By Samantha Neou Entertainment Editor and Alejandro Ramos Contributor
This past Grammys was a bit of a let down—the award show had the lowest ratings in several years—because some artists received glory for mediocrity over the innovative artistry of others. Every nominee for Best Record would have been a worthy winner, except the actual winner, Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic.” While Alessia Cara is pretty good, she shouldn't have won Best New Artist because she peaked in 2016. Every year, there are snubs and underrepresented artists. Several nominations are made based on popularity and sales alone, which means talented artists like Thundercat, Open Mike Eagle and Dua Lipa are overlooked. The year is young, but let's talk about a few deserving artists that we hope will be contenders for the 2019 Grammys.
Archy Ivan Marshall, better known as King Krule, is interesting in every sense of the word. Starting with his appearance, he is fairly unassuming. With a wiry frame and fair skin topped with vibrant red hair, his face reveals his youth, covered in faint freckles with a squared jaw. Think Ron Weasley. His looks betray his most captivating feature: a deep, resounding voice with the depths of The Mariana Trench. It draws you in until you lose yourself in it and the range of emotions it evokes. Murky, blues-inspired instrumentation oozes over his voice, making it sound heavier than it already is. He drones, lazily, at a pace that makes it easy for your mind to wander. That’s kind of the point, though. King Krule is the kind of artist whose style forces you stop, listen, and think about anything and everything.
It's difficult deciding what is the most compelling aspect about this L.A-based rap crew. Founded by singer-songwriter Kevin Abstract, the hip-hop collective has been compared to groups like Odd Future and One Direction. But that doesn’t do them justice. Brockhampton is a boy band with over a dozen members—comprised of black and white, straight and queer members—all in their twenties. Despite the size of the group, they’re able to work towards a unified vision of self-expression which resulted in the “Saturation” trilogy last year. Throughout each album, they’ve grown and experimented with their sound and lyrics. They rap and perform the way they want to, whether it be with blue painted faces or about being shunned for being gay. This level of teamwork, creativity and individualism is what propelled them into internet fame and cult popularity. It's a wonder why Brockhampton has yet to be nominated for a Grammy. Or more importantly, received more exposure.
From Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi taking over the summer of 2017, to the emergence of Cardi B and Amara La Negra, Latinx artists are on the rise. While this increase in representation is welcome and long overdue, it is limited in scope. All of the artists I mentioned have a stereotypical “Latin” sound people come to expect – tropical-types of club hits dripping in sex appeal. That sound is fun, but it isn’t all Latinx artists have to offer.
Enter Chicano Batman, a Los Angeles-based alternative group with an aesthetic that strays from that norm. The four-piece band draws inspiration from psychedelic and soul acts, both visually and sonically. Their look – three-piece suits tailored to perfection – will catch your eye. Then, their musical stylings will leave you swooning while they sing of love and friendship, conflict and struggle, life and death, and everything in between.
In a world where Latinx artists are expected to fit into a specific, restrictive mold, Chicano Batman is working to create a mold of their own. Their latest work, “Freedom Is Free,” is a fun ride that is definitely deserving of Grammy-level recognition. It didn’t happen this year, but here’s to hoping it happens in the years to come.