The Weeknd and XO Team Open Up About Grammys Snub: ‘We Did Everything Right'

In an in-depth interview with 'Billboard,' the Weeknd and his team opened up about his rise to fame, and that recent 'After Hours' Grammys snub.

The Weeknd

Image via Getty/Kevin Mazur/MTV VMAs 2020

The Weeknd

The Weeknd caused something of a stir after he publicly addressed the Grammys not nominating After Hours, and now he's opened up in a Billboard cover story about how he felt upon hearing the news. In an in-depth interview with him and his team, the Weeknd spoke about his rise to fame and explained how the recent snub really caught him off guard.

"I use a sucker punch as an analogy," Abel said. "Because it just kind of hit me out of nowhere. I definitely felt...I felt things. I don’t know if it was sadness or anger. I think it was just confusion. I just wanted answers. Like, ‘What happened?’ We did everything right, I think. I’m not a cocky person. I’m not arrogant. People told me I was going to get nominated. The world told me. Like, ‘This is it; this is your year.’ We were all very confused."

It wasn't just the Weeknd unhappy about the snub, as plenty of his peers contacted him to say he deserved a nomination for the record. "People I haven't spoken to in ages, the entire music community," he noted.

The Weeknd's manager Wassim "Sal" Slaiby, also the CEO of management company SALXCO, even called up interim Recording Academy president Harvey Mason Jr. to talk about the situation. "I wasn't mad," said Slaiby, "I was a gentleman. I said, 'Hey, bro, how are you? How's your day? Our day is shit. What the fuck just went down?'"

The Weeknd, meanwhile, pointed out that only 10 Black artists have won Album of the Year in the past 61 years. "I don't want to make this about me," he said. "That's just a fact." His team revealed the album was submitted in six categories, with one of the nominations later moved by "a genre screening committee."

"The leadership there has got to go. They’re weak," added Slaiby. "What is that secret committee? What the fuck? They [should] cancel the fucking secret committee and become full transparency. It’s a powerful, special award."

"Look, I personally don’t care anymore," continued the Weeknd. "I have three Grammys, which mean nothing to me now, obviously. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I want the Grammy!’ It’s just that this happened, and I’m down to get in front of the fire, as long as it never happens again. I suck at giving speches anyways. Forget awards shows."  

As for the Weeknd's upcoming performance at the Super Bowl, his co-manager Amir "Cash" Esmailian said it's always been a goal for the team. "We always had the Super Bowl on our bucket list, and we’ve always had timelines for all of our goals. It came a few years earlier than we expected," Esmailian noted. It's also worth pointing out that XO and Republic recently released a greatest hits album, although it's currently only available on CD.

"We've been really focusing on dialing in on the fans at home and making performances a cinematic experience, and we want to do that with Super Bowl," added the Weeknd, who has put up $7 million of his money to make sure the show can "be what he envisioned," said Slaiby.

In the interview, the team also pondered the possibilities of a tour when shows can be safely held again. "Is the tour going to be the After Hours tour still? Is it going to be this new album's tour, with the same tickets?" he said, hinting that another full-length is on the way. As for the persona he created for the record, a damaged and deranged man in a crimson red suit, Abel indicated he might bring him out again for a few songs. "It's a whole puzzle I'm trying to wrap my head around right now," he said.

Read the full interview with the Weeknd and his crew right here.

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