Drake Removes Himself From Competition for 2022 Grammy Awards

After his streaming smash “Hotline Bling” won best rap song and best rap/sung performance in 2017, Drake questioned his genre 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 figure out why.” He added of the awards, “I don’t even want them, because it just feels weird.”

In 2019, when Drake and Kendrick Lamar were the two most-nominated artists, each declined invitations to perform on the show. Drake did appear onstage to accept the best rap song award for “God’s Plan,” but seemed to allude in his speech to the Grammys’ fraught history in recognizing hip-hop — a rocky relationship that dated back to the first-ever rap award in 1989, when some artists boycotted the show because the category was not going to be televised.

“This is a business where sometimes it’s up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed-race kid from Canada has to say or a fly Spanish girl from New York, or a brother from Houston,” Drake said. “But the point is, you’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word — you don’t need this right here,” he added, holding up the Grammy.

But as Drake started to continue speaking, the Grammys cut to commercial. Drake later called his words “too raw for TV.” A representative for the show said that producers had mistaken a pause in Drake’s speech for the end.

Earlier this year, before the 63rd annual show, the Weeknd, who had been shut out of the nominations despite his album, “After Hours,” being one of the biggest hits of 2020, declared that he would boycott the awards in the future to protest its use of anonymous nominations review committees. Those were blue-ribbon industry panels that sorted through voters’ first-round nomination picks and settled on a final ballot.

The review committees had long been a subject of intrigue in the business. A legal complaint by Deborah Dugan, who became the academy’s chief executive in 2019 — only to be ejected just five months later — said that those committees were rife with corruption and conflicts of interest. This year the Recording Academy, led by its new chief, the producer Harvey Mason Jr., eliminated those committees in most categories, though the last-minute rule change has once again put a spotlight on the nominations process.

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