While everyone in the Twitterverse was up in arms over Madonna’s perfectly OK Prince tribute during Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards—I would’ve loved D’Angelo, The Weeknd, and Sheila E. backed by The Revolution and The Roots too, but that’d be giving the teenybopper BBMAs far too much credit—something even more egregious was at work.
ABC deliberately chose not to air any of the hip-hop awards during its broadcast, which is deeply troubling in and of itself, if not for the fact that the ceremony also chose to award Top Rap Album of the Year to… Meek Mill. The Philly rapper was given the prize for his underwhelming LP Dreams Worth More Than Money (you probably know it as the album that caused trigger fingers to turn to Twitter fingers, with Meek getting so riled up over Drake not promoting their single “R.I.C.O.” via social media that he accused him of hiring a ghostwriter on the track.)
To quote the legendary Jesus Quintana: Laughable, man.
In order to win this dubious honor, Meek beat out Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake and Future’s What a Time to Be Alive, and Dr. Dre’s Compton—all superior to Dreams in every way, shape, or form.
Now, according to Billboard, their awards aren’t decided on by a governing body—like the Grammys, who idiotically awarded their 2014 Best Rap Album honor to Macklemore over Kendrick Lamar (you should be ashamed of yourselves)—but a more complex, data-based system: “Billboard Music Awards finalists are based on key fan interactions with music, including album and digital songs sales, radio airplay, streaming, touring and social interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify and other popular online destinations for music. These measurements are tracked year-round by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen Music and Next Big Sound. The awards are based on the reporting period of tracking dates March 23, 2015 through March 17, 2016 and Billboard chart dates April 11, 2015 through April 2, 2016. Since 1940, the Billboard charts have been the go-to guide for ranking the popularity of songs and albums, and are the ultimate measure of a musician’s success.”
So, since If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (Feb. 13, 2015) and To Pimp a Butterfly (March 15, 2015) came out before the tracking period, much of their opening week(s) sales, plays, and online chatter didn’t seem to count.
Still, while the Billboard Music Awards, Nielsen Music, and Next Big Sound were tallying mentions of Meek Mill, they weren’t taking into account whether these mentions were actually positive or negative. If they did, they’d probably realize that all those people tweeting and Instagramming about Meek Mill were actually mocking him with Drake-approved memes following the release of Drake’s Meek Mill diss tracks “Charged Up” and “Back to Back.” The latter contained several vicious anti-Meek lines, including the now classic, “Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?”—referencing his inferiority to girlfriend (and rumored Drake ex) Nicki Minaj.
In addition to Drake’s online slaying of Meek Mill, Meek’s social media mentions were juiced by the near-constant rumors regarding his relationship to the much-more-famous Minaj—from breakup rumors to baby rumors to engagement rumors to, ultimately, an April appearance on Ellen where Minaj coolly put her cabana boy in his place by saying, “There’s a boy that likes me. That’s all.”
Again, this isn’t as terrible as that time the Grammys awarded Best Rap Album to Macklemore over Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city—and then the 9/11 truther took it upon himself to share his sorry, bro text to Kendrick to the entire world. For that, the Grammys should send every American a copy of To Pimp a Butterfly along with an apology note for the slight. But it does speak to how silly and flawed the Billboard Music Awards’ system is for bestowing these “awards.”
Perhaps Drake, Future, Dre, and Kendrick are on a text chain filled with Meek Mill memes joking about all this.
Or perhaps they’re too important to care.