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A hip-hop reckoning? Why Drake is sitting out the Grammys

He might have a trio of Grammys under his belt, but Drake has turned his nose up at the “Music’s Big..

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He might have a trio of Grammys under his belt, but Drake has turned his nose up at the “Music’s Biggest Night.”

“I won two awards last night, but I don’t even want them,” the Toronto hip hop star told a British music show host in February, the day after his smash hit Hotline Bling earned a pair of Grammys (adding to his 2013 win for the album Take Care).

“I am apparently a rapper, even though Hotline Bling is not a rap song. The only category they can manage to fit me in is a rap category,” said Drake, who performed for fans in the U.K. rather than attend the televised Grammy gala.

Now, as a fresh batch of nominees are being prepped for potential Grammy glory, Drake will likely be missing from the contenders to be unveiled Tuesday morning of his own volition. He reportedly chose not to submit his latest record-breaking release, More Life, for consideration.

Drake has put the Grammys on blast for being out of touch with contemporary music’s cultural shifts and suggested it’s tied to the awards’ poor history of inclusion. He’s one of a chorus that has also included the voices of Frank Ocean, Justin Bieber, Kanye West and Jay-Z.

“We’ve been conditioned that this is the true reward for our work, for our accomplishments, for our music,” Drake said of the Grammys.

“Thank God I stayed here and did what I was supposed to be doing [performing in Manchester], for the people who actually care about my music.”

‘A vote of no confidence’

When influential and popular artists like Drake and Ocean boycott the Grammys, “It’s a vote of no confidence. It’s a vote of ‘We don’t believe in this process any more,'” according to longtime music writer and Grammy voter Rob Kenner.

Grammy organizers have long had tensions with the hip hop community. Those tensions go back almost three decades to when the Recording Academy added its first rap trophy, Kenner noted. When it was announced that the 1989 broadcast gala wouldn’t include the awarding of the inaugural hip hop honour, three of the five nominated acts — including DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith), Salt-N-Pepa and LL Cool J — boycotted the ceremony. They were joined in their criticism by other prominent rap figures, including Public Enemy’s Chuck D. and Flavor Flav.

“I do think awards matter and that people care tremendously who wins these, the music industry’s highest honour,” said Kenner, who helped found VIBE magazine, reggae outlet Boomshots and currently serves as executive editor of hip hop culture site Mass Appeal.

Kenner’s op-ed shone a harsh light on the Grammy nomination and voting process, giving credence to those who have questioned the award as the arbiter of popular music excellence. He continues to take issue with how widely the general membership can vote: though directed to “vote only in their areas of expertise,” members can make choices in up to 15 categories across musical genres, as well as the four “general” categories (best new artist and song, album and record of the year).

“I was allowed to vote on things that I really had no knowledge about, categories that I was not an expert in. It’s all
pretty much the honour system,” Kenner said. “I could go in there and vote for my favourite classical or polka records — and I don’t really listen to that music.”

Drake

Name recognition is one reason Grammy voter Rob Kenner believes Drake’s Hotline Bling won a Grammy for rap recording, when even the artist himself calls it a pop song. (Drake/Apple Music)

The problem is, he said, when members believe themselves well-versed enough to cast judgement on genres when they are not — and also when members vote on name recognition alone.

“That’s how you get Hotline Bling for best rap song,” Kenner said.

“That’s why you often find, like in the reggae categories, just a bunch of recognizable names. You might feel like you know about a certain kind of music, and you like the artist, but you haven’t heard all these other worthy alternatives that haven’t had as much attention. That’s where the system breaks down.”

Hip hop is ‘everywhere’

We’re past the point of acknowledging hip hop as a dominant force in our culture, said rising Canadian artist Tasha the Amazon. She brushes aside those who say hip hop music is too niche for mainstream music audience and top music honours.

Tasha the Amazon

Tasha the Amazon recounted a Juno voter telling her: ‘I’ve been hearing so much about you tonight. If only I had heard about you before I would have voted for you.” She described the comment as ‘kind of like a slap in the face.’ (CBC )

Many other contemporary genres — from country to dance to pop — as well as photography and music videos have absorbed elements of rap and hip hop culture, she told CBC News.

“It’s everywhere…young people of all cultures gravitate towards it and see themselves in [hip hop] culture.”

Toronto-based Tasha, speaking from a Winnipeg panel on hip hop’s place in the larger music industry, described awards shows like the Grammys and Canada’s Junos as “outdated systems” that don’t properly reflect newer musical cultures or even changes to how music is consumed. At a backstage Junos party she attended this year, for instance, the best rap recording nominee was approached by an older man who identified himself as a voter.

She recalled him saying: “‘Oh, I’ve been hearing so much about you tonight. If only I had heard about you before I would have voted for you.'”

“It was kind of like a slap in the face,” she said. “First of all, why aren’t you listening to the music you’re voting on?… Secondly, why are you voting on something you don’t listen to, you have no anchors for?”

Artist boycotts can be a powerful statement, especially if major names also choose not to attend or perform at the Grammys. But Kenner also advocates working to change the system itself, like ramping up efforts to diversify the membership of voters.

“Awards are an important way to bring attention to real quality work that hasn’t gotten the light that it deserves. The Grammys do serve that purpose when they’re done right.”

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Spain locates Christopher Columbus’ first tomb

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It has long been known that Columbus was buried in Valladolid after his death there in 1506 but the exact location of his tomb was not known until now.

Three years later his remains were taken to his family mausoleum in the southern city of Seville, and were moved several more times over the following centuries before returning to Seville in 1898.

Using DNA samples from bone slivers taken from the Seville tomb, a forensics team led by the University of Granada confirmed in 2005 that the remains kept there did in fact belong to Columbus.

