Steve Stoute Calls Out Grammy Family

In the Style section of today’s New York Times, “The Commissioner” Steve Stoute took out a full page ad and critiqued the National Arts of Recording and Sciences for this year’s Grammys Awards. Below is a transcription of the note courtesy of the life files. He’s focused, man.

Over the course of my 20-year history as an executive in the music business and as the owner of a firm that specializes in in-culture advertising, I have come to the conclusion that the Grammy Awards have clearly lost touch with contemporary popular culture. My being a music fan has left me with an even greater and deeper sense of dismay — so much so that I feel compelled to write this letter. Where I think that the Grammys fail stems from two key sources: (1) over-zealousness to produce a popular show that is at odds with its own system of voting and (2) fundamental disrespect of cultural shifts as being viable and artistic.

As an institution that celebrates artistic works of musicians, singers, songwriters, producers and technical specialists, we have come to expect that the Grammys upholds all of the values that reflect the very best in music that is born from our culture. Unfortunately, the awards show has become a series of hypocrisies and contradictions, leaving me to question why any contemporary popular artist would even participate. How is it possible that in 2001 The Marshall Mathers LP — an album by Eminem that ushered in the Bob Dylan of our time — was beaten out by Steely Dan (no disrespect) for Album Of The Year? While we cannot solely utilize album sales as the barometer, this was certainly not the case. Not only is Eminem the best-selling artist of the last decade, but The Marshall Mathers LP was a critical and commercial success that sold over 10 million albums in the United States (19 million worldwide), while Steely Dan sold less than 10% of that amount and came and went as quietly as a church mouse. Or consider even that in 2008 at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, after going into the night as the most-nominated artist, Kanye West’s Graduation was beaten out for Album Of The Year by Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters. (This was the first time in 43 years that a jazz album won this category.) While there is no doubt in my mind of the artistic talents of Steely Dan or Herbie Hancock, we must acknowledge the massive cultural impact of Eminem and Kanye West and how their music is shaping, influencing and defining the voice of a generation. It is this same cultural impact that acknowledged the commercial and critical success of Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 1984.

Just so that I’m not showing partiality to hip-hop artists (although it would be an entirely different letter as to how hip-hop music has been totally diminished as an art form by this organization), how is it that Justin Bieber, an artist that defines what it means to be a modern artist, did not win Best New Artist? Again, his cultural impact and success are even more quantifiable if you factor in his YouTube and Vevo viewership — the fact that he was a talent born entirely of the digital age whose story was crafted in the most humble method of being “discovered” purely for his singing ability (and it should be noted that Justin Bieber plays piano and guitar, as evidenced on his early viral videos).

So while these very artists that the public acknowledges as being worthy of their money and fandom are snubbed year after year at the Grammys, the awards show has absolutely no qualms in inviting these same artists to perform. At first I thought that you were not paying attention to the fact that the mental complexion of the world is becoming tanned, that multiculturalism and poly-ethnicity are driving new meaning as to what is culturally relevant. Interesting that the Grammys understands cultural relevance when it comes to using Eminem’s, Kanye West’s or Justin Bieber’s name in the billing to ensure viewership and to deliver the all-too-important ratings for its advertisers.

What truly inspired the writing of this letter was that this most recent show fed my suspicions. As the show was coming to a close and just prior to presenting the award for Album Of The Year, the band Arcade Fire performed “Month of May” — only to… surprise… win the category and, in a moment of sheer coincidence, happened to be prepared to perform “Ready to Start.”

Does the Grammys intentionally use artists for their celebrity, popularity and cultural appeal when they already know the winners and then program a show against this expectation? Meanwhile the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences hides behind the “peer” voting system to escape culpability for not even rethinking its approach.

And I imagine that next year there will be another televised super-close-up of an astonished front-runner as they come to the realization before a national audience… that he or she was used.

You are being called to task at this very moment, NARAS.

And to all of the artists that attend the Grammys: Stop accepting the invitation to be the upset of the year and demand that this body upholds its mission for advocacy and support of artistry as culture evolves.
Demand that they change this system and truly reflect and truly acknowledge your art.

Steve Stoute

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128 Comments
  • studiothug2011

    Somebody from the grammy family is going to hit him upside the head with another champagne bottle ; )

  • RoeLuv

    Wow’ tell em why u mad Steve-

  • wickwickwack

    i dont care about the awards but how in hell could they forget Guru !

  • B.Dot

    Somebody from the grammy family is going to hit him upside the head with another champagne bottle
    ^
    ladies and gentleman, good night!

  • SS

    Of course they know who the winners are, it’s not like the votes are tabulated the day of the show, it’s pretty common to have artists win awards just moments after they’ve taken the stage. He makes some valid points, though. Recovery still didn’t deserve to win (or be nominated), stanleys.

  • jesse

    well said steve!

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  • http://www.hiphoplives-j.blogspot.com J. Lye

    100% true.

  • 106

    Amen.

  • original will

    he has a point Like Come on Carter 3 and Recovery not about to win Grammy for Best Album they put them in that category so that people who normally dont listen to the artist that the grammy goes to can find some interest in watching the show after that one hiphop act(Eminem,Lil Wayne,Drake) does his performance towards the end of the show

    Kanye Late Registration shouldve won that year but i know how the grammys work they wasnt going to let him they using him and every big hiphop act its funny becuz they dont even show the hiphop winners anymore but they use them to get viewers

  • THATDUDE

    Exactly why I don’t watch the grammys or any other award show its all politics. Not a bieber fan and I can tell you he was robbed. Who won best new artist again?

  • SaidAndDone

    TRUTH.

  • Jimmy Dee

    100% agreed with on my side. Too many artists are bein overseen by obscure people in the biz. I mean, Bieber and Drake, who both have big buzzes, got knocked over by Esperanza Spalding? Reeeally? *Stewie voice* No disrespect to her, but that was almost gifted to them, maybe Bieber more than Drake. This was just an example though.

