Diddy was the honouree of the 2020 Grammys Salute to Industry Icons at the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala on Saturday night, and the hip hop OG used his speech as an opportunity to shed light on the wide range of overlooked artists in the industry. Following a tribute performance by various artists close to Diddy including Faith Evans, Ma$e, Lil’ Kim, and his son, King Combs, Diddy took the stage to accept the honour which resulted in a whopping 50-minute speech. Though he primarily focused on his own life and career for the majority of his allotted time, near the end of the speech, Diddy made the bold and admirable choice to call out the Recording Academy for their major musical oversights over the years, specifically of black artists.
“There’s something that I need to say to the Grammys, and I say this with love,” he announced. “Every year, y’all be killing us, man. I’m speaking for all the artists here, the producers, the executives. The amount of time that it takes to make these records, to pour your heart out into it. And we just want an even playing field. In the great words of Erykah Badu, ‘We are artists and we are sensitive about our sh*t.’ We are passionate. For most of us, this is all we’ve got. This is our only hope.” Diddy then comprehensively summarized his overarching point in two powerful statements: “Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys.”
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The crowd applauds him as he proceeds to reference the current turmoil surrounding the Grammys, following the Academy’s sudden decision to place its president and CEO, Deborah Dugan, on administrative leave after they received a “formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female [staff] member.” Deborah has accused the Academy of its own misconduct, which includes voter manipulation, financial mismanagement, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination. Diddy spoke to how there have always been issues within the Academy, which includes a long history of excluding black music from its consideration.
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“So right now, with this current situation, it’s not a revelation. This thing been going on, and it’s not just going on in music. It’s going on in films, it’s going on in sports, it’s 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 sh*t together,” Diddy declares, challenging the Academy to shift how they operate for the better. “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.”