Drake tossed some subtle shade at the Recording Academy during the 2019 Grammys, while accepting his trophy for Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan.”
The award, which went to Drake and his fellow songwriters for the hit single from Drake’s 2018 album Scorpion, doesn’t typically make for one of the evening’s major moments. But Drake took the opportunity to pay respect to his fellow nominees and remind everyone that there’s more to success than winning a Grammy.
Drake shouted out fellow artists like Travis Scott and Cardi B, and pointed out that the music industry is run by people “that might not understand what a mixed-race kid from Canada has to say, or a fly Spanish girl from New York.” This seems to have been a tacit callout of the Grammys’ struggle to diversify their many, many awards categories.
Multiple artists including Drake reportedly declined invitations to perform at the 2019 ceremony. Their decisions, along with Donald Glover’s complete absence despite his prominent nominations, have generally been interpreted as protests against the Recording Academy’s deference to white recording artists.
Drake went even further during his acceptance speech, however, reminding everyone watching that the Grammys don’t have to be the highest standard of achievement in an increasingly diverse industry.
“The point is,” Drake said, “you’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you are a hero in your hometown.
“Look, look, if there [are] 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 here,” he said as he gestured with the Grammy in his hand. “I promise you, you already won.”
However, right before Drake was about to continue his point with a prominent “but,” the telecast abruptly cut away to a commercial — leaving onlookers remarking over the awkward cut-off.
The whole press room just collectively "ooooooo'd" when Drake got cut off from finishing his #GRAMMYs speech. (Conveniently after he said, "You don't need this right here..." talking about seeing a Grammy award as success.)— Krystie Lee Yandoli (@KrystieLYandoli) February 11, 2019
Clearly, the Grammys didn’t want to wait around to hear what point Drake might have had to make. But the show’s quick cutaway made Drake’s ostensible point without him having to make it himself: The less diverse the room is, the easier it is for diverse viewpoints — like Drake’s — to be silenced.