The Grammys record of not having a Black artist to win Album of the Year in 14 years shifted when Jon Batiste won Album of the Year for this project, “We Are” on Sunday, April 3 at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards. Herbie Hancock won the award for his contribution to “River: The Joni Letters,” in 2008.
Leading with 11 nominations, Batiste carried home five trophies including top album.
“I really believe this to my core; there is no best musician, the best artist, best dancer, best actor,” Batiste said. “The creative arts are subjective and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most.”
In addition to his winning streak, he also performed a whimsical and quirky performance of “Freedom,” from his Grammy-winning top album. The show consisted of Afrofuturism elements combined with old-time nostalgia. Imagine a mix of Black people ruling Dr. Seuss’ fictional books with characters from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. That best describes what Batiste brought his audience.
Black Coffee also accomplished a historic milestone with his win becoming the first South African producer to win Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2022 Grammys. Last year, Kaytranada was the first Black artist to win in that category.
Music’s biggest night returned Sunday, with a live broadcast. Rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, fueled by the Omicron variant, forced the star-studded ceremony to be rescheduled from the original date of Jan. 31.
The main event also moved from its previous venue the Crypto.com Arena (formerly the Staples Center) in downtown Los Angeles, to the MGM Grand Garden Arena hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
’70s funk and soul-inspired duo Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak smoothly graced the stage wearing white Elvis-esque embellished jumpsuits with symbols from a deck of cards embossed on one sleeve.
Mars’ tightly coiled ringlet curls reappeared as they always, but Anderson took a different approach with his mane. He decided to pay respect to retro times rocking a silky bowl cut wig identical to the late Ike Turner’s signature hairstyle.
Their groovy performance of “777” from their debut collaboration album “An Evening with Silk Sonic,” showed they know what it means to stick to a theme, as the song is a dedication to the casino. Images of a lucky number seven jackpot and a spinning blackjack table flashed on the jumbo screens while the popular new duo wowed everyone in the building with their high-energy time travel machine to the iconic disco era.
Will Smith’s Oscar’s slap has remained a trending topic since the incident occurred more than a week ago when he accosted comedian Chris Rock on stage for making a joke about wife Jada Pinkett-Smith’s bald head. It was still the talk of the town at the Grammys.
Noah subtly mocked Smith joking, “We’re gonna be keeping people’s names out of our mouths.
Questlove also poked fun at the unforgettable moment, which happened moments before he was awarded best documentary feature at the Oscars. “I’m gonna present this award and I’m gonna trust you people will stay 500 feet away from me, just playing,” he said before presenting Silk Sonic with the Song of the Year for their hit, “Leave the Door Open.” They also took home awards for best R&B performance, best R&B song, and Record of the Year.
“We are truly trying our hardest to remain humble at this point, but in the industry, we call that a clean sweep,” Paak said during the group’s acceptance.
#Slapgate wasn’t the only controversy sparked at this year’s Oscar ceremony. Backlash followed online for Best Reggae Album which went to white American band, SOJA for the album “Beauty In The Silence.” #BlackTwitter unanimously argued the honor should’ve gone to Spice, Sean Paul or the other Jamaican native nominated in the category.
Unapologetically Black queer rapper Lil Nas X was nominated for five categories including Record and Song of the Year. He gave viewers a show stopping medley performance of “Dead Right Now,” the controversial “Call Me By Your Name” (featuring clips and screenshots of critics not pleased with the video’s imagery), and “Industry Baby,” with Jack Harlow.
Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion’s cute case of “[Expletive] Stole My Look,” (R.I.P. to the late Joan Rivers, originator of the term) was a reenactment of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston’s 1998 MTV Video Music Awards gowns. The difference between Lipa and Megan’s dresses was that they wore long Black Donatella Versace dresses decked with safety pins, unlike Carey and Houston who donned matching brown Vera Wang gowns. Just like in the 1998 moment, tweaks were made to the 2022 dupes done live on stage by Versace herself.
Lipa says, “Well, I was told I have the exclusive I’m gonna have to talk with Donatella.” Megan said, “Yeah, because I thought I was the Versace hottie.” The ladies presented Olivia Rodrigo with the best new artist. who also took home awards for best pop solo performance and best pop vocal album.
Hip-Hop royalty Nas impressed all present at the ceremony immaculately rapping “I Can,” “Made You Look,” “One Mic,” and “Rare,” (off his “King’s Disease” album, which he won a Grammy for in 2020) from his then 20-year long career. He graciously bowed in the finale of his performance leaving the stage with a standing ovation.
Baby Keem won his first Grammy for the track, “Family Ties” featuring his cousin 14-time Grammywinner Kendrick Lamar.It was an exciting feat for Keem, who is a Las Vegas native and won the coveted Best Rap Performance award on stage in his hometown.
“I just wanna say thank you to the women that raised me to shape me to become the man I am today.” Keem said.
Keem wasn’t the only first-time winner. After years of many fans supporting claims that she’s been snubbed, Jazmine Sullivan is officially a two-time Grammy winner with 15 nominations spanning her decades-long career. In addition to being tied with Silk Sonic for best R&B performance, she won best R&B album for “Heaux Tales,” which she dedicated to all Black women.
“I think that I wrote this project to deal with my own shame and unforgiveness around some of the decisions that I made in my 20s that weren’t favorable, but what it ended up being was a safe space for Black women to tell their stories,” Sullivan said. “For us to learn from each other, laugh with each other, and not be exploited at the same time. That’s what I’m most grateful for. Shoutout to all Black women who are just living their lives and are beautiful. I love you all.”
A St. Louis-born and injured SZA accepted her and Doja Cat’s award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance on “Kiss Me More,” on crutches.
Doja, who about a week ago Tweeted she was quitting music tearfully accepted her first Grammy win and thanked SZA for her feature on the song.
“I like to downplay a lot of [expletive], but this is a big deal,” Doja said. “SZA you are everything to me. You are incredible, you are the epitome of talent.”
H.E.R. wore an electrifying blue sequin two-piece outfit with a matching fringe jacket and pants while performing alongside iconic songwriting and producing team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who she sampled “Making Love in the Rain,” from for her song, “Damage.” Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and Lenny Kravitz also joined the multi-talented musician for a riveting rock performance of “Are You Gonna Come My Way.”
Cynthia Ervio, Leslie Odom Jr., and Rachel Zegler performed a moving salute to all the music industry professionals we’ve lost over the past year and a half. Young Dolph, Virgil Abloh, DMX, and Shock G were some of the stars honored during the memoriam.
John Legend joined Ukrainian artists Siuzanna Iglidan, Mika Newton and Lyuba Yakimchuk for an emotional tribute to all the lives lost and surviving in Ukraine during a performance of “Free.”
For a full list of winners, visit https://www.grammy.com/.
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