I början av januari kom nyheten att den ikoniska gruppen N.W.A. ska tilldelas en hederspris i samband med årets Grammy Awards, en så kallad “Lifetime Achievement Award”, för sina insatser inom hiphop och musikvärlden. Arrangören Recording Academy beskriver gruppens musikgärning som följer:

“…was a rap group from the Compton district in Los Angeles who are credited by many with inventing gangsta rap. The group, consisting of Eazy-E^, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, and MC-Ren, developed a new sound, which brought in many of the loud, extreme sonic innovations of Public Enemy while adopting a self-consciously violent and dangerous lyrical stance. In 1988, N.W.A released their album, Straight Outta Compton, a brutally intense record that became an underground hit without any support from radio or MTV. This negative attention worked in their favor as it brought the album to multiplatinum status. Although the group was short-lived, gangsta rap established itself as the most popular form of hip-hop during the mid-1990s.”

Ordföranden för Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr., sa vidare:

“The Academy is honored to pay tribute to this year’s Special Merit Award recipients — a remarkable group of creators and industry professionals whose impact resonates with generations worldwide. Their contributions to music span genres, backgrounds and crafts, reflecting the rich diversity that fuels our creative community. We look forward to honoring these music industry trailblazers next month as part of our week-long celebration…”

På plats för själva prisutdelningen i fredags kväll fanns Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella samt Eazy-E:s mamma och familjemedlemmar. När det blev dags för tacktal förklarade Ice Cube varför Dr. Dre inte närvarade vid ceremonin:

“My man, Dr. Dre, is not here. He wanted to make sure I let you know he’s not hating. He a billionaire. He got shit to do. This is actually Eazy-E’s vision. He’s the one who allowed us to do this type of music.”

Cube sa vidare:

“We knew when we started to do music in 1985, ’86, ’87 that a Grammy was not in the cards for us, with the type of music we was doing. We actually didn’t think we would ever even get on the radio. We was cool with that.”

“We can’t sing like Gladys. None of us can hold a note like the Clark sisters. But we still wanted to express ourselves and try to make sense of the world around us, in L.A., Compton, South Central, Long Beach, Watts. It was a different world out there, and we were trying to make sense of it. And what we did is, we did music. We did music from our hearts.”.

Förutom N.W.A mottog även följande artister hederspriset; Laurie Anderson, Clark Sisters, Gladys Knight, Donna Summer och Tammy Wynette.

Utöver dessa prisades även hiphop-pionjären DJ Kool Herc prisas med en så kallad “Technical GRAMMY® Award” med följande motivering:

“…is mastery at the turntables is known worldwide, as are his positive contributions to the evolution of hip-hop culture. Herc’s popularity rose by playing long sets of assorted rhythm breaks strung together. Unlike any of his DJ counterparts, Herc is not a rapid rapper who keeps your head spinning with a patter, but he is a musical innovator to the turntables.”

Den somaliska rapparen K’naan prisades även med specialpriset “Best Song For Social Change Award” för låten “Refugee”. Juryn skriver vidare i sin motivering:

“…stands out as a distinctive musical endeavor, skillfully interweaving personal and political narratives, and serving as a tribute to refugees around the world. With the single, K’naan drew inspiration from his personal experiences, aiming to redefine the traditional perception of the term “refugee” into a symbol of resilience and strength.”

Prisutdelningen för ovanstående hederspriser hölls 3 februari 2024 på Wilshire Ebell Theatre i Los Angeles.

Foto: Priority Records