Rappers have an interesting relationship with the Grammys.
Will Smith‘s “Parents Just Don’t Understand” was the first Hip Hop song to be recognized in 1989 by the Recording Academy. But the Fresh Prince and his other half, DJ Jazzy Jeff, weren’t there in-person to pick up their award because the only Hip Hop award was going to be announced during the non-televised portion of the ceremony.
At the time, the rapper-turned-actor called the incident a “slap in the face. … You go to school for 12 years, they give you your diploma and they deny you that walk down the aisle.”
Other first-time rap nominees included J.J. Fad, “Supersonic,” Kool Moe Dee, “Wild Wild West,” LL Cool J, “Going Back to Cali,” and Salt-N-Pepa, “Push It.”
Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen led a boycott followed by Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff along with Salt-N-Pepa, Public Enemy, Ice-T and others.
Hip Hop was undergoing an evolution and was not only fighting for a place at the Grammys, but Hip Hop figures wanted the submerging genre to be respected among other musical genres.
Hip Hop ascended to be the most popular, influential genre in the world and the very same people who didn’t want it around are trying to steal it.
As the genre continues to evolve, the Recording Academy has made efforts to be more inclusive but there’s still a long way to go.
Let’s take a look at the rappers with the most Grammys:
JAY-Z – 22
Kanye West – 21
Eminem – 15
Kendrick Lamar – 13
Lauryn Hill – 8
Dr. Dre – 7
Outkast – 6
Lil Wayne – 5
Childish Gambino – 5
Drake – 4
Will Smith – 4