No matter how much we pretend to not care about the Grammys—whether it’s as artists, music journalists, or armchair viewers—most of us really do care about the Grammys. So does Future. He guested on a whole dang song about it! Credit the man for not coming off as blasé about an honor that’s eluded him for his entire career.
The Atlanta rapper, who’s never been nominated for a gramophone of his own (just once, credited for Views’ Album of the Year nomination), pulled off some impressive feats this year. As February flipped over to March, he scored back-to-back (very good) No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 with the one-two punch of Future and Hndrxx. No one else had done this before. “Mask Off,” one of his best singles, rode its viral wave all the way to the Hot 100's Top 5. That this came after a year or two of creative doldrums, in which his profile continued to miraculously rise, makes it even more impressive. But the Recording Academy doesn’t seem to care; he didn’t receive a single nomination today.
A Future shutout ordinarily wouldn’t be that surprising, if it weren’t for the other stars of rap’s amorphous state who snuck into the nominations. Lil Uzi Vert’s up for Best New Artist. Migos were well-represented in the rap categories. Future’s far from the sort of established, usually traditional, sometimes technically proficient MC the Academy tends to prefer in its rap categories. But once you’ve done a mixtape with Drake, they definitely know who you are.
After essentially running the show in rap—we’ll say from late 2014 through 2015, with a stellar mixtape run and DS2—it’s safe to say that Future’s been an established figure for some time. And he’s taken steps to become more Grammy accessible, even if that wasn’t a part of his intentions. This year, Future starred in a Gap commercial with Cher, released a hilarious emoji pack, and embraced the flute—a far cry from the guy who may or may not have threatened to kill Russell Wilson. While still brooding enough to have an interesting perspective, Future’s at the very least become a cute and cuddly enough avatar for Grammy approval. If not now, then when?