Pierce Pioneer

Generational Gap between Asian-Americans

Before and after America: A second generation Asian American’s perspective on the generational gap, a history of silence

When it comes to what my parents’ life was like in Vietnam, I sadly know next to nothing. There are photos, homemade videos and letters, but my parents rarely sit down and tell me stories of growing up in a communist regime.

The sudden media popularity of attacks on AAPI has spawned a wave of support across the country. This outpour of love and solidarity comes in the form of empathy, spreading awareness, resources and motivation. I figured hard conversations are better to have sooner rather than later.

I’ve been meaning to ask my parents about what Vietnam was like when they were children. I assume it has shaped their political beliefs and our relationship; I honestly think it will make communication between us much clearer.

My parents were born in the middle of the Vietnam War. It’s something I don’t think about too often, and they seem content with not telling me more than ‘it was hard working in the fields.’

My mom tells me that she doesn’t like cats or dogs because they were clingy in Vietnam, that she had to take three buses to get to work in America and that she’d only eat one meal a day to pay off the mortgage faster. My dad tells me he knows he had to go up to the mountains to pick leaves, had polio twice when he was a child and is lucky to be alive.

My parents and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and they like to retell what they heard on the news to me. Inevitably, we’ll disagree on something, but I either don’t know how to word my argument in “Vietglish”, or I let my emotions run the debate. Then, we just forget about it.

I think they’re trying to shield me from horrible things they’ve gone through. While I can understand that, I think having open communication is much more important. Perhaps that’s selfish—asking them to relive something that’s probably traumatic—but I don’t want to regret not asking.

Many second generation Asian Americans can attest to having communication problems with their parents. It’s another issue that’s always swept under the rug—one that only we can deal with.

There is no call to action here if you’re not a part of this group. Rather, just know that this cognitive dissonance is something we’re dealing with, and continue to be understanding and educating yourself.

API Heritage Month is over, but there’s a long way to go in dismantling the myth of the model minority among other things. I have faith we’ll tackle that issue someday if #STOPAPIHATE doesn’t die down.

If other people can be brave and rally against AAPI hate, then I can be brave too and start a long overdue conversation. To fellow Asian Americans who can relate, I believe in us.

“Con muốn biết Việt Nam giống gì chừng nào Mẹ với Ba là nít. Nói con được không?”
“Mom, Dad, I want to know what Vietnam was like when you were children. Could you tell me?”

 

 

This one goes out to all the fathers out there. I know it’s not easy, I’ve seen my dad struggle with the best of them. I wasn’t always appreciative as I should be to my dad, but as time goes on I realize how much he sacrificed. It took time, but I realized sometimes showing appreciation comes in the form of just growing up and trying to shoulder the same burden our dads did. That journey of self-growth, becomes the catalyst to the only on-going relationship some of us will have with our dads.

I never had a great relationship with my dad. He provided for me, I never went hungry or cold, and he told me stories. But talking with him wasn’t a normal thing by any means. The relationship I have with my dad is non-verbal, and the ways in which I grow to be like him are from the non-verbal parts of myself that not only learned from him but came from him.

Whether gift or a curse, fathers hold a major part in our lives, something I intend to continue to set further out on my life to understand.

Late Nite Take Out Ep. 4 – A Talk About Music, Culture & Life w/ Joshua Riley

 

Episode Description:

In this special hour-long episode of Late Nite Take Out, my friend, music journalist, & fellow music lover Josh comes on the show to share his thoughts & have a conversation with me about Music Culture. It was an absolute blast making this episode with him! I got to find out how well-spoken and intelligent my friend is and truly connect over culture. During our conversation, we cover a variety of topics, such as black celebration, cultural appropriation, racism, trends, predictions, & the current state of music. But not only that, but we also just chop it up about life.

My favorite parts of the conversation are where Josh talks about when he feels most represented in music, & when he and I talk about feeling “othered” by music. We don’t hold back! And, get as honest as we can be. I got to talk about how I relate to music as an Asian American man, too. That felt particularly great.
On that topic, Is black music made only for black people? What is the responsibility of the listener, and artist, when taking part in a culture that is not theirs? All things we talk about in this episode.

Timestamps

1 – 14min.
Introductions, Black Celebration, Cultural Appropriation

14 – 30min.
When Josh felt most represented in Music, artists who push the boundaries, & who is music made for?

46 – 58min.
Daniel talks about feeling “othered” in Music

58 – 64min.
Josh closes up the show!

8 ways to spend Memorial Day 2021

What is memorial day? Why do we celebrate it?

America’s tradition of honoring fallen soldiers is not new to the 20th Century. Dating back to the Civil War, which took the lives of over 600,000 men, citizens have mourned and gathered in remembrance of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Originally known as Decoration Day, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, founded the holiday on May 30, 1868. During this time, it was known as “Decoration Day” for the act of decorating the graves of buried soldiers with flowers and reciting prayers.

When the country was faced with WWl and WWll, the Decoration Day commemorated the deaths of soldiers from all wars instead of just the Civil War. From 1868 to 1971, the nation honored and mourned on May 30, but in 1971, Memorial Day was established as a federal holiday and moved to May 31.

Today Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and attending parades. It is a time to be thankful for our freedoms, honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives, and to give back to those who serve. There are many ways to observe this holiday, here’s a few to get you started for Memorial Day 2021.

Things to do for Memorial Day 2021:

  • 1. Give thanks to veterans

    Suggest calling a loved one, family friend who has served, or their family and thanking them for paying the ultimate sacrifice. Or if you want to send a letter or package to a soldier that you don’t know, think about participating in organizations such as A Million Thanks and Operation Gratitude.

  • 2. Visit a cemetery

    Pay tribute to those who lost their lives fighting for our country at a veterans cemetery near you. The Tahoma National Cemetery, is a great local cemetery to visit and honor Washingtonian veterans. If you can’t find a local veterans memorial, you can sponsor flowers to lay on a veterans grave through Memorial Day Flowers.

  • 3. Watch a documentary

    To get in the memorial day spirit and understand what our veterans have gone through, watching a war documentary is a great way to learn about our history. Here is IMBd’s Top 100 list of the best war documentaries of all time.

  • 4. Donate to veteran charity/non profit

    To directly help veterans and their families, consider donating to a charity or non-profit organization of your choice. Research trusted groups and determine what cause you want to support, either being homeless veterans, the wounded, their families or those struggling with PTSD.

  • 5. Shop veteran owned business

    Shopping veteran owned businesses on Memorial Day or any day, is an opportunity to support our heroes financially and keep our communities flourishing. Veterans Owned Businesses and Washington Department of Veterans Affairs are easy portals to find a business near you.

  • 6. Fly a flag

    A simple way to pay your respect and show love for America is flying a flag. This could be a large flag placed on the side of your house, or smaller flags stuck in the ground. Here’s a few things to remember when displaying your flag and performing proper Etiquette.

  • 7. Take a moment of Silence

    No matter what your plans are for Memorial Day, take a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time for The National Moment of Remembrance. Taking one minute of silence to send your thanks and prayers to all who have served and or are currently serving, will remind you of what to be thankful for in America.

  • 8. Get outdoors

    If you’re looking to get outside and enjoy the nice weather, taking a hike is a great way to appreciate America’s beautiful landscapes that veterans have died to protect. Also, get together with family and friends for a barbeque or a picnic to honor our veterans’ sacrifices and celebrate our freedoms in a way for all to enjoy.

Surprises of Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a day that is known for celebrating Mexican pride with parades, friends, parties, family gatherings and most of all tequila.

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, has become a well-known holiday in the United States and has been celebrated in Mexico since 1863. In an effort to raise awareness and educate about this festive holiday, here are 5 Things you may not have known about Cinco de Mayo.

It’s not Mexican Independence Day

Mexico had declared their independence on Sep. 16, 1810 and this marked the beginning of hostilities against the rule of the Spanish government.

Celebrates the Battle of Puebla

The Battle of Puebla is known as a great victory over 6,000 French soldiers on May 5, 1862. Benito Juárez, president of Mexico rounded up about 2,000 troops made up of indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry to face the assault by the French. Mexico was led in the battle by General Ignacio Zaragoza from Texas and lasted from daybreak to that evening and the effort by the Mexicans was able to drive off the French. Immediately after, the victory was declared a celebration.

