What's surprising is that there's been almost no complaint from Kanye himself, who seems willing to swallow the rationale that the album suffered due to its splitting the vote with Watch the Throne, West's well-hyped (and generally well-received) collaboration with Jay-Z that dropped this past August and which also failed to be nominated.
Maybe Kanye's matured, or maybe he's just embraced the fact that being ignored by the Academy is an infinitely more reliable sign of greatness than attracting its attentions. After all, the history of the Album of the Year reads in large part like a Homeric catalog of albums you hide when your friends come over. In 1969, the award went to Glenn Campbell's By the Time I Get to Phoenix (don't all rush to Spotify at once!), which was chosen over, among other things and in alphabetical order: Beggars Banquet, Electric Ladyland, Lady Soul, Music from Big Pink, and The White Album, none of which were even nominated. Christopher Cross's eponymous yard-sale mainstay triumphed in 1981 over the Clash's London Calling and Prince's Dirty Mind, neither of which, again, were nominated. Billy Joel has been up for the award three more times than Bob Dylan, four more times than the Rolling Stones, and five more times than Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, and Marvin Gaye combined, none of whom—you guessed it—were ever nominated.
All that said, Kanye should be pissed, publicly, a lot more so than he is, and for a couple of reasons. First, recent history shows that he really has been screwed, repeatedly. His first album, The College Dropout, was one of the best debuts of the past decade. Nominated in 2005, it lost to Ray Charles's Genius Loves Company, a guest-spackled posthumous record that the Academy probably chose because—wait for it—Ray Charles never won Album of the Year, either. The following year, West released Late Registration, a creative tour de force that lost to a U2 album so forgettable Bono probably doesn't even remember it. In 2008, West's Graduation lost to Herbie Hancock's The Joni Letters, the pianist's tribute to Joni Mitchell (who's also never... oh, why bother). The Joni Letters is a fine record but it's unlikely that most folks who voted for it had ever listened to Graduation; in fact, I'm not sure most folks who voted for The Joni Letters had ever listened to The Joni Letters. The point is that the Album of the Year award Kanye West should (but won't) be collecting Sunday night shouldn't even be his first.
The other—and far more important—reason he should be pissed is that the Grammys' longstanding and stubborn ignorance of hip-hop is a lot worse than disgraceful. The first time the Academy gave Album of the Year to a rap record was in 1999—a mere 20 years after "Rapper's Delight"—for Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Miseducation is an undeniably great record, but it's also an undeniably great record for people who don't actually like hip-hop, or, more honestly and less politely, don't like the kind of people who tend to make hip-hop. Lauryn was a Columbia-educated, movie-star beauty who also sang; Miseducation wasn't even entered in the "Best Rap Album" category, winning "Best R&B Album" instead. The next time a hip-hop artist won was in 2004, when Album of the Year went to Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, a double album that also benefited from a "rap-but-not-really" vibe thanks to the massive success of "Hey Ya!," which won a Grammy in the category of "Best Urban/Alternative Performance" (a.k.a. "Best Euphemism Coined By A Confused Elderly White Person").