After his streaming hit “Hotline Bling” won Best Rap Song and Best Rap / Sung Performance in 2017, Drake questioned his gender categorization in a radio interview. “‘Hotline Bling’ is not a rap song,” he said at the time. “Maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m black, I can’t understand why.” He added of the awards: “I don’t even want it, because it just feels weird.”
In 2019, when Drake and Kendrick Lamar were the top two nominated artists, each declined invitations to perform on the show. Drake appeared on stage to accept the award for Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan,” but appeared to allude in his speech to the Grammys’ heavy history in hip-hop recognition – a checkered relationship that stretched back to the all-time. first rap prize in 1989, when some artists boycotted the show because the category was not going to be televised.
âIt’s a business where sometimes it’s up to a bunch of people who might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada has to say or a Spanish fly from New York, or a brother from Houston,â Drake said. . âBut the point is, you’ve already won if you have people singing your songs verbatim – you don’t need them here,â he added, holding up the Grammy.
But as Drake began to continue speaking, the Grammys shifted to advertising. Drake later called his words “too raw for television”. A rep for the show said the producers mistook a pause in Drake’s speech for the ending.
Earlier this year, ahead of the 63rd annual show, The Weeknd, who had been excluded from nominations despite his album, âAfter Hours,â being one of the biggest hits of 2020, said he would boycott the awards at the show. future to protest its use of anonymous candidate review boards. These were blue ribbon industry panels that sorted the nomination choices of voters in the first round and came to a final ballot.
Review boards had long been a subject of intrigue in the company. A legal complaint filed by Deborah Dugan, who became the academy’s chief executive in 2019 – only to be kicked out just five months later – said these committees were plagued by corruption and conflicts of interest. This year, the Recording Academy, led by its new chief, producer Harvey Mason Jr., eliminated those committees in most categories, though the last-minute rule change shed new light on the nomination process.