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The Grammys: Political and Occasionally Awkward

Did Busta Rhymes just call President Trump Agent Orange? Yes. Yes, he did.

02.13.17

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!

Check out author Evelyn’s YouTube channel, Instagram @evelynfromtheinternets, Twitter @eveeeeezy and Facebook.

Photo by Kevin Mazur via Getty Images for NARAS.

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  • Adele’s makeup look was so good…I kept on staring at her gorgeous, defined face. Her makeup artist is an artist, period.

    • Adele looks like LUXURY!!! The contour, the eyeliner, whewww!

    • Junglesiren

      Even my husband commented on how great her make-up is. He’s so unaware usually.

  • Hold up, there’s a Best URBAN (!!????!!) Contemporary Album award?? Isn’t “urban” kind of inappropriate?

    • I was confused also. What does Urban Contemporary actually mean??::side eye:: towards the Grammys for that one.

      • ValiantlyVarnished

        I was side-eyeing the Grammys the entire night. Especially when Adele won Album of the Year. Even Adele was side-eyeing the Grammys for that one.

    • ValiantlyVarnished

      It’s basically code for “black”. I loathe that category with the heat of a thousand suns. It’s sonic segregation.

      • kay

        yeah it sounds like the separate but equal grammy to me. it’s not specific enough to mean anything else.

      • It reminds me of the Race Records.

    • Junglesiren

      That pissed the hell out of me. “Urban”… you know what that’s code for. And it also meant that she wouldn’t win Best Album.

  • Anne Dyer

    I sobbed through Tribe, I was confused during Beyoncé and I die for the dudes in the front row dancing along to Jungle Love. The show was beyond.

    • This crowd did not do right by Morris Day and the Time and I will NEVER forgive them.

      And that Bruno Mars tribute to Prince was a seance as far as I’m concerned.

      • Anne Dyer

        Yes! I agree. Aside from those three dudes there was nothing from the crowd. My soul burst open with Morris Day and the Time performances.

  • kay

    i got really into your question about what are people talking about hate, it got me thinking about an article i read from a guy in venezuela about the populist president disaster they had and how they finally took democracy back years later by bridging the rural/urban divide. what he wrote about bringing the country together makes me think a message of love and positivity is a really good general message, although the no hate message is the negative version of that, which is prob less effective. like you said we really should be able to back up our message with evidence to point to specifically who is being hateful and how our side is loving instead, we can’t just say it and not have evidence. but i dont think the general nonspecific call for love or “no hate” is without value or meaning, i think its our general message, it’s the name of the high ground we are staking out. if we do a good job of selling it and living it hopefully many more people will want to identify with the love side than the not love side, and be less against us. like that video with the conservative christian lady who stood up for obamacare based on her faith.
    here’s the venezuela article:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/01/27/in-venezuela-we-couldnt-stop-chavez-dont-make-the-same-mistakes-we-did/?utm_term=.01c067c83fd7

    • Norelis Rodriguez

      Chavez is dead, the bridge in Venezuela is bigger than ever, and the current president, put there by the deceseased, is worst than the original nightmare.

  • I always love Evelyn’s commentary and this is no different. I lived for Beyonce, for Chance who epitomizes Black Boy Joy to a T, I lived for A Tribe Called Quest – yes! There was such magic felt and created in that venue last night. There were some disappointments, quite a few actually. (Rihanna girl, girl, I still see you even if they didn’t) I didn’t care for Adele’s win, but I appreciated the way that she took the time to appreciate Beyonce’s contribution to music this year. I was crying with them. It was a beautiful moment amongst two powerhouse artists that respect each other as women first and it was amazing to see. I love how everyone was using their platform to say whatever message mattered most to them, again it was great to see.

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    I feel like with each passing year the Grammy prove how utterly irrelevant and apart from the times they are. With the exception of Beyonce’s performance and Adele and Tribe Called Quest it was a complete and utter homogenized snooze fest. And Lemonade not winning Album of the Year has me seriously feeling some kind of way – even Adele was mad about that one.

  • starryhye

    Can we talk about how disappointing the George Michael tribute was? Adele is great but that slow and moody version of “Fastlove” was gross.

  • Junglesiren

    Adele gave one of the most classy displays of true humbleness that I have ever witnessed from a celebrity (funny, now that I recall Beyonce calling Taylor Swift up onto the stage with her to finish her speech that asshole Kanye had messed up – that generosity came full-circle last night). Wow. What a fantastic girl, Adele is. I loved her album… and I agree with her – Beyonce’s album was brilliant (and got me through 2016 too – I mean, I couldn’t stop listening, and truly it stoked my anger to a point that felt cathartic)… and it should have won (Grammy’s — really? wow)… It was a masterpiece! But if not Beyonce, I’m happy that the great Adele got it.

    And for all of those who hate Beyonce, I get it, she’s not for you, she’s just “too much” (Beyonce’s “too much” makes me happy)… but do yourself a favor and actually listen to the album before you verbally poo on it. It’s incredible… on many levels. It’s a very different Beyonce, and I would go as far as to say that this album rivals Talking Book, What’s Going On and Dark Side of The Moon, three of the greatest “concept albums” ever made.

  • *flips table in a Biblical fashion*

    All hail Evelyn 🙂

  • Stiletto

    Beyonce is SO SO SO overrated and her performance was another narcissistic, overblown spectacle… how much spoken word did we have to suffer through before she actually sang? It’s a shame Adele felt the need to pander to Beyonce’s narcissism by saying that B deserved the Album of the Year award. Adele’s music and artistry blows Beyonce out of the water any day. Adele doesn’t need a power hubby, pageantry, costumes, elaborate music videos, spoken word narrative, or scandalous rumors of infidelity (Becky?) to fuel her popularity. She simply steps on stage and shares her amazing gift with the world. Adele channels raw, pure emotion and really connects with people on a soul level… it’s why her music is so popular. The aloof, untouchable Beyonce seems to strive only for connections of ego with her audience. She’s the child star who never got over the “everybody-look-at-me” syndrome.

    • Norelis Rodriguez

      Totally agree. Stop anyone on the street and ask them to sing one of Adele’s songs from 25. Then do the same about Lemonade and you will have your answer why Adele won and Beyonce didn’t.

    • Allegra

      y’all are white huh?

    • Meg S

      I don’t see why you have to badmouth one because you like the other. They’re two different kinds of performers, and you can’t really compare either of them. Maybe Adele honestly felt that Beyonce deserved album of the year. Unless you’re Adele, you won’t really know what she thinks or why she says what she does, so stop trying.

      You can appreciate Adele’s music & artistry and Beyonce’s flair for entertainment & performance without badmouthing either of them. Belittling one person to make another look good isn’t cool.