The Grammys: Political and Occasionally Awkward
Did Busta Rhymes just call President Trump Agent Orange? Yes. Yes, he did.
After googling, “What channel is CBS on AT&T U-Verse,” and blowing the dust off my remote, I sat down to watch the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, Twitter fingers ready.
In a stadium full of people who use music to express themselves and document the times, what will be said of 2017 so far?
We start with James Corden rapping because…James Corden. He’s not Piers Morgan, so he’s okay in my book. “Live it up because with President Trump we don’t know what comes next,” he rhymed. Me and you both, girl. It’s only been three weeks.
Retinol cream #goals Jennifer Lopez announced the first category of the night, Best New Artist. And with that, a call to action through the words of author Toni Morrison: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work.” And if we are to believe the Puerto Rican princess, if we are to believe the Grammys isn’t about awards but about “music, the words, the voices, and how they move us,” why the hell did they keep cutting off Chance the Rapper’s acceptance speeches?! *flips table in a Biblical fashion*
Paris Jackson, who is not 12 like I previously thought, used her camera time to highlight the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. But don’t cheer. Because that excitement and applause would be better suited not at an awards show (that she is also attending), but at a protest (that she is not currently at). I cringed.
I literally have no recollection of the ceremony between then and Mama Tina introducing her eldest daughter, The Sunshine Emoji Personified, Glistening Honey Bun Goddess Beyoncé to the stage. To think, I thought I already received every blessing I possibly could from that album and its visuals in 2016. If I could be one silk thread on the bright yellow scarf caressing her earthly vessel…
In her acceptance speech for Best Urban Contemporary Album, she reiterated Lemonade’s purpose — Black women are worthy. This album got me through 2016, y’all. Those unable to understand it on every level can only grovel on stage in shock of their Album of The Year win. I am not angry I am not angry I am not angry Adele is a fantastic human being and her makeup is always on point…
I came-to just in time for the end of Katy Perry and Skip Marley’s performance. As I lifted my eyes to the television, Katy screamed “no hate!,” with the U.S. Constitution’s “We The People” projected behind her. No hate — I feel like most of us can agree on that, yes? But what does hate look like? Where does it come from? I wonder what everybody is referencing??
Enter A Tribe Called Quest. A. Tribe. Called. Quest. Dressed in black, raising fists, explicitly addressing the president, not “the times.” It’s President “Agent Orange” that perpetuates hate, The Cheeto In Chief that is turning “we the people” into “us vs. them” with the Muslim ban, The Wall, every executive order flying off his desk. The Tangerine Tyrant and his administration must be resisted, the strongest call to action of the whole show. “All those people who are pushing people in power to represent them, we represent you,” said Q-Tip.
Recording Academy President Neil Portnow appealed to Trump to protect music education and nationally funded music programs. He also veered into kumbaya land when he said we all had a shared history, but I set my cringe aside for the greater good of The Arts. So many musicians, whether honored this year or not, have the ability to inspire and impact a generation. We need them.
I wonder if President Tang It’s A Kick In A Glass was tuned in. The music industry is probably a tool for evil and opposition now. Sad!
Photo by Kevin Mazur via Getty Images for NARAS.