At Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy gala on Saturday, Sean “Diddy” Combs received the Industry Icon Honor. In his acceptance speech, Combs expressed his frustration with the Recording Academy, its lack of diversity, and its treatment towards black music.
“The last few days, I’ve been conflicted,” Combs told the audience. “I’m being honored by the industry that I love, the family that I love, but there’s an elephant in the room, and it’s not just about the Grammys. There’s discrimination and injustice everywhere all the time. But there’s something I need to say to the Grammys. … I say this with love to the Grammys because you really need to know this. Every year, y’all be killing us, man. I’m talking about the pain. I’m speaking for all the artists here, producers, executives,” he said.
“Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys—to the point that it should be,” Diddy continued. “For years, we have allowed institutions that have never had our best interests at heart to judge us. And that stops right now. I’m officially starting the clock. You’ve got 365 days to get this s–t together.”
He added, “We need the artists to take back control. We need transparency. We need the diversity. This is the room that has the power to make the change that needs to be made. They have to make the changes for us. [The Recording Academy is] a nonprofit organization that is supposed to protect the welfare of the musical community. That’s what it says on the mission statement. That’s the truth. They work for us. We have the power. … Now, we’re not going to solve this tonight, but it’s going to take all of us to get this done. It’s going to take the artists and executives to recognize the power.”
This comes after Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan was placed on administrative leave. Dugan filed a 44-page complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the academy of retaliation and voting irregularities. Dugan also claimed that board members were biased in their nomination review committees and saw the process “as an opportunity to push forward artists with whom they have relationships.”