Drake has called for the Grammys to be replaced by “something new that we can build over time and pass on to generations to come,” after failing to recognize fellow pop The Weeknd in any of his 2021 categories despite the global list. from the last batch. domination this year.
The Canadian star’s comments reflect long-standing criticism that the Grammys routinely overlook black art. Posting to Instagram, Drake singled out Lil Baby, Pop Smoke, Partynextdoor, Popcaan, and “too many missing names to even name” as artists scorned by the Recording Academy this year.
Critics also questioned the absence of Lil Uzi Vert and the exclusion of Burna Boy, an internationally acclaimed and influential Nigerian pop star, in the category of Best World Music Album (recently renamed “World’s Best Music Album”). , as well as the presence of the white rapper Post Malone in the category of album of the year.
Drake wrote: “I think we should stop being scandalized every year by the disconnect between shocking music and these awards and just accept that what was once the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists out there now. and those who come later. “
He said he had assumed the Weeknd was “a lock on any album or song of the year along with countless other reasonable assumptions and it just never goes that way.” In 2018, Drake declined to submit his album More Life for Grammy consideration after being frustrated that his single Hotline Bling won best rap song in 2017 despite not including rap. “Maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m black, I can’t understand why,” he said at the time.
After receiving no nominations for his album After Hours or the huge single Blinding Lights, Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye called the Grammys “corrupt.” Recording Academy President and Acting President Harvey Mason Jr said they understood Tesfaye’s disappointment. “His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and the world at large are worthy of admiration.”
The frustration expressed by Drake and The Weeknd suggests that recent attempts by the Recording Academy to address diversity and inclusion have not been effective enough.
In March 2018, he established a task force to examine diversity and inclusion within the institution. Among other ongoing efforts, in September he founded the Black Music Collective (BMC), an advisory group comprised of “prominent black music creators and professionals who share a common goal of amplifying black voices within the Academy and the wider music community.” , with Quincy Jones. and John Legend among them.
The BMC called the 2021 nominations “historic”: “Ten black women are nominated in the top four categories and more than 20 black nominees are represented in the general fields. Also, for the first time, the six nominees for best rap album are black independent artists. This is progress. “
However, acknowledging that some artists were disappointed, the BMC said: “Our work is not finished and will take longer, but the mission to be more inclusive continues.”
The last black artist to win the prestigious album of the year award was Herbie Hancock in 2008, with an album of covers by Joni Mitchell. In 2015, there was a widespread outcry when Beck’s Morning Phase won Beyoncé’s critically acclaimed self-titled album award.
Kanye West briefly took the stage during Beck’s acceptance speech, echoing his protest that Taylor Swift beat Beyoncé at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, and later told reporters that Beck “needs to respect art and should giving her award to Beyoncé. “
West continued: “At this point we are tired because what happens is that when you keep diminishing the art and disrespecting the craft and punching people in the face after they deliver monumental feats in music, you don’t respect inspiration.” .
His comments mirror those made by Little Richard at the 1988 Grammy ceremony, where he commented on the Recording Academy’s tendency to reward white artists for work indisputably influenced by black pioneers like himself. In announcing the Best New Artist award, Richard claimed he was the winner. “I’m the architect of rock and roll,” he told the crowd, “and they never gave me anything.”
The situation was repeated again in 2017 when Adele’s 25, an album heavily inspired by black soul music, surpassed Beyoncé’s pioneering Lemonade for best new album, a situation that even seemed to embarrass Adele. Lemonade, on the other hand, won the award for best contemporary urban album.
Following widespread rejection of the term “urban” as being racist and alien, that category was renamed the best progressive R&B album for the 2021 ceremony.
When Tyler, the Creator won Best Rap Album for Igor’s Wide Range in February 2020, he said he was “grateful” for the recognition, but was annoyed that the Recording Academy frequently placed black artists. in the category of “rap or urban” regardless of the genres explored in his music: “I don’t like that word ‘urban’. It’s just a politically correct way of saying the N word to myself. When I hear that, I think: why can’t we be in pop? “
His former Odd Future bandmate Frank Ocean declined to submit his acclaimed 2016 album Blonde to the 2017 Grammys in protest of his neglect of black artists: “That institution certainly has nostalgic significance.” told the New York Times. “It just doesn’t seem to represent very well for the people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold.”
He continued: “I think the infrastructure of the award system and the nomination system and the selection system are outdated. I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sitting in the crowd. “
Beyoncé garnered the most nominations for the 2021 Grammys, with nine in total. This year’s shortlisted made history when Mickey Guyton became the first black female solo artist to receive a nomination in a country music category with her song. Black like me nominated for best solo country performance.
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