Mexico Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is observed by the state of Puebla where the Battle of Puebla took place. Although they are not the only state to put on a celebration, for most of Mexico May 5 is a day like any other and is not considered a federal holiday so banks and stores stay open. For those that celebrate, some traditions include military parades, reenactment of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events.

Why does the United States celebrate Cinco de Mayo?   

The United States celebrates Mexican culture and heritage on May 5, mostly in parts where the Mexican American population is great. In the 1960’s some Chicano activists brought awareness of the holiday due to their observance of the Battle of Puebla. Today, most who celebrate do so with mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional Mexican foods like the beloved tacos. Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston are cities which hold some of the largest festivals that mark the occasion and there are still others that will celebrate with chihuahua races like in Chandler, Arizona.

Why Tequila on Cinco de Mayo?

On May 5, 47% of drink orders are margaritas compared to the rest of the year with 23% and tequila sales double leading up to the celebration of the holiday. However, tequila was not always so easily accessible. From 1000 B.C.-200A.D. the Aztecs fermented a drink called pulque which was made from the sap of the agave plant. The drink was important to the Aztecs and they worshiped Mayahuel the goddess of maguey and her husband the Patecatl the god of pulque. When the Spanish arrived and met the Aztecs they discovered pulque and the drink started to catch on. Since then, tequila has taken its time in becoming what we know today and had been handled by the Spanish who were distilling agave in the 1400’s-1600’s. In 1758 the Cuervo family started to commercially distill their own tequila followed by the Sauza family in 1873. Don Cenobio Sauza identified blue agave as the best for making tequila and this is where the tequila known today started to be produced. The Margarita was later invented in 1936 by an Irishman called Madden who ran a bar in Tijuana and called the drink Tequila Daisy (daisy in Spanish is margarita). It was not until 1974 that tequila became the intellectual property of Mexico.

Being Mexican or not, Cinco de Mayo is a day which celebrates Mexican culture altogether and is known for friends, family and good fun. This year the holiday may look a little different, but a celebration of the Mexican culture will never die.

Godzilla vs. King Kong Review: An Appreciative Look

Slight Spoilers Ahead


We have had “The Thrilla in Manila,” “The Rumble in the Jungle,” “The Brawl in Montreal” and now we have what I’m calling “King of Titans” in “Godzilla vs Kong”!

The fourth installment in the MonsterVerse franchise directed by Adam Wingard packs a titanically large punch (pun intended) when these two giant monsters collide to see who bows to who. Whether you are a fan of Godzilla or Kong entering this film for the first time does not matter. The film will leave you wanting more of each respected titan and will bring a new level of appreciation for them.

From the opening credits of the film the viewer can see the breakdown of the monsterverse, and each fight leading up to Godzilla and Kong facing off for the first time in the franchise. Godzilla is not new to brawling with various other monsters with unique abilities and strengths, but he soon finds out Kong is in a different class all his own.

The experience of such a monumental fight was very nostalgic for me. I can remember being 10-12 years old and loving to see monsters clash with one another. I remember not being able to decide which was my favorite of all the creatures ever imagined, but my top two were definitely Godzilla and Kong.

Before viewing the film, I admit to not having any expectations for it being more than another monster film. That quickly turned once Godzilla was on the screen. 

Even if you have seen the previous movies from the monsterverse, there is something about Godzilla that draws the kid out of you. Seeing him makes you remember his classic roar and his dragon breath and gives you the feeling that Kong will have no chance in this fight since he is known more for defeating titans.

Our favorite titans have to share screen time in this one and could not hog all the glory from the film even though they are the main event. The cast was well rounded but did not give enough of a lift to the film to make it a perfect monster movie.

The classic conspiracy theorists join together to provide some comical relief between what everyone tuned into watch. The film did have a classic villain plotting some secret scheme for the world. Although considering monsters were destroying cities with their earth-shattering fights, I cannot say I blame him for trying to find a way to overpower them and put humanity on top again.

