Bad blood has existed between Hip-Hop and the Grammys since the genre was included into its ceremonies in 1989. Ever since Fresh Prince (Will Smith), LL Cool J, and Salt n Pepa boycotted The Grammys, the Hip-Hop community has always kept the ceremonies at a “frenemy” distance due to its tendency to snub Hip-Hop artists from its general field categories. In hopes that this year’s nominees have a fair shot, these are the top Grammy-snubbing, Hip-Hop moments for those who didn’t:
1. 50 Cent loses Best New Artist to Evanesence in 2004:
You know a snub is bad when a relatively unknown Kanye West said you were robbed in a category that he wasn’t even nominated in at the time. There might never be a debut in music history like Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson had in 2003. After his milestone debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin, went 6x times platinum, his single “In Da Club” broke the most-listened to song in radio history billboard record in a week, and his G-Unit records launched the successful careers of his G-Unit soldiers, 50 thought it was pretty safe to assume that he had 2004’s Best New Artist reward in the bag. So when he walked off the stage with his head low after realizing the rock band Evanescense had won the award, it was pretty safe to say that the Grammys had taught 50 and the music world their own lessons on “How To Rob”.
2. Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” loses Song of the Year to John Mayer’s “Daughters” in 2005:
It was a hit. It was a classic. And it was about Jesus. “Jesus Walks” wasn’t exactly Christian rap, but it seemed like it could have parted the Red Sea with the way it blessed airwaves and walked on top of charts in 2004. West’s reverse psychology of having people question why Jesus was such a taboo subject in mainstream Hip-Hop launched his career as musical artist who only needed to praise God to get G points. The Grammys committed an unforgivable sin when they gave John Mayer’s “Daughters” the Song of the Year award over “Jesus Walks”, but Mayer would make amends by working with Kanye on Common’s erotic track, “Go”. Now there’s some Common Ground.
3. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” loses Record of the Year to Coldplay’s “Clocks” in 2004:
If you had one shot. Or one opportunity. To seize all the credibility you ever wanted. In one moment. Would you capture? Or just let it slip…like the Grammys did when they snubbed Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” for Coldplay’s “Clocks” in 2004? Slim Shady’s multi-syllabic ode to the MC’s struggle with failure, fame, and frustration proved to strike a chord with anyone who struggled to pursue a dream, since it broke the Guinness World Record for the longest run at number one for a rap song. Even the Oscars awarded Mr. Mathers for Best Original Song that year. Too bad the Grammys slept on Em like he slept while his name was being called to receive his Oscar.
4. Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter lll loses Album of the Year to Robert Plant and Alison Krause’s Raising Sand 2009:
Robert and Alison who??? Hate it or love it, there was not a more influential album than Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter lll in 2009. After selling “Amilli” in its first week, the album went on to become the best selling album of 2009, even after it leaked a week before it dropped. Sure, Wayne’s appeal to mainstream had him taking some unrewarding risk on “Lollipop” and “Get Money”, but putting out “Amilli”, a musically simple but ravenous word-play exercise, challenged even the most lyrically lazy rappers to try their best to “go in”.
5. The Fugees’ The Score loses Album of the Year to Celine Dion’s Falling Into You in 1997:
Creating a classic by covering another artist’s song is almost like trying to take credit for a project that your best friend, did but when you have a musical genius like Wyclef Jean and soulful lyricist like Lauryn Hill remaking your song, it is more like a privilege. Laced with laid-back lyrics about social issues that were uplifted by hopeful, Reggae undertones, The Score still remains as one of the most influential albums in any genre. Wyclef, Pras, and Lauryn definitely looked like refugees in a strange land at the 1997 Grammys, but Ms. Hill would return two years later to settle The Score with her masterpiece, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.