The Grammys

Jay-Z tells Grammys to ‘get it right’ and give Black artists their due

Author: Jennifer Hassan Source: The Washington Post
February 5, 2024 at 08:29
Jay-Z accepts the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award at the Grammys on Sunday in Los Angeles. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Jay-Z accepts the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award at the Grammys on Sunday in Los Angeles. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Jay-Z used his acceptance speech at the Grammy Awards on Sunday to call on the Recording Academy to do more to “get it right” when it comes to honoring Black artists, noting that his wife, Beyoncé, has never won the coveted album of the year — despite having the most Grammys in history.

Taking to the stage to accept the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award for his achievements in music, the rapper noted “how far we’ve come” since Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff won the first rap Grammy in 1989.

Jay-Z recalled how the duo boycotted the ceremony because the rap category was not televised at the time — and how he boycotted the Grammys around 10 years later when the late rapper DMX released two No. 1 albums but was not nominated for an award.

“We want you to get it right; we love you, but we want you to get it right — at least get it close to right,” Jay-Z said of the Grammys as he stood alongside his daughter Blue Ivy Carter. “Some of you may get robbed,” he said, adding, “Some of you don’t belong in the category.”

Jay-Z said that “obviously” music is “subjective” and “opinion-based” but suggested Beyoncé was well overdue for the honor of album of the year. “I don’t want to embarrass this young lady, but she has more Grammys than everyone and never won album of the year,” he said.

“So even by your own metrics, that doesn’t work,” he continued. “Think about that: The most Grammys, never won album of the year.”

The camera then panned to Beyoncé in the audience. She was last nominated for the ceremony’s most prestigious award last year, for her 2022 album, “Renaissance,” but lost to British star Harry Styles.

From last year’s awards: Beyoncé just made Grammy history. Why does it feel like she still lost?
 

Jay-Z kisses Beyoncé on Sunday. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
Jay-Z kisses Beyoncé on Sunday. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

 

Beyoncé is the most-nominated female artist in Grammy history, with 88, according to the awards’ official website. She has won 32 times, also a record.

Taylor Swift took home the award for album of the year on Sunday for “Midnights.” It was her fourth win, the most for any artist in that category.

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Jay-Z has long advocated for social justice, creating an organization to advocate for changes to the criminal justice system. The star has also co-produced documentaries about Trayvon Martin, the Black 17-year-old who was killed by neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman, and Kalief Browder, a Black man who killed himself after being imprisoned without a trial or conviction for more than 1,000 days.

A string of African American artists, including Frank Ocean, Kanye West and Sean “Diddy” Combs, have also taken stands through speeches and boycotts over the years to push the Grammys to recognize the hip-hop community and Black talent. “Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys,” Diddy said at a pre-ceremony gala in 2020.

Previous winners in the best album category have also lamented that Beyoncé is yet to take home the award. In 2017, when Adele won album of the year for “25,” the British singer said, “I can’t possibly accept this award,” before calling Beyoncé “the artist of my life.” She said Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album was “monumental,” telling reporters it was Beyoncé’s “time to win.”

 
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