Punch Says He Scrapped SZA’s VMAs Performance After Artist of the Year Nomination Snub: ‘You Can’t Discredit What “SOS” Has Done’

The manager and Top Dawg Entertainment co-president called out the "disrespectful" snub in the year of 'SOS' dominance, calling it a "slap in the face."

Top Dawg Entertainment co-president Terrence "Punch" Henderson admitted that he pulled SZA's scheduled 2023 MTV Video Music Awards performance after she wasn't nominated for Artist of the Year.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Punch suggested MTV snubbed SZA because she dropped one of the most successful albums in recent memory with SOS. “Obviously, she had one of the best years, if not the best year, of any artist at this point. I don’t see why she wouldn’t be nominated for Artist of the Year," said Punch, who also manages SZA. "It just really didn’t make any sense to me."

Punch said he was called by MTV about getting SZA to perform at the show, where she was nominated for eight awards including Best R&B Video for "Shirt," which she won. The 15-time Grammy nominee—who has newly released collabs with Drake and Justin Bieber both out today—was not in attendance.

"They couldn’t give a clear answer as to why she wasn’t [nominated]. It was just, ‘Well, she’s nominated for all these other [awards],'" he said. "And they ended up saying, ‘OK, well we could do another call’ because there were people on [the call] about logistics for the show who didn’t have anything to do with [the nominations]. When we tried to set up the second call, they didn’t want to discuss artist of the year, which to me was really a slap in the face."

Shakira, Nicki Minaj, Karol G, Doja Cat, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift were nominated for Artist of the Year. Swift, who won nine out of her 11 nominations, went home with the award. As mentioned by Punch, three of the nominated artists—namely Nicki, Doja, and Shakira—didn't have an album released within the year of eligibility for the award.

"Why wouldn’t she be nominated for Artist of the Year? Even with the other artists that were nominated for Artist of the Year, some of them were even off-cycle," he continued. "They didn’t have an album out. I mean, no disrespect to them or anybody else; everybody’s great and all of that, but still, you can’t discredit what SOS has done and is currently doing."

SOS held the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart and featured the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 "Kill Bill" among four other top 10 songs.

“I figured, why go perform and do this if she’s not going to be respected to the highest level? So, it was my call to actually pull out of the performance,” Punch added. "I felt it was disrespectful and I was very stern on that and influencing that. If there’s any issues or backlash and all of that, I’m taking all of that."

On Friday afternoon, Punch threw a relevant Lauryn Hill quote up on Twitter: "Respect is just the minimum."

“Respect is just the minimum”

- Ms. Lauryn Hill

— Punch TDE (@iamstillpunch) September 15, 2023
Twitter: @iamstillpunch

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