2009 may well be remembered as the year the Grammy’s finally GOT hip hop. No, Lil Wayne didn’t win Album of the Year, but we all know that is basically a lifetime achievement award anyway. Plus, if he’d won the planet most likely would have spun out of its orbits and we all would have been cast into some bizarro world where we would subsist on weed and syrup. So it’s probably better this way. But while the academy is still set in its ways of distributing the big awards to over-the-hill legends like Robert Plant and saccharine pop bands like Coldplay, the show itself had a distinct hip hop flavor that is usually missing, meaning that at the very least, the people who put on the show have figured out that rap is here to stay.
And the artists came to perform. A who’s who of mainstream rap’s biggest and brightest showed up and put on the kind of performances that had even the staunchest anti-rap crabby pants throwing their hands in the air. Following are five of the night’s stellar moments:
Jay-Z was the first rapper to perform, striding onto the stage to lend Coldplay’s Chris Martin a hand on “Lost”. Jay’s flow is accentuated by Martin’s piano playing. It’s actually quite beautiful. As an added bonus, enjoy Coldplay’s performance of “Viva la Vida”. It’s actually…not bad.
Kanye West’s love/hate relationship with the Grammy’s continued last night. For as much as he whines about being snubbed, he just keeps coming back to own the show every year. I guess he figures that if he stays real chummy with them they will eventually give him Album of the Year twenty years down the road when he releases a collection of duets with great bluegrass singers or something. Here he is classing it up with Estelle.
This is the big one. Billed as the “Hip Hop Summit” and the “Rap Pack”, CBS thought it would be interesting to show this in black and white. And as cheesy as that sounds…it was actually a pretty good idea. This was rap’s moment to shine in the national spotlight. The four biggest rappers in the world delivered, but it was M.I.A. who stole the show. Performing dressed up like a black and white ladybug – on her freakin’ due date – she showed absolutely no intimidation at sharing the stage with so much rap royalty. This is a truly awe-inspiring performance.
Oh man. I’m going to miss T.I. this year. It’s so refreshing to see a so-called “gangsta” who isn’t afraid to embrace his emotions. Here he performs with Justin Timberlake and some bucket boys on an epic “Dead and Gone”. (Don’t forget…“45 Days to Go” premiers tomorrow night.”
But when all was said and done, this was Weezy’s night. He didn’t need to win the big awards. This was his coming out party (sorry blogsosphere…not that coming out party.) The Grammy’s knew this…that’s why he was interviewed by Katie Couric, featured in about every commercial for the show, and saved for the end of the program. His performance of “Tie My Hands” is a moving tribute to New Orleans. Better yet, it ends with a big New Orleans style party, featuring Allan Toussaint and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Gangstas just aren’t so thuggish anymore. And it’s better that way.