The Weeknd
Photos: Nicolas Padovani

The Weeknd Maintains Grammy Boycott Despite Recent RIAA Decision

Despite a recent shift in rules that prompted his boycott, pop superstar, The Weeknd remains steadfast in his recent decision to boycott the Grammys.

Noting a continuing lack of confidence in the award show’s operation the Republic Records artist will no longer submit his music for Grammy consideration. The award-winning singer was reacting to the Recording Academy’s 5.07 announcement of regulation revisions, including the elimination of “secret” nomination-review panels.

Despite making one of the biggest records and most-streamed songs of the year with “After Hours” and “Blinding Lights,” the artist, born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, was likely left out of all 2021 nominations due to the furtive committee procedure. “The trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organization and artists that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag,” the Weeknd told Variety and went on to say that he would try to keep his songs out of the awards.

Despite the boycott, however, the singer/songwriter considers the transfer “an important start.””I think the industry and the public alike need to see the transparent system truly in action before the win can be celebrated,” he adds, “but it’s a good start.” “I’m still not interested in being a part of the Grammys, especially since they’ve admitted to being corrupt for decades…In the future, I would not be applying”. “No change comes without a voice heard,” stated his co-manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby. “I’m just proud of Abel for sticking up for his principles. When it all unfolded, I was taken aback, but now I see it plainly, and I’m happy we stood firm in our convictions.”

Although the Grammys made no explicit “admission of corruption” in announcing the rule shift, interim awards leader Harvey Mason Jr. said in the same Variety interview that he’d been trying to abolish the committees for months before The Weeknd snub. Mason refused to comment on whether the condition affected the eventual judgment, which was reached by a majority of 44 members of the Academy’s board of trustees.

“Any time an artist, especially one of that stature, calls our process into question or thinks something is unfair… the Academy is of course going to be affected by that, and want to work to make things better,” Mason said. Since The Weeknd was unexpectedly left out of the 2021 nominees, several people, including the Canadian artist and Slaiby, speculated that self-interest inside the committees was to blame — notwithstanding the lack of a Pop division committee, one of three in which he might’ve been a strong contender. Mason insisted that the change was the product of the nomination-review committees’ impartial vote, stating “There’s no agendas in there, there’s no ‘let’s snub this person or that person,” “It’s about, ‘Let’s try and find excellence.”. Insiders speculate that The Weeknd’s Grammy omission was a result of his appearances at the Super Bowl which was originally scheduled a week prior to the awards broadcast.

Slaiby informed a popular media outlet that “they engaged with us very heavily and at length to be a part of their show and then everything stopped,” adding that Mason “claimed that he’d look into it and get back to us.” “I never got a response on that one.” Although all music awards are arbitrary by design, it was rare for an artist to attain the critical and commercial popularity of The Weeknd’s “After Hours” album and “Blinding Lights” single without receiving a single nomination. “I want to see a fair and accountable process put in place and held to that new standard that is set forth,” Slaiby says of the Academy, which is scheduled to name a new president/CEO next month. This is their opportunity to reintroduce meaning and credibility to this venerable honor. “I would just implore the new CEO to run this properly and avoid the old school backdoor politics that have plagued the Grammys for years.” “Be alert and honorable in your actions.”

In recent months, the musician has provided millions of dollars to humanitarian organizations, including MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s charity, and $1 million in food relief to war-torn Ethiopia, where his family is from. “The industry can keep stepping up to share their revenue to help those in need in various situations and to support the marginalized communities who create and buy the music they sell,” he says. “There has been some progress there, and I anticipate and encourage even more.” I’m interested in creating music that people like and assisting when I can.” “Right now my concern is what’s happening in my home country of Ethiopia and encourage people to be aware of what is happening and donate where they can.”

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Author: Luke Traina

Photos: Nicolas Padovani