The Weeknd, inarguably the biggest music star in the world right now, announced to the New York Times that he will be boycotting all future Grammy awards as a result of him not receiving a single nomination this year.


Why is He Doing This?

As previously mentioned, The Weeknd is the biggest artist in the entire world at the moment. He's #1 in monthly listeners on Spotify with 74 million, the most by a wide margin. He performed at the Super Bowl halftime show. Blinding Lights was the song of the year, receiving widespread attention on the radio and on TikTok, with two billion streams to date after less than a year of being out. This was his year.

And yet, he was shut out of the award show completely, for reasons no one can really fathom. This boycott is him rejecting the Grammys for rejecting him.

More of the Same

The Grammys have not been without scrutiny this year, or in past years. They've faced a number of controversies, with more and more artists pulling out every year.

Specifically, their treatment of the African American music community has come under intense criticism, and not without reason. The hip hop portion of the show wasn't televised in 2015, despite hip hop being the number one genre in the entire US.

Last year, upon receiving the "Urban" award for his masterpiece Igor, Tyler the Creator said, "They always put it in a rap or urban category. I don't like that 'urban' word. That's just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me." Tyler's frustration came because he objectively made a pop album with Igor and was placed in the rap and urban categories. Lizzo has faced a similar difficulty with the award show, being given hip hop and "urban" nominations despite making pop music.

The show has also faced very recent allegations that they have no black judges, a fact that cannot be confirmed because of their deeply secretive selection process.


Not Unprecedented

There are many very prominent black artists who have enacted boycotts of the Grammys for very similar reasons to The Weeknd.

After DMX wasn't nominated in 1999, Jay Z boycotted the event, claiming racism and rejection of hip-hop as an art form as the reason.

Frank Ocean, arguably the most acclaimed artist of the last decade, boycotted the show entirely after a 2012 performance of his song Pyramids at the show left a bad taste in his mouth.

When Ms. Lauryn Hill won the Album of the Year award for her timeless work The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, she famously said, "this is crazy, because this is hip hop".

Black artists have had a problem with the Grammys for a long, long time, and hopefully the Weeknd speaking out so publicly finally changes something. We can only hope.

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