Drake has decided to withdraw his two Grammy nominations.
Though his motive remained unclear, Variety reported the 35-year-old artist withdrew his two nominations – best rap album for Certified Lover Boy and best rap performance for his song Way 2 Sexy, featuring Future and Young Thug – after consultation with his management.
The withdrawal marks the latest chapter in the Canadian singer’s long, contentious relationship with the awards show billed as “the biggest night in music” and its governing institution, the Recording Academy. In 2018, Drake refused to submit his album More Life for consideration out of frustration that his chart-dominating single Hotline Bling won for 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 told the Beats 1 radio show at the time, adding that he believed the award was the result of racial profiling.
“I feel almost like alienated or you’re trying to purposely alienate me by making me win rap awards, or either just pacify me by handing me something, putting me in that category, cos it’s the only place you can figure out where to put me,” he said.
The Recording Academy’s oversight of Black artists and pigeonholing into “urban” categories has for years drawn complaints and frustration from some of the biggest stars in music, such as the Canadian singer the Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye), who in 2020 tweeted the Grammys “remain corrupt” after he received no nominations for his album After Hours or for his chart-topping 2019 single Blinding Lights.
In 2019, Drake, along with the Pulitzer-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino (the alter ego for the actor and writer Donald Glover), declined to perform at the ceremony. Drake attended the ceremony to accept the award for best rap song for God’s Plan and used his speech to cast skepticism at the legitimacy of the whole affair.
“This is a business where sometimes it’s up to a bunch of people who might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada has to say or a fly Spanish girl from New York or anybody else, or a brother from Houston right there, my brother Travis [Scott],” he said. “If there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here. I promise you, you already won.”
The ceremony controversially cut to commercial before he finished speaking.
The following year, in response to the Weeknd’s shutout for the 2021 nominations list, Drake 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”.
In a statement posted to Instagram, Drake wrote: “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 March 2021, the Weeknd pledged a permanent boycott of the ceremony, citing corruption in its nomination process: “Because of the secret committees,” he told the New York Times, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.” Weeks after the ceremony, the Recording Academy, led by its CEO, Harvey Mason Jr, announced the end of the “secret” nomination review process that for decades determined the final nominee lists.
The versatile musician Jon Batiste leads the nominees for the 2022 ceremony, with 10 nominations, followed by R&B star HER and Justin Bieber.