According to a New York Times report, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Childish Gambino all turned down the Recording Acadamy’s requests to perform at this year’s Grammy Awards. Ken Ehrlich, one of the show’s producers, explained this partially stems from the academy’s failure to connect with the Hip Hop world.
“The fact of the matter is, we continue to have a problem in the hip-hop world,” he 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.”
According to Variety, Ariana Grande also declined to fill one of the performance slots, citing the producer’s uncompromising stance on allowing her to perform her latest single 7 Rings. A source told CNN, “The producers were dictating what songs she could sing.” In addition to backing out of her scheduled performance, Grande will reportedly be boycotting the show alltogether.
Award shows have become increasingly controversial in recent years. PoCs and women have stood up and refused to support institutions that fail to adopt equal representation. Last year, notable names within the music industry criticized the show when only one woman won a solo award and JAY-Z, who was up for eight awards, went home without a single win. Additionally, Kendrick Lamar, who went on to win a Pulitzer prize for his album DAMN., lost in the Album of the Year category.
In response to the clear missteps, the academy founded a task force led by Michelle Obama‘s former chief of staff Tina Tchen. The aim of the body is to “identify the various barriers and unconscious biases faced by underrepresented communities.” Despite the changes the academy has reportedly made, it appears as though the 61st Grammy Awards will similarly face tensive undertones.