I've got a whole city to hold down

February 14, 2005

Chicago Grammy roundup

Kanye West took home three trophies and Wilco two, topping the list of local winners at last night's Grammy awards. Chicago legends Mavis Staples and Pinetop Perkins earned notice on the telecast, too; Staples performed, Perkins received a lifetime achievement award.

What's more, "West was responsible for the most compelling performance," Mark Guarino writes in the Daily Herald. "In a tribute to gospel music, he was paired with fellow Chicagoan Mavis Staples, the Blind Boys of Alabama and his former musical director, John Legend, for a medley that culminated with his song 'Jesus Walks' in which he emerged wearing angel wings."

The Trib's Greg Kot says "it was a disappointing night for 10-time-nominee Kanye West, the South Side native and triple-threat rapper-songwriter-producer who took home three awards but was shut out in the major categories. The biggest upset was in the best new artist category, where West lost to frat-pop lightweights Maroon 5, and for song of the year, where the rapper's instant classic "Jesus Walks" was beaten by John Mayer's tepid 'Daughters.' ... West's acceptance speech for best rap album crackled with tension, given the rapper's petulant comments after he was snubbed at the American Music Awards last year. Instead, he demonstrated the humor that punctuates his debut album, The College Dropout. 'Everybody wanted to know what I'd do if I didn't win,' he said, and then, while holding his award aloft, added, 'I guess we'll never know.'"

But Jim DeRogatis, who actually attended the awards, spun things differently in the Sun-Times--maybe revealing how those covering a televised event on TV (as Guarino and Kot did) are in effect seeing a completely different event than the one taking place in the venue itself. "In terms of establishing himself as a musical force to be reckoned with and the artist that everyone was talking about," DeRogatis reports, "the evening belonged to Chicago native and hip-hop innovator Kanye West. The triple-threat rapper, producer and songwriter claimed only three of the almost-unprecedented 10 nominations stemming from his debut album ... [b]ut West stopped the show with his uplifting performance of the hit 'Jesus Walks' ... and his acceptance speech for best rap album was one of the most memorable in Grammy history."