Why Kanