The Grammy’s took place on Sunday and had a fair share of highlights making it a night to remember. From scintillating performances from the likes of SZA, Billy Joel, and Joni Mitchell, fans were thriving off the overwhelming musicality encompassing Los Angeles' Crypto.com arena.
Among the many performers that graced the stage, one particular artists that raised the event to great heights was Travis Scott, performing songs from his critically acclaimed album Utopia. Despite the album receiving heavy praise from listeners, and even being nominated for best rap album, it was beaten out by Atlanta legend, Killer Mike’s album MICHAEL.
This loss marks the 10th occurrence in the history of the Grammy’s where Travis Scott has failed to capture the coveted award, and has fans in a crazed frenzy as to whether the losses are justified or not. Travis Scott was even verbal about the loss on Twitter, posting a raised-eyebrow emoji in reaction to the event.
Not to mention his verbal jab during the course of his performance where he takes direct aim at the Grammy organizers. The platinum-recording artist stated “they slept on me ten times,” and proceeded to destroy the set design accompanying his musical display.
Fans assumed this was part of the act, only to be informed later that this was not a part of the performance but was rather a display of anger at the Grammy’s for yet again snubbing him of his victory. Whether this is true or not, music lovers must take a moment to acknowledge the various records achieved by Utopia, and whether the academy really did get it wrong this time around.
Statistically, the album has done unprecedented numbers in every scope imaginable. For starters, on Spotify, Utopia stands as doing the greatest number of streams on day of release throughout the course of 2023 - with a whopping 128 million gross plays. This record was also broken on Apple Music which solidifies the forceful nature of the project among fans.
As well as being most played on day of release, Utopia surpassed the total number of streams for every other hip-hop album released in 2023 within two days of it being available to the public. The album came out on July 28th, being more than half way through the year upon its debut. What is hard to imagine is that it would beat out every album (in streams) that came out 7 months prior to it within just two days.
Some of Utopia’s notable commercial achievements include debuting at number one in the Billboard 200 charts. Furthermore, all 19 of the songs from Scott’s album appeared in the billboard top 100 list, making him the fifteenth artist in history to register over 100 entries in the charts.
Historically the album is truly one of a kind, selling 55,000 vinyl copies within the span of a week. On record, this stands as the highest vinyl sales week for a rap project since 1991. If numbers were to dictate how the academy goes about making their selections, then it is no question that Utopia was blatantly robbed of a victory.
With this being said, it is not all about the numbers. Academy members that partake in the voting process are comprised of industry professionals, and must have credits that showcase their efforts in the fields of songwriting, recording, producing, engineering, and directing.
Members of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) therefore use their knowledge from creating and producing music to make proper determinations as to who is worthy of winning a Grammy. When taking this into consideration, it can be understood that subjective appreciation of a particular project can play a role in whether it wins in a specific category.
Travis Scott was not the only artist to voice his disappointment in losing at the acclaimed award show. Jay Z, multi-platinum recording artist had some choice words for the academy upon learning of his wife, Beyonce’s loss to Taylor Swift.
“Despite numerous Grammy nominations she has never won in the Album of the Year category and this doesn’t work,” Jay-Z said in an interview later that night. His frustration strikes a parallel with Scott and opens the door into further questioning into the application and decision making process of the Academy.
Travis Scott’s loss this year is reminiscent of his loss in 2018 to Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy. At the time, he had built up significant traction with his album Astroworld and exited the building, cursing to himself over yet another defeat in his pursuits at the Grammy’s.
The world continues to speculate as to whether Travis Scott was cheated out of a Grammy this time around, and as a fan and listener I was equally disappointed to see the results for best hip-hop album. Utopia was certainly my pick for album of the year and continues to resonate with me on a day to day basis.
However, I understand that though the album did not win a Grammy does not make it inferior in any way to the other projects and music that did receive the award. Passionate fans are losing sight of what truly matters in the grand scheme of an artists career, and are simply adding more value to the gold, rather than acknowledging the value of the great music he or she produces.
Grammy award winner Drake who is known to have boycotted the event in the past spoke publicly on the true influence of the Grammys on an artists legacy. Drake too suffered four losses this year and while giving the winners their flowers, he undermined the impact Grammys truly add to the music scene.
“All you incredible artists remember that this show does not represent reality, it is just the opinion of a group of people whose name is kept in secret,” Drake mentioned. “You’ve already won if you have people singing your songs word for word, and if you’re a hero in your hometown.”
More than anything, fans should acknowledge how Travis’ presence at the Grammys in itself is an accomplishment given the rocky points of his career that followed the Astroworld tragedy in 2021. Fans continue to speculate as to whether these low points in Scott’s career were influencing factors in the voting process, and if so validates critiques into the Academy’s subjectivity when making decisions.
With this being said, fans of Travis Scott should not be discouraged by the loss, but rather recount the memories and instances of bliss they experienced when listening to Utopia in the first place. For me, it was in my bed at 12 AM blaring each song from HYAENA to TIL FURTHER NOTICE.
Differentiating accolades from the true value of music is falling on blurred lines among listeners of the modern era. Challenging this perception and redirecting the focus to personal enjoyment and musical resonance should certainly be the new objective as 2024 progresses.