by Tonja Renée Stidhum —
Music’s biggest night came, saw, and conquered. For the first time since watching the Grammys all of my life, I had the pleasure of covering the event from the press room at the Staples Center—and it was quite the experience.
“Music is what we cry to, it’s what we march to, it’s what we rock to, it’s what we make love to,” exclaimed the host of the night, Alicia Keys. Speaking of which, she was very… relaxed. I mean, she’s always hella laid back, but.
But I digress. Let’s get to these highlights of the evening…
Michelle Obama was there. Holy shit. She couldn’t even get two words out before everyone fell the f… out. Valid. “Okay, we got a show to do guys!” said the forever first lady as the entire crowd imploded with excitement.
Janelle Monáe’s “Make Me Feel” gave me Prince vibes from the moment I heard and saw the first video from her Dirty Computer visual album, and both her album and last night’s performance fulfilled alllll of that that. And then, she literally dropped her mic. That’s the rockstar shit we look for at the Grammys.
H.E.R. brought out that choir continuing to prove that choirs forever and always have a job at award shows.
Okurrrrt. First off, shout-out to the Recording Academy for not making us wait too long for the halftime show. Cardi used her Okurrt bird branding and gave us the over-the-top live performance of “Money” we needed. Wow.
Diana Ross performing her own damn tribute and then ending it with “Happy Birthday to me!” is the most Ms. Ross thing to ever happen. Diana Ross gave a gift to herself because she is a gift. The press room couldn’t muster anything but “yaaaaasss” because we were so moved.
I really wish Jenny from the Block simply danced in “Dancing Machine.” Watching the black folks’ reactions in the audience was much more satisfying than her Motown tribute.
Chloe x Halle have such beautiful … voices, wow. Sirens.
Ending the “In Memoriam” segment with an Aretha tribute was a good look.
The main event:
Childish Gambino got two biggies – Song of the Year and Record of the Year, “This is America.”
Drake wins Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan” and Travis Scott looked… visibly hurt. Drake should’ve given him a bunch of Grammys like he gave out money in his music video. Also, the entire press room erupted when his speech was abruptly cut off after basically claiming the awards weren’t really relevant.
H.E.R. won Best R&B Album, which is huge! “It’s not even an album, it’s an E.P.!” she exclaimed. Flex.
Cardi B won Best Rap Album, Invasion of Privacy and I really wanted Offset to continue to … sat down. Offsatdown. “Whew, chile,” she began her emotional speech. Yes. Also, shout-out to Cardi for calling Offset “new husband” instead of his name. This evoked another huge reaction from the press room, as everyone loves them some Cardi.
This win is huge because it makes her the first solo female rap artist to win Best New Album. Lauryn Hill became the first female artist to win this award, but her win was with The Fugees, not as a solo artist.
Some winners presented during the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony (telecast prior to the big show) include:
Dave Chappelle copped the Best Comedy Album for Equanimity & The Bird Revelation. Game, blouses.
Kirk Franklin and Tori Kelly were blessed with the Best Gospel Performance/Song award for “Never Alone.”
This is winning — Childish Gambino won for Best Music Video and Best Rap/Sung Performance, “This Is America.” Childish Gambino wasn’t present to accept the awards, but the music video award was dedicated to the late Donald Glover, Sr.
Best Music Film went to the outstanding doc, Quincy. This makes the 28th gramophone statuette for Quincy Jones.
Shaggy, host of the pre-show, got to take home his own Grammy for Best Reggae Album. Grammy-ception.
H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar experienced their personal best part of the ceremony, winning for Best R&B Performance, “Best Part.”
The Carters won Best Urban Contemporary Album for Everything is Love. Nice!
I bet Ella Mai is in her feelings, winning Best R&B Song for “Boo’d Up.”
Living unicorn Pharrell Williams won Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical.
It was a tiefor Best Rap Performance (which still somehow isn’t included in the main show telecast), with Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future and James Blake sharing with Anderson.Paak.
For the complete list of the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, head to grammy.com.
Update: 2/11/2019, 9:43 a.m. ET:
There was a quick bit of kerfuffle around Cardi B’s Best Rap Album win after screenshots surfaced of Ariana Grande’s apparent disappointment at the results. The late Mac Miller had also been nominated for his album, Swimming. It hasn’t been confirmed by Grande, but the timing of her tweets was certainly sketchy for a lot of fans.
Regardless, Cardi has further proven how much of a class act she is by dedicating her award to the late rapper, who tragically died at the tender age of 26.
“I read an article that Mac Miller family said that if he don’t win, they want me to win, so I’m sharing this Grammy with you (m…f….) rest in peace!” exclaimed the triumphant rapper.
And because the Grammys/CBS had a penchant for cutting folks off during their speeches last night (even Record of the Year! They weren’t playin games!) Cardi continued her acceptance speech on Instagram.