Adding Insult to Injury, the Grammys ‘All Lives Matter’d a Prince Quote
When the Grammys premiered on Sunday night, a couple of hot topics dominated the conversation. From Lizzo’s inspiring acceptance to speech to Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ performance to Ben Affleck’s sad expression, there were some definitive highlights of the night. Jennifer Lopez largely came into the public discourse due to Affleck’s expressions during the night and a clip of the two being caught arguing going viral. However, there was one moment involving Lopez that should’ve drawn some more attention.
Lopez was tapped to present the award for Best Pop Vocal Album, which ultimately went to Harry Styles for Harry’s House. The “Jenny From the Block” singer kept her presentation fairly brief. She noted that the music industry can, at times, feel like a “singles world.” Hence, she felt the Best Pop Vocal Album was especially important in celebrating “a body of musical work that tells a story through song.” She then went on to quote the legendary musician, Prince. She stated: “As the late, great Prince said in his last Grammy performance eight years ago: ‘Albums still matter.’”
However, it didn’t take long for some perceptive viewers to realize that the quote was shortened, and a very important part was cut off from it.
Let’s look at Prince’s original Black Lives Matter quote
Columnist Martine St-Victor shared a clip of the speech that Lopez was referencing of Prince at the Grammys. What Prince really said was: “Albums still matter, like books and Black lives, albums still matter.”
The quote was made at the Grammys in 2015, just two years after Black Lives Matter was first founded. Even in its formative years, Prince was advocating for the social movement, which isn’t surprising considering he spent much of his life fighting for social justice. It already isn’t a very classy approach to edit or shorten a quote from someone, but to do so when that quote gave recognition to something very important to the original speaker is an especially bad look.
Did the Grammy’s edit Prince’s quote?
While St-Victor’s post called out Lopez, the fault of the misquote may fall more on the Recording Academy. Of course, it is very easy to be critical of Lopez considering her history. Among her many controversies, she has used the offensive All Lives Matter phrase on social media, included racial slurs in her music (as well as other phrases bordering on offensive), called herself a “Black Girl” from the Bronx in one of her songs, and been accused of cultural appropriation. Hence, viewers wouldn’t really be surprised if she cut a quote from Prince.
However, many users pointed out that the Grammys was most likely behind it, as Lopez was likely just reading from a teleprompter. The Recording Academy being behind the editing of the quote is pretty believable, considering it has also had its fair share of accusations of racism. While the Grammys has been around for 65 years, in its entire history, only 11 Black artists have won the show’s most prestigious award, Album of the Year. The Grammys rarely awards its top honors to Black artists, instead often limiting their wins to specific categories like Best Rap Song or Best R&B Song. Artists like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino have even refused to perform at the Grammys in the past due to their history.
In 2019, in an attempt at greater diversity, the Grammys included a segment celebrating the 60th anniversary of Motown. This was anticipated to largely be a celebration of Black music history, considering that Motown was a record label that aided in the desegregation of Black artists in the music industry. While non-Black artists also signed onto Motown Records, many still weren’t impressed that the Grammys decided to have none other than Lopez lead the Motown tribute. Given its history, the editing of Prince’s quote wasn’t exactly surprising, but was still very disappointing and disrespectful, and raises the question of whether the Recording Academy has changed at all regarding its racism.
(featured image: Johnny Nunez, Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
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