Taking a break from their habit of shrugging and just giving an award
to a Marley son, Ladysmith Black Mambazo or Angelique Kidjo, Burna
Boy and Wizkid won Grammys on Sunday. Burna Boy won the Best World
Music Album—whoops, excuse me, they slightly changed the name and
left the concept intact—won the Best Global Music Album for Twice
As Tall and Wizkid won the
Grammy for Best Music Video for his song with Beyonce and Blue Ivy
Carter, “Brown Skin Girl.” Toots and the Maytals won Best Reggae Album for Got to Be Tough, released days before Toots Hibbert died at 77.
winners only admit they didn’t deserve their
Oscars when the wrong envelope is opened, the 63rd
Grammy Awards were once again headlined by an artist making her
acceptance speech about how she shouldn’t have won: This time
Billie Eilish apologizing to Megan Thee Stallion for winning Record
of the Year. Last year Angelique Kidjo, with
nothing to apologize for,
dedicated her Best World Music Album win to Burna Boy.
shows are a strange thing, and nothing’s stranger than a
culture-wide agreement, which The Simpsons pegged 28 years ago and is
now annually mentioned from the podium, that the Grammys are vacuous but deserve attention.
Click-driven culture writers apparently need a monoculture so,
after warming up by desperately wringing significance from a Super
Bowl halftime show, they
keep the Grammys going on life support.
is no reflection on the quality of Burna Boy’s monumental
Twice As Tall—the
Grammys rarely reflect quality at all. They changed the name of the
award from “World Music” to “Global Music,” saying the new
a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk and
‘non-American’ that the former term embodied,” but as record
producer and occasional Afropop contributor Ian Brennan explained in
The Guardian last week, “the name may be new, but the song
remains the same.” It’s worth reading over his argument that,
despite whatever effort the Grammys may be making, the category
itself remains flawed, and a reflection of how “music’s biggest
night” operates with a pretty restrictive and exclusionary
definition of “music.”
Still, good for Burna Boy and Wizkid, who inarguably have earned more attention. Nice of the Grammys to notice.