Diddy Blasts The Grammys For Not Respecting Hip-Hop & Calls For A Boycott (Video)

Last night (January 25) Sean “Diddy” Combs received the annual Icon Award in Beverly Hills, California. There, just ahead of the 62nd Grammy Awards and at an official Pre-Grammy Gala, the three-time winner blasted the Recording Academy for the areas which they need to improve—especially in how they treat Black musicians and Hip-Hop artists. The veteran artist, producer, and label founder warned of a boycott if things do not change by this time in 2021.

In a video clip, Combs opened, quoting a peer. “In the great words of Erykah Badu, ‘we are artists; we are sensitive about our sh*t.‘ We are passionate. For most of us, this is all we got. This is our only hope. Truth be told, Hip-Hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys.” In the video, JAY-Z lifts his hands high to join others in applauding the proclamation.

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Puff’ alluded to recent controversies, including Academy CEO Deborah Dugan being placed on administrative leave earlier this month (January 16). The move came after Dugan and her legal team say they filed a sexual harassment complaint, along with accusations that there have been voting inconsistencies and conflicts of interest surrounding the awards. Since the placement, Dugan has alleged that former CEO Neil Portnow raped an unnamed female recording artist. Following the board’s knowledge of the incident, per Dugan’s accusation, his contract was not renewed. Variety published additional points in Dugan’s claims surrounding the alleged biases towards certain parties winning awards. They included charges that “secret committees” are assembled, eventually showing favoritism to awards show performers, placing eligible artists on nomination committees, and allegations that the board can add artists to nomination categories.

Diddy addressed this in passing. “This current situation, it’s not a revelation, this thing been goin’ on. It’s not just goin’ on in music, it’s goin’ on in film, it’s goin’ on in sports, it’s goin’ on around the world. For years, we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interests at heart to judge us—and that stops right now.” Those words garnered a standing ovation, including from Shawn Carter and Swizz Beatz, among others. The audience remained at its feet for the duration of Diddy’s words.

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A day before tonight’s (January 26) awards ceremony, Puffy gave an ultimatum. “I’m officially starting the clock: y’all got 365 days to get this sh*t together. We need the artists to take back the control. We need transparency. We need diversity. This is the room that has the power to make a change that needs to be made. They have to make the changes for us. [The Recording Academy] is a non-profit organization that is supposed to protect the welfare of the musical community. That [is] the mission statement.” Suggesting a boycott in play, Puffy reminded those before him of their stake. “We have the power. We decide what’s hot. If we don’t go, nobody goes. If we don’t support, nobody supports. We control what’s cool, we control what’s hot, we control what your kids listen to, what they dance to, we control what’s in video games, we control how they wear their pants.”

With Arista and J Records founder Clive Davis standing over his shoulder, Diddy called for unity in his statement. “I’m standing here today not to just bash y’all, because like I said–y’all a nonprofit organization. We just need to get it right. And I’m here for the artists. So sign me up; I’m here to help make a difference and help us have a positive outcome. I believe all my brothers and sisters out there [in this crowd] would be willing to work on gettin’ this right.”

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Puff recalled the impact of Michael Jackson’s major Grammy wins. He then pointed out the fact that Off The Wall was not nominated in any album category. “[Making Thriller] was his revenge,” Puff suggests, making the academy the culprit of Michael’s anger.

“My goal used to be about making hit records. Now, it’s about ensuring that the culture moves forward—my culture, our culture, the Black culture.” Diddy said that in receiving the Icon Award, he must use his experience to prompt change. “On that note, I’m finishing up—and y’all got 365 days. I’m gonna dedicate this award to Michael Jackson for Off The Wall, Prince for 1999, Beyoncé for Lemonade, Missy Elliott for Da Real World, Snoop Dogg for Doggystyle, Kanye West for Graduation, and Nas for Illmatic.”

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Earlier this month, Public Enemy’s Chuck D also wrote an open letter in the wake of Dugan’s placement on administrative leave. He vented his own frustrations with the academy at a time when Public Enemy is receiving a lifetime achievement award.

 

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My open letter To The Grammy’s and Hip hop ✊🏾 ………… Figures… I salute Deborah Dugan for her truth and courage to try and effect change. As always, a bunch of ignorant, testosterone-fueled, usually old white men stop progress and screw it up. Same old bullshit. They want to keep it status quo and make sure things like Hip Hop stay the poster child of their fuckery. In 1989 we protested the Grammys because they refused to acknowledge a new art form called Hip Hop/Rap. I responded with the lyric, “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy.” We fought to be recognized and for things to change. We kicked that door in for others to come through. After 35 years in this industry, folks should know that I always defer any individual accomplishment, always giving salutes to those before me and trying to open the door for those after me. In agreeing to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award when Deborah called me was no different. We discussed these issues and what needed to change. Hip Hop can’t be judged by a bunch of old corporate guards who rewrite history to serve their corporate bottom line. But it was obvious she was having her own struggles with an academy that thinks Public Enemy ended in 1992 yet want to give us a lifetime achievement award without acknowledging a lifetime of work. We had to haggle, to educate, to justify why a core member of our group for the past 22 years, DJ Lord, should be part of this award. We had to question why our biggest UK hit and the theme to the global Paralympics Games, “Harder Than You Think,” was left out. Maybe because it was released on my own independent label, SlamJamz, and not a major? Never could I have imagined that pushing for the recognition our art form deserved would turn into artists being coerced into disrespecting the craft, themselves, the culture and other people only to chase the bag and validation from corporations and award shows who don’t care about you. I hope this letter will be a wake-up call for them. New folks but the same ol bullshit pattern doesn’t change a thing. So I’m not surprised that Deborah Dugan is out. I am appalled because it reeks of the same old jive, a New Whirl Odor that ..

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“Hip Hop can’t be judged by a bunch of old corporate guards who rewrite history to serve their corporate bottom line,” Chuck D wrote online. “But it was obvious [Deborah Dugan] was having her own struggles with an academy that thinks Public Enemy ended in 1992 yet want to give us a lifetime achievement award without acknowledging a lifetime of work. We had to haggle, to educate, to justify why a core member of our group for the past 22 years, DJ Lord, should be part of this award.”