    This may be the 1st post in a looooong time that annoyin guys won’t come on and be all “Drake>>>>>> etc” or “Lil B for Grammy 2012, BasedGod fucked my mom” about things.

  • Shawn

    Great letter… I wonder how many people really can’t read it.. LOL

  • Post no billz

    The grammys dont really respect hip hop.. For years we didnt get televised.. And now jus rap album of the year gets tv time..

  • i distrust camels

    aww nice one steve

  • blaqscorpio

    PREACH!!!!!!!!!!!

  • i said YERR

    pple need to actually read this. steve stoute said it perfect, the grammys r bullshit. they use the artists just to show up for ratings. No Hip Hop acts should ever attend that stupid show.
    MMLP and Graduation not winning album of the year is a fuckin joke!
    and even this year, Recovery and no bieber or drake to win best new artist is hilarious.
    fuck the grammys im out

  • Ice Cold

    COSIGN

    -Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP shoulve won Album of the year
    -And Eminems Recovery shouldve won album of the year
    -kanye wests Graduation shouldve won album of the year
    -And im not his biggest fan but bieber got screwed

    Grammys suck

  • B.Dot

    they dont even televise the fucking R&B Awards! SMH

  • Ghost

    AMEN.

  • blaqscorpio

    Yup, not EVEN RnB!

  • YMCMB

    Really? So he just now notice this? Wow except for that spalding girl their was no surprise at the grammy. Why he mad? Bc popular music did not win? More r&b and rap lp should be atlest shown on tv, but we know white american run the grammy and do anything for a dollar look at the superbowel they let a fuck up sing the national athem*kanye shrug*

  • http://www.imperfectenjoyment.com Dewan

    Every award show uses artists to gain ratings and artists use the award shows to increase album sales. Big deal. Steve makes a few good points, but what can you expect from the Grammys? Mainstream award shows always lag behind where “the culture” is going. The people voting for the Grammys are not the people watching Justin Bieber on Youtube, or anxiously awaiting Detox.

    Also, Steve lost a bit of credibility when he called Em the Bob Dylan of his generation. What social or political issues has Em addressed? (Issues with his mom and Kim aren’t social issues.) While Em’s a great artist and has transformed hip-hop, he’s had no where near the social impact that Dylan has–not to mention the longevity. Do you really think Em would be marching for civil rights like Bob did, or doing anything comparable? Bullshit…

  • Realniggashit

    Steve realtalk but the fucked thing is artist don’t stick together for real shit so what makes you think they’ll stick together for a award show just asking.

  • JHENDE02

    “Interesting that the Grammys understands cultural relevance when it comes to using Eminem’s, Kanye West’s or Justin Bieber’s name in the billing to ensure viewership and to deliver the all-too-important ratings for its advertisers.”

    This is so true and we should demand answers as to why our favorite artists lost. We buy (or at least I do) their albums, tune in because they’re performing, and watch them lose against an unknown artist. Yes, I’m talking about Esperanza Spalding. Just give me an explanation; because, I’m confused as a fan of all types of music.

  • http://www.rapstyle.fr nonfixion

    100% DISAGREE ABOUT THE SALES NUMBERS

  • Stop

    He made a point but it’s like saying soulja boy made a massive impact on this generation with his mililions of views on YouTube so he deserves a Grammy… It isn’t a popularity contest Steve

  • Theloneus

    This letter said what I’ve been saying this whole entire time: the Grammys are complete BS. They use Eminem and other hip hop acts to get the viewership while promoting the hell out of the performance beforehand but completely snub them once the awards start getting called out. The Grammys can kiss my indecisive ass.

  • http://twitter.com/n14ever Niyemortal

    Hmmmmm………..

    Honestly, Steve was right until the Beiber part. Best new Artist honestly was a tossup and matter of opinion but the reasons why he said Beiber should have won were wrong and ill break it down:

    -Stoute mentioned Youtube and VEVO viewership as a viable reason. Unless you’re naive, one should know that VEVO views are very very convoluted, similar to how Worldstar views are falsified. That shouldnt be a factor at all. Some VEVO videos are in the hundreds of millions of views in just a few days, and yet the same video on other channels are in the thousands range? yeah right, bullshit.

    -Stoute mentioned that Beiber was born in the digital age. Sure, but so were a ton of other people. Does that mean we should have voted Soulja Boy when he first came out for Best New Artist or Flo Rida as well? nahhhhh…..

    -Stoute mentioned Beiber could play other instruments. So can Spaulding and she touches on more topics as well. Ive heard of her way before the Grammys as I listen to numerous other genres outside of Hip-Hop, so just because shes not popular doesnt mean that she didnt deserve it.

    IMO, I wished Florence + the Machine should have won as she has a phenomenal singing voice, multiple ranges, well thought out videos, and lots of substance in her songs. I’ve listend to Beiber’s stuff and while he has singing talent, theres not much substance and diversity, so him winning would have made the Grammy’s look worse. Furthermore, Stoute should have mentioned the Guru snub instead of the Best new Artist as thats something that could have been touched on.

    Rap fans say fuck the Grammy’s. Well I say we shouldnt. Yes, the Grammy’s needs to improve its doings, HipHop culture needs to improve as well. Rap music has become so disposable nowadays and its effect is very well evident. Radiohead announced they had a new album coming 4 FUCKING DAYS BEFORE IT WAS DROP! how many rappers can do such a thing?!?! Not many if any at all really! We as a culture needs to work on improving ourselves before we can expect other organizations to improve………

  • jake

    dude what you can’t compare soulja boy to eminem or any of those people? what the fuck im confused how you even came up with that thought…the most viewed videos on youtube aren’t even music they’re dumb animation shits that i never even knew existed and those definitely don’t deserve awards…so why though when you are the artist of the decade, had the biggest cd of 2010 and are still selling more copies than most artists are with cds only a month or two old? i mean come on i know if you don’t like rap thats one thing but don’t fuck people over because of a bias? who the fuck was that atlantic city or whatever the hell rock band that me or anybody i know has never heard of???

