyoncé’s art has been life-changing and life-saving for minorities (particularly Black women) and it gave a voice to the often voiceless. So after all this, even Adele has spoken out and said “what the fuck does she have to do” to win AOTY? You have to be twice as good to get half of what they have.
But black people know that this is an age-old story. Mumford won AOTY award over Frank Ocean. Daft Punk over Kendrick. Beck over Beyoncé. Taylor over Kendrick. Adele over Beyoncé. Prince never won the award. Neither has Jay-Z. Snoop Dog never saw a Grammy. Neither has Nas. All Kanye’s awards have been in the Urban category. 50 Cent only won a Grammy when he was featured on Eminem’s song. All John Legend’s Grammys have been in the Urban category.
Diana Ross, Jimi Hendrix, Pac, Bob Marley never saw a Grammy. Neither did the Jackson 5 in their era. Whiteys have been stealing our shit, profiting from it, and not giving us credit since way before The Great Plagiarizer Elvis himself. We know how this shit goes. Y’all create whole industries and rules, then throw award shows to give yourselves a pat on the back for doing well based on a rubric you created.
When she won the Urban category, Beyoncé read her acceptance speech describing the purpose of Lemonade because she knew she would not be able to do it for AOTY. Black artists can change the foundations of the industry but still end up essentially “being great…for a black album.”
To me the most annoying thing is that we are often the creators of the art they use in their marketing. They know how much pull we have—they had us all in the front rows for ratings—but they don’t want to credit us for our revolutionary power. How did ya’ll invite Rihanna there for her to see not ONE of her seven awards given to her? It’s disrespectful.
We must invest in ourselves. We must brand our awards with the same weight that we brand the Grammys. We must create new award shows that glorify us for us. Once we do this, the industry will be forced to fall in line. (After all, they heavily demonized hip-hop when it was first created until companies found out that they could use it as apart of their advertising). We have the power to change everything if we would only organize strategically.
It’s not just Beyonce, it’s a trend of snubs. It’s a societal trend. We are not given the credit and platforms that we deserve—we honestly never were. So it’s time we simply take it.