(AllHipHop Features) In the 58 year history of the Grammys, only two Hip Hop acts have ever won the coveted Album Of The Year honor – Lauryn Hill (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, 1999) and OutKast (Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, 2004). More surprisingly, iconic rap representatives like 2Pac, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Run-DMC, Ice Cube, Rakim, and many others have never won a golden gramophone.
For years, an argument has been made that part of the reason why rappers are widely ignored at the Grammys is because the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) is made up of mostly older members who may not be as familiar with the higher quality Hip Hop music that should be recognized.
An example is the controversial selection of Macklemore’s The Heist winning Best Rap Album over Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, M.A.A.D. city in 2014. Or go back to 1990 when Young MC’s “Bust A Move” defeated Public Enemy’s undeniable classic “Fight the Power” for Best Rap Performance.
In addition, Kanye West and Eminem have each been shut out of the Album Of The Year award three times. Throughout their respective careers, two of the biggest rap superstars of the last 15 years lost the AOTY trophy to musical elder statesmen Steely Dan, Ray Charles, U2, and Herbie Hancock. And just this week, Taylor Swift’s 1989 was crowned Album Of The Year, despite the fact Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly is one of the highest rated albums of all time.
However, a new rule change for Recording Academy membership could affect future voting for the Grammy awards. HitsDailyDouble reports the organization’s renewal policy for its 12,000 members is being altered.
“We’ve done in this past year a requalification piece, so if you’re a member and you’re about to renew, you will have to go through a requalification submission of the application,” NARAS President Neil Portnow told HDD. “To the extent that you meet those requirements and you’re current and actually a practicing member of the industry, you can continue to have the ability to be a voting member. If not, you can continue as an associate member, but not voting, so that’s a big step in keeping the current membership relevant.”
The Recording Academy also released the following statement:
Periodically, the Academy requests its members to submit updated profession credentials. As the recording industry continues to evolve, we want to ensure our member records reflect their current roles in the industry. Member records need to be updated to reflect new voting categories (voting members only), professional affiliations and primary genre. If members do not proactively update their accounts with us, we will reach out to them directly at least once within every five years of their membership. If someone no longer works in the recording industry professionally, they will not be eligible to renew their membership after their current membership expires.
Essentially, the move means NARAS members have to be currently working in the music industry in order to maintain his or her membership. This revelation comes after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the organization that awards the Oscars – recently altered its policy from a lifetime membership to a 10-year limit with possible renewal options.
With the push for more inclusion at all levels of the entertainment industry, AMPAS has also announced it will launch “an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.” The Recording Academy may have to follow the Motion Picture Academy’s lead in both its membership tenure and recruitment techniques.
Of course, requiring Recording Academy members to be actively working in the music industry or instituting membership term limits does not automatically guarantee Hip Hop artists will start running away with more Grammys or that underground performers will get more shine at the ceremony, but having a younger, involved base of musicians, producers, songwriters, engineers, and other music professionals could help level the playing field across all genres of music.
For information on how to become a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences visit grammypro.com.