The Junos are celebrating two big anniversaries in 2021: not only is the show marking its 50th anniversary on Sunday, June 6th in a second-straight virtual affair (due to the ongoing COVID pandemic), it’s also the 30th anniversary of the creation of the show’s rap category, Rap Recording the Year, which the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) plans to honour with a special performance by the award’s inaugural winner Maestro Fresh Wes alongside fellow Canadian hip-hop pioneer Michie Mee, as well as Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, Nav, and Haviah Mighty

It’s a special primetime tribute set for Sunday’s telecast, which is great and all, but also a little ironic… considering for most of the past 30 years, the award itself wasn’t even televised. In recent years, though, CARAS has shown an increasing willingness to grapple with the fact that “Canada’s Grammys” have some explaining to do when it comes to the disrespect and, at best, indifference the Junos have historically paid to what’s become one of the most popular music genres today, not just in Canada but across the globe.

You probably know the Juno rap highlights and lowlights: Maestro Fresh Wes winning the very first award in ’91, the Northern Touch All-Stars performance in 2018, the Rascalz’ protest in ’98 over the award not being televised, Drake’s complete and utter snub in 2011, then Michael Bublé’s Christmas album winning Album of the Year over Take Care the very next year.

“The elephant in the room is the Drake situation, right?” says Dalton Higgins, author, pop culture expert, and Professor in Residence of the new Professional Music degree program launching at Ryerson University FCAD this fall, when we start talking about the Junos’ shaky history with rap, a subject he wrote about as part of the show’s official 50th anniversary coverage. He’s referring to the 2011 awards, when Drake somehow became the first host in Junos history to have a nominated record and not take home a single trophy—despite being one of the hottest musicians in the world at the time, nominated for six awards, and the show taking place in his hometown Toronto.

All that, plus the precedent set by previous host-nominees, made a Drake victory feel like such a given, there was a big celebration planned afterwards, recalls Higgins. “There was this whole thing, because it was expected that he was going to win.” So when Aubrey went home empty-handed instead, it felt like a slap in the face. And the disrespect clearly “still stings,” says Higgins, noting that Drake hasn’t been back since. (He also hasn’t even bothered submitting his music for eligibility since 2016.) According to Higgins, attempts have been made to reach out to the OVO camp and try to make good. Although at this point, it certainly feels like the Junos need Drake more than he needs them.