In a reflection of the current state of pop, in which hip-hop and urban music are the dominating forces, artists such as Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Bruno Mars are among the top nominees the 60th Grammy Awards, to be held Jan. 28 from Madison Square Garden in New York.
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For all the strides the Grammys made in completing a long-overdue embrace of hip-hop in its 2018 nominees, there remained a glaring and all-too-depressing omission: the visionary group A Tribe Called Quest.
Released a year ago this month, “We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service” was an immediate critical favorite as Tribe emerged from a roughly 15-year hiatus and sounded as vital as ever despite the loss of influential co-founder Phife Dawg, who died in 2016 before the album was completed. The group’s performances to celebrate the release, which included a bittersweet tribute to Phife in a November appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” a farewell tour as well as a triumphant set at the 2017 Grammys with Busta Rhymes and Anderson .Paak, seemed to set the stage for a well-deserved awards-night victory lap for the group’s final statement.
Sadly, it was not to be. Hampered, perhaps, by that late 2016 release date, it was shut out in the Grammy nominations even as genre-mates Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar led the way in the major categories. Even more disappointing, “We Got It From Here” marked the group’s final shot to win a Grammy award after losing out in 1997, 1999 and 2012 (for the documentary “Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest”).
In another cruel twist, Tribe’s remarkable full performance from last year’s Grammys, which included the politically charged single “We The People,” has apparently been scrubbed from YouTube. So instead, take a moment and watch the group’s joyful “SNL” performance and consider where the group could and should have fit among this year’s nominees.