In his first full interview in years, the reclusive R&B star Frank Ocean talked to The New York Times about his decision to not submit his critically acclaimed album “Blonde” for Grammy consideration in 2017.
“Blonde,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart upon its release in August, would have likely been up for several Grammy nominations. (His 2012 album “Channel Orange” earned four nominations and one win for best urban contemporary album at the Grammys in 2013.)
Ocean told the Times that his decision to perform at award shows like the Grammys and the MTV Video Music Awards in the past came from a certain “nostalgic” affinity for the shows.
He ultimately decided to withold “Blonde” from Grammy consideration in 2017 to protest what he sees as a “dated” and unbalanced award system.
“That institution certainly has nostalgic importance,” Ocean said of the Grammys. “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.
“I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated,” he continued. “I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.”
Ostensibly, Ocean’s move to protest the Grammys for its representation bias has racial discrimination at its core, just as Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the National Anthem was meant as a criticism of the US’s treatment of African-American citizens.
In the Times interview, Ocean mentioned that since his birth, few black artists have won album of the year, including Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and Ray Charles. Meanwhile, acclaimed black artists like Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Ocean have consistently been overlooked for the Grammys’ top award.
Listen to Ocean’s “Blonde” below:
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