The 35-year-old Canadian rapper’s new album ‘Certified Lover Boy‘ was nominated for the Best Rap Album category and his song “Way 2 Sexy” featuring Young Thug and Future was nominated for Best Rap Performance.
Without Drake, there are now four nominations in each category. Without “Way 2 Sexy,” those up for best rap performance are Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar for “Family Ties,” Cardi B for “Up,” J. Cole, 21 Savage and Morray for “My Life” and Megan Thee Stallion for “Thot S—.”
Sources told Variety that the decision was made by Drake and his management and the Grammys honored the request.
It’s still unclear why the four-time Grammy winner and his management withdrew the nominations. However, Some have speculated that his decision might have something to do with him being named in lawsuits surrounding the tragedy at the Astroworld festival in Houston last month, where 10 people died when the crowd rampaged during headliner Travis Scott’s set, which featured a guest appearance from Drake. However, Drake is scheduled to perform with Kanye West at the “Free Larry Hoover” benefit concert in Los Angeles on Thursday, so that explanation feels unlikely.
The withdrawal also marks the latest chapter in the Canadian singer’s long, contentious relationship with the awards show billed as “the biggest night in music” and its governing institution, the Recording Academy.
In 2018, Drake refused to submit his album ‘More Life’ for consideration out of frustration that his chart-dominating single ‘Hotline Bling’ won for best rap song in 2017, despite not featuring rap.
“I’m a Black artist, I’m apparently a rapper, even though ‘Hotline Bling’ is not a rap song,” Drake said in a February 2017 interview with Britain’s DJ Semtex. “The only category that they can manage to fit me in is in a rap category, maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m Black.”
He added: “I won two awards, but I don’t even want them because it feels weird to me.”
“I feel almost like alienated or you’re trying to purposely alienate me by making me win rap awards, or either just pacify me by handing me something, putting me in that category, cos it’s the only place you can figure out where to put me,” he said.
In 2020, the “Toosie Slide” singer spoke out against the Grammys after fellow Canadian singer The Weeknd walked away with zero nominations despite having multiple hits in the year.
“I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after,” Drake said on Instagram in November 2020.
“It’s like a relative you keep expecting to fix up but they just can’t change their ways”, the rapper had added. “The other day I said The Weeknd was a lock for either Album or Song of the Year along with reasonable assumptions and it just never goes that way.”
Drake added at the time that now is “a great time” for someone to “start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come.”
In March 2021, the Weeknd pledged a permanent boycott of the ceremony, citing corruption in its nomination process: “Because of the secret committees,” he told the New York Times, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.” Weeks after the ceremony, the Recording Academy, led by its CEO, Harvey Mason Jr, announced the end of the “secret” nomination review process that for decades determined the final nominee lists.
While revealing the nominations for the 2022 show last Tuesday, the Recording Academy also announced that it was expanding the field of nominees in four general categories from eight to 10 as a way “to make room for more music, more artists and more genres and to embrace the spirit of inclusion.”
According to the New York Times, this move led to stars like Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X, and Abba being added to the lists of top awards at the 11th hour.
The 2022 Grammys are scheduled to take place on 31 January.