Sadly, this is one thing in the movie I could have done without. I caught myself thinking many times through the film that I could do without the people in it. Unfortunately, that would only make it a 40-minute movie and not a full-length feature.

The story that was built around the fight was a sci-fi adventure which had holes with no explanations. I do want to be fair and say that perfect science was not the main focus and dealing with sci-fi is not always the easiest thing. Still the ideas for the origins of the titans was given a good effort.

Overall the film is worth watching due to its epic battle scenes. The movie moves from fight to fight like a boxing event. Each fight is a round on its own and you can never really tell who will win in the end. You could say you have ringside seats to one of the most action-packed fights of all time. You will find yourself cheering for both combatants and not wanting either to lose because of the heart they both show. 

Late Nite Take Out Ep. 3 – Stop AAPI Hate

Episode Description:

In this episode, I reach out to you as the son of two immigrant parents. They both lived through great hardship to immigrate here to America. If I could ask both of them right now what they thought, I imagined they would be surprised, but feel they shouldn’t be, to hear the narrative that the “kung flu” virus is a result of immigration. I share the stories of their immigration in hopes to humanize their story.

 

Many immigrate in the hopes of a better opportunity at life, usually without many prospects left for them or their families at home. I imagine many, like my parents, were confronted with racism after their immigration, only adding to the weight of the journey. In some ways, the recent attacks on Asian Americans aren’t new. The same hate, a different day. In this episode, I recount about times my family faced opposition they could not understand in contrast with their want for a better life. Often, they would try to turn the other cheek.

 

The rise in violent attacks on Asian Americans reflects a very real fear. The fear of helplessness, the same feeling many victims of racism feel. In these times, we must remember to speak out and that just being happy to be here is not enough. Love yours, watch over them, and stay safe y’all.

Is Cancel Culture Striking Fairly?

On March 2, Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced on their website that they would stop the printing of 6 of their books. The statement listed: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), If I Ran the Zoo (1950), McElligot’s Pool (1947), On Beyond Zebra! (1955), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), and The Cat’s Quizzer (1976) as the titles being discontinued.

“We are committed to action,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises stated. “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” 

The decision to stop publication and licensing for the 6 books was made last year after Dr. Seuss Enterprises worked with advisors who evaluated the titles. Much of the public has opinions either for or against the decision, and it seems Dr. Seuss Enterprises is not making any further comments about their statement or actions. This leaves the rest of us to wonder if the right decision was made.

The 6 books that have ceased publication and licensing.

The idea of “Cancel Culture”, as it has come to be known, is slowly sifting through many established franchises and either removing them or slapping a disclaimer on them. The timing seems to be appropriate for some and not for others. The looming question is if cancel culture is being fair about its judgment as well as its motivations.

Protecting the minds of children seems to be the priority, but what can be gained by hiding the history of the culture from them in literary form or in any other form for that matter? 

There are many books which are considered classics such as Huckleberry Finn written by American Author Mark Twain in 1884, in which the n-word is used multiple times portraying a historically accurate picture of the cultural behavior at the time.

If the goal is looking seriously into books branded as offensive and removing them, then school curriculums could begin shifting in a different direction where the history on those pages could be lost for good. Touching the surface of social issues could be a temporary solution and good conversation starter by cancel culture. Yet there is still real evidence of racism in the world which seems to have no answer.

Ravi Zacharias the late christian apologist and author said to a question posed by an anonymous news reporter about moral ethics at an open forum, “The reason we are against racism is because a person’s race is sacred. A person’s ethnicity is sacred. You cannot violate it. My race is sacred; your race is sacred; I dare not violate it.”

To take a stand against violations such as racism would be a continuous effort by all in society, and using examples of such would have a beneficial effect. What the public considers before giving an opinion about any social issue is of great importance to the structure of society. Merely picking what to be upset about is the answer for continued discord.

All of the books discontinued by Dr. Seuss Enterprises have various cultures being represented in an unflattering way.

Some of the illustrations are clearly evidence of the cultural norm at the time, while others are disturbing, such as the depiction of black people resembling monkeys in If I Ran the Zoo.

