On February 10 of this year, the Recording Academy held the 61st annual Grammy Awards. Many of the greatest artists, musicians, and performers have won several Grammy’s over the course of their careers. Within hip-hop or rap categories, there have been a number of influential Grammy winners including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, and most recently, Cardi B and Drake.

When it was announced that the Toronto-born recording artist had won this year’s best rap song award for smash single, “God’s Plan,” he responded with an impassioned cry to his fellow nominees. While other artists were content with simply accepting their awards, giving a word of thanks, and returning to their seats, Drake spoke out against the Recording Academy.

“We playing in an opinion-based sport.” Music, like most things, is beholden to the critiques, praises, and perspectives of its audience. Lyricism, production, storytelling, and flow are just a few examples of the criteria by which listeners judge hip-hop music, in particular. As such, being nominated for awards such as Grammy’s, MTV, BET, and so on is considered all the more impactful. Unfortunately, being wrapped up in the pursuit of awards has become a detriment to both the well-being of artists, and the music industry itself.

Awards can be a wonderful way of honoring an individual for their effort in creating a meaningful product that touched the hearts of listeners, but more often than not, it can inflate the ego of those that are nominated. Awards have become the equivalent of an ancient idol, a false god that is revered by those that serve at its beck and call. How many artists who start their careers with a desire to serve their community and make music to impact a generation stay that way? For decades, awards like the Grammys have been presented as the ultimate measure of one’s artistic talent. With this mindset embedded into the musical culture, who could blame artists for falling into the all-consuming chase for glory?

“If there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to see your shows…You don’t need this right here…You already won,” said Drake.

Herein lies the truth of the matter. Awards lack meaning in the grand scheme of one’s career. Indeed, they can be a decent manner of celebrating one’s ability, but attaining such an award is no indication of an artist’s worth as a musician or as an individual. One’s creative excellence cannot, and is not, ever truly determined by their achievements within the music industry. Only an artist themselves and God knows what it took to create content.

Drake’s acceptance speech should serve as a reminder to all artists, Christian or not, that their intrinsic value could never be affected by an award victory, nomination, or snub. For the artist who knows Christ, this message is all the more poignant.

When God created His people, it was not so that they could chase human achievements such as awards. An obsession with such achievements is the road to idolatry. Drake was correct in stating that having fans buy tickets to an artist’s shows is already a victory, yet even one’s fanbase is not a measure of one’s merit. It does not matter what organizations such as the Recording Academy think, nor music critics, nor fans, all that matters is what the Creator thinks. If an artist is producing content to the best of their ability with the glory of God on the forefront of their mission, then they have won more than they could ever know.

What do you think of the speech by Drake?