Sean “Diddy” Combs wants The Recording Academy to stop messing around with the Grammys. After accepting the Salute to Industry Icons Award at a pre-Grammys Gala on Saturday, the rapper spent six minutes straight admonishing The Recording Academy for its lack of diversity and transparency, notes Billboard. Best of all, he wants to help hold them accountable. “You’ve got 365 days’ notice to get this shit together,” he said. “It’s going to take all of us to get this done.”
Diddy speech lasted 40 minutes total, and he wisely used the final six minutes to address the problem before a massive crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California, including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Keith Urban, Joni Mitchell, Cardi B, Migos, Janet Jackson, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and members of the Academy’s board of trustees. Diddy admitted he had “been conflicted” in receiving the award because “hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys.” As the crowd cheered him on, he continued: “Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be… And that stops right now.”
“I’m officially starting the clock,” he said. “You’ve got 365 days to get this shit together. We need transparency, we need diversity. They’re a non-profit organization that’s supposed to protect the welfare of the musical community… But it’s going to take all of us to get this done. It’s going to take the artists and executives to recognize their power. So sign me up. I’m here to help make a difference and help us have a positive outcome.”
He continued by explaining how power must be both recognized and reckoned with. “My goal used to be about making hit records,” he said. “Now it’s about ensuring that the culture moves forward. My culture. Our culture. The black culture. And for me to be worthy of receiving an icon award, I have to use my experience to help to make a change. On that note, I’m finishing up: You all got 365 days.”
So Diddy ended his speech by doing just that: dedicating his Industry Icon Award to the notable Grammy snubs over the past years, including Prince’s 1999, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Kanye West’s Graduation, Missy Elliott’s The Real World, Nas’ Illmatic, Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, and Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle.
While Diddy didn’t name ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan in his speech, she does play a part in the company’s continued lack of diversity — they forced her to take administrative leave after she allegedly tried to fix their rigged nomination process. A few days ago, Dungan detailed rampant Grammys corruption, discrimination, and rape allegations in a shocking EEOC complaint.
Read the complete transcription of Diddy’s closing commentary about the Grammys below:
Now to my other family, my musical family. During the hardest year of my life, all of you were there to check on me and push me up. And I want to tell you I appreciate that. I love that. And I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t get those messages. I want to thank everybody here from the bottom of my heart that really cared about me. And we are a musical family. We have to be there for each other.
And now because we are a family, I have to be honest. The last few days I’ve been conflicted. I’m being honored by the industry that I love, the family that I love. But there’s an elephant in the room, and it’s not just about the Grammys. There’s discrimination and injustice everywhere, at an all-time high. But there’s something I need to say to the Grammys. I changed my middle name to love. So it’s Sean “Love” Combs now. So I say this with love to the Grammys because you really need to know this.
Every year, you all be killing us, man. Man, you talk about the pain. I’m speaking for all the artists here, the producers and the executives. The amount of time that it takes to make these records, to pour your heart out into it … and you just want an even playing field. In the great words of Erykah Badu, we are artists and we are sensitive about our shit. We are passionate. For most of us, this is all we’ve 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 to the point that it should be. So right now in this current situation, it’s not a revelation. This thing’s been going on. It’s not just going on in music. It’s going on in film, going on in sports, and going on around the world. And for years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interests at heart to judge us. And that stops right now.
I’m officially starting the clock. You’ve got 365 days to get this shit together. We need the artists to take back control, we need transparency, we need diversity. This is the room that has the power to make the changes that need to be made. They have to make the changes for us. They’re a non-profit organization that’s supposed to protect the welfare of the musical community. That’s what it says on the mission statement. That’s the truth. They work for us.
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 a video game, we control how they wear their pants, sag their pants… We control everything.
Now we’re not going to solve this tonight. But it’s going to take all of us to get this done. It’s going to take the artists and executives to recognize their power. And I’m standing here today not to just bash you all because as I said, you’re a non-profit 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 of my brothers and sisters out there will be willing to work on getting this right. Because we just want it right. We just want to be able to go to the Grammys. You’ve got to understand. We’ve seen Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson; Michael Jackson’s holding eight Grammys and he was dropping the Grammys. But you know why he was dropping the Grammys and why he got eight Grammys? Because they never nominated him for Off the Wall. So Thriller was his revenge. It wasn’t his honest work. It was his revenge. He’s like, all right, you all want to fuck with me? I’m going to take your souls. And then we had Thriller.
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. And for me to be worthy of receiving an icon award, I have to use my experience to help to make a change. On that note, I’m finishing up: You all got 365 days.
And I want to dedicate this award to Michael Jackson for Off the Wall, Prince for 1999, Beyoncé for Lemonade, Missy Elliott for The Real World, Snoop Dogg for Doggystyle, Kanye West for Graduation, and Nas for Illmatic.
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