Researchers have now determined that he was first buried in the San Francisco convent in Valladolid which no longer exists, Spain’s Naval Museum, which helped coordinate the study, said in statement.

The site is currently a commercial zone near the spacious Plaza Mayor, a broad, pedestrianised expanse surrounded by arcaded buildings painted red.

This conclusion follows “a detailed historical investigation, confirmed by ground-penetrating radars,” the statement added.

Researchers took samples of elements from the Seville burial sport — lead, brick, golden threads — and found they matched with the location of the spot in Valladolid which was excavated, it added.

Historians and archeologists have since recreated in 3D the dimensions the chapel in Valladolid that housed the remains of Columbus.

In 1544 his remains were moved from Seville to Santo Domingo, which is the capital of the Dominican Republic, in accordance with the instructions he had left behind.

In 1795 his bones were moved to Havana before being shipped back across the Atlantic and returned to Seville in 1898.

The Dominican Republic claims Columbus is buried at an ornate lighthouse in Santo Domingo.

The teams behind the 2005 DNA study said that while they are convinced the bones in Seville are from Columbus, the tomb in Santo Domingo might also hold part of his remains.

Columbus, long hailed by school textbooks as the so-called discoverer of “The New World,” is considered by many to have spurred years of genocide against indigenous groups in the Americas.

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Spain’s Infanta Cristina and Iñaki Urdangarin announce ‘interruption of marriage’

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The sister of Spain’s King Felipe VI, Cristina de Borbón, and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin have decided to “interrupt” their marriage, according to a press release published Monday by Spanish news agency EFE.

“By mutual consent, we have decided to interrupt our marital relationship. Our commitment to our children remains intact. Given this is a private decision, we ask for utmost respect for everyone around us,” the document stated.

The former Olympic handball champion was sentenced to prison in 2018 in connection with a financial crimes scandal known as the Nóos case, and the Infanta – a title Cristina bears for being the daughter of a king – was questioned in court over the matter, although she was later cleared of all criminal charges. Urdangarin has since been moved to an open regime and only reports to prison once a week.

The public announcement comes after Urdangarin was photographed holding hands with another woman last week in Bidart in southwestern France. When asked about his relationship to the woman in question, Ainhoa Armentia, a 43-year-old from the Basque city of Vitoria, Urdangarin replied: “These things happen.”

The relationship between Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarin officially began in 1996 at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, where Urdangarin was competing as a member of the Spanish handball team. One year later, they married in a church in Barcelona in a ceremony attended by 1,500 guests. The couple have four children together.

In June 2018, Urdangarin was sentenced by the Supreme Court to six years and three months in prison for his involvement in the Nóos case. He was found guilty of tax fraud, embezzlement and influence peddling, and entered prison on June 18, 2018. He has served five years and 10 months at Brieva penitentiary, and is now allowed to serve out the remainder from home.

Last year, the former Duke of Palma – who was stripped of his title following the scandal – was granted permission to move to a more flexible prison regime, meaning he could serve the remaining 11 months of his sentence from home. Under this regime, Urdangarin does not need to wear an electronic bracelet that tracks his movement, and is only subject to weekly in-person meetings and phone check-ins. Since then, he has been living in Vitoria with his mother, Claire Liebaert, who is in poor health.

The new regime also allowed Urdangarin to start working at the accounting firm Imaz & Associates, which has a good relationship with his family. But the frequency in which the former duke was seen in the streets during working hours – under the pretext that he was teleworking – prompted prison authorities to recommend he work in the office in person. There he met Armentia, a married woman whose marriage was not going well, but who continued living in the same apartment as her husband.

Since the photograph was taken last Wednesday, a scrum of photographers and reporters have been waiting long hours outside the accountancy firm to get a statement from Urdangarin and Armentia. According to sources close to the owner of Imaz & Associates, the media attention has made the director question his decision to hire the former duke, which he did as a personal favor to his family. The media attention has also surprised Armentia, who until a few days ago was just an anonymous accountant with two young children.

According to sources close to the Royal Household, news of Urdangarin’s relationship with Armentia also caught Cristina de Borbón off guard.

In June 2015, Felipe VI stripped his sister of the title of Duchess of Palma after the latter repeatedly refused to give up her hypothetical rights to the throne (she is sixth in line of succession). The decision was made a week after the first anniversary of Felipe’s reign, as the monarchy was going through an institutional crisis derived partly from the Nóos scandal.

After Felipe’s father Juan Carlos I abdicated the throne in 2014, the Royal Household announced that membership in the royal family was being reduced to include just Felipe and Queen Letizia, their daughters Leonor and Sofía and Felipe’s parents Juan Carlos I and Doña Sofía. Felipe’s sisters, the infantas Elena and Cristina, were excluded from this group and do not receive any allowances from the Spanish budget.

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Swiss company helps recycle Morocco’s organic waste

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africanews– In Morocco, a Swiss company is helping to process organic waste.

EV or Green Elephant has an annual turnover of 40,000 tonnes of compost and organic fertiliser.

In Morocco, nearly 80% of household waste is organic compared to less than 30% in Europe.

“Our sector of activity is the recovery of agricultural by-products through an industrial process called composting. There are different raw materials of vegetable and animal origin that are mixed together, with well-defined ratios”, says Mohamed El Kabous, EV production manager.

The organic waste is processed and replaces chemical fertilisers improving sustainability.

Traditionally, in Morocco, most household waste is buried.

According to official data, 66 illegal dumps have been rehabilitated so far.

“All our products are organic and can be used in organic farming to replace some of the chemical fertilisers that kill the soil, and also to participate and offer customers a healthy and sustainable agriculture” promises EV’s production manager.

According to the Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, in 2015 only 6% of household waste was recycled.

A national waste programme whose objective was to reach a recycling rate of 20% by 2022 was pushed back to 2030.

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