Did King's Disease truly deserve the "Best Rap Album" Grammy? The answer is murky.
After Freddie Gibbs's coveted 2020 album, Alfredo, lost out to Nas's King's Disease for Best Rap Album at last night's Grammy Awards, Gibbs's fanbase collectively aired their frustrations online.
"Nas finally wins at the Grammys, but Freddie Gibbs loses," captioned one fan on Twitter. "Idk (sic) how to feel...I'm both happy and sad." Other fans were less forgiving. "F**k that," wrote another Gibbs fan. "I congratulate Nas, but lowks Freddie had it man."
Gibbs was indeed seen by many as a near shoo-in for Best Rap Album. Alfredo's mafioso sheen and muted jazzy backdrops are as timeless and sophisticated as vintage denim, and Gibbs's verses are so potent that they were scribed across cardboard signs this past summer during the BLM protests.
When held under a microscope, King's Disease no doubt pales musically to Alfredo (tracks like "Til the War Is Won" and "All Bad" are sprinkled with defensive misogyny, which in light of the disturbing 2018 abuse allegations against the rapper can leave a bitter aftertaste in listeners' mouths.)
But prior to this, Nas, despite his legendary stature in Hip-Hop, had been nominated 14 times for a Grammy, with his first defeat dating all the way back to 1996, when he was in the running for what's still collectively believed to be his best work, Illmatic. With that in mind, the award felt more like a long-overdue hat tip to the emcee himself.
Gibbs took the loss on the chin, posting a now-viral video of him laughing and joking about what he saw as a well-earned defeat. Nas remains one of Hip-Hop's godfathers, and King's Disease had enough reflective highlights to warrant consideration for the award, but one couldn't help but still feel a pang of disappointment at Alfredo's loss.
So was Freddie Gibbs snubbed last night? Alfredo was a record that by the end of 2020 had drowned in "Best Of" praise from almost every esteemed publication, from The New York Times and Complex toThe New Yorker. It was also a versatile record that seemingly captured the ethos of 2020. With so many people confined to their homes, The Alchemist's granular grooves were as meditative as a warm bath, while Gibbs's lyrics literally served as a call to arms against police brutality.
Whether or not King's Disease deserved this victory doesn't really matter. Nas should have been flooded with Grammys for years, and to award him his first at such a late hour does feel slightly patronizing.
If anything, Nas's overdue victory is more reflective of how old the Grammys voting membership still tends to skew. After all, these are the same people that forgot After Hours even existed and awarded "Record of the Year" to a Billie Eilish song most people can barely even hum. (Eilish herself even believed the award should have gone to Meg Thee Stallion, a sentiment that feels eerily deja-vu at this point).
Regardless, Nas's victory is a testament to the power of perseverance. Gibbs is destined for a Grammy, but considering how out of touch the Recording Academy remains, it might just take a while.