(TheBRHM.com) Metal and music history was made during the 63rd Grammy Awards as Body Count took home the award for Best Metal Performance.
It marked the band’s first Grammy Award win and the first time that a band comprised of Black and Latino members won any award for heavy metal at the Grammys.
It’s a massive win for the band, for Ice-T who last won a Grammy in 1990, the diehard fans of Body Count, and a major landmark moment in music history and Black rock history.
The band was awarded the honors for the song “Bum Rush” off its 2020 release Carnivore. Now, there are points to be made about what made it to the nominees, just what the process was exactly, and just what kind period late 2019 to late 2020 was for metal.
Let’s not forget just “Best Metal Performance”. In a given year what exactly is being counted? Is it just the best of any performance—live, studio, etc—of the artist? If so, how does that performance make it through the nominee process?
All of that isn’t important. What is important is that one of the singles from Carnivore landed a Grammy award. The last time Body Count was nominated was 2017 for the song “Black Hoodie” which appears on Bloodlust and as a bonus on Carnivore.
While it’s not necessarily the strongest song on the album—those honors go to “Carnivore” and “Another Level”—apparently the single made an impression on during the nomination process.
However, a part of that could be heavily accredited to being a song that came out at the right time.
Body Count Stands as A Critic of the Times
Since its formation in 1990, Body Count has been upfront and in your face about what’s important to its members. Songs detail life in the inner city, gang life, racism, abuse of state power, and the abuse of power by law enforcement.
Half of that is pretty standard thrash metal fare. Even down to Body Count’s method of addressing all of this through the horror analogies on some tracks.
However, what’s different in this case is the messenger. The music just hits differently when the subject matter is addressed by a band where most of its members come from communities that tend to be the hardest hit.
It’s less hearing an interpretation from an observer or historian and hearing the play-by-play and outcome from someone who was born in it or lived it.
That’s the weight Body Count puts behind its music. When the world is different ways from over 30 years ago when the band formed with different faces, different issues, and different outcomes, things are very similar in their root causes.
You could say things didn’t change much but progress was made. While Body Count has progressed its sound with the times, it never changed its approach or message.
That’s likely part of the reason Body Count got a nomination in 2017. Things were bad then and here’s Body Count: still the same aggressive band making America look at itself in the mirror.
It was in 1992 when “Cop Killer” was released and caused an uproar to the point that there was a push to have the song withdrawn or blocked.
Family and law enforcement groups were up in arms and really wanted the band’s head for shining a light on something—in the most violent-sounding way possible—that the news didn’t cover regularly in the early 90s.
The Significance of the Win
Fast-forward to 2021 and Body Count are awarded for a song that didn’t have the same impact as “Cop Killer” or even “Black Hoodie” but the band is timeless, they’re consistent, and their overall message—as well as the song itself—hits at the right time.
Sometimes that’s just how the awards shift. At its core, the awards are for the best in numerous categories but sometimes that little extra—relevance—comes into play.
“Yes, the performance was good but is this act relevant to the current musical landscape? Are they relevant to the world in general?” Other times, it could just be whether the act of showing that Recording Academy is still “with the times” and that the Awards themselves are still relevant.
It could even be a mix. What is known is that Body Count picking up the Best Metal Performance in that a band that was once considered a problem in the industry because of the lines it would cross to make people uncomfortable with the truth was rewarded for doing the same.
There are many ways to look at the significance here and some aspects will be more important to others. Some will take the feel-good significance of Body Count winning the award and becoming a “First”.
Others—myself included—look at the significance from the band’s career and how it powered through despite attempts to put the band on ice. What should be taken away is that Body Count plays metal mixed with punk and always have.
This isn’t a repeat of the outcome for Best Hard Rock/ Metal Performance from 1989.
Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.