The Grammy nominations dropped, and the “Queen” didn’t make the cut. After the release of her long-awaited album, the Academy didn’t give the nod to Nicki Minaj. With 19 submissions, her absence from the nominations surprised many. Another Grammy, another snub? Or maybe not. Looking back on the year and the metrics, it’s fair to ask: Did Nicki get snubbed or did she play herself?
After being a poster child for female rap for a decade, one could argue that Barbie never left. “Queen” ended a 4-year long album hiatus following the “Pink Print”. Yet, even during that time, she constantly stayed on the charts with singles like “Run Up”, “Rake it Up”, or “Bang Bang”. In the span of her career, Nicki has always managed to be in the conversation and “Queen” is no different. Forget about Ann Darrow, “Chun-Li” was such a hit that the only “Queen” King-Kong should address is Nicki. “Barbie Dreams” showcased her ability to go beat-for bars while “Good Form” was the ultimate dance banger. So what went wrong? Why didn’t the Grammys acknowledge Nicki?
Numbers don’t lie
“Chun-Li” peaked at #10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 when “Barbie Dreams” made it to #18. Added are metrics of the #1 On-Demand Streaming song “Fefe” and the sales of concert-album bundle deals. With that package, Nicki managed to grab the #2 spot for Top Album Sales. “Queen” debuted its first week with 185,000 units according to Billboard. One would assume those numbers make it a valid contestant for the Grammy nominations. But does it really?
Nicki made 19 Grammy submissions. 4 of those being: Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance, Record of the Year and Album of the year. One of the actual nominees for the ”Best Rap X” categories is “Astroworld” with 205,000 first week units. Another Grammy choice for the “X of the Year” categories is “Invasion of Privacy” with 255,000 sales.
Truth is, “Queen” was a good album, with numbers at that. But good is not enough. And as unfair as that may sound, that is the standard that Nicki has set for herself. And she knows it because she made it be known. Her rants about the conspiracy of her sales, the rigged metrics, and the illegitimacy of Travis Scott’s number #1 prove it. Nicki wants all the props and maybe that’s why she doesn’t get them.
Image is everything. And Nicki’s popularity hasn’t been the best. After the beef with Remy Ma and the Meek drama, “Queen” was an opportunity to rebrand herself. And she did. Not just as expected. As entertaining as Queen Radio was, Nicki’s journey “TO FREEDOM” of speech has caused more damage than necessary. It’s not as much about Cardi as people would want it to be. “Queen” was a good album. Maybe it could have received a better listen if it was heard without the clickbait drama.
Then again, the Grammys isn’t the best listener. The Academy has a long history of snubbing artists, mainly urban and hip-hop ones. Ask J Cole. Even tho he is nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance, thanks to his duo with 6lack in Pretty Little Fears. But Nicki didn’t even get the luxury of a feature nod. Many would argue it’s because the Grammys doesn’t dwell on quality as much as it does on quantity. And yes this is about music, but it’s mostly about politics. Popularity and Metrics are part of the game. And in that Arena, Nicki doesn’t win.
The Grammys didn’t acknowledge Tupac or Nas either so why care? Because we can’t omit the efforts made for this year’s list. The nominations offered accolades to many deserving acts, established or newcomers, like Kendrick Lamar, Donald Glover, SZA, HER, and Chloe X Halle.
Does Nicki Minaj deserve the nominations as much as any them? Of Course! Is “Queen” more deserving of a Grammy than the other nominees? Not so sure.