A collage including examples of Seuss’ racist imagery.

Any and all races have a right to feel some offense, and yet there is something about certain minorities not being considered people at certain historical times that keeps alluding the present social mentality. The heart of the issue seems to be based on doing the right thing and the focus is lost when people are told what to be angry about.

Co-Authors of On the Perpetuation of Ignorance Dr. Steven Shepherd and Dr. Aaron C. Kay published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology wrote, “Individuals are often confronted with information that they do not know how to comprehend or evaluate, even though this information can be of critical importance to the self (or society as a whole).” 

Believing in the feelings of the culture seems to be an easy sell for all sides of the issues, but then arises a more prominent issue of missing the point. There are those frustrated with the facts not being taken into consideration before making a decision that can steer the culture down into the mire.

Many have taken to buying the remaining prints of the books canceled by Dr. Seuss Enterprises and have started selling them online. Some prices start at around $200 while others are going for up to around $1900.

Does the action of profiting from a social issue such as racism speak louder as a cultural norm than cancel culture? Again, the motivation of discontinuing any trace of history is key to understanding and learning to grow from past errors.

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises stated. The statement by Dr. Seuss Enterprises went on to say they will ensure their product will represent and support all communities and families.

63rd Annual Grammy Predictions – Who Should Win vs. Who Will Win?

At last year’s Grammy ceremony, we saw teen sensation Billie Eilish sweep the awards show stage with a collection of pop songs that fuses  relatable melancholy with grandiose visual and musical aesthetics. This years ceremony finds itself in a new predicament, one where the music industry and the major components of it, such as ceremony shows and concerts, are sidelined due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Some artists took the pandemic as a time to practice escapism, creating music that is exuberant and bright, cheery and representative of a better time than the ones we’re living through currently. Others dove into their inner psyche, and wrote music that reflected the shifting social climates of America, and the way that ur brains all struggled through a period of self-isolation.

Which of these forms of artistic exploration and expression will the Academy reward; and of the nominated categories, who are the most likely winners, and who I believe should be the likely winner? Here, we present predictions for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Pop Field

With Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift leading in nominations within this field, it’s safe to assume that this will also determine the winners for major categories. Lipa and Swift have reasonably distinguished themselves as major front-runners for the year, as both are representing contrasting sides of the pop music community and its purposes today. 

Dua Lipa represents a younger generation focused on experimentation and escapism within pop, evidenced by her nominated smash hit, “Don’t Start Now”, which features a glossy and danceable, disco-inspired sound to compliment its rather standard pop song conventions.

Taylor Swift, the well established pop icon, abandons her somewhat inconsistent reputation as the princess of country-pop to write and produce some of her most mature and nuanced music to date. With a remade version of Fearless looming in the near future it’d be hard to discredit her merits as one of America’s iconic songwriters, and the Academy has certainly been unafraid of claiming so.

Other notable nominations include teen sensation and Grammy darling, Billie Eilish, present in this field with her second top-ten Billboard hit, “Everything I Wanted”, one of the strongest popular commentaries on fame in recent memory. Also nominated for her No Time to Die Bond theme song, it feels likely that we could witness the young star claiming more Grammy fame.

Additionally, Lady Gaga finds herself underrepresented at this year’s Grammys following her most bombastic pop releases in almost a decade. She’s likely to receive recognition for her pop banger with Ariana Grande, but the rightful group that dominated the last year and represented western cultures growing interest in K-Pop would be BTS. Their first single to top both the Global Hot 100 and US Hot 100, “Dynamite” is easily the most joyous boy-band single in years, and is worthy of awarding.

Best Pop Solo Performance:

Who Should Win: “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish

Who is Going to Win: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa or “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

Who Should Win: “Dynamite” by BTS

Who is Going to Win: “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande

Best Pop Vocal Album:

Who Should Win: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Who is Going to Win: folklore by Taylor Swift

Dance/Electronic Field

With one of the most diverse groupings in the category’s recent memory, it’s evident that the Grammy committee is dedicated to appearing as though it is changing with the times. Kaytranada is the only nominee within this category to score a nomination in the major fields, being as he’s in consideration for Best New Artist. 