  • Clos1881

    The grammys are wack the only two rappers that will win will be jayz and em.

  • The Hater

    Well put, but why is anyone surprised by this??!! We know they don’t respect our culture but our hip hop heroes are so eager for the acknowledgement of white America they go play themselves anyway. We already have their children in our hands so why ass kiss for some punk ass award from some cracker who doesn’t even “feel” what your sayin. Niggas need they own Grammys and be happy with that.

  • http://www.rapstyle.fr nonfixion

    Stop hatin’ there are the BET AWARDS

  • http://www.theoriginaldavid.com iRak

    Well argued point…but misdirected. Those artists are chosen to perform exactly for reasons Stoute thinks they should have won an award—because they are popular. The Grammy’s though is not a popularity contest, its an attempt to honor the science of music and accomplishment, and technical merit. Just because the artist isn’t super commercial doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the award/recognition. The Grammys kinda suck in general, but I do enjoy learning about new artists. Stoute wants an “Influencers” awards, which would be dope—and I’m sure many would tune in.

  • http://www.sundayhhtimes.blogspot.com The Editor

    When Usher was robbed the year of CONFESSIONS, I think it went to RAY Charles, I love Ray, but Usher, come on man, they always pick the old friends i the category for big albums

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  • DrDreThatDude

    Artist still gon go to Grammys because no matter what wins or who snubbed, Grammys is the biggest tool to promote the work. They all get spike in sales after it. Some go just to present because their name and image being shown to tens of millions of consumers spread the word to other audiences. I don’t like awards but Grammys are the only one that matters for music long run. I fel bad for Em. 10 noms and walk away with just 2? But in the end – the nom what count. “10-time Grammy nominated Eminem”. Can’t fuck wit that. Shit, no one show off they MTV awards, but damn gon show that little Grammy record player statue. That shit go above the fireplace. Next year Kanye will be winning no doubts. And that dude Cee-Lo. And I hope Dre. That dude Wiz will get it. Hell, everyone jumpin on his track.

  • dotdiggler

    Yo i remember when 50 got robbed for best new artist. That nigga was on fire in 03 i think evannescece won though. The gramm’s is wack!!!

  • James

    OPPOSITE OF WHAT I WAS THINKING THO. ?EM AND BEIBER ?FUCK U FOR SAYIN THAT LOL. MAYBE KANYE BUT HE NOM NEXT YEAR. YEAH I GET HIS POINT THEY BASICALLY FUCK U AND DONT CALL BACK LOL.THIS ISNT A POPULAR CONTEST THO. ITS ABOUT RECOGNITION FOR MAKIN REAL DOPE ART! NOT VIEWS AND ALBUM SELLS. THIS NEED TO BE REWORDED A BIT.

  • Drake Stan

    Jay Z will always win becuz Papa Knowles wont let the son in law lose

  • RapMusic25

    EM got robbed for Album Of The Year in 2001,no doubt there.The Grammys has never liked rap music.No rapper ever has won Album Of The Year.And there have been lots and lots of classics over the years that has deserved it.
    Rappers only win in their own category,you almost never see a rapper win anything else outside the rap category

  • Drake Stan

    @Rapmusic25 Outkast won in 04. Do ya research

  • Donn

    I TOTALLY DISAGREE!!!

    All of you who are agreeing with Stoute, are listeners of one type music. Just because YOU never heard of Arcade Fire and Esperanza Spalding, doesn’t mean they didn’t deserve Grammys over Justin Bieber and Eminem.

    So Eminem deserves a Grammy based on sales and popularity. Are all you hypocrits really gonna sit here and agree with that notion. The same blog commentors who bash popular artist saying sales don’t equal quality. Popularity has nothing to do with the music???

    If you have never listened to Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” but want to say THEY don’t deserve the Grammy over Eminem, your playing yourself. That’s like a person who never heard Eminem’s album and says Arcade Fire deserves to win over Eminem.

    Try listening to the other nominees and then ask yourself if they deserve a Grammy. By letting artist like Eminem, Kanye, Justin Bieber, blah blah , perform at the Grammys, they are letting them showcase their talent to all watching. Steve Stoute, stop crying because who YOU wanted to win didn’t win.

    I am a huge Kanye fan, but when he got upset because HE didn’t win a Grammy over someone else, made me sick. Its YOUR opinion that Eminem and Justin Bieber should have won. But u don’t speak for everyone. Esperanza Spalding may not have sold 5 MILLON albums, but that doesn’t make her less qualified to win a Grammy.

    Arcade Fire may not have sold 5 million copies worldwide, but who is to blame for that. Them or the MACHNIE behind them. Eminem sold ALL those records, not just because he was talented, BUT BECAUSE HE HAS THE MACHINE BEHIND HIM TO DO SO.

    SMH…

  • vexed and glorious

    Esperanza Spalding deserved the Grammy. She is not only a talented musician but her music is actually good. Beiber is straight hot garbage. But I guess most of yall are closet Beiber stans huh?

    And yes Kanye did deserve that Grammy. Graduation was a fantastic album.

  • vexed and glorious

    @Donn- i actually agree with you on something. cosign.

  • http://www.rapstyle.fr nonfixion

    OPEN YOUR MIND WITH OTHERS MUSIC
    I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT HUGE SALES LIKE 50 OR EM
    THEIR MUSIC ARE GOOD BUT OTHERS ARTISTS ARE GOOD TOO EVEN BETTER
    I TOTALLY SATISFED WITH JOHN LEGEND AND THE ROOTS

  • Yung Silv

    grammys are BS everybody with any knowledge of the industry knows this

  • Black Shady

    he’s speaking the truth

  • fuck a bum wack rapper makin his career out of dissin

    wow.ths iz actually a mature discussion.nyce.

  • Duman

    Ugh.

    And I thought the alternative fans/community were pretentious.

    This Stoute dude wants popularity and sales to win. That’s why his argument is forever weak. Blah.

    Arcade Fire put out a critically acclaimed album, so of course they deserved to win. I’m sorry, but outside of sales and comeback, Eminem got the two awards that he deserved. The academy didn’t feed into it. And it’s not like the voting academy doesn’t cater to these urban artists. Eminem has like 13 Grammys while someone like Neil Young has 2 Grammys, yet this person is complaining about Hip Hop being overlooked? Please.

    And Justin Bieber? You gotta be kidding me. This kid didn’t stand a chance at winning that award. Stoute is obviously behind the times his damn self because if he looked at the history of the winners in BNA, he wouldn’t be so shocked the voters passed on that POPcorn trash. Britney, Hanson, Jonas Brothers, etc. were all looked over for superior artists. And shame on him for saying someone like Esperanza Spalding, who plays instruments and sings extremely well, is “inferior” to Justin Bieber. WTF? She’s only inferior because her album isn’t selling that well and isn’t catering to delusional 10 year old girls. And it’s like a big “fuck you!” to the other three nominees in that category as well. Gimme a break, Stoute. You sound like a cry baby with no logic. News flash: sales =/= quality. If you want to see popularity win over talent and quality and Hip Hop artists win for undeserving material, then tune into the VMAs or BET Awards. Roger that!

  • Flip

    @Donn

    Co-Sign to the fullest

  • Belize

    Absolutely right.
    I gotta say tho, the Grammys is a bunch of old white folks who think rap is a distasteful music strictly for poor young blacks and who have no interest in finding out what it’s truly about; or realizing that whether they like it or not, Hip-Pop (or rap in the earlier cases) is taking over the world.
    Crackers.

  • maniacinaction

    Fuck Bieber, Fuck Arcade Fire some unknown Emo pop band.
    Grammys were created to “recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry”
    I call bullshit, they completely ignored a genre of music that shook the living fuck out of 2009-2010.
    That genre being of course Rap/Hip hop. There was only like one rap category shown live. Smh.

  • boston-morgan

    I agree Steven. Eastern Conferance tonight!!!

  • tr

    Arcade Fire deserved their win for a fantastic album, but also can’t help feeling that hip-hop always get snubbed when it comes to album of the year.

    Outkast had to venture out of hip-hop to get their win.

  • Justmyopinion

    @ Donn

    You took it away son. Now, i’m a Eminem fan just as anyone else. But, watching the Grammys I realized one thing: they reward talent NOT hype. I am not saying Eminem is not talented, but the other guy Justin Beiber, is Stoute saying he deserves a Grammy because of all the hype?

    He can’t be serious, how many people actually believe JB character is here to stay? I doubt this kid will be around in 3 years, then what? He got a grammy but he only lasted for a yr. Come on, I feel Stoute gripe, but at the end of the day, why are we so concerned with winning a grammy there are other accolades in the industry that rewards artist. Now, not a Grammy comparison, for those of you who remember the Britney Spears days, everything you turned they were speaking of Britney Spears. Where is she now? She can’t make a hit to save her life. No disrespect, just calling it like I see it. Eminem won a Grammy let’s just be happy with that. Obviously, the Grammys are not geared towards rap music and for real I am kind of glad, now that I think about. Here’s why, and i’ll leave you with this thought, can you imagine Wacka Flocka Flame winning a Grammy for “hard in the paint”? Not me.

  • Justmyopinion

    ^ Not that I want him too because it opens the lane for more garbage then 5 years down the road, some other executive will be writing a letter about how the Grammy reward buffoonery.

  • NuYawka

    Steve…sadly, this is not new.

    1979 Best New Artist Grammy winner: A Taste of Honey (Disco one hit wonder: Get down, boogie oogie oogie).

    Who lost that year?

    The Cars
    Elvis Costello
    Toto
    Chris Rea

    I could name a situation like this from EVERY year of the Grammys.

    Steve, as you explain with Eminem, the cultural significance of artists is simply lost on the Grammy voters. In the case above, The Cars were redefining new wave and pop, while Elvis was setting a new intellectual bar for rock. Either of these would have been the right choice in hindsight.

    Even with all that…gotta say @Donn, you are right on.

  • James

    ?COSIGN? DUMAN

  • pause

    I agree with this for the most part. The Grammys were not as good this year.

  • Word

    @Donn

    How are You best new artist when half the.world hasn’t even heard of her or her music? First thing that popped.up on twitter was who the fuck is she? NO ONE knows her. Fact. She didn’t even expect it.You the main one saying make hits and win awards. Drake and Bieber alone had more hits, no Grammy tho. See? Being the most popular one ain’t the key to winning awards. Therefore, hop off the underground when they make music for a select few and not everyone. Cuz you be the main one praising pop artist, and two of the biggest ones lost to an unknown talent. Gives me hope that unknown rappers can come in And shine too

  • LOKO

    @Donn

    OHHHHH NOW THINGS CHANGED HUH HYPOCRITE? NOW YOUR SAYING YOU SHOULDNT WIN OFF POPULARITY WHEN ALL YOU DO IS PRAISE ONLY THE MOST POPULAR ARTIST? SO NOW, WHENEVER THERES A SLAUGHTERHOUSE, RAWKWON, OR ANY OTHER UNDERGROUND POST, DONT SAY SHIT LIKE “THEY SHOULD TRY TO APPEAL TO THE TOP 40 LISTENERS” CUZ OBVIOUSLY, THAT SPANISH BITCH DIDNT BUT YET SHE HAS A GRAMMY? YOU A HYPOCRITE CALLING OTHER PEOPLE HYPOCRITS.

  • Flip

    @Word

    To say no1 has heard of her is ignorant

    -she was picked by prince himself to do the tribute for him at the BET awards
    -she toured with him
    -and Shes played at the white house for obama

  • James

    @WORD YEAH BUT I THINK DONN IS SPEAKIN GENRAL AND NOT FOR HIS SELF AS YOU CAN SEE.

  • mikey

    hear hear

  • Don Dada The ILLEST

    @ Don YOUR A SOFTEEE! HA!

  • mila

    After reading his letter i pretty much agreed with Steve, but then i read some of the comments, and i can see both sides of this thing. Herby Hancock definitely shouldnt’ve beat Kanye for album of the year, and more hip hop categories should be televised. However I do applaud the Grammys for recognizing “under the radar” artist like Esperanza Spalding and Arcade Fire who have more music in their left thumbs than Bieber has in his entire body.

  • em

    Eminem and hip,hop got stubbed, hip-hop artists and fans need to go against it, we all know the grammy ratings would go down and the grammys will disapear.

  • Word

    @Flip

    It may be ignorant. I’ll accept that, but when I go to sites like Twitter and see thousands of tweets asking who she is, thats when I get the idea not too many people know her. YOU know her. I dont, my friends dont, google took forever to pull up info on her (joking), and Twitter was asking who the fuck she is. Sorry if the comment is ignorant though. Quick question, does she have a album out? Gimme some stats, why did she deserve that award? What impact did she have? I figure, if shes important, a lot of people would be saying “Good for her” instead of “Who the hell is that?”

    @JAMES Oh okay I see but my point still stands though

  • AJ

    Wow! Really Steve?? I’ll start out by saying that no award show is perfect. There are winners and losers. But let’s get one thing straight – the Grammy’s are NOT the Billboard Awards, the People’s Choice or Teen Choice Awards or even the American Music Awards. The Grammy Awards actually looks at music from across the spectrum. It’s not about popularity. Do you all realize how many musicians and singers exist outside of the pop/r&b radio stations? There are a huge group of artists who don’t just rap and sing. They compose, arrange, write music (and not just lyrics), play their own music and own their own labels. Esperanza Spalding is one of them. She has made a great impact on the jazz scene for her modern take on jazz. She is brilliant and deserved recognition AND got it. THAT right there is proof that the Grammy’s really know what’s going on. If some of you explored other genres maybe you’ll have a greater appreciation for what’s out there and you’ll understand. Just because you hear someone on the radio that doesn’t make them more talented than those who are not promoted to the hilt, like 5% of the artists we hear and see ad nauseam on a daily basis. REAL TALK!

  • Word

    @Flip

    Also, if she has done that and has been around for awhile, why is she nominated for best NEW artist?

  • AJ

    @Word – Esperanza has THREE albums out. I was actually surprised that she wasn’t nominated in 2008 for her second album “Esperanza”.

  • Thank Me Hater

    @Donn all of the people you named DID deserve awards because they were globally impactful. They influence and move people. That’s music’s pure purpose and THAT is what those artists with millions of sales have accomplished. I’m not saying Arcade Fire doesn’t do that but I KNOW they don’t do it on a global scale. To be successful with music you MUST be influential.

  • http://www.igniteandimagery.com Ignite Mindz

    The independent grinders won this year, of course a major label exec is mad

  • Thank Me Hater

    Esperanza Spalding and Arcade Fire = Steely Dan. You won’t hear from them in 5 years. Guaranteed!

  • Reyes

    most of the comments here prove to everyone that the hip-hop community is just as ignorant and pretentious as the indie hipster scene. shout out to steve stoute for broadcasting his ignorance – we now know we can avoid him completely

  • Thank Me Hater

    @Reyes don’t just call people ignorant. State your argument and move on.

  • ironic

    absolute bullshit letter by a bullshitter to a bullshit organization…this shit’s all a joke..you’re part of the problem, steve

  • Sincere973

    I respect Steve Stoute…however I completely disagree about the sales! “MANY” of the best albums of all time, didn’t perform well on the charts…Hell the best Rap album of all time…”Illmatic” didn’t perform well on the charts! Did Illmatic even get a Grammy Nod in 94? The Sales & Popularity factor have done more to demolish and tear apart the culture of Hip Hop and remove quality music from the forefront of what is important. The last time I remember an album being the highest quality getting the honest nod deserved was Lauryn Hill in 98…People want to put blame on the new generation/current generation for the lack of quality and originality in Hip Hop…yet at the same time it’s representation of prior generations that do more make themselves in popular format a.k.a. SELLING OUT & selling the culture out who do just as much damage. It’s 2011 now… Wait till it’s 2040…and we look back! Watch how much the image or perceived image of Jay-Z changes, once ya’ll wake the fuck up and see what the truth is!

  • Thank Me Hater

    I think a lot of people are missing the point of what Stoute is saying. You can’t be relevant if you don’t have a fan base….I’m sorry. That’s just logic. These awards should go to the most relevant and culturally impactful artists and they didn’t. Why the fuck do you make music if not to reach people? He’s giving numbers as an example. I don’t think he’s saying numbers are all that matters.

  • Word

    @AJ

    How does a person with THREE ALBUMS even get nominated for this award? i checked wikipedia, she been active since 2000. How she new?

  • Thank Me Hater

    @Word Cosign but don’t bother. Niggas with no real argument always comment a couple of times, call people haters and then leave. lol

  • Sincere973

    @ThankMeHater… bruh…that’s the whole point against Stoute! Ask yourself this question…does the best artist/album/song/producer necessarily the one who is the most popular? sells the most? gets the most spins? There hasn’t been a flawless Rap album in almost a decade…In Hip Hop…Popularity= Overrated, Mediocre, Inflated…that’s just the truth! Eminem’s album isn’t great! It’s a decent album…but it’s not a classic, BP3 is a decent album but not great, not even very good…That’s the point

  • Donn

    @Thank Me Hater

    You can’t impact on a global scale if you don’t have THE MACHINE behind you. The artist who are impacting on a GLOBAL SCALE are those artist who have heavy promotion, radio play, heavy duty advertising, blah blah. Because Esperanza Spalding and Arcade Fire didn’t have that heavy duty promo doesn’t mean they didn’t deserve to win Grammys

    If the MACHINE was behind alot of other artist, they could have the same impact as Eminem and Justin Bieber. And lets get this straight. I love pop music just like i love Hip Hop, Rock, R&B, Country, etc. Justin Bieber should NOT have won over Esperanza Spalding. I think he is somewhat talented for the age he is but this wasn’t the BET Awards or Teen Choice Awards, THIS WAS THE GRAMMYS

    When YN or BDot or whoever got mad when Lady Antebellum won over Eminem, i thought that was so ignorant. U probably didn’t even hear Lady Antebellum’s album, u just saw they won over the person you WANTED to win. Which is not fair. Hip Hop can be really ignorant sometimes

    You guys caim to fight for Hip Hop culture??? ARE U SERIOUS. Are u calling your local radio station telling them to play your favorite artist. Are u creating petitions to help your favorite artist get more exposure and promo from the labels. Are u picketting outside the record companies???

    No ur wrting on Blog Sites thinking your making a difference and as you say “DEFENDING THE CULTURE” from behind your computer.

    Stoute, your ignorant for your comments.

    This is the GRAMMYS

  • http://twitter.com/n14ever Niyemortal

    @Word

    the rules for the most part for that category is that you become eligible once you come out with an Album that thrust you into prominence. She has had three albums, yes, but the first two were relative unknowns. Notice how big Drake was in 09 (as that was pretty much his year) but he wasnt nominated for Best new Artist because he didnt have an “album” out that put him in the spotlight. When 50 was nominated in 03, he had like 1 or 2 albums out already as well, but the Grammys didnt count the street albums (Power of the Dollar and another one, i forgot the name) so he was nominated as a “New” artist.

  • Thank Me Hater

    @Sincere973 NO quality music isn’t always the most popular! That’s not what my comment said and YOUR comment still doesn’t negate the fact that the most culturally impactful artists DIDN’T win. You’re taking part of Stoute’s meaning and running with that because it best suits your argument. Did I say his album was flawless? nope Did I say quality music is always the most popular? nope Did I say that the most popular music is always the best? still no. What I DID say and will continue to say is that is you can’t reach people and influence them WHY are you worthy of an award as prestigious as this?

  • Word

    @Sincere973

    In certain categories, yes, sales and stuff dont matter. Imean, in the “Album” categories it doesnt matter. Same for the “Song” categories for the most part. But when you’re judging BEST NEW ARTIST, or anything relating to the ARTIST, imean, how else you gonna judge that? Influence right? Cosign @ThankMeHater.

  • Thank Me Hater

    @Donn I always think you sound really pretentious. You just assume that I haven’t heard Lady Antebellum or Spalding or Arcade Fire. Is it possible that I DID hear them and I just don’t like them. Why do you get so upset when people on a rap blog don’t agree with a country singer winning? You have to expect that. I admit people can be a bit close minded on here sometimes but cmon dude! I actually don’t think it’s that simple as far as the MACHINE goes. These artists just don’t have the appeal to be globally impactful. It’s that plain and it’s that simple. We all know why Eminem is so popular. He fought his way into the game. The “MACHINE” that Justin Bieber used was youtube and HE BLEW THE FUCK UP. Esperanza has the same platform that JB did in the beginning. It’s just that she doesn’t appeal to 15 year old white girls. That’s the truth. No appeal to the masses

  • Word

    @Niyemortal

    Oh ok I see good looks. But, did her last album really do that? I never heard of it. Imean, the internet is huge and I dont just be on RR. I feel like she really hadnt done much to win best new artist. Drake been everywhere and same thing with that faggot bieber kid. How a unknown win that? Imean, im glad that you dont have to just be GAGA level famous to win an award, but that shit still kinda surprised me.

  • Thank Me Hater

    @Niyemortal Thanks for clearing that up. I was wondering about that

  • Thank Me Hater

    I DO admit that Spalding is good….her music is probably even better than Bieber’s. I heard Esperanza and her third album. BUT to say she is the BEST new artist. First of all best is such an ambiguous word to me. All this shit is opinion and preference anyway so you have nothing else to go off of except sales which translates into how many people you’ve influenced. That’s the only metric you have. It’s the truth

  • http://twitter.com/n14ever Niyemortal

    @Word

    id say Spaulding won over the people on the more distinguished tip. If Beiber had more substance and topics to his material, maybe he would have had more leeway, but Esmerelda did have some big endorsers as well. You cant compare Usher to Prince lol, no contest at all. Id say its kind of a repeat of how Amy Winehouse won Best new Artist a few years back. amazing talent indeed even if she’s not that popular. Like i said earlier, i would have wanted Florence to win but ahhh well. Im proud of Spalding and just because someone lost doesnt mean they still dont win. Grammy nominated is still a big look as well.

    @Thank me hater

    NO problem, I was confused as well. It was when Drake wasnt nominated in 09 that i had to find the rules.

  • AJ

    @Word – She was new to you! j/k Like I said she should have been nominated in 2008 for “Esperanza” but that’s another issue. That was her first “mainstream” album.

    @Thank Me Hater – Esperanza has already been out for a decade, so what makes you think in an additional five years she’ll fade away. She’s a professor of music, been a musician since she was a child. She’s not going anywhere – TRUST. Also most artists wouldn’t be in the industry if they didn’t have a fan base. The radio is not the only way musicians get attention or fans. Concerts and music festivals expose listeners to a plethora of artists you may never hear on the public airwaves. However that does not mean they do not have some type of impact. Think John Mayer. He started out playing at the YMCA and open mic nights for years. He made an impact on those listeners which ended up supporting him, giving him the ability to get recognized and attract new fans. Esperanza and other artists may have you saying WTF? now, but if people start expanding their minds to other genres they won’t look so musically ignorant and have a hissy about an awards show.

