The Recording Academy and the hip-hop community have long had a bumpy road, and this year’s Grammy Awards proved to be no different.
Show producer Ken Erlich told the New York Times ahead of music’s biggest night that he had trouble securing rap artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Drake to perform — although the Toronto rapper later showed up to the awards show, winning Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan,” only to say in his acceptance speech that “you don’t need” validation from securing golden trophies.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Erlich said the situation was disappointing.
“When they don’t take home the big prize, the regard of the academy, and what the Grammys represent, continues to be less meaningful to the hip-hop community, which is sad,” Ehrlich told the paper ahead of the show.
Despite all of the rejection, the Grammys did secure rappers Travis Scott and Cardi B to perform. Still, it’s hard to ignore the growing chasm between the hip-hop community and the Grammy Awards.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
ESSENCE asked five Grammy Award-nominated rappers, along with Clive Davis as well as singers and producers what the Recording Academy could do to improve the relationship and bring the two sides together.
Watch the video above to see what they had to say, or scroll below:
LL Cool J
"Reach out to the artists. Give them love. Invite them in and invite some people in on the merit of the music and not necessarily only because they're national names. Some people just need to come because they make great music. And catch some people early in their careers."
BRENTWOOD, CA - JUNE 02: LL Cool J attended the 17th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball in Los Angeles, CA on June 2, 2018. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Chrysalis Butterfly Ball)
"I think it's been two years now; they've started a committee that helps get the category and the nominees a bit more closer to the culture. I think they've done a good job. I look at the category this year, and I'm pretty happy with it."
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Pusha T attends the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
"There's a call to arms as far as the artists investing their whole selves into the art form itself. I don't think it should be an appeasement for any one genre or any one individual. I think we should earn our keep at all times."
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: CeeLo Green attends the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
"People get overlooked so I mean it's a good thing that they're listening and giving the people what they want."
Jay Rock, winner of Best Rap Performance for "King's Dead", accepts his award onstage during the 61st Annual Grammy Awards pre-telecast show on February 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
"A lot of rappers sometimes don't even know that it's their job to vote. Like, the actual superstars you gotta go and vote for the people that you believe in. So sometimes we're looking at other people to say that they need to do it, but...we're empowered if we want to be."
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: PJ Morton (L) and Yebba speak onstage at the premiere ceremony during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Microsoft Theater on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
"I see hip-hop really represented well this year."
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 10: Nipsey Hussle attends the 61st Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
"It's two worlds coming together. I think the hip-hop community has to get very involved with the Grammys and understand that the Grammys are a prestigious team of people, and the Grammys have to understand that hip-hop is ever-evolving."
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: (L-R) Harmony Samuels and Major attend the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
"It deserves to be [front and center.] We're in the midst of the hip-hop revolution."
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment Clive Davis speaks onstage at Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's 2012 Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Richard Branson held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 11, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy)