Drake has called for the Grammys to be replaced with “something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come” after it failed to recognize his pop peer the Weeknd in any of its 2021 categories despite the latter’s global chart domination this year. His remarks reflect longstanding criticism that the Grammys habitually overlooks Black artistry.
Posting on Instagram, Drake highlighted Lil Baby, Pop Smoke, Partynextdoor, Popcaan and “too many missing names to even name” as artists snubbed by the Recording Academy this year. He said, “I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones who come after.”
In 2018, Drake refused to submit his album More Life for Grammys consideration after being frustrated that his single Hotline Bling won best rap song in 2017 despite not featuring rap. “Maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m Black, I can’t figure out why,” he said at the time. After receiving no nominations for his album After Hours or huge single Blinding Lights, the Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye called the Grammys “corrupt”. Recording Academy chair and interim president Harvey Mason Jr said they understood Tesfaye’s disappointment. “His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration.”
The frustration expressed by Drake and the Weeknd suggests that the Recording Academy’s recent attempts to address diversity and inclusion have not been sufficiently effective. Critics also questioned the absence of Lil Uzi Vert and the sidelining of Burna Boy, an internationally famous and influential Nigerian pop star, to the best global music album category (recently renamed from “best world music album”), as well as the presence of white rapper Post Malone in the album of the year category.