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Why do Drake and The Weeknd continue to snub the Grammys?

The discontent has been widespread.

The Weeknd 2021
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Submissions for the 2023 Grammy Awards were revealed yesterday, and there were some big names missing from the list, namely musicians Drake and The Weeknd. The Canadian natives have a history of tension with the Recording Academy, and it looks like they’ve decided to take a stand this year.

The Weeknd’s case

In 2020, The Weeknd’s smash hit album, After Hours, didn’t receive a single Grammy nomination despite enormous commercial success for singles like “Blinding Lights” and general critical acclaim. There were rumors that the snub came about because he was reluctant to perform at the 2021 ceremony due to scheduling conflicts with his Super Bowl halftime show. However, a source told Rolling Stone it was “eventually agreed upon that he would perform at both events.”

This narrative seems to indicate that the Recording Academy didn’t appreciate all the grovelling they had to do to get the artist on their stage and retaliated by not granting the After Hours singer a single nomination. This, of course, is all speculation that was vehemently denied by a Recording Academy chairman. The Weekend obviously did not perform at the Grammys, saying that for him, zero nominations meant “you’re not invited.”

In the aftermath, he called the Grammys “corrupt” and told The New York Times, “Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.” He kept true to his word and hasn’t submitted solo music for consideration since, including his 2022 album, Dawn FM.

Drake’s case

Unlike The Weeknd, Drake was nominated recently for the 2022 Grammy Awards that took place earlier this year. His album, Certified Lover Boy, was nominated for Best Rap Album, and his song, “Way 2 Sexy,” was up for Best Rap Performance. However, in a surprising turn of events, the artist requested his music be removed from the voting ballots in a clear discrepancy between the artist’s wishes and his label’s decisions.

Drake has repeatedly voiced his discontent for the way the Grammys are organized and run. In the wake of The Weeknd’s controversy, Drake compared the institution to “a relative you keep expecting to fix up, but they just won’t change their ways,” in an Instagram story defending his colleague.

In 2019, he refused the invitation to perform at the ceremony, and, after winning a Grammy for “God’s Plan,” he took to the stage to deliver an impactful speech about how unimportant the award was when compared to “people singing your songs word for word.”

Backtrack another year, and, for the 2018 Grammys, Drake also did not submit his More Life album for consideration. The year before that, he won two awards for “Hotline Bling” in rap categories, despite insisting the song didn’t fit that label. He ended up not showing his face around the award show and addressed the situation in an interview with DJ Semtex for OVO Sound Radio.

“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. I won two awards, but I don’t even want them because it just feels weird for some reason.”

This year, Drake has once again chosen not to submit his 2022 album, Honestly, Nevermind, for the Recording Academy’s consideration.

Other artists to snub the Grammys this year

In addition to The Weeknd and Drake, there was another big name choosing not to get involved with the Recording Academy this time around: Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s superduo, Silk Sonic.

The group managed a clean sweep for the smashing success, “Leave the Door Open,” taking home four Grammys, including the perpetually confusing principal categories of Record of the Year and Song of the Year. This year, however, they have chosen not to submit their debut album, An Evening With Silk Sonic, for any possible nominations.

The band released a statement to Rolling Stone where Mars lightheartedly explains this decision.

“We truly put our all on this record, but Silk Sonic would like to gracefully, humbly and most importantly, sexually, bow out of submitting our album this year. (…) Andy and I, and everyone that worked on this project, won the moment the world responded to ‘Leave The Door Open.’ Everything else was just icing on the cake.”

Mars continued by thanking the Academy for inviting them to perform at the award show for the past two years and for last year’s accolades. “We’d be crazy to ask for anything more,” he concluded.

It’s unclear whether this decision genuinely comes from Silk Sonic humbly recognizing they have had their moment in the sun, and it’s now time to open space up for others. It also could be a dissimulated way to not participate in a ceremony that so many of their peers have accused of being crooked while still staying on good terms with the Academy.

The Weeknd and Drake are far from being the only artists to air their grievances with the Grammys and its voting boards. Notably, Eminem, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Halsey, Zayn, Frank Ocean, and many others have criticized the awards in the past. Who could forget that video of Ye relieving himself onto the gramophone statuette?

A lot of these artists’ issues with the awards are related to accusations of racism, considering the discrepancy between Black and White winners in the main categories. African-American artists are often awarded solely in Rap, R&B or Urban categories (whatever that means), despite a lot of their music being more culturally relevant than their white counterparts.

Others, like Zayn, Halsey, and The Weeknd have commented on behind-the-scenes “handshakes,” favors, and interests that have little to do with what should be the protagonist of the evening: music.

The Recording Academy has vouched to make the selection process for the Grammy Awards more transparent. Announcing changes in the voting process and category definition, the academy says it will “reflect [the organization’s] ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape and to ensure that the GRAMMY Awards rules and guidelines are transparent and equitable.” In 2020, they officially changed the dubious “Urban” category title to “Progressive R&B.”

The voting process is currently underway for the 65th Annual Grammy Awards. Nominees will be revealed on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The ceremony will be broadcast live Sunday, Feb. 5, on CBS, and streamed on Paramount Plus.

Francisca Tinoco
About the author

Francisca Tinoco

Francisca is a pop culture enthusiast and film expert. Her Bachelor's Degree in Communication Sciences from Nova University in Portugal and Master's Degree in Film Studies from Oxford Brookes University in the UK have allowed her to combine her love for writing with her love for the movies. She's a freelance writer and content creator, working in both the English and Portuguese languages for various platforms, including WGTC.