The Grammys are tonight (January 26), however, the annual music awards has been shrouded in controversy for numerous reasons — most recently, for claims that the nominations are rigged and people aren’t awarded based on talent.
During Clive Davis’ pre-Grammys gala, Diddy was awarded the 2020 Industry Icon award, and at the end of his speech, he demanded the Grammys change their ways.
“So I say this with love to the Grammys, because you really need to know this, every year y’all be killing us man. Man, I’m talking about the pain. I’m speaking for all these artists here, the producers, the executives,” he said. “The amount of time it takes to make these records, to pour your heart into it, and you just want an even playing field.”
Since hip-hop and R&B had its own Grammy categories created and the musical genres were nominated for general awards, they’ve often fell short.
“In the great words of Erykah Badu, ‘We are artists and we are sensitive about our (expletive),’” the former Bad Boy Records executive continued. “We are passionate. For most of us, this is all we got. This is our only hope. Truth be told, Hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be.”
Only two hip-hop albums have won album of the year – Lauryn Hill’s 1998 debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below from 2003. Last year, and for the first time for a rap song, the Grammys awarded Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” song and record of the year. Only four rap acts have ever been named best new artist, including Lauryn Hill, Arrested Development, Chance The Rapper and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
“So right now with this current situation, it’s not a revelation. This thing been going on, and it’s not just going on in music, it’s going on in film, it’s going on in sports, it’s going around the world,” Diddy said to a standing ovation. “And for years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interest at heart to judge us. And that stops right now. I’m officially starting the clock — y’all got 365 days to get this (expletive) together.”
Questions have loomed heavily over the Grammy’s voting process over the past week after the academy ousted CEO Deborah Dugan, who claimed the awards are rigged and marred by conflicts of interest.
Diddy dedicated the prize to classic albums that didn’t win best album, including Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, Prince’s 1999, Beyoncé‘s Lemonade, Missy Elliott’s Da Real World, Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, Kanye West’s Graduation and Nas’ Illmatic.
Separately, Ne-Yo is also criticizing the Grammys. TMZ’s cameras caught up with the R&B superstar at LAX and asked him what he thought about Dugan’s ousting and whether that taints the Grammys he’s won as an artist.
“There are a lot of things about this industry that are smoke and mirrors so-to-speak, so it wouldn’t surprise me,” he said. “But at the same time, yeah it kind of does cheapen it for me.”
Ne-Yo has won three Grammys – two for his song "Miss Independent," and another for his 2008 album, Because of You.
Photo: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images