Kaytranada’s BUBBA release was met to general critical acclaim and a somewhat mixed fan reception. While singles such as the nominated “10%” performed well, but most non-single tracks on this album have been considered deep cuts within the DJ’s ever-growing discography. 

This field has notoriety for awarding bigger EDM artists over smaller ones, so it’s most likely that Diplo and Flume, both previous Grammy award winners, are the frontrunners. For both artists, these tracks represent earnest creativity from both producers, and are both some of the artists best works. Despite that, Diplo’s “On My Mind” is easily the popular choice from this list, especially following its brief tenure as a TikTok meme.

The real sleeper hit in this list of nominees is Jayda G’s “Both of Us”, a slow burn house track that was produced by Jayda and producer Fred again. With an incredibly simplistic beat and understated, raw vocal performance, the track is emotional and intelligent. 

Dance and electronic spaces have notoriously underserviced black artistry and undercredited those same black women despite a heavy utilization of black aesthetics and sound. While I find it unlikely that Jayda G’s joyful romp is rewarded, it is the rightfully deserving winner.

Additionally, Arca became the fourth trans person to become a Grammy nominee, joining late friend and collaborator, SOPHIE, as the second trans woman nominated for Best Electronic Album. While SOPHIE did not win for her stunning debut, Oil of Every Pearls Un-Insides, her influence and sound can be heard on both Arca and other nominees music. 

To see Arca win this award for her most accessible album, KiCk i, which is an avant-garde fusion of pop and deconstructed club, would be monumental to left-field experimental music. 

Best Dance Recording:

Who Should Win: “Both of Us” by Jayda G

Who is Going to Win: “On My Mind” by Diplo & SIDEPIECE

Best Dance/Electronica Album:

Who Should Win: KiCk i by Arca

Who is Going to Win: Energy by Disclosure

Rock/Metal/Alternative Field

Phoebe Bridgers has certainly set the scene for herself as music’s latest critical darling, and that continues to show due to her and HAIM being the only nominees in this field to also be nominated in the major leagues. Additionally, Fiona Apple finds herself nominated only three times for her critically acclaimed record Fetch the Bolt Cutters, which undoubtedly was one of the strongest records of the last year. 

Grace Potter and Big Thief are both the indie picks on this roster. Big Thief, helmed by Adrianne Lenker, was previously nominated for their first record of 2019, UFOF. While I believe they are unlikely to be rewarded this year, “Not” is easily the most engaging and cathartic track nominated this year.

On the other hand, Grace Potter largely avoided critical reception on her latest two records despite receiving commercial success. “Daylight” is simultaneously a slow burn and heavy hitter; it may not impact a listener on their first experience, but it’s the type of song that once you’ve heard, sticks with you forever. However I think it is most likely we see previous Grammy winner Brittany Howard rewarded here for her abundantly soulful ballad, “Stay High”.

The metal category sees some noteworthy nominations as well. Poppy became the first woman to be nominated in this category as an individual artist. A win for her would push the boundaries on not only who metal music is being created for, but under what grounds of consumption. 

Additionally, both Power Trip and Code Orange have become notable critical darlings within the metal scene since their inceptions; I think it is more likely that we see a co-signing of these up-and-coming bands from the committee. 

Ice T’s band Body Count also received a nomination here, allowing a majority black band to find its space once again in what could be considered a largely white scene. A win would mean that the said standard for success is possible for people who don’t necessarily appeal to the genre’s standard demographic.

A few longtime Grammy favorites also find themselves representing the Best Alternative Album field. While rising critical darling Phoebe Bridgers stands a large chance at being rewarded for her 2020 record, Punisher, Fiona Apple, Beck, Tame Impala, and Brittany Howard all stand decent chances at taking the award. 

Tame Impala further develops his brand of psychedelic rock into pop formats, creating danceable and accessible indie tracks that are worthy of praise and enjoyment. Additionally, Brittany Howard’s soulful Jaime is a testament to her lived experiences, and what America is like for a poor, biracial lesbian. It’s worthy of praise, and the Grammy’s seem to know that. 

