Drake wins rap song Grammy, Child­ish Gam­bino makes history

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - KICKOFF - By Mes­fin Fekadu

LOS AN­GE­LES — Drake sur­prised the mu­sic world Sun­day when he emerged on the Grammy 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.

He tried to con­tinue speak­ing but was cut off as the cer­e­mony sud­denly went to a com­mer­cial.

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

Drake has a chance to be­come the first rap­per to win record of the year later in the show. Child­ish Gam­bino made history when his track “This is Amer­ica” be­came the first rap-based song to win song of the year. Gam­bino has won three awards so far, in­clud­ing best mu­sic video and best rap/ sung per­for­mance.

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 sol­idary with Obama, Gaga and Ali­cia Keys, who is host­ing the show air­ing 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 the top award, Lorde, didn’t get a chance to per­form on­stage.

But this year, Gaga, Brandi Carlile and Kacey Mus­graves won three Gram­mys each.

Carlile took three honors in the Amer­i­cana cat­e­gory and will com­pete for the three big­gest awards dur­ing the live show: al­bum, song and record of the year.

Gaga also won three, in­clud­ing 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,” from “A Star is Born,” was named best song writ­ten for vis­ual me­dia. The song is nom­i­nated for an Os­car and also won at the Golden Globes, the Crit­ics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Satel­lite Awards.

Women have a strong pres­ence in the top cat­e­gories. Five of the eight al­bu­mof-the-year nom­i­nees are women, in­clud­ing Carlile’s “By the Way, I For­give You,” Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Com­puter,” Cardi B’s “In­va­sion of Pri­vacy,” Mus­graves’ “Golden Hour,” and H.E.R.’s self­ti­tled al­bum are also in con­tention.

Six of the best-new-artist nom­i­nees are women, in­clud­ing H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Margo Price, Dua Lipa, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith.

When asked about the lack of women in the top cat­e­gories at the 2018 Gram­mys, Record­ing Academy CEO Neil Port­now said women need to “step up.” He later ac­knowl­edged that it was a “poor choice of words,” and his much-crit­i­cized re­marks forced the academy to launch a new task force fo­cused on in­clu­sion and di­ver­sity.

Mus­graves picked up best coun­try al­bum for “Golden Hour,” best coun­try solo per­for­mance for “But­ter­flies” and best coun­try song for “Space Cow­boy.”

“I never dreamed that this record would be met with such love,” she said on­stage.

She also gave a shout-out to her hus­band in the au­di­ence, say­ing she wouldn’t have been able to make the al­bum if he “didn’t open my heart like you did.”

Mus­graves per­formed “Rain­bow” from “Golden Hour” dur­ing the show, and hit the stage for a sec­ond time to honor Dolly Par­ton. Mus­graves and Katy Perry joined forces for “Here You Come Again,” later joined by Par­ton her­self. The icon sang a duet ver­sion of “Jo­lene” with Miley Cyrus, who of­ten cov­ers the clas­sic song. But the coun­try mu­sic icon truly shined when she sang “Red Shoes,” with coun­try four­some Lit­tle Big Town pro­vid­ing back­ground vo­cals.

Diana Ross earned a stand­ing ova­tion when she emerged on­stage in a bright red dress to per­form “Reach Out and Touch (Some­body’s Hand)” and “The Best Years of My Life.” She cel­e­brated her 75th birth­day early with the per­for­mance, say­ing af­ter­ward, “Happy birth­day to me!” Her ac­tual birth­day is March 26.

R&B singer H.E.R., who won best R&B per­for­mance for “Best Part” with Daniel Cae­sar, stunned as she played her gui­tar and sang. Monae grooved on­stage dur­ing “Make Me Feel,” backed by sev­eral dancers. Post Malone per­formed with Red Hot Chili Pep­pers, and Cardi B grinded on­stage dur­ing her lat­est sin­gle, “Money.”

All four acts are nom­i­nated for al­bum of the year.

Ari­ana Grande won her first Grammy in the same week that she pub­licly blasted Gram­mys pro­ducer Ken Ehrlich and ac­cused him of ly­ing about why she was no longer per­form­ing at the show.

“I know i’m not there tonight (trust, i tried and still truly wished it had worked out tbh) and i know i said i try not to put too much weight into th­ese things … but (ex­ple­tive) … this is wild and beau­ti­ful,” she tweeted af­ter learn­ing about her win.

Tori Kelly and Lau­ren Daigle won two awards each. Be­y­once, Jay-Z, Ella Mai, Phar­rell Wil­liams, Hugh Jackman, St­ingy, Shaggy, Dave Chap­pelle, “Weird Al” Yankovic, the late Chris Cor­nell, Greta Van Fleet and even for­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter picked up early awards ahead of the show.

There was a tie for best rap per­for­mance, and Drake was sur­pris­ingly not one of the win­ners. Drake’s “Nice for What” lost to An­der­son Paak’s “Bub­blin“’ and Ken­drick La­mar, Jay Rock, Fu­ture and James Blake’s “King’s Dead,” from the “Black Pan­ther” sound­track.

Matt Sayles / As­so­ci­ated Press

Lady Gaga, from left, Jada Pin­kett Smith, Ali­cia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez speak at the 61st an­nual Grammy Awards on Sun­day in Los An­ge­les.

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