Robert Glasper may not be a household name — something the producer has jokingly alluded to while promoting his own music — but he certainly gets his due from the recording industry establishment (i.e. those in the know). However, one of the artists he defeated in the category for Best R&B Album at last night’s Grammys wasn’t joking when he blew up at Glasper over the win.
Chris Brown, whose album Breezy was nominated against Glasper’s Black Radio III, threw a bit of a hissy fit on Instagram, wondering “who da f*ck is this?” and joking that he would “start playing the harmonica” to get recognition from the Recording Academy. (Truthfully, he’s lucky they’re still considering him at all after being basically persona non grata for upwards of a decade after assaulting Rihanna.)
Glasper acknowledged Brown’s meltdown, posting a graphic on his own Instagram that read “Who the f*ck is Robert Glasper?” “If y’all have questions, I have answers,” he captioned the post, smoothly highlighting his impressive resume which includes production for Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, and a who’s-who of Black music royalty in addition to composing the score for The Photograph starring Issa Rae.
Fans on Twitter seemed to align more with Glasper than with Brown’s outlook, censuring the more popular artist for not doing his research. Since then, he apparently has, as he sent Glasper a DM on Instagram apologizing for his outburst, according to a screenshot he shared on his Story.
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“Congratulations my brother,” he wrote. “I would like to apologize if you took offense to my reaction at the Grammys.. you were not the Intended target and I know I came off really rude and mean. After doing my research I actually think your amazing.”
However, he didn’t stop there. While acknowledging how his tantrum came off, he recommended a change to the Grammys’ format which actually might make things better for R&B artists in the future. “THE ORGANIZATION ISNT DOING US BLACKS OUR DUE DILIGENCE,” he wrote. “YOU AND I SHOULD never be in the Same category… two totally different vibes and genres. So from one black man to another.. CONGRATULATIONS.. HOPE YOU ARE ABLE TO FEED YOUR FAMILY FOR LIFE.”
Interestingly enough, R&B has had a fraught history at the Grammys — after all, what Black genre hasn’t? From 2003 to 2011, it was split into separate categories, Best R&B Album and Best Contemporary R&B album, to allow for the differences in production between those albums styled after the genre’s roots and those with more hip-hop influence and electronic production. After the categories were re-merged, a Best Progressive R&B Album award was introduced in 2020. Glasper’s Dinner Party bandmate Terrace Martin was nominated in that category this year, although Steve Lacy’s Gemini Rights took the award.
For what it’s worth, pitting Brown’s much more pop-influenced album against a field that included more soulful entries like Mary J. Blige’s Good Morning Gorgeous, Lucky Daye’s Candydrip, and PJ Morton’s Watch the Sun does make it stick out like a sore thumb. Perhaps the Grammys could figure out another category for more uptempo, dance-centric R&B records in the future.