Best Rock Performance:

Who Should Win: “Not” by Big Thief

Who is Going to Win: “Kyoto” by Phoebe Bridgers

Best Metal Performance:

Who Should Win: “BLOODMONEY” by Poppy

Who is Going to Win: “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Ax) – Live” by Power Trip

Best Rock Song:

Who Should Win: “Shameika” by Fiona Apple

Who is Going to Win: “Stay High” by Brittany Howard

Best Rock Album:

Who Should Win: Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka

Who is Going to Win: Sound & Fury by Sturgill Simpson or The New Abnormal by The Strokes

Best Alternative Album:

Who Should Win: Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple

Who is Going to Win: Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers or Jaime by Brittany Howard

R&B Field

Following a tumultuous summer of racial turmoil and campaigns throughout the world, the R&B category sees itself most affected by these events, with numerous songs having been written and recorded in response. In contrast to Jacob Colliers avant-pop R&B fusion, and Beyoncé’s “BLACK PARADE”, most of the R&B performance nominees are somber expressions of love, pain, and struggles for power in a system that specifically disables some from obtaining such. 

While “BLACK PARADE” is easily the most popular nominee in this category, as well as being the only song also nominated in a major category, “Goat Head” is a nuanced and soulful introspection on Brittany Howard’s relationship with race and oppression, due to her parent’s interracial relationship. 

Additionally, Emily King surprises with an incredibly simplistic acoustic track that carefully straddles the lines between soulful mourning and call to action, and is worthy of praise.

The best R&B song category also finds itself in a somewhat odd place, with both somber emotional tracks such as Robert Glasper & H.E.R.’s collaboration “Better Than I Imagined” and the buoyant and groovy pop track, “Do It” from sister act Chloe x Halle. 

H.E.R. finds herself as a double nominee in this category this year, also nominated for her collaboration with Skip Marley, “Slow Down”. Both of these tracks are simple love songs that are accessible and high quality, with the former being a fun and dance worthy fusion of dancehall and modern R&B’s guitar-centric style. 

Best R&B Album finds itself in another odd predicament. The assumption to be made is that Jhené Aiko’s Chilombo is the frontrunner, seeing as it’s the only album in this category that is also nominated for Album of the Year. 

While Aiko certainly has established a reputation for developing what could be considered modern neo soul, this is not very represented in her latest record, which often puts attention grabbing hooks and sensual vibes over tracks with actual substance. 

Thundercat has previously won a Grammy for his work on Kendrick Lamar’s “These Walls”, and has been critically well received for many years. While his latest record largely explores and incorporates musical elements from his 2017 release, Drunk, It is What It Is is certainly his most accessible and enjoyable record to date, and worthy of praise. 

Additionally, Chloe x Halle had one of the most notable pop moments of the year with their Ungodly Hour record, which saw them do numerous live streamed performances and music videos. With a Chrome Edition of the record just released, the album is certain to attain the sister further Grammy buzz.

Best R&B Performance:

Who Should Win: “See Me” by Emily King

Who is Going to Win: “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé

Best Traditional R&B Performance:

Who Should Win: “Wonder What She Thinks of Me” by Chloe x Halle

Who is Going to Win: “Wonder What She Thinks of Me” by Chloe x Halle

Best R&B Song:

Who Should Win: “Do It” by Chloe x Halle

Who is Going to Win: “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé

Best Progressive R&B Album:

Who Should Win: Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle

Who is Going to Win: Chilombo by Jhené Aiko

Rap Field

Highlighting new artists and protest songs in a newly unprecedented manner, the Grammy committee seems dedicated to persuade American audiences that they’ve come to terms with their own issues with diversity. 

Genres like Rap/Hip-Hop and R&B have always existed to separate black artists into a position where they are “recognized” but still not considered for major awards. This is evidenced with none of this year’s Best Rap Album nominees being nominated for Album of the Year and with no Hip-Hop producers being considered for Producer of the Year.

Most of the nominated tracks spent extended periods occupying the Billboard charts. Of these songs, Roddy Ricch makes a case for himself as a standout with acclaimed single “The Box”, as well as a double nominee position on his collaboration with DaBaby’s “Rockstar”. 

