Frank Ocean explains why he's sitting out the 2017 Grammys


Frank Ocean took home two Grammy Awards in 2013. One for Best Urban Contemporary Album with Channel Orange and one for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration with Kanye West and Jay-Z's single "No Church in the Wild." That same year he performed "Forrest Gump" for the Grammy audience. The performance did not go as planned. From then until the release of Endless and Blonde, Frank hasn't had the opportunity to return to the awards. Now that he has the material, he's making the decision not to participate.

For the 2017 Awards, Frank Ocean will be sitting out in protest of how the show fails to award black artists. He explained his point of view in a feature for The New York Times.

From the NYT piece:

And there have been accolades, too. In 2013, Mr. Ocean won two Grammys, and he has been nominated since, but come February, he will not win any, because he chose not to submit his music for consideration. “That institution certainly has nostalgic importance,” he said. “It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.” He noted that since he was born, just a few black artists have won album of the year, including Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Ray Charles.

Though Mr. Ocean said the Grammys reached out to his representatives, he never spoke with them directly before making his decision. “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated,” he said. “I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.”

Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich and writer David Wild responded to these claims, and similar ones made by Drake and Kanye, in an episode of the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast

"If they're concerned about the representation of hip-hop on the show, they need to respond and say 'Yeah, of course I want to do it,'" Ehrlich said, explaining he had invited Drake, West and Bieber to perform on this year's show. "They've all done it in the past. Without overstating it, I think we were very instrumental in the growth of Kanye West's career. He did epic performances on our show going back to 'Jesus Walks.' We know that he's had his problems this past year, but we pursued him. We would love to have had him here. Same with Drake. But early on, before nominations came out or anything, Drake had already locked in his schedule to be in Europe. So, there's nothing I can do about that. Justin Bieber, we're still talking to him -- he may or he may not be there."

Responding to Frank specifically, the pair blamed Frank for his performance, calling it "faulty."

"Frank had a very definite idea of exactly what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it," Wild said. "Ken said, that's not great TV, and what he's taught all of us is, 'We're not putting on a radio show ... you have to make it a TV moment.' And he knew from the start that that was not one of those moments."

"We executed his vision knowing that it was faulty," said Ehrlich, who called Ocean was "rigid" about his idea. "And we tried to tell him that, we tried to tell his management that, we tried to tell the record label that. So, his feelings about the Grammys right now, I would imagine, probably go back to that in one way. But honestly, it wasn't us." 

To this, Ocean fired back in a lengthy Tumblr post:

Ok ken (and david). As much as i hate to make you guys famous or even respond to you directly. We all die one day and you’re old so fuck it. Yea yea my 2013 performance at the grammys was absolute shit. Technical difficulties, blah blah. Thanks for the reminder. Very much appreciated. Fuck that performance though. You think that’s why i kept my work out of the grammy process this year? Don’t you think i would’ve wanted to play the show to ‘redeem’ myself if i felt that way? In reality, i actually wanted to participate in honoring prince on the show but then i figured my best tribute to that man’s legacy would be to continue to be myself out here and to be successful. Winning a tv award doesn’t christen me successful. It took me some time to learn that. I bought all my masters back last year in the prime of my career, that’s successful. Blonde sold a million plus without a label, that’s successful. I am young, black, gifted and independent.. That’s my tribute. I’ve actually been tuning into cbs around this time of year for a while to see who gets the top honor and you know what’s really not 'great tv’ guys? 1989 getting album of the year over to pimp a butterfly. Hands down one of the most 'faulty’ tv moments i’ve seen. Believe the people. Believe the ones who’d rather watch select performances from your program on youtube the day after because your show puts them to sleep. Use the old gramophone to actually listen bro, i’m one of the best alive. And if you’re up for a discussion about the cultural bias and general nerve damage the show you produce suffers from then i’m all for it. Have a good night.