As we noted earlier this week, Ariana Grande was originally slotted to perform at the 61st Grammy Awards, which takes place this Sunday, February 10th. However, due to a disagreement over what songs she’d sing, the pop artist opted to skip the ceremony altogether. According to a new report from the New York Times, she isn’t the only big-name artist to turn down an offer to perform on the show: Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Childish Gambino all declined invites from the Grammys as well.
The absence of the three rappers and Grande is huge blow to the Grammys, considering the fact that they all are up for multiple awards. Grande is competing for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album; Drake and Kendrick are both in the running for Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, and Song Of The Year; and Childish has himself nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
The NYT spoke to longtime Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich about the rappers’ rejections, but instead of acknowledging the award show’s continued problem with diversity, he seemed to suggest the hip-hop community is just bitter. “The fact of the matter is, we continue to have a problem in the hip-hop world,” Ehrlich said. “When they don’t take home the big prize, the regard of the Academy, and what the Grammys represent, continues to be less meaningful to the hip-hop community, which is sad.”
In the past, Drake, Frank Ocean, and Kanye West boycotted the 2017 Grammys in protest of the ceremony’s lack of diversity. Ocean didn’t even bother to submit his 2016 albums, Endless and Blonde, for Grammy consideration. One would think conditions would improve the following year, but 2018 saw a severe lack of female winners. In that case, again, rather than address the Academy’s own internal problems, Grammys president Neil Portnow actually faulted female musicians, saying that the onus was on them to “step up.”
Although Ari, Drizzy, Childish, and Kung Fu Kenny won’t be taking the stage this weekend, the Grammys did manage to book Lady Gaga, Janelle Monaé, Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, Travis Scott, Miley Cyrus, and St. Vincent, who will perform alongside Dua Lipa. They also had the grand idea to make the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Post Malone do an onstage collaboration.
I personally can’t wait to cover the show on Sunday.
The 2019 Grammys take place Sunday and will broadcast live on CBS starting at 8:00 p.m. EST. Alicia Keys has been tapped to host.