TikTok hip hop is being championed with 2021 end of year #RapTokAwards organized by creators. If Grammys ratings are anything to go by, community-organised awards could be the future.

A creator-led awards celebrating the rap community on TikTok is a great example of what role music awards should play as we head towards 2022. The #RapTokAwards will give unofficial end of year awards to members of the hip hop community on TikTok, as voted for by TikTok users.

These sorts of DIY movements show the TikTok community at its chaotic, creative best. #RapTokAwards’ announcement had a wholesome and inclusive feel, encouraging users to recommend their favourite rappers on TikTok and engage with other users.

Categories range from “Best Small RapTok Creator” and “Best Producer that’s also a RapTok Creator,” to “Best Room on RapTok.” The awards will be hosted by popular RapTokers.

These awards clearly aren’t on the level of major music awards shows, but on TikTok things move fast. If the ceremony picks up traction, there’s always the chance that the music world outside will take an interest in the nominees who gain the most votes.

On the other hand, awards voted for by the general public are prone to bias. See Viberate’s data analysis of DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs ranking, and of the MTV Europe Awards, arguing that raw data is a better way of judging popularity than votes. A win can possibly be gained from artists encouraging their fans to pile on with votes that might not reflect their true listening taste.

Of course, it’s a little different as #RapTokAwards celebrates the musicians as personalities as well as their abilities as hip hop musicians. TikTok is all about the personalized algorithm – swiping until you like the look or sound of a creator – so asking for votes based off who you follow on the app is probably a solid way of getting a good idea of the genuine most popular RapTokers on the app.

Creators are calling it the RapTok GRAMMYs, but the idea of #RapTokAwards is a million miles away from a traditional broadcasted awards show – in a good way.

Obviously there aren’t cash prizes or industry clout as from the big music awards, but community-led concepts like this make for a refreshing change from glossy nominee lists with major label shoo-ins and diversity controversies.

Similar in feel, SoundCloud’s end of year awards SoundCloud Playback were a low-key, scrappy affair, with the winners announced in a no-frills video without any appearances from nominees. More glitzy music awards shows are increasingly feeling like a thing of the past. For one thing, the viewing figures for the GRAMMYs fell 51% from 2020 to 2021.

And artists are turning away, too. Drake has just withdrawn the song “Way 2 Sexy” and his Certified Lover Boy album from consideration for the 2022 awards. No reason was given – there’s speculation it could have something to do with the bad press around the Astroworld tragedy.

Drake’s withdrawal wasn’t entirely unprecedented owing to his past comments about the GRAMMYs, protesting about being nominated in rap categories despite there being no rapping on the releases.

For music awards shows to survive in a meaningful way, we need more action like from the BRIT Awards, which has removed gendered categories from the awards. Steps like these and the inclusive, community-led initiative like #RapTokAwards is in better keeping with the modern music industry than the suspicious glitz of the GRAMMYs.

To vote in the #RapTokAwards, fill in this form.


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