In the lead-up to the Grammys this Sunday, the Weeknd announced he will no longer let his label submit his music and he will boycott the awards from now on.
In a statement shared with the New York Times, the Weeknd said he will boycott the Grammys “because of the secret committees.” Despite all the critical and commercial acclaim his most recent album After Hours received, the Recording Academy failed to nominate the record or its No. 1 single “Blinding Lights” for a single award.
“I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys,” the Weeknd added.
Harvey Mason Jr., interim chief executive of the Recording Academy, says the institution will continue to improve itself amid mounting criticism.
“We’re all disappointed when anyone is upset,” Mason replied to the Weeknd’s statement. “But I will say that we are constantly evolving. And this year, as in past years, we are going to take a hard look at how to improve our awards process, including the nomination review committees.”
When the Weeknd addressed the snub in a tweet and interviews, Mason insisted Abel wasn’t nominated because there simply weren’t enough votes for the album or its singles. Prior to his boycott of the Grammys, he was reportedly in talks to perform at the 2021 ceremony. Sources say those talks became “testy,” with the Recording Academy allegedly pressuring the “Blinding Lights” singer to choose between the Super Bowl halftime performance or a Grammys gig.
The Recording Academy released a statement amid the controversy last year, addressing the 2021 nominations. "During such a difficult year and time in our society, the Grammy Awards nominations announced yesterday were a bold reminder to the world and our industry, yet again, of the groundbreaking global impact, influence, and contributions of Black music," the letter penned to the BMC Council from the BMC Honorary Chairs reads.
The Academy has reiterated that “the mission to be more inclusive continues.” Longtime music executive Chris Anokute said he trusts Mason, but doesn’t know if he feels the same about what happens outside of the public eye at the Academy. He added that the Weeknd “clearly made the album of the year,” at least if you take into account the popularity. “If his peers didn’t vote for him, that’s a shame. … We don’t really beleive that’s the truth; there’s just no way.”
The Weeknd is the latest in a long list of Black artists who have publicly criticized the Grammys for their lack of inclusivity. Drake, Frank Ocean, and Kanye West are among some of the most notable acts to publicly criticize the Recording Academy. Recently, Drizzy shared a lengthy post calling out the Grammys for snubbing his former collaborator Abel.
Addressing the situation in an interview with Billboard earlier this year, the Weeknd said that he and his team were confused by the snub. “I just wanted answers. Like, ‘What happened?’ We did everything right, I think," he said. "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."