Straight talk is for straight understanding and the truth should be said at all times.
That is a model not always associated with the music industry and the people that have made it the mega-cultural influence that it is. However, there are times when individuals emerge to speak peace to power.
Saturday night at the annual Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala was such a time for someone to voice some disturbing and needed truths about the Recording Academy. That is when Sean “Diddy” Combs availed himself to be a mouthpiece of critique even as he was being awarded the 2020 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. He said regarding the music genres that he has touched in his career, “never been respected by the GRAMMYs.”
“There’s something that I need to say to the GRAMMYs — and I say this with love,” he said. “Every year y’all be killing us. I’m speaking for all the artists and executives: in the great words of Erykah Badu, ‘We are artists and we are sensitive about our sh–.’ 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.”
“So right now, with this current situation,” he continued, “it’s not a revelation. This thing been going on — not just in music, but in film, sports, 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.” The crowd, while a bit dazed from the length of his speech, cheered enthusiastically.”
“I’m officially starting the clock: you’ve got 365 days to get this sh— together,” he continued. “We need the artists to take back control, we need transparency, we need diversity. This is the room that has the power to [force] the change that needs to be made. They have to make the changes for us: They’re a non-profit organization that is supposed to protect the welfare of the musical community. That’s what is says on the mission statement: they work for us.”
“It’s going to take all of us to get this done. I’m here for the artists, so sign me up.”
This is not the first time that anyone has spoken to The Recording Academy with the stingy chastisement found in the form of critique.
Entertainment Attorney and the Publisher of The Source magazine (who was in attendance) continues to speak out and says, “It may have been the longest acceptance speech ever made, but it was impactful, honest and courageous.”
He continues, “His narrative of his journey to his challenge to the GRAMMYs to cease the disrespect of Black music was epic. Very proud of Sean for his well-deserved honor and for giving such a message to the music industry.”
McMillan would know. As the Co-Founder of the Artist Empowerment Coalition, an organization organized by luminaries in the community to address problematic issues that seem to most impact Black musicians and executives in business, he has been fighting for almost 30 years to address these concerns. And while sitting in the audience, he was pleased to see that this fight is being picked up by others.
Also in attendance in the audience at Clive’s yearly shingdig, nodding in agreement, were Jay-Z, Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Cardi B, Lana Del Rey, John Legend and so many of the artists that have found their stories woven into Puffy’s musical tapestry, like Faith Evans, Ma$e, Lil’ Kim and his son King Combs who all did moving (and we mean making you want to dance) tributes.
Is Combs correct? Do you believe that this may ignite a new passion to fight for equity and reform within The Recording Academy or do you believe we should support shows that celebrate us, like The Source Awards? #sooncome Or will you still tune in to see the annual show today?