Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the mainstream rap duo that swept the rap Grammys in 2014 and received backlash after besting Kendrick Lamar, didn’t submit their latest album for contention at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
A person close to the nomination process, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to publicly talk about the topic, said Macklemore & Lewis didn’t submit This Unruly Mess I Made when submissions were due last September.
The album, the group’s second, was released last February. Like Macklemore & Lewis, Frank Ocean also didn’t submit his two latest albums for Grammys.
Representatives for the rap group and the Grammys, which will be presented Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, didn’t immediately reply to emails seeking comment.
In 2014, Macklemore & Lewis won best rap album for their multiplatinum debut, The Heist; best rap song and rap performance for the crossover pop hit, “Thrift Shop”; and best new artist.
The group almost didn’t compete for those rap honors after the Recording Academy’s rap committee felt the duo should compete for pop awards instead because of their mainstream breakthrough, which included No. 1 successes with “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us.” Another single, the same sex anthem “Same Love,” peaked at No.11 on the Billboard Hot 100.
But that decision was later overturned, and Macklemore & Lewis went on to win big in the rap categories, beating out Lamar, who walked away empty-handed that year. But drama ensued a day after the Grammys when Macklemore said Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” should have won best rap album instead of “The Heist.”
The Grammys spectacle was at the center of the group’s latest album title – called This Unruly Mess I’ve Made – and Macklemore was part of the conversation about contemporary white artists appropriating black culture, along with Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus. On “White Privilege II,” from This Unruly Mess, Macklemore raps about a white person’s position in society with black people fighting injustice, and even namechecks Azalea for appropriating black culture, along with himself.
This Unruly Mess didn’t make a splash on the charts or on streaming platforms like The Heist. It only sold 382,000 units (based on a combination of album sales, song sales and on-demand audio streams) according to Nielsen Music. (“The Heist” sold a combined 4.3 million units). The album’s first single, “Downtown,” did reach No. 12 on the Hot 100 and featured Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz.