Rap sees landmark Grammy wins

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 12, 2019.

Best Rap Album award winner Cardi B dressed in a dramatic vintage Thierry Mugler couture gown that erupted from a dark mermaid skirt in a fan of pale pink pleats behind her at the Grammy’s red carpet in Los Angeles on Sunday. Photos by Reuters

Rexha fluttered onto the carpet in a cloud of red tulle by Monsoori at the Grammy’s red carpet in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Men can rock pink as well, as Malone showed in a full pink suit with glittering stars all over it at the Grammy’s red carpet in Los Angeles on Sunday.

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Cardi B, the first woman to win Best Rap Album award

Rap history was made on Sunday at the Grammys as Cardi B became the first woman to win the award for Best Rap Album and Childish Gambino scored two other landmark victories for the genre: Song and Record of the Year.

For the second consecutive year, black hip-hop artistes dominated nominations across the board.

But unlike in years past, the artistes snagged a handful of major wins — perhaps a sign that the Recording Academy is slowly getting in touch with pop culture’s more groundbreaking work.

Cardi B’s win for Invasion of Privacy was a crowning achievement for the artiste, now at the top of the male-dominated hip-hop world.

The 26-year-old rap queen beat out the late Mac Miller and superstar Travis Scott to claim her first career Grammy, having soared to fame on the runaway success of her smash hit Bodak Yellow that centres on the Bronx native’s past as a stripper.

Gambino won the first Song and Record of the Year awards ever for a rap song, a milestone for the genre that the academy has drawn criticism for snubbing in the past.

Gambino — the rap alter ego of actor Donald Glover — was one of the night’s leading stars with four wins, also scooping a Best Rap/Sung Performance award and Best Music Video for the provocative hit This Is America. But he was not at the gala to enjoy the moment.

His collaborators told journalists they did not know why he did not attend, but he had reportedly declined an invitation to perform.

Drake won Best Rap Song for God’s Plan, his only win of the night for the inescapable smash of 2018. Drake showed up to accept the award despite rumours that he would skip the gala. But his acceptance speech was delivered with a perceptible twinge of bitterness.

“It’s like the first time in Grammys history where I actually am who I thought I was for a second, so I like that — that is really nice,” he said.

Kendrick Lamar tied for his first win of the night for King’s Dead, which he had performed alongside Jay Rock, Future and James Blake.

Music industry chameleon Pharrell Williams meanwhile topped rap megastar Kanye West to take home the trophy for Non-Classical Producer of the Year.

With women better represented among the nominees on music’s biggest night, music’s A-list went back to red carpet basics on Sunday. That means sex appeal, lots of trouser suits and rock-star glamour.

Here are some takeaways from the red carpet at the Staples Center in Los Angeles:

Host Alicia Keys has promised the “sickest” gala ever, with lots of red-hot performances. But there was a lot of red-hot fashion as well. The Girl on Fire singer brought the heat in a plunging V-neck red Armani gown, with button detailing down the front.

Bebe Rexha, who went on a social media tirade over designers who refused to dress her because she was “too big” — fluttered onto the carpet in a cloud of red tulle.

Cardi B made quite an entrance in a dramatic vintage Thierry Mugler couture gown that erupted from a dark mermaid skirt in a fan of pale pink pleats behind her. Elbow-length gloves and a cone of pearls atop her head finished the look — Cardi B brought her fashion A-game.

Camila Cabello, who opened the ceremony with her mega-hit Havana, went for something simpler — she glittered in a sparkly high-neck, long-sleeve, but backless, pink Armani gown.

Country star Kacey Musgraves, already twice a winner on Sunday in the early portion of the Grammys, opted for an ultra-feminine strapless pale pink gown with a fan bodice and a darker sash.

Men can rock pink as well, as Post Malone showed — in a full pink suit with glittering stars all over it.

The women of music came ready to play — and for top female nominee Brandi Carlile, pop star Miley Cyrus, Meghan Trainor and others, that means trousers.

Carlile rocked a smart tuxedo-style suit with a long coat while Trainor opted for a white jumpsuit with a deep neckline.

Former first lady Michelle Obama earned a screaming ovation when she made a surprise appearance at the start of the show in a gunmetal pantsuit with a kimono-like jacket. “Music has always helped me tell my story,” Obama said to cheers alongside Keys, Lady Gaga, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and music mega-star Jennifer Lopez.

You do not see too many hats on other showbiz red carpets during awards season at the start of each year, but the Grammys style parade is in a league of its own. Pop futurist Janelle Monae led the charge with her jaunty angled golden flying saucer hat, while Lopez made a statement in a wide-brimmed hat that for many resembled one worn by First Lady Melania Trump last year. On the men’s side, funk legend George Clinton wore a futuristic helmet that made it somewhat hard for him to see. — AFP