While the relevancy curve has arguably not been doing Roddy any favors as of late, with white America’s “rapper-of-the-moment” constantly fluctuating, “The Box” still stands as a highlight of life pre-pandemic, and is worthy of awardship. 

On the opposing side, Best New Artist nominee, Megan thee Stallion, certainly had the most show-stopping year of her fellow rappers. With 2 number one singles, one of which is the nominated “Savage (Remix)” featuring Beyoncé, as well as a debut record that is sure to be in rotation for months to come, Megan makes a strong case for herself as an adversary in what is otherwise a male-dominated category. Megan reigning supreme would be a legendary moment for women in rap.

Additionally, DaBaby is another multi-time nominee at this year’s ceremony, including nominations in the major categories. With his level of production value and the overwhelming popularity of his multiple hits in the last year, he stands a decent chance at being crowned an upset winner in this field. 

Additionally, the committee has rewarded white rappers in the past and I would not be shocked to see “What’s Poppin’” claim awards over aforementioned artists due to the general accessibility of Jack Harlow’s brand of pop rap.

Best Rap Performance:

Who Should Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan thee Stallion & Beyoncé

Who is Going to Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan thee Stallion & Beyoncé

Best Melodic Rap Performance:

Who Should Win: “The Box” by Roddy Ricch

Who is Going to Win: “Rockstar” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch

Best Rap Song:

Who Should Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan thee Stallion & Beyoncé

Who is Going to Win: “Rockstar” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch

Best Rap Album:

Who Should Win: Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist

Who is Going to Win: King’s Disease by Nas or A Written Testimony by Jay Electronica

General Field

This year’s general field finds itself in an almost precarious situation. The battle seems to be coming down to Taylor Swift, who is en route to establishing herself as one of the pop greats, and Dua Lipa, who is benefitting from the high of a euphoric sophomore era. While Swift has certainly made artistic development worthy of praise, it would be a safe move to crown Swift in the present moment. 

Other nominees in the general field stand out because they did not receive many nominations in other categories. HAIM’s Women in Music Pt. III only received a best rock performance nomination despite also being in contention for Album of the Year. Women in Music, Pt. III is the most finely crafted and varied album up for the major award, however it is unlikely that the sister trio is rewarded for such.

Critical success’ such as Phoebe Bridgers and Kaytranada also find themselves on the roster for Best New Artist, despite both of their debut albums coming out over three years ago. I think this actually hurts artists like Bridgers and Kaytra because it means artists who are actually benefiting from the relevancy curve of a true debut record, such as Megan thee Stallion, stand a larger chance. 

That is not to propose the idea that Megan is an undeserving winner however. Megan winning in a major field would be the first time a female rapper has done so since Lauryn Hill, and would be a major stepping stone for both black women and rappers in the industry today. 

Megan is a clear standout of the nominees, and stands a chance at walking away this sunday as a multi-time grammy award winning artist, and certainly the most deserving best new artist of 2020.

Best New Artist:

Who Should Win: Megan thee Stallion

Who is Going to Win: Megan thee Stallion or Phoebe Bridgers

Record of the Year:

Who Should Win: “Savage (Remix)” by Megan the Stallion & Beyoncé

Who is Going to Win: “BLACK PARADE” by Beyoncé or “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

Song of the Year:

Who Should Win: “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish

Who is Going to Win: “cardigan” by Taylor Swift or “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

Song of the Year:

Who Should Win: Women in Music, Pt. III by HAIM

Who is Going to Win: folklore by Taylor Swift or Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Ultimately, we’re likely to either see the crowning of a newly reigning pop diva, or the establishing of a genre-fluid pop icon who’s set to become one of the most esteemed artists of her generation. What it likely to happen is that we’ll see a Grammy ceremony like no other, deeply impacted by the political turmoil of America’s last year as well as the social struggles of artists across the globe that hope to express themselves despite limited accessibility.

Culture Fair Event

Cultural Exchange

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Special guests: Aotoa Titialii & Vaelea'a Lefeiloa'i

Hosted by: Tyler Grover

Edited by: Manuela Schneider & Jesus Contreras

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