  • JIMMY

    THE GRAMMYS WERE PURE BULLSHIT THIS YEAR!

    & DRAKE SHOULDA WON BEST NEW ARTIST BTW.

    -JIMMY IS THE ILLEST

  • http://www.windowslive.com kendra

    then maybe that is just it the grammy,s just want to give everyone a chance at and regonition and that,s it and nothing more…they are probably not trying to be bias as to rappers and general they want to give other people a chance at stardom besides the uhers and the biebers of music…nouf said thou…

  • MELODY

    AMEN

  • pppccc

    i totally agree with his main argument and think the grammys are stupid and completely ridiculous, but his examples are laughable.

    eminem is this generation’s bob dylan? are you fucking kidding me?

    eminem = green day. an artist with talent who completely sold out and has become a laughable parody of himself and who takes his music wayyyyy too seriously.

    eminem is so bad nowadays i went and sold my old em albums b/c i can’t stand to listen to him anymore.

    and yet noone seems to notice how much he sucks now…..

  • pppccc

    …and im not a big arcade fire fan, but they totally deserved the best album award and everyone knew they were going to get it. it was pretty obvious.

  • Bellz 12

    Yes, next year we will petition that the everyone commissioned by the machine be afforded face time by the GRAMMY Awards. Too often, people who can be agents for change here DO NOT pony up to become members, etc. let alone actually spending advertising dollars. There are several awards shows (that shall remain nameless) that embody you-heard-my-name-17000-times-this-year-whether-you-wanted-to-or-not-so-I-WILL-get-an-award shows that people refuse to even admit exist, much less watch and rant about it! Next year, I will put on my ballot all Drake, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne everything, in that order. Oh yeah, we will be sure that Rihanna gets a Lifetime Achievement Award…because she does 9 singles a year and that’s just stellar.

  • King Jugganott

    Great Letter. Salute!!

  • REALNIGGASHIT

    Graduation was not one of the TEN best albums of the year. There is music outside of hip hop you pre-teen fagolas.

  • Real Deal

    real talk. the grammys is not supposed to be a popularity contest. the award is supposed to go to the artist with the best work. although the grammy does get it wrong sometimes, you can’t say em or ye should’ve won if you haven’t listened to steely dan or herbie hancock, which i’m guessing most of you haven’t. i had never heard of esperanza spalding before the grammys, but i listened to her music and she is a lot more talented than either drake bieber and she definitely deserved it. and i agree it’s a shame that em or ye hasn’t won an album of the year grammy, but think about how the roots haven’t even won a best rap album grammy. it’s a lot worse problems with the grammys regarding hip hop than eminem or ye not winning enough awards

  • mmkayy

    i agree and disagree…Steve sounds like an idiot on some parts…who u want to win doesnt mean they should or deserved to…

    the using of certain artists for ratings and not giving hiphop recognition is TRUE…for once i would like to see an actual hiphop album from beginning to end win album of the year…..tell me how can Lose Yourself win an Academy Award but not a grammy for record or song of the year ? why does Stankonia get snubbed by a soundtrack (lol) & Speakerbox wins 2years later…complete bullshit

    hiphop all 2getha needs to boycott……..oh & for the haters Steve Stoute neva said Recovery deserved AOTY so stfu lol

  • http://twitter.com/illaDeuce illaDeuce

    The main truth I found out of this was that they use pop and hip-hop artists strictly for promotion and views without any intent to award these same artists that are bringing in the views. They are basically pimping these artists. All the main performances were pop/hip-hop acts and out of all the noms they maybe scrapped a couple, mostly untelevised too.

  • http://twitter.com/illaDeuce illaDeuce

    To the dude that said it’s about the ebst music and we haven’t listened to the upset winners, i feel you. BUT I had heard esperanza, one, shes not even new shes BEEN out I sampled her in 2008 for a beat, and so has Bieber I dont understand.

    When you say album of the year, you cannot completely ignore cultural impact… you should look at the content but also keep the impact as an important part of the barometer. Esperanza had like 2000 twitter followers before she got her award… you cannot be serious… she’s dope, but what did her album really do to define 2010??

    I understand a guy that sold 20 000 and hes an alternative jazz singer with like 10-30,000 views on youtube competing with Bieber’s 5 million views and the jazz singer winning but this is ridiculous she was nowhere near big enough to go up there and scoop that.

  • I’m tellin you

    @Donn , Don’t try to get smart with steve Stout and stop talkin shit ! egghead … , em already has 13 trophies and he doesn’t give a fuck about prize !!! but fans can’t stand when the fuckin garmmy family , used his name and the others , made people and half of world to watch their poor show and the commercials between ….. and at last they dumped him like a trash in return , if it was not for him, people wouldn’t have watch the fuckin show nor would I … I agree 101 %

  • RICKYUNOS!

    Steve Stout is 110 % rite.. the grammys is foul as ever.. but then again all these awards shows are set up thats why after some performances the artist will stay back stage after the performance because they already kno they gon’ win tge award…REAL TALK 101

  • chuck d & flavor flav

    Trick a chick in Miami
    Terminator X packs the jam
    Who gives a fuck about a goddamn grammy.

  • MinajBangher!

    Fucking TRUTH!

  • dani

    so glad someone wrote this!

  • http://rockmommin.wordpress.com thatretailchick

    MR. STOUTE, DID YOU CAST YOUR BALLOT?

    I can only accept this letter as a real plea for change if he (as a voting member of NARAS) voted. If not, then this is a moot point and he is playing the mad celebrity and that is bogus, and the money he used for that ad could have purchased instruments for an inner city school that has little to no music program in a world where the same artists he is speaking of influences generations.

    NARAS Member Since 2006

  • QUEEN BEE

    Steve is talking from a business perspective.. He cannot be serious with the talent aspect. Hip hop has changed since the 90s ..Outside of Kanye – everyone is putting out pure garbage.

    When artists start making quality music – they’ll be recognized on a larger scale. Does he expect Nicki Minaj to win one next yr because her sales were crazy????

    He is MAD.

  • QUEEN BEE

    However, hip hop artists are bait to get the ratings.. That is evident.. Drake, Rihanna, all of them.. are headliners.. to get those viewers.. SMH.

    Steve – tell your artists to boycott! Yall feel you are too big willie for BET..but at least you get love there. :/

  • Reality

    Of course the machine is behind Bieber. He makes them money by producing bullshit 4-chord repetitive music.

    All the independent artists who grinded and decided not to go the easy way out finally got some recognition at the Grammys this year.

    Grammys are about MUSICAL QUALITY not HYPE & SALES. The only true gripe I have with the Grammys is the fact that hip-hop/rap constantly gets snubbed for albums that were not so critically acclaimed. Since Kanye ventured out of true rap/hip-hop this year, look for him to win next year.

  • Chris

    Commissioner Stoute strikes again!

    Him and Nas need to work together again.

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  • Wow

    This is clearly a twisted joke conjured up by Jay-Z. (Noticed he wasn’t mentioned once) Anyway are we really gonna sit here and say Justin Bieber is not getting a fair shake. Lolz, I think Steve Stoute should watch the MTV awards, they have some good stuff for him.

    Fans can be maipulated, Youtube views can be manipulated and so can album sales. Yeah the grammy’s may suck but not because Justin Bieber and Kanye and Eminem didn’t win.

    And I just don’t see how you can bring up Michael Jackson in this. MJ in his prime at that.

  • god

    he did not even mention they forgot Guru for artist that have passed on. do you know why, because he’s a marketing profiteer, and does not give a shit about artistic integrity. he is a corporate DICK rider.

  • momo

    Steve Stoute is a shallow idiot. And anyone who agrees wit him must be the same. They’d probably rather listen to Rihanna’s auto tuning than Fantasia (who is like the 2nd coming of Aretha mind you) because they would like to sleep with Rihanna. MUSIC is for your EARS a-hole. If there waas no such thing as videos none of his clients would have careers. And this is all he is concerned with. The teen choice awards are for people who make childrens music. What I find soooo profound is here is this black man essentially attacking this lovely natural insanely talented black woman (Esperanza, cuz that’s who we’re talking about isn’t it?) to DEFEND a bunch of rich white boys!!! Does the irony of that escape anyone? This frickin coon has the nerve to say a chick whose blood sweat and tears are in this thing FOR LIFE should lose to lil rich whiteboys? He is the corp equivalent to the Basij in Iran, Mubarak’s thugs in Egypt and all corrupt African politicians who take up arms AGAINST their own people cuz oil companies pay them. he is a slug and his article is EVERYTHING that’s wrong with the music business. And you plastic a-holes that worship these no-talents better wake up. The MUSIC revolution will NOT be on youtube. It will come out of the minds and hands of amazing talents like Esperanza. Kanye West?? He’s making records for Kim Kardashian! yeah, that’s someone who deserves to be awarded for his artistic integrity! Money don’t equal talent homeboy. Never did, never will. Go eff yourself. And if you agree with me, call his offices at 212-299-5303 and tell him he coulda used all that money he spent on a full page in the NYT on some starving kids someplace. These shallow di(ks will neverlearn until they’re schooled. So take your glorified soft porn stars and autotune yourself into obscurity you sell-out. IT’S OVER!

  • http://www.rapconnec.com kid chronic

    everyones a fuckin idiot. Eminem deserved the album of the year award like 10 years ago. If you honestly think recovery should have won more than it did then your fuckin stupid. hate to break it to you but musically recovery fuckin blew. while listening to eminem sing i wanted to chop my ears off. As of right now Kanye’s MBDTF better win album of the year, UNLESS someone with a better all around musically album wins. cant hate on that…. on recovery… because that album sucked. Em still talented tho his freestyles got me rollin on the floor for days “ill throw a stroller at you, witta baby in it.”

  • radii

    Grammys are a joke, as are most awards shows – just there to pump up sales of product and are creations of the marketers – very very little of any of this has to do with actual talent or impact on culture … as for Stoute saying Eminem and Justin Bieber were wrongly overlooked – please, Bieber is the latest Donny Osmand/Bobby Sherman/Davey Jones/NKOTB/ boy band garbage we’ve had for decades – you can pick any cute kid at a mall and make them the next one … as for Eminem, he’s been waaaaay overrated for like forever and a lot of this rap sh*t since early 90s is just debasing soulless garbage and we all know it – selling ghetto/gangsta “lifestyle” as a product – something that should be reformed is celebrated

  • http://WWW.NURREDIN.COM NURREDIN

    Steve Stoute has his head up his rear end! The Grammys aren’t based on sales, they’re based on artistic excellence. To say just because something sells well that it should be rewarded is ridiculous! That’s like saying crack dealers should be applauded because their product sells for more money then aspirin! Crack is popular. Should we recognize it as being good for you? Beiber’s “music” is aural crack, it’s just pop garbage!

  • Chi-Town

    I commend you brother for sending this letter because it is 100% truth. Artist stop accepting these invitations and then act as if you are too busy for the BET awards. why they didnt ask Esperanza Spalding to perform if she the new artist of the year?

  • Black on both sides

    Listen this fool is a damn joke! The Grammy Awards honor talent not media generated gimmicks! So what if a TRUE ARTIST does not sell 10 million copies of their CD in 1 month! He’s a hand clpa for those who do but in reality some of the best known talent never get repeated spins on radio, MTV/VH!/BET/ Centric etc music video spins, magazine covers and what not. Becuase they are not “MEDIA DARLINGS” does not diminish the solid and quality product they provide.

    STEVE STOUTE NEEDS TO STFU & SIT THE F**K DOWN!

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