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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Rapper Kendrick Lamar heads into Monday’s Grammy awards with a leading 11 nominations and the chance to make history if he wins album and song of the year, categories that have traditionally shunned hip-hop artists.

In the 58-year history of the Grammy awards, only two hip-hop albums have ever won the music industry’s top prize for album of the year; Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999 and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004. No rap song has won song of the year.

But while the odds are historically stacked against him, Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” album was both a commercial and critical success.

Butterfly, which sold around 5 million copies in the United States last year, topped Rolling Stone’s best albums of 2015. The magazine called it “a sprawling epic that’s both the year’s most bumptious party music and its most gripping therapy session.”

In Butterfly, 28-year-old Lamar from Compton, California, the home of hip-hop pioneers NWA, fused poetry with jazz, blues and funk in songs that mix social issues with homages to black artists like Miles Davis and Tupac Shakur.

Lamar’s anthemic “Alright,” about the obstacles that face black youths in America, is nominated for four Grammys including song of the year.

“Kendrick Lamar is stepping up to be an important voice in a very essential way,” said Brian Hiatt at Rolling Stone. “It would be a very exciting thing if Kendrick actually won album of the year.”

Lamar faces stiff competition from Taylor Swift’s 1989, country artist Chris Stapleton’s Traveller, R&B breakout The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness and blues-rock group Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color.

The Grammy awards, decided by members of the Recording Academy rather than the public, have often shunned popular performers in favor of lesser-known musicians regarded as more artistic.

Last year, indie-rocker Beck was the surprise album of the year winner, prompting rapper Kanye West to declare afterward that Beyonce had a better album.

“The Recording Academy nominates music that they feel is the best music released in the eligibility period over the past year, so it’s not based on what’s the most-streamed or who’s the most-liked on (social media),” said Keith Caulfield, co-director of Billboard Charts.

The eligibility period for this year’s Grammys runs between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015, which disqualified Adele’s multimillion selling November release 25. Adele, however, is scheduled to perform on Monday.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Photo: Kendrick Lamar at the Orange Stage, Roskilde Festival July 3, 2015. REUTERS/Simon Laessoee/Scanpix Denmark

Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.


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Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.


Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.