Big night for women, rap at Grammy Awards

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY MESFIN FEKADU AP Mu­sic Writer

LOS AN­GE­LES — Women re­turned to power at the Gram­mys on Sun­day as fe­male acts won al­bum of the year and best new artist, while Child­ish Gam­bino’s “This Is Amer­ica” be­came the first rap-based song to win record and song of the year.

Kacey Mus­graves’ “Golden Hour” picked up al­bum of the year, and Dua Lipa won best new artist.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Mus­graves said. “I am very thank­ful. Win­ning doesn’t make my al­bum any bet­ter than any­body else in that cat­e­gory.”

Gam­bino, the al­ter ego of ac­tor Don­ald Glover, did not at­tend the cer­e­mony but was the night’s big win­ner, pick­ing up four hon­ors, in­clud­ing best mu­sic video and best rap/sung per­for­mance.

Drake emerged on stage to ac­cept the best rap song tro­phy but told the room of mu­si­cians that win­ning awards isn’t nec­es­sary if you have real fans at­tend­ing your con­certs and singing your songs.

Drake, who rarely at­tends awards shows, won the honor for his mas­sive hit “God’s Plan.”

“You’ve al­ready won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your home­town. Look, if there are people who have reg­u­lar jobs who are com­ing out in the rain and the snow, spend­ing their hard-earned money to buy tick­ets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here. I prom­ise you. You al­ready won,” he said at the Sta­ples Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les.

Rap has en­dured a long­time los­ing streak at the Gram­mys. The last time a rap act won al­bum of the year was in 2004, with Outkast. Only a hand­ful of rap­pers have won best new artist.

Cardi B made his­tory as the first solo fe­male to win best rap al­bum. Lau­ryn Hill won as a mem­ber of the Fugees at the 1997 Gram­mys.

She was shak­ing on­stage as she tried to give a thank-you speech with her hus­band, rap­per Off­set, hold­ing her arm.

“The nerves are so bad. Maybe I need to start smok­ing weed,” she said as the au­di­ence laughed. “I just want to say thank you every­body that was in­volved.”

The Gram­mys kicked off with a group of pow­er­ful women, in­clud­ing Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, de­scrib­ing the role of mu­sic in their lives — a dis­play that came a year af­ter fe­male voices were some­what muted at the 2018 cer­e­mony.

“Mu­sic has al­ways helped me tell my story,” said Obama, who sur­prised the au­di­ence with her ap­pear­ance. “Whether we like coun­try or rap or rock, mu­sic helps us share our­selves. It al­lows us to hear one another.”

Gaga told the crowd: “They said I was weird, that my look, that my choices, that my sound wouldn’t work. But mu­sic told me not to lis­ten to them.”

Jada Pin­kett Smith and Jen­nifer Lopez also spoke and stood in sol­i­dar­ity with Obama, Gaga and Ali­cia Keys, who hosted the show on CBS.

“Yes, ladies,” Keys said. “There’s noth­ing bet­ter than this.”

The open­ing con­trasted with last year’s Gram­mys, where male acts dom­i­nated in nom­i­na­tions and the only woman com­pet­ing for a top award, Lorde, didn’t get a chance to per­form on­stage.

But this year, Mus­graves won four Gram­mys — in­clud­ing coun­try al­bum, coun­try solo per­for­mance for “Butterflies” and coun­try song for “Space Cow­boy” — and Gaga and Brandi Carlile each took three.

Carlile took three hon­ors in the Amer­i­cana cat­e­gory. Gaga’s awards in­cluded best pop duo/ group per­for­mance, a win she shared with Bradley Cooper.

Gaga, now a nine-time Grammy win­ner, won best pop solo per­for­mance for “Joanne,” while hit “Shal­low” was named best song writ­ten for vis­ual me­dia. The song from “A Star Is Born” is nom­i­nated for an Os­car and also won at the Golden Globes, the Crit­ics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Satel­lite Awards.

At last year’s cer­e­mony, when asked about the lack of women in the top cat­e­gories, Record­ing Academy CEO Neil Port­now said women need to “step up.” He later ac­knowl­edged that it was a “poor choice of words,” and his much­crit­i­cized re­marks forced the academy to launch a new task force fo­cused on in­clu­sion and di­ver­sity.

Port­now, who didn’t seek a re­newal on his con­tract which ends this year, seemed to ad­dress his words from last year dur­ing Sun­day’s show.

“This past year I’ve been re­minded that if com­ing face to face with an is­sue opens your eyes wide enough, it makes you more com­mit­ted than ever to help ad­dress those is­sues,” he said.

Bri­tish singer Dua Lipa al­luded to Port­now’s 2018 words when she won best new artist.

“I guess this year we’ve re­ally stepped up,” she said.

Cardi B

KEVIN WIN­TER/GETTY IM­AGES

Lady Gaga, Jada Pin­kett Smith, Ali­cia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jen­nifer Lopez speak dur­ing Sun­day’s Gram­mys.

KEVIN WIN­TER/GETTY IM­AGES EMMA MCIN­TYRE/GETTY IM­AGES

Cardi B ac­cepts the rap al­bum Grammy for “In­va­sion of Pri­vacy.” Kacey Mus­graves, who won four Gram­mys Sun­day, per­forms.

ROBYN BECK/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

Drake ac­cepts the award for best rap song for “God’s Plan.”

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