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On the same day Ariana Grande explained her reasoning for canceling her 2019 Grammys performance — and called out the show’s producer Ken Ehrlich for “lying” about the situation — Ehrlich spoke out about another slew of artists who refused to perform at this year’s ceremony in an interview with the New York Times.
According to Ehrlich, Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino (Donald Glover’s rap alter ego) each declined an invitation to perform at this year’s ceremony. Ehrlich commented on criticism that the Grammys alienates rappers and hip-hop artists by nominating them in major categories — such as song of the year, record of the year and album of the year — but rarely ever gives them the award.
Drake, Lamar and Gambino are all nominated throughout general field categories this year.
“The fact of the matter is, we continue to have a problem in the hip-hop world,” Ehrlich told the publication. “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.”
The Grammys’ fraught relationship with the hip-hop community dates back decades. In 1989, a then-nominated Will Smith and musical partner DJ Jazzy Jeff boycotted the Grammys after learning that the presentation of the award for the new category of best rap performance wouldn’t be televised.
Salt-N-Pepa, Russell Simmons and LL Cool J — who would go on to become a frequent Grammys host — all decided to join Smith and Jeff in their boycott of the show in 1989. Although the ceremony chose to televise the rap performance award presentation in 1990, several hip-hop heavyweights, including Public Enemy and Jay-Z, continued to boycott the show.
The 2019 Grammys — hosted by Alicia Keys — are set to air live Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.