Drake was one of the most nominated artists at the 2017 Grammy Awards with eight, including Album of the Year for his bestselling “Views.” He ended up winning two of those — Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Rap Song for “Hotline Bling” — but as Drake says, “I don’t even want them.”
The Canadian rapper was recently interviewed on OVO Sound Radio, and he took exception to his category placement. “Even though ‘Hotline Bling’ is not a rap song, the only category they can manage to fit me in is a rap category … Maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m black, I can’t figure out why.”
The recording academy has been under fire ever since the Grammys were handed out on February 12 and Beyonce‘s “Lemonade” lost Album of the Year to Adele‘s “25.” That brought to the forefront longstanding concerns about how the Grammys respond to black artists, who are typically relegated to genre categories like rap and R&B and are seldom embraced when pitted against more conservative music by white artists in the general field. Even recording academy president Neil Portnow weighed in, arguing, “We don’t, as musicians, in my humble opinion, listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity.”
Even before Grammy nominations were announced there was a bit of an artist revolt. Grammy winner Frank Ocean declined to submit his acclaimed 2016 album “Blonde” for consideration, and he explained why to the New York Times: “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated. I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.”
At the rate it’s going, we might see more artists taking a knee in the years to come.