Stevie G: Grammys still stink of prejudice

It’s no surprise that many of the nominated artists don’t even bother to turn up any more, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Stevie G: Grammys still stink of prejudice

Bruno Mars, Dernst Emile II, and Anderson Paak accept the Song Of The Year award for ‘Leave The Door Open’ at the Grammys.

On the music front there’s been lots of news both home and abroad lately. From an international perspective, the Grammys got most of the coverage this week, and as always there were differing opinions on who should have gotten the awards. My own distain for the Grammys has been consistently documented here over the years, and it’s no surprise that many of the nominated artists don’t even bother to turn up any more.

Most of them recognise that shady practices continue to exist, despite some positive changes. While hip-hop continues to be the most commercially dominant music in the world, most of its winners continue to be in specialist categories, and it’s the same for R&B and soul and other forms of black music. This year bucked the trend a little. Jon Batiste is the first black artist to win album of the year since 2008. It’s a good album and a deserving winner. But the first black artist since 2008? That’s truly incredible given the music that black artists brought out in that time.

Silk Sonic won loads of Grammys for their retro soul classic “Leave The Door Open” and it was deserved by this project from Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, while Kanye West and The Weeknd, two of the Grammys’ biggest critics, won awards too.

The fact that The Weeknd was snubbed last year shows how out of touch these award ceremonies are, and he wasn’t the only award winner to look at the whole thing cynically. Lalah Hathaway has won five Grammys in four years, yet noted, that none were televised. It would be a big boost for her career, but many of these influential genres are relegated to the sidelines by derivative pop music. But it’s always been the way really.

The reggae category was a typical example. Some white American reggae band that few had ever heard of won the award, leaving the fans of Jamaican music perplexed. In Africa, surely the worldwide explosion of Afrobeats is worthy of more categories in 2022? Wizkid and Tems had a genuine global smash that should have been competing in pop categories, but as usual, the Grammys puts this kind of music in a convenient box, far from the mainstream. It will take many more years to change this.

On the domestic front there’s been some interesting developments too, with the Daily Mail suggesting that the long battle to change the licensing laws for nightclubs is making progress, and that clubs could soon be granted later hours. Give us the night have waged an impressive war on these archaic laws for decades now, so let’s hope that changes are on the way. As usual the focus will be on alcohol rather than arts and culture and tourism, but a more adult approach to our nighttime economy may benefit future generations in the industry here. Sadly many venues are now gone, but hopefully a new generation will come up.

The government has also announced a basic income for artists pilot scheme, which will benefit 2,000 randomly picked artists here, so hopefully that will signal more respectful policy making regarding the arts here in Ireland. It’s a small scheme really, but a step in the right direction, that aims to value “the time spent developing a creative practice and producing art” in a sector that is notoriously financially unstable even after the worst of the pandemic.

In Cork we continue to have some gigs filling in the gap before the festival months but we have some interesting festivals too. The Rebound Arts Festival takes place this weekend and it’s a three day multidisciplinary festival that aims to “enliven and reclaim spaces we inhabit”.

There are loads of interesting events on the schedule. Gig wise US rapper Blueface will be joined by one of Ireland’s finest, JyellowL, in Cyprus Avenue tomorrow week (Good Friday), while my own Jam night will host Yesunia, Rea Brizy, Wahid, Olu and oj.d later that evening. It’s gonna be a big night for hip-hop, r&b and Afrobeats.

Cyprus Avenue continues to be the premier destination for the bigger shows, though they’ve hosted some interesting gigs downstairs lately too, with Tebi Rex and Kean Kavanagh visiting recently. Erica Cody, Maverick Sabre and Macy Gray are some of the big names incoming in the next few months.

Most of the other hip-hop related stuff is taking place in the smaller venues like The Kino and Bru so hopefully the music scene here will rise up again as we hit the summer months.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more