The Grammys are on Sunday which means that the music industry will be the main story this weekend. Last night the Recording Academy and the Black Music Collective presented its Global Impact Award, now renamed after Dr Dre, to several recipients including music executive Sylvia Rhone, Missy Elliott, and Lil Wayne. 


Missy is the first female rapper to be nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; it’s her first year of eligibility. This is a no-brainer. Missy’s contribution to music, not just hip-hop but music in general, is incomparable. The impact of her sound, her artistry, her imagination on audio and visual culture is immeasurable. She’s a visionary. She’s a revolutionary. She’s a disruptor. She’s a legend. And they paid tribute to her last night with performances by Annitta, Ciara, and Chlöe who did a medley of “One Minute Man” and also Aaliyah’s “One In A Million”. And of course it was emotional for Missy, to be honoured on that stage, in the presence of those she considers her peers, her colleagues, and collaborators. And also to be thinking of her friend who she paid tribute to last month on what would have been her 44th birthday. 


Also can we just appreciate Missy’s fit?! This sick Versace suit?! 

The evening ended with a humble Lil Wayne, after video messages from Drake and Deion Sanders, accepting his award and like Missy before him, his influence on hip-hop, his style, his delivery, his attitude, is also unmatched. Wayne turned 40 in September and just announced a world tour. He’s been doing this since he was 12 years old – which is when he signed his first record deal! Think of what he’s been able to achieve with Young Money, the artists he in turned signed to his label, like Drake and Nicki Minaj and DJ Khaled and Tyga and so many more. 

He was humble, though, when receiving his honour, reflecting on his beginnings: 

“I want you all to know that I don’t get honored. Where I’m from, New Orleans, you’re not supposed to do this.”


Wayne went on to talk about his mother, how his early and sudden success left them all overwhelmed. He thanked Antonia Johnson, the mother of his first child, for being there in this early days and helping them find their way. After acknowledging all his children and their extended families, Wayne concluded: 

“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know who you all are tonight. Again, we don’t get honored. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I ain’t shit without you.”

Wayne’s modesty is endearing but the significance is bigger than he is. What he’s referring to when he says “we don’t get honoured” is a reflection of the music industry and its institutions and what they consider to be worthy of awarding, worthy of prestige. Rap and hip-hop, with its origins in the Black community, have been mainstream popular music for a long time and yet for far too long treated as side categories, and are more recognised and credited for those who borrow from it but come from outside the community. But the fact is, artists like Missy and Wayne have moved the culture – the entire culture – in every community. From our speech patterns to our clothing to our online interactions, from the street to the runway, from our headphones to the radio, on the field and in the classroom and even in the boardroom, rap and hip-hop have infused every corner of our lifestyles. It’s artists like Missy and Wayne who are responsible for shaping and tastemaking, even though they “don’t get honoured”.