Monday, February 21, 2011

Steve Stoute takes ad out in NY Times Sunday paper

Hip hop mogul and advertising exec Steve Stoute has slammed the Grammy awards with a full-page ad in Sunday's New York Times in which he states the ceremony is a "series of hypocrisies and contradictions."
The founder of the Translation advertising company, who is famous for being Nas' on-off manager since 1995, wrote in a column for The Huffington Post that he used the ad as "an open letter" to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), which is behind the Grammys, and to Neil Portnow, the president of NARAS.
Stoute claimed that best-selling artists like Kanye West, Eminem and Justin Bieber were snubbed by a ceremony that had "no qualms" in using the same musicians as performers during the show to "to ensure viewership and to deliver the all-too-important ratings for its advertisers."
In his ad, Stoute said the Grammys' failure stems from "over-zealousness to produce a popular show that is at odds with its own system of voting" and "fundamental disrespect of cultural shifts as being viable and artistic."
He used the example of Eminem's 2001 hit "The Marshall Mathers LP" losing Album of the Year to Steely Dan.
"Not only is Eminem the best-selling artist of the last decade, but The Marshall Mathers LP was a critical and commercial success that sold over 10 million albums in the United States (19 million worldwide), while Steely Dan sold less than 10% of that amount and came and went as quietly as a church mouse," he wrote.
Stoute wrote that Eminem and Kanye West -- whose 2007 album "Graduation" lost Album of the Year to Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters" -- both define a generation.
"It is this same cultural impact that acknowledged the commercial and critical success of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' in 1984," he wrote.
To prove that he wasn't partial to hip-hop artists, Stoute also took issue with Justin Bieber -- "an artist that defines what it means to be a modern artist" -- losing the Best New Artist award to Esperanza Spalding this year.
Towards the end of his ad, Stoute admitted that he was "truly inspired" to pen the letter after Album of the Year winners Arcade Fire performed "Month of May" before accepting their trophies, and then were prepared to perform "Ready to Start" right after.
"Does the Grammys intentionally use artists for their celebrity, popularity and cultural appeal when they already know the winners and then program a show against this expectation?" Stoute asked.
He called NARAS to task for "[hiding] behind the 'peer' voting system" to keep from changing their approach, but he also took issue with the artists who appear to accept defeat.
"And to all of the artists that attend the Grammys: Stop accepting the invitation to be the upset of the year and demand that this body upholds its mission for advocacy and support of artistry as culture evolve," he wrote. "Demand that they change this system and truly reflect and truly acknowledge your art."

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