“I never let a statue tell me how nice I am,” the late Phife Dawg rapped in 1993 on A Tribe Called Quest’s “Award Tour.”
Hip-hop’s relationship with the Grammys has always been tenuous at best. Rappers have been shut out from major categories like album of the year since time immemorial, prompting boycotts from artists like Jay Z and Will Smith. The few that make it in the room are relegated to rap-centric categories that usually don’t make it on air. On Tuesday (Dec. 6), the Recording Academy announced the nominations the 2017 Grammy Awards and it looks like “music’s biggest night” is set to repeat history.
The genre’s front-runner is Drake, with eight nominations. His Views album earned a nomination for album of the year, and “Work,” his Rihanna collaboration, is nominated for record of the year. The Toronto native picked up nominations for best rap album, best rap song (“Hotline Bling”), and best rap performance (“Pop Style”). Drake is the only hip-hop artist nominated in the major categories. Albeit impressive, it’s not particularly surprising or a very progressive move by the Academy. Drake’s nominations in these categories are based on pop-driven tracks, and on “Work,” he is only a featured guest. What’s interesting is that Drake was overlooked in the song of the year category for both “Hotline Bling” and “Work.” It’s unclear whether a rumored clerical error was the cause for this or if it’s just a Grammy fail. Instead, tracks like Mike Posner’s “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” and "Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber got nods.