Drake calls for Grammys to be replaced after The Weeknd is snubbed

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Drake is up for three awards at the 2021 Grammys

Drake has called for the Grammys to be replaced with a new awards show, after several artists were overlooked in this year's nominations.

"I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards," said the star.

"This is a great time for somebody to start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come."

The Grammys have yet to respond.

Drake was speaking after The Weeknd was overlooked in Tuesday's nominations. The star, whose album After Hours is the year's best-selling record in the US, was widely expected to feature in the album of the year and song of the year categories.

After the shortlist was revealed, the singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, called the ceremony "corrupt", adding: "You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency".

In a follow-up tweet, he expressed disbelief that the organisers had asked him to perform despite the snub.

"Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited? In my opinion zero nominations = you're not invited!"

The Grammys responded by saying they "empathised" with his disappointment but that some "deserving" acts miss out every year.

In his Instagram statement, Drake acknowledged that The Weeknd wasn't the only artist whose contributions had been overlooked, citing acts like Lil Baby and Pop Smoke - who picked up a handful of nominations in the rap categories.

It was time, he said, to "accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after".

Image source, Drake / Instagram

"It's like a relative you keep expecting to fix up but they just can't change their ways," the rapper continued.

"The other day I said The Weeknd was a lock for either Album or Song of the Year along with reasonable assumptions and it just never goes that way."

'Historic year' for black artists

Rapper Nicki Minaj also criticised this year's nominations, suggesting that the Grammys consistently overlooks black artists.

"Never forget the Grammys didn't give me my best new artist award when I had seven songs simultaneously charting on Billboard & bigger first week [sales] than any female rapper in the last decade," she wrote on Twitter. "They gave it to the white man Bon Iver."

However, The Black Music Collective - a Grammys advisory group which includes artists like Quincy Jones, John Legend and Yolanda Adams - praised the diversity of this year's shortlist.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Weeknd and Nicki Minaj have both criticised the 2021 Grammy shortlist

"It's a historic year as 10 black women are nominated in the top four categories and more than 20 black nominees are represented in the general fields," they said in a statement. "Also, for the first time, all six nominees for Best Rap Album are black independent artists. This is progress."

The collective acknowledged there had been "some disappointments" in the nominations, but added: "We're listening. Our work is not done, and it will take some time, but the mission to be more inclusive continues."

Drake is disgruntled

Drake himself is up for three Grammys this year, including best rap song for Laugh Now, Cry Later.

However, the star has had a turbulent relationship with the ceremony, and in 2018 refused to submit his number one album More Life for consideration at the awards.

A year earlier, he expressed discomfort over the distribution of awards, after his single Hotline Bling was nominated for - and won - best rap song.

"Even though Hotline Bling is not a rap song, the only category they can manage to fit me in is a rap category," he said on his OVO Radio show. "Maybe because I've rapped in the past or because I'm black, I can't figure out why.

"I won two awards last night," he continued. "But I don't even want them, because it just feels weird for some reason."

Having returned to the ceremony in 2019, he criticised the Grammys on live television.

"I want to take this opportunity while I'm up here to just talk to all the kids that are watching this, aspiring to do music," Drake said, as he picked up the best rap song trophy for a second time. "I wanna let you know we're playing in an opinion-based sport not a factual-based sport.

"So it's not the NBA where at the end of the year you're holding a trophy because you made the right decisions or won the games."

Beyoncé led the nominations at this year's Grammys - with nine in total. Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Roddy Ricch were close behind, with six each.

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