Op-Ed: The Annual Grammys Blunder


Photo Courtesy Complex

Kaeden Souki

The nominations for the 2023 Grammy Awards were released over three weeks ago, but even with this time I’ve had to reflect, I’m still just as confused and disappointed as I was when the selections were released. 

Even with the history of controversial Grammy nomination blunders, especially in Rap categories, the nominations for the Album of the Year in the music’s best-performing genre are laughable and reflect a lack of respect for the artistic merit of Hip Hop. I know that there are also other genres in the Grammys but this situation seems to happen annually, and I do not like it one bit. 

This year’s nominees were: 

  • Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar
  • It’s Almost Dry by Pusha T
  • I Never Liked You by Future
  • Come Home The Kids Miss You by… Jack Harlow 
  • God Did by…lmao… DJ Khaled

Personally, I’m not necessarily a casual rap listener. However, even a casual listener, or someone not familiar with the genre, can probably determine which of these are not like the others. Yes, exactly… those last two. 

Photo Courtesy Atlantic Records and Generation Now

Jack Harlow seems like a nice fella, but Come Home The Kids Miss You is bad. It’s not good. Jack Harlow definitely still has some promising potential but he just did not display that on this album, it is spectacularly lackluster. Jack Harlow’s artistic success at this point seems reliant on his persona rather than his art. 

There are also other factors that may contribute to what seems like Jack Harlow’s debatably unwarranted recognition over more well-deserving artists. I’m not going to say what they are, but I’ll just say his situation seems reminiscent of Macklemore’s victory over Kendrick Lamar at the 2014 ceremony. 

Harlow seems like a nice young man but he clearly has unfair advantages that gloss over a comparative degradation of quality in Come Home The Kids Miss You’s nomination over albums like the obvious JID’s The Forever Story and Denzel Curry’s Melt My Eyez See Your Future.  In a year that has experienced such continuous exposure to high-quality projects, it seems criminal to reduce the representation of the year down to Jack Harlow and DJ Khaled.

Photo Courtesy We the Best Music Group and Epic Records

As a Middle Eastern fan of Hip-Hop, the severest pain I endure daily is that DJ Khaled (and French Montana) is essentially the only Middle-Eastern representation in the genre. His new record God Did is a VERY listless 57-minute ride, apart from a few solid contributions by featured artists, particularly Jay-Z’s grandiose six-minute verse on the titular “God Did”. 

This verse is actually very good, but before ever hearing the track I heard people say it was Jay-Z’s best verse ever, and that is just beyond foolish. That is an inconceivable level of disrespect.

Mr. Khaled is a truly special artist because he can assemble a feature list like “God Did” and create such an underwhelming display. Actually, that’s not fair, I genuinely can’t even say DJ Khaled is a bad artist because I have no idea, I’m not convinced he’s released a body of work in recent years in which the majority of creative influence on the album is actually from DJ Khaled. DJ Khaled can’t rap, he can’t make beats, he can’t arrange an album, and he’s also annoying.

Disrespecting Jack Harlow and DJ Khaled got me so fired up that I completely forgot to mention a single nomination in any other genre, let alone the three other rap albums that were nominated for Album of the Year. I’ll summarize quickly:

  • I Never Liked You – It’s by Future so yeah I understand it’s a notable release but when I saw it got nominated my only thought was, “oh yeah, Future dropped this year too.” It’s a fine album but I’m not quite sure it’s close to the top five.
  • It’s Almost Dry I can’t really be mad at this. Pusha T’s album was definitely one of the highlights of the year for a time. It had some great production and Pusha T sounded just as sharp as he ever has. It’s definitely one of the best from 2022, I just think so many amazing projects came out after this that I’m not convinced It’s Almost Dry is still top five.
  • Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers – I honestly think Kendrick deserves every single award he’s nominated for, and if there’s any artist in Hip-Hop who’s immune to the Grammy’s anti-rap bias, it’s Kendrick. Not only is he deserving, but I think Kendrick will actually be victorious. Unfortunately, he’s still a rapper, which means there’s no way he can win general Album of the Year over industry favorites such as Adele, Lizzo, Harry Styles, and most importantly, Beyonce.

Hopefully, before the Awards Ceremony, I can talk about all those other genres because I’ve written far more than I even think I can, and this isn’t even close to everything I have to say. In conclusion, the Grammys need to get it together. Hip Hop is a beautiful genre that seems like it is annually disrespected and misrepresented by the Grammys.  

As a bonus, here’s a quick list of Rap Albums released between Oct 1, 2021, and Sep 30, 2022, that deserved to be nominated over Come Home The Kids Miss You and God Did:

(These first four, along with Mr. Morale, would be my ideal top five.)

  • The Forever Story – JID
  • Melt My Eyez See Your Future – Denzel Curry
  • Drill Music in Zion – Lupe Fiasco
  • Cheat Codes – Black Thought and Danger Mouse
  • Learn 2 Swim – Redveil
  • Tana Talk 4 – Benny the Butcher
  • Ramona Park Broke My Heart – Vince Staples
  • $oul $old $eperately – Freddie Gibbs
  • 2000 – Joey Bada$$
  • Vinyl Days – Logic
  • No Fear of Time – Black Star
  • Gold Mouf – Lute
  • Punk – Young Thug
  • LP! – JPEGmafia
  • Elephant in the Room – Mick Jenkins
  • Aethiopes – Billy Woods
  • Louie – Kenny Beats
  • The Elephant Man’s Bones – The Alchemist and Roc Marciano
  • God Don’t Make Mistakes – Conway the Machine
  • Garbology – Aesop Rock
  • Few Good Things – Saba
  • Sick! – Earl Sweathshirt
  • Magic – Nas
  • Super Tecmo Bo – The Alchemist and Boldy James
  • Deathfame – Quelle Chris
  • From A Birds Eye View – Cordae
  • DS4Ever – Gunna
  • Digital Roses Don’t Die – Big K.R.I.T.
  • Ghetto Gods – Earthgang
  • Forever – Phife Dawg
  • 2 P’z In A Pod – Larry June, Jay Worthy, LNDN DRGS
  • Zhigeist – Elzhi
  • 777 – Latto
  • Before You Go – Blxst
  • Simple – IDK
  • + probably countless others that I didn’t listen to