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Urban Contemporary

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In 2013, the Grammys added three new categories to the show's already gargantuan total of 78. One of those aforementioned categories is somewhat obnoxiously titled: Best Urban Contemporary Album. Why is this ridiculous, you may ask. Well, for one, do we really need a new category? We already have 78, and shouldn't that be enough to cover all the genres of music, leaving out the ones that they don't recognize? Two, what the heck is Urban Contemporary even supposed to mean anyway? Last time I checked, we have categories that pretty much cover everything. And it's not necessarily the whole name that makes it insane, just the first word. Urban. What does urban mean to you, oh honorable Grammy Voters? Because it sounds to me like a fancy phrase for Best Black Album. And if you disagree with that statement, check the list of winners and nominees on the ever-reliable Wickipedia. Calling a category meant for  african-american artists Urban Contemporary just strengthens the black-inner city stereotype that our very own President, Donald Trump, has commonly alluded to himself. Best Black Album would be completely fine and respectable, if the award show itself seemed to take the category and the records in it seriously. Among the list of recipients stands two groundbreaking, earth-shaking albums by two amazing artists: Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, which nabbed the honor in the first year it was available: 2013, and Beyonce's Lemonade, which was honored in 2017 and slays everything to rubble. Both were considered to be the best album of their year, both were successful commercially and critically. Also, they both had songs nominated for Record of the Year, Frank Ocean's Thinkin Bout You, and Beyonce's Formation. They both deservedly took the trophy home in the category, but failed to win the highest honor of the night, Album of the Year. In fact, all but one of the winners of Best Urban Contemporary Album were nominated for Album of the Year. But none of them won. This shows, at least to me, that the category of Best Urban Contemporary Album is basically a way for the Grammys to give another award to a deserving african-american artist to make up for an unfair loss in the most honorable category, Album of the Year. It's like they're saying, you can win this one, but you're not good enough for that one. It shows that Grammy voters are more likely to pick a white album for Album of the Year, since often the most deserving african-american albums are awarded with Best Urban Contemporary and overlooked for Album of the Year. And no, the argument that the Album of the Year award always just honors the most commercially successful (the album that sells the most) album does not hold water, because in 2014, Beyonce's self-titled Beyonce, superior to the winner--Beck's Morning Phase--both critically and commercially, still wasn't honored as the best of the year.  It's a shame that Grammy voters obviously don't even listen to the nominees in the category, because if they did, surely they would know who's was truly deserving. Oh, and yes, I'm still very disappointed by the Frank Ocean and Beyonce snubs even though you may think I should be over it by now. I'll never be over it. 

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