Newswise — There will be no fear of a viral #GrammysSoWhite campaign. With the nominations out Tuesday, artists of color swept many of the top nominations, with Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, Khalid, No I.D. and Sza leading the pack.

Don’t expect this to be a one-off, said Frederick Gooding Jr, an ethnic studies professor at Northern Arizona University who researches African-American history and critical race theory in media, movies and sports. R&B and hip-hop have been part of the American music scene for years and are influential in music, movies and pop culture, including crossovers with Martha Stewart and Sprouts.

But the nominations aren’t necessarily reflective of an unusually good year for artists of color. It is likely not that much different from the five to seven years prior with respect to steady sales, tour dates and airplay, Gooding said. These nominations may be a culmination of older voters no longer resisting recognition of the earning power of black music and from sensitivity of not wanting to appear "tone deaf" like the Academy Awards did when the #OscarsSoWhite campaign illustrated the lack of diversity represented in nominations.

In addition to his research, Gooding founded a Hip-Hop Appreciation Week at NAU and is an adviser for the Black Student Union and the Gold and Brown Jacks.

Contact: Frederick Gooding Jr, assistant professor of ethnic studies, (928) 523-8134 or [email protected]


  • “Black music has been an indelible part of the American music scene for decades. It is difficult, if not impossible for any American to go for a week without hearing the vibration of black song. Thus, the nominations merely reflect what consumer data has demonstrated for years now—that black music (e.g., hip-hop and R&B) is commercially viable and relevant within mainstream culture.”
  • “My prediction is hip-hop is here to stay. Roughly four decades ago, many believed hip-hop would be a passing fad. Now, if anything, we have seen hip-hop endure the cycles of initial aberration to appreciation and lastly to appropriation. If one goes into the upscale Sprouts supermarket, they can acquire reusable grocery bags with the slogan "Everyday I'm Brusselin'" (a play on words from the hip-hop phraseology, "Everyday I'm Hustling'"); if one turns on the television, they will find couture extraordinaire Martha Stewart teamed up with rap legend Snoop Dogg (even posing intimately while recreating scenes from the movie "Ghost"); or if one goes to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., they will see rapper LL Cool J bestowed one of the nation's highest honors. Hip-hop and R&B are ensconced within American culture; there is no turning back.”
  • “America has always had a mercurial relationship with black music. Black jazz musicians were initially scorned for their non-conformist style only to be subsequently heralded as the distinct, quintessential sound of a diplomatic America (see Louis Armstrong's collaboration with Dave Brubeck, "The Real Ambassadors" whereupon the U.S. State Department sent Armstrong on a worldwide tour to play music and promote American democracy after World War II).”
  • “It appears hip-hop is no different. Tipper Gore and others rallied hard against this expressive art form as antithetical to social values in the 1980s. Now, many Fortune 500 companies routinely use and rely upon hip-hop artists and imagery to sell their social values in the name of prudent profit (Target, The Gap, Kia, McDonald's, Sprite). Not only has hip-hop proven to have profound commercial value, having grown into a billion-dollar industry, but youth of all races and genders swear by its profound social value. While there is nothing "new under the sun," hip-hop's ability to give lyrical and rhythmic voice to the deepest feelings, emotions and ideas of the human experience is heretofore unparalleled, has resonated all across the globe, and has been tough to beat.”