19 by Adele got me through my first break-up. Although the album had already been out for awhile, I would croon “Chasing Pavements” in my college apartment hoping it would make me whole again. It didn’t. After a bunch of dating upsets, I realized that Adele was not my Whitney, my Lauryn, my Erykah, my Mariah, nobody. She had some dope songs, but none of them liberated me. She didn’t make me feel how my mom felt when she heard “I Can Love You” by Mary J. Blige and Lil’ Kim. She didn’t bring me up from my pool of tears, ever.
However, one ironic day, my Adele Pandora station decided to let me know that Adele was invited to The Cookout by playing “Single Ladies” by Beyonce, and something clicked.
“…I cried my tears for three good years and you can’t be mad at me/ ‘Cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it…”
We hadn’t even made it to the chorus yet and already my posture changed, my attitude changed, and my shackles of heartbreak were broken.
Fast forward to 2011, and Adele drops 21. Dammit, Adele. Six months later Beyoncé drops 4. Two great albums again, but one made me eat cookies in my bed crying and the other one had me feeling like J.Lo in the Love Don’t Cost a Thing video.
You can guess which album did what.
Fast forward some more, Adele’s on a sabbatical and Beyoncé is dropping self-titled hits on us like boom, boom, boom. Visual album, CD, Videos, tour, you name it. 2015 comes and Adele is back with 25, but we aren’t sad right now Adele, what are you doing?! Where is Beyoncé? You wanna know where? Creating this liberating visual for us that shows every ounce of Black Womanhood with full transparency.
Lemonade drops in 2016 and every Black woman on the planet can feel each other’s energy. We are all hugging, we are all holding hands, singing praises and surviving. Beyoncé is re-introducing aesthetics that white history had swept under the rug for years. She provided us with a body of work that allowed us to free ourselves and heal. The academy ain’t got no award for that? They really don’t. 2017 Grammy’s Album of the Year comes around and they give it to Adele who in turn, thanked Beyoncé and dedicates her win… to Beyoncé. This is cool or whatever, and the Beyhive cries because:
1) B*tch, we know Beyoncé should have won.and
2) The Queen had tears in her eyes so we had them too.
For our elders, this is merely just a repeat of all the years Black artists have outdone themselves and went home empty handed. It’s an ongoing cycle of overworking ourselves to prove to a lesser talented culture that we deserve full recognition.
It is left to us to make sure that we reward our artists with things that go beyond physical keepsakes. We have to keep our artists motivated enough to keep giving us raw emotion in their music and to allow us to experience their rollercoasters of growth and transition. It is up to us to teach about it, write think pieces, discuss it, and make sure to preserve the culture that has made music what it is today. Also, while boycotting may seem like the smart thing to do, it isn’t. We jus have to accept that The Grammy’s will never be #ForTheCulture, which is why we have to be every day and all day.
With this in mind, as a culture, as Black folks, we have to understand that when we “lose” to white artists/people, we are actually winning. They can have that easily breakable gold thing for their shelves because we still have our resilience. The shock value of losing or being snubbed goes down every year because we already know The Academy can’t handle all of this culture.