That Brown was nominated in the same category as Ledisi and Price - and that he won - appeared to support the “conspiracy theory” of some music fans who frequently complain that the Grammys just don’t understand the breadth of black music. And it didn’t help that on this same night Diana Ross received only fleeting recognition for her Lifetime award while Brown and Rihanna performed not once but multiple times.
Since the Milli Vanilli fiasco, an embarrassed Grammy committee has been careful to choose the Best New Artist each year based on real artistic merit, regardless of popularity. That’s how the talented Esperanza Spalding won last year and little known folkster Bon Iver took the award this year. But in the R&B category, year after year the awards simply play out like the Billboard charts – as if the voters never even listened to the nominated albums. And, when combined with the choice of performances for the evening, it would not be surprising if rock or country music fans left the Grammys with the impression that the state of black music today is epitomized by Chris Brown, Rihanna and the perplexing, insulting Nicki Minaj.
By Chris Rizik (February 13, 2012) / Soultracks.com