The 2018 Grammy nominations were a triumph for diversity, with far more hip-hop and R&B nominees in the top categories than ever before.
In a way, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an organization devoted to supporting and honoring music would recognize the current ascendance of hip-hop as the dominant popular music form. But it is something of a delicious shock, because since they began in the 1950s, the Grammys have not exactly been inclusive.
No hip-hop song, for instance, has ever won Record of the Year or Song of the Year. You could argue that they’ve been shortsighted when it comes to rock music and Latin music and jazz and other genres, too, that there’s an inevitable conservatism that comes from having a huge body of voters considering such a vast musical landscape.
But the decades worth of snubs and oversights are not pretty. Scroll through TheWrap’s timeline:
At the first Grammys, the Best Rhythm & Blues Performance category was won by a white group, the Champs, with “Tequila.” Ella Fitzgerald was the only African American nominated in the Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year categories, which were won by Domenico Modugno’s “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” (record and song) and Henry Mancini’s “The Music From Peter Gunn” (album).
At the 10th Grammy show, one of the top three awards is finally won by black performers: The Fifth Dimension, who win Record of the Year for “Up, Up and Away,” written by white songwriter Jimmy Webb.
After 18 years, Natalie Cole becomes the first black performer to win Best New Artist.
It’s the year of Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall,” Prince’s “Dirty Mind,” Smokey Robinson’s “Crusin’” and the debuts of the Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow. But the Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist awards all go to a wimpy white guy named Christopher Cross.
Prince is nominated for Album of the Year for the second and last time for “Sign o’ the Times.” That album, “Purple Rain” and “1999” will eventually enter the Grammy Hall of Fame, but he will never win the award
Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” the highest ranked hip-hop album in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, is not nominated for any Grammys. But the Record of the Year and Song of the Year awards do go to a black artist: Bobby McFerrin, for “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith) win the first-ever rap Grammy for “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” The award was not presented during the televised portion of the ceremony, and in protest Smith led a boycott of the show. (But DJ Jazzy Jeff did show up to accept the Grammy.)
More than a decade after rap music began to revolutionize popular music, MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” becomes the first hip-hop song to receive a Record of the Year nomination. It loses to Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise.”
Kayne West’s “Late Registration” beats Eminem’s “Encore” in the Best Rap Album category. This remains the only one of the seven years in which a white artist was nominated in the category that the white artist did not win.
Jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock becomes the most recent black artist to win Album of the Year. He does so for an album of Joni Mitchell songs.
Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” beats Beyonce’s “I Am … Sasha Fierce” for Album of the Year. This comes four months after she beats Beyonce at the MTV Video Music Awards, where her acceptance speech is interrupted by Kanye West’s infamous “imma let you finish” moment.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis win the Best Rap Album award over Drake, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West, the sixth time in the 19-year history of the award that a white performer had won it. Macklemore also beats Lamar for Best New Artist, and sends Lamar an apologetic text.
This time, it’s Beck’s turn to beat Beyonce in the Album of the Year category, with his “Morning Phase” scoring a surprise victory over her self-titled album.
Grammy voters’ love for Taylor Swift proves embarrassing once more, as her “1989” album beats Kendrick Lamar’s landmark “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Her floppy-haired bestie Ed Sheeran, meanwhile, beats Kendrick in the Song of the Year category.
And finally, Adele wins Album of the Year for “25,” and immediately uses her speech to say what everybody was thinking: that Beyonce deserved it for “Lemonade,” which she said was “so monumental, and so well thought-out and soul-bearing.”
Jay-Z was the most nominated artist, with eight, but didn’t win a single Grammy. On his joint album with Beyonce, “Everything Is Love,” the song “APESH-T” included the lyric: “Tell the Grammys f— that zero for eight s—.” And while Kendrick Lamar swept the hip-hop awards for “DAMN.” he lost Record and Album of the Year to Bruno Mars.
Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Childish Gambino all declined invitations to perform on the show, according to producer Ken Ehrlich. And then Kendrick Lamar’s “Black Panther” soundtrack lost in the Album of the Year category to Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” (one of the two non-hip-hop albums among the eight nominees).