The #OscarSoWhite debacle reached new heights earlier this year and shed light on the lack of diversity in America’s entertainment industry. This has placed the 2016 Grammys under a lot of pressure to show a step forward in the right direction towards cultivating a more diverse Hollywood.
A large part of the conversation is solely centred on Kendrick Lamar and his 11 nominations for his latest offering To Pimp A Butterfly – a record number of Grammy nominations second only to Michael Jackson’s 12 nominations for his album Thriller in 1984.
Lamar is no stranger to being snubbed at the Grammys and has become somewhat notorious for it. In 2014, he received seven grammy nominations and received none, although and he won two Grammys for his single i in 2015. Through all this, the rapper has remained gracious, but this year he doesn’t seem to be apologetic about whether he deserves to win or not.
READ MORE: Kendrick Lamar leads Grammy nominations
In an interview with Billboard, he said:
“[The Grammy defeats] would have been upsetting to me if I’d known that was my best work, if I had nothing new to offer. Good Kid, M. A. A.D City is great work, but it’s not my best work. To Pimp a Butterfly is great. I’m talking about the connection the record made. Good Kid, M. A. A. D City made a connection. But To Pimp a Butterfly made a bigger connection… I want to win them all.”
Why Kendrick needs to win
If you listen to Lamar, then you know that he’s more than a lyrically-gifted musician, he’s also a social commentator whose songs have had a massive social impact and quite deliberately so. Lamar’s songs call for accountability and for visibility – they incapsulate the spirit in the atmosphere at the moment reminding every listener that black lives actually do matter, why they need to be seen and why they need to be celebrated.
I’ve felt that pressure in Compton, looking at the responsibility I have over these kids.
While he’s not the only artist doing this, we can’t ignore the fact that hip hop is directly connected to the movement. In terms of what we hear from the genre on our radios today, Lamar has clearly set himself apart from the rest. A lot of hip hop has to do with Internet and social media lingo, the culture of memes and five-liners, about the beat and making a quick hit that people will jam to for a few months. Lamar has set a new bar with hip hop that stays true to the root of what the culture is – long-form and telling stories as though he were writing a novel or poetry.
His stand-out single on To Pimp A Butterfly, King Kunta, literally goes through 100s of years of black history in minutes – while it also portrays arrogance, the song is about desire and ambition. It’s a song about about self-love and self-doubt and reflects on real, topical issues that faced us then and face us now. In all his music, Lamar never forgets where he comes from – Compton.
“I’ve felt that pressure in Compton, looking at the responsibility I have over these kids,” he said in the interview. “The world started turning into a place where so many were getting no justice. You’ve got to step up to the plate. Mortal Man is not me saying, ‘I can be your hero.’ Mortal Man is questioning: ‘Do you really believe in me to do this?’” he told Billboard.
Among other things, Lamar has even got the most powerful man in the world backing him. In a interview with People magazine, US President Barack Obama said that his favourite song of the year was How Much Do A Dollar Cost by Lamar.
Now if that’s not enough to get him all the Grammys, then we don’t know what is.
Lamar breaks down the tracks from his multi-grammy nominated album To Pimp A Butterfly: