Diddy Says Black Music Has Never Been Respected by the Grammys, Calls for Change

In an impassioned speech he delivered Saturday night before the 2020 Grammy Awards ceremony, rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs said that African-American music "has never been respected" by the Recording Academy, the body that awards the Grammys.

Combs, 50, who was honored with the Industry Icon award at the Clive Davis pre-Grammy Gala, made the speech at the end of the party.

"In the great words of Erykah Badu, 'We are artists and we are sensitive about our (expletive),'" Combs said to his audience, as reported by the Associated Press. "We are passionate. For most of us, this is all we got. This is our only hope. 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."

 Sean "Diddy" Combs
Sean 'Diddy' Combs accepts the President's Merit Award onstage during the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Sean "Diddy" Combs on January 25, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Combs, who himself has won three Grammys, referred to what is often seen as the "snubbing" of African American artists by the Recording Academy. The awards have been criticized for not giving some of the awards in its highest categories to world-renowned performers like Kanye West and Beyoncé—instead opting to give those awards to artists who work in the country, pop and rock genres.

"For years we've allowed institutions that have never had our best interests at heart to judge us, and that stops right now," Combs said to applause, according to USA Today.

Given all of the work that so many black artists and their partners put into their music, he said, they at the very least deserve a fair chance to receive the top awards.

"I'm speaking for all these artists here, the producers, the executives," he said. "The amount of time it takes to make these records, to pour your heart into it, and you just want an even playing field."

The star's comments came in the wake of the recent controversy surrounding the Grammys, following the highly-publicized exit of Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan.

Combs further connected the situation at the Grammys to other entertainment fields, including sports and film, and said that he was fed up with it.

"So right now with this current situation, it's not a revelation," he said. "This thing been going on, and it's not just going on in music, it's going on in film, it's going on in sports, it's going around the word. And for years we've allowed institutions that have never had our best interest at heart to judge us. And that stops right now."

This year's Grammy Awards will be on Sunday at 8 p.m. EST and broadcast live from Los Angeles' Staples Center on CBS.