Was Jay-Z In The Wrong? Is the Grammys Rigged? A Look Into The 2024 Grammys Moment That Has Everyone Talking

Caption: Jay-Z onstage accepting the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award with his daughter Blue Ivy, Credit mike Blake/Reuters

“When I get nervous, I tell the truth.” And so he did. This was one of many remarks star-studded rapper Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter quipped during his powerful yet controversial speech at the 66th annual Grammy Awards. At the show, which took place on February 4th, Jay-Z was honored with the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, an award which according to the Recording Academy Black Music Collective, is given out to honor “personal and professional achievements in the music industry.”

With his daughter Blue Ivy by his side and and his wife Beyonce in the crowd, Jay-Z made it a point during his speech to call out the Recording Academy for their failure to recognize and properly acknowledge Black artists.

“We love y’all. We want y’all to get it right,” he started. “I don’t want to embarrass this young lady, but she has more Grammys than everyone and never won Album Of The Year. So even by your own metrics, that doesn’t work. Think about that. The most Grammys, never won Album Of The Year. That doesn’t work.”

While Jay-Z didn’t name anyone in specific, it is apparent that he is referring to his wife, Beyonce, who has been nominated for Album Of The Year four times and never won. An award that shockingly, considering the amount of iconic Black female artists, has not been won by a Black woman in 25 years.

This isn’t the first time Jay-Z has expressed such concerns about the Recording Academy’s (subjective) misjudgment of this category.

“The truth is, we grew up wanting to be on the Grammys, and it was our goal. We just want them to get it right. That’s what we want,” he said last year in a Tidal interview about Beyonce’s widely acclaimed “Renaissance” album, which lost AOTY to “Harry’s House” at the 2023 Grammys.

There have been a lot of mixed reactions on social media to this moment, with many feeling shocked that Jay-Z would make such a bold callout. “I was a little starstruck that he actually did that,” said 12th grade student Natania Dorma. “I’ve never seen him speak up like that in that sense ever and it just wasn’t what I thought he would address.”

Others felt that the callout was necessary and shone light on an issue that needed to be addressed. “I felt seen, like this was something that should have been said and done way earlier,” said TAEHS senior Shakira Griffin. “Though Beyonce seemed embarrassed about the situation, I think in order for us to move forward and give Black voices the chance at the spotlight this needed to happen.”

Many have shared similar sentiments that Jay-Z’s speech was not simply him sticking up for his wife, but a well-needed wake up call regarding a much larger issue with the Academy. While it may of course be subjective, to many it’s no secret that Black artists are constantly being snubbed and having their most monumental work swept under the rug. Exhibit A: Kendrick Lamar’s forever infamous “To Pimp a Butterfly” losing Album of the Year to Taylor Swift’s “1989” at the 58th Grammy Awards in 2016– a moment regarded by most of the Black community as a tragedy.

Although, some question if Jay-Z’s speech was the most effective way of addressing this issue and whether it will actually bring about any real change. “ I personally don’t think it was effective at all, because this has been going on for so long,” said Natania. “I just think it made him look loud and obnoxious, but also that he’s not afraid to speak his mind when many have been silent on the issue at hand.”

Others are all for it. “I think this was the only way they would listen,” said Shakira. “We have seen time and time again the Academy doesn’t react to social media posts, boycotts, or criticism from the public. This being broadcast live was the only way there is even incentive to listen.” 

Some have compared Jay-Z’s speech to the infamously controversial moment at the 2008 VMAs where Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s AOTY acceptance speech to say that Beyonce should have won instead. “I think it was very familiar to that situation,” said Natania. “I say so because the topic is the same. They are still talking about Beyonce not winning Album of the Year, but also, these men both felt the need to voice their opinion to thousands that are tuning in. I feel that they could have addressed it at a different time, something more appropriate but their point would be given either way.”

As viewers continue to give their two cents online about whether Jay-Z should have done what he did, it is also re-sparking discourse on whether Kanye was in the wrong as well. “Kanye’s speech wasn’t necessarily a jab at Taylor but at the critics and “voters” because of how many amazing Black artists they continue to snub,” said Shakira.

Amidst all this discussion, there is another issue that this speech may pose. How will this affect things if Beyonce wins Album of the Year in the future? Many fans are worried that this may cause people to discredit any future awards Beyonce receives, saying that she only won because Jay-Z pressured the Academy to award her. “Though Jay Z’s speech was good spirited, there are chances this will be deemed the only reason she wins if she does next year, and I think whether or not she deserves it the public will still discredit her,” said Shakira.

All eyes will be on next year’s Grammys to see if this prediction holds true, as well as whether the Recording Academy finally “gets it right” or continues to keep up its long legacy of shoving the work of Black artists under the rug. If change does take place, well, we know who we have to thank for it.

Leah Jarvis

Hey guys! My name is LJ and I am a current senior in the web & app development track here at TAEHS. I write for the opinions section on the Edison Light. Besides journalism, I am also a fan of fashion, graphic design, art, and poetry. I like to say I’m a pretty analytical person, but I am forever a creative and a daydreamer at my core. I’m so excited to share my articles with all of you throughout this year. You can count on me to keep it real!