Are the Grammys Rigged Against Minorities?

Are the Grammys Rigged Against Minorities?

Recently, some of the greatest minority artists in music are not getting nominated by music’s biggest award–the Grammys.

Several artists, such as The Weeknd, Drake, Lil Waye, Nicki Manaj and more, have continued to be left out of grammy nominations. The connection between these artists? They’re all minorities. The lack of nominations for minority artists is a recurring issue in the music industry, taking place for over 63 years with the most recent and known injustice towards an artist occurring at the 2021 grammy award ceremony when The Weekend wasn’t nominated for a grammy after releasing an album considered groundbreaking for millions. Many saw the outrage of fans over The Weekend not receiving any kind of nomination as a personal hurt, however, it spans far beyond that. This ongoing  neglect in the music industry’s refusal to nominate certain artists speaks out to larger issues about lack of gender and racial diversity within the music industry. 

The R&B superstar, The Weeknd, was thought to be a strong nominee in the big four categories, including album of the year for his fourth LP After Hours, which spent four consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. In addition, he was thought to be a strong nominee for record of the year and song of the year for his blockbuster hit “Blinding Lights,” which broke Billboard chart records a year after its release.

But on Nov. 24, 2020, when the 2021 Grammy Award nominations were revealed, The Weeknd’s name was nowhere to be found. The Weeknd, a three-time Grammy winner, noted that his snub in the top categories felt like “a sucker punch,” saying, “It just kind of hit me out of nowhere. I definitely felt … I felt things. I don’t know if it was sadness or anger. I think it was just confusion.” Elaborating, he added,”I just wanted answers. Like, ‘What happened?’ We did everything right, I think. 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.” 

The lack of recognition in the grammys for minority artists has caused a sense of distrust with the selection process by people heavily integrated within the industry and in particular for famous musicians. For example, Ariana Grande chose not to perform at the 2019 Grammy Awards and gave her side of the story after disputing an Associated Press interview with the former producer of the Grammys, Ken Ehrich. Ehrich falsely quoted Grande in his article saying, “I felt it was too late to put something together for the show.” However, in several past instances, Grande has shown that she is able to pull together a performance over night as seen with the tour of her last breakthrough album, “Thank U, Next.” After Grande’s words were taken out of context, she tweeted, telling the real story of why she decided to skip out of a 2019 grammy performance.”It was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you, that I decided not to attend….It’s about collaboration. It’s about feeling supported. It’s about art and honesty. Not politics. Not doing favors or playing games. It’s just a game y’all.. and I’m sorry but that’s not what music is to me.”

Through the years, the Grammys have continued to ignore minority artists, refusing to nominate them and give them the recognition they deserve, leading many to believe that the Grammys are rigged. However, the disproportionate rates in the nominations of minority singers in the ceremony leads to larger issues about gender and racial inequalities within our society and point to possible changes that must be made in order to make the world a more equal playing field for minorities.