Rapper landed telling blows on industry's biggest night, writes Chris Richards
Drake won the Grammy for best rap song, then proceeded to explain why the awards don't matter. Photo / AP
Anight when everyone across this country listens to the same music should feel like fun. Yet somehow, Grammy night remains cruel, or at least unusual — even when it's as semi-coherent as the one we just experienced. But as the dust settles, here's one way to know that the Grammys are still pure madness: the most clarifying, truth-to-power moment belonged to Drake.
Yeah, Drake, the guy who made a music video where he just goes around giving people free hugs and money. That video was for God's Plan, and when this year's Grammy electorate named it best rap song at the 61st Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Drake, who traditionally goes AWOL on Grammy night, showed up to grip his golden gramophone in person. Then, with trophy in hand, he talked about its worthlessness.
"I wanna ... talk to all the kids that are watching this that are aspiring to do music, all my peers that make music from their heart," he said. "I wanna let you know we're playing an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport. So it's not the NBA where at the end of the year you're holding a trophy because you [won the games]. This is a business where sometimes ... it's up to a bunch of people that might not understand, you know, what a mixed-race kid from Canada has to say, or a fly Spanish girl from New York [pointing to Cardi B]".
He continued, "The point is, you've already won. If [you're] a hero in your hometown — if there's people who are [coming out in the rain] ... 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 wasn't done, but Grammy producers were finished with his anti-Grammy speech — so CBS rolled into a commercial break.
Drake had already landed a few important punches. He was rightfully ripping the Grammys for its abiding race problems — the fact that rap music has been the dominant music of our time for quite some time, but only one rap act has ever won album of the year (OutKast in 2004). But Drake was ultimately suggesting that true prestige is conferred on the community level. That's an incredibly potent message to send on Music's Biggest Night — the idea that music can help you find your people, and that it can help your people find you.