While accepting his Grammy, Drake had a message to deliver: A trophy from the Recording Academy is not the only thing that makes you a winner.
Going into Sunday’s show, there was tension between Drake and the Recording Academy. Drake and fellow top nominees Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino all declined to perform at the 2019 Grammy Awards, which prompted show producer Ken Ehrlich to admit that the Grammys “continue to have a problem in the hip-hop world.” It was reported that Drake was unlikely to attend the show.
The Grammys have been accused of alienating hip-hop artists by nominating them in major categories but rarely handing them the award. Going into Sunday, Drake, who was nominated seven times and took home one trophy, had a total of three Grammy wins to his name and 42 nominations. Later in the night, Cardi B and Childish Gambino would go on to make history, becoming the first solo female artist to win best rap album and the first rapper to win record of the year, respectively.
When taking the stage to accept his award for best rap song for “God’s Plan,” Drake vocalized his surprise. “I definitely did not think I was winning anything,” he said, before pivoting to speak to both young and aspiring artists and his peers “that make music from their heart, that do things pure and tell the truth.”
He told them, “I want to let you know that we’re playing in an opinion-based sport. Not a factual-based sport. So it’s not the NBA where at the end of the year, you’re holding a trophy because you made the right decisions or won the games. This is a business where sometimes it’s up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed-race kid from Canada has to say or a fly Spanish girl from New York, or a brother from Houston — right there, my brother Travis [Scott].”
He continued, “But look, the point is, you’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown. Look, if there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows? You don’t need this right there I promise you,” he said of the Grammys trophy. “You already won.”
Drake was continuing his speech, but the producers cut him off. He was heard saying, “But…” before the Grammys cut to commercial for viewers at home. The feed was also cut in the media room for those at the Los Angeles Staples Center.
A show source wrote in a statement: “Drake took a natural pause in his speech, which led producers to believe he was finished so they went to commercial. Since it seemed as if he had more to say, Grammy producers spoke with Drake immediately following his acceptance speech and offered him the opportunity to complete his speech. Drake stated that he was actually finished with his speech and happy.”
The Alicia Keys-hosted awards show spent the majority of the night lifting up diverse voices and celebrating inclusion. The show kicked off with an empowering opening, that included surprise guest Michelle Obama, and has been dominated by female-fronted performances.
The 2019 Grammy Awards were broadcast live on Sunday on CBS. Head here for the list of winners.