originally published by Hollywood Weekly
It’s the biggest night in music, so of course it’s usually one of LA’s biggest nights out. Indeed Hollywood came out to Exchange LA in Downtown Los Angeles in full force Sunday night (February 12), and the red carpets rolled out just in time. Artists like Keke Palmer and Ne-Yo filed in to celebrate the 2017 Grammys, but in the era of Trump, politics were far from left out of the celebrations.
The event got kicked off half-an-hour late at 10 o’clock while attendees lined up outside. Things moved slowly until about 11 when band members of The Time and Grammys seasoned professionals Jellybean Johnson and Monte Moir, (@MontyMoir) hit the red carpet. Dressed to the nines with Jellybean blinged out in a purple sequined tux, the pair stopped to talk about their dynamic Grammy’s performance and tribute to Prince. They performed his song “The Bird,” directly before Bruno Mar’s tribute and said Bruno’s performance was their favorite performance of the night. “I thought he killed it,” Monty said. Jellybean, however, thought Katy Perry’s politically charged performance was the stand-out of the night, citing her Spotify record setting song, “Chained To The Rhythm.” The politically charged song refers to the political climate as a state of “distortion,” and warns listeners of the dangers of “living in a bubble.” “The whole ‘resist’ thing has woken up a lot of people and I think it’s making more people get involved in what we need people to be involved in,” Monte noted. Reflecting on the thoughts of Busta Rhymes who slammed “President Agent Orange” live at the Grammys, Jellybean said “I voted, but it didn’t help.”
At midnight the club was beginning to fill up. Swedish Grammy winner and Writer of Zara Larsson’s “Lush Life,” Iman Conta Hulten (@Iman.Yes) joined me on the red carpet where personal space was in low supply. Nevertheless, she was gracious and shared with me her thoughts on the future of pop-politics. “The song I wrote for Zara was political in a way. I wanted to show the world that Zara wasn’t just a little girl, crying over boys, but that she’s powerful, girl power.” Iman’s new song “Not Down For Whatever,” also tackles common misconceptions about women and how they navigate in a man’s world. Lady Ele (@MusicByEle) joined Iman in recognizing the need for female empowerment and how Beyonce tackled that this Grammys performance. “I loved that she embraced her motherhood and she made pregnancy as beautiful as it is – and as it should be. She showed the world that this is the strength that we carry. I’m all about empowering women,” she said.
Nominated for a Grammy himself in 2010, Head Monster Noel Lee hit the red carpet on a Segway and on a mission. The Grammys shared the night with the world premiere of the Monster Ravebox, Monster’s newest product in it’s line of headphones and speakers. The Ravebox is exactly what it sounds like, a boombox that packs a powerful punch and comes included with it’s very own light show. Noel was both pumped to show off his new product and excited to be a forum for these artist’s voices at Monster’s first ever Grammys after party. “I had no idea how strong our brand and our community was,” he explained.
Upstairs, Rae Sremmurd’s base shook the walls and the crowd. The due, made up of brothers Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown and Aaquil “Slim Jxmmi” Brown, headlined the night, performing hits like “No Type”, and “Swang.” Towards the end of their performance Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown invited attendees on-stage to dance alongside them while their song “Black Beatles,” blasted through the speakers. Interestingly, the brothers made a song called, “Up Live Trump,” back in 2014 before Trump ever announced his intention to run. The song uses a direct comparison to basically say they’re as rich as Trump, but also strangely forecasts, Trump’s political blunders in the chorus: “Now you’ve done f***ed up, up/ Up like Donald Trump.”
Artists big and small recognize a certain duty has been placed on them: to use their platform to bring important issues to light. Just as Katy Perry wears her politics on her sleeve, artists of all kinds are certain that we’re just seeing the tip of a musical Anti-Trump iceberg.