For almost as long as the Grammys have existed, musicians have been criticizing the voting process, the nominations and the winners.
Grammys disses have taken many forms over the years, but in the 21st century, much of the commentary has focused on the awards show’s history of excluding women and Black artists from the major categories. Since the inaugural ceremony in 1959, only 10 Black artists have won the Album of the Year trophy.
As rap and hip-hop have grown in esteem and popularity, fans and professionals alike have wondered why that list hasn’t grown. In 2018, for example, Kendrick Lamar‘s DAMN. became the first non-jazz or classical work to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music, but it lost Album of the Year to Bruno Mars‘ 24K Magic, earning Best Rap Album instead.
Several years earlier, Lamar lost the 2014 Best New Artist trophy to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, causing an uproar among rap fans. Macklemore, who is white, famously texted the “Humble” rapper to say he was “robbed,” adding that he deserved to win.
Lamar, for his part, was gracious about the situation, saying that the “Thrift Shop” singer is a “genuine” person who earned his success. Other artists, however, were not impressed, with Drake telling Rolling Stone at the time that Macklemore’s text was “wack as f—k.”
Critics have also question the Grammys’ track record with female artists, especially in the years since categories that were formerly divided by gender were combined into one. While there have been standout years for women nominees, the compressed categories have often meant that few or no women receive nominations in rock, R&B and pop categories, even when they’re some of the most popular musicians in the world.
Ahead of the 2022 ceremony, no women solo artists or female-fronted bands were nominated for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song or Best Rock Album. The previous year, the same thing happened with the Best R&B Album category, leading Teyana Taylor to express her frustration with the show via social media.
“Y’all was better off just saying best MALE R&B ALBUM cause all I see is d–k in this category,” she tweeted in November 2020.
Even artists who’ve won Grammys have criticized the institution for honoring commercially popular artists over lower-selling musicians that aren’t as well known. Trent Reznor, who’s won Grammys for his film scores as well as his work with Nine Inch Nails, hasn’t been shy about saying he thinks the awards don’t matter.
“Why don’t the Grammys matter? Because it feels rigged and cheap — like a popularity contest that the insiders club has decided,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in December 2011.
Keep scrolling to see which artists have criticized the Grammys over the years: