Jennifer Lopez’s Motown Tribute at the Grammys Gentrified the Genre

Jennifer Lopez (l) and Smokey Robinson perform at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony.
Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

During Black History Month 2019, the Recording Academy decided to gentrify Motown by having Jennifer “Don’t Be Fooled By the Rocks that I Got” Lopez do a tribute to an undeniably black-ass genre of music.

Motown’s music has indeed touched the lives of many, but a performance from Lopez raised a few questions. Did they not want Mary J in the dancery? Did Ciara not want to level up? Was Janelle not sitting right there in the audience? At what point did the Grammys think it was a good idea to have Ms. “My Love Don’t Cost a Thing” do a tribute to this genre? Did no one answer the Recording Academy’s emails, DMs or smoke signals?

Now, don’t get me wrong, Ms. “Waiting For Tonight” can put on a show and has the stamina to last multiple performances, but the one thing we’ve grown to enjoy most about her is her ability to stay in her lane—and last night, she swerved smooth the fuck out of it. She turned that Motown tribute into a Vegas residency, and we were not amused.

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We all know Tina Turner has the United States left on READ, but I am sure we all could have persuaded her to come with a Change.org petition.

It’s been hours and I still can’t believe that someone voted to have Jennifer Lopez salsa in front of Berry Gordy himself and had the nerve to call it a tribute to Motown. It’s clear that no one told the planning committee that Lopez is more downtown than uptown. Has she even been to Detroit?

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Ms. “Let’s Get Loud” defended her performance to ET, saying the following (which can loosely be translated to “take several seats”):

The thing about music is that it inspires all,” she said. “Any type of music can inspire any type of artist. You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart.”

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“Jenny from the Block” used this reasoning (minus seasoning) and salsa-ed all over our music, making us all realize why legends like Diana Ross choose to do their own tributes. They’ve peeped game and will be good and gotdamned if you bring dishonor to their name.

Y’all really let Lopez perform this at Diana Ross’ birthday party.

FYI: Diana Ross’ 75th birthday is not until March, but she celebrated last year and will presumably do that for the rest of the year because that’s what you do when you turn seventy-damn-five.

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Speaking of the BOSS, her daughter, Rhonda Ross, was on the phone during Lopez’s performance. It’s unclear with whom, but it is our hope that Rhonda was calling the cops to get Lopez off the stage.

So out of Tina Turner, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Rowland, Diana “THE BOSS” Ross, Patti LaBelle, Rihanna, Brandy, Monica, Jazmine Sullivan, and the bevy of other black artists out there, we ended up with Jennifer Lopez?

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Recording Academy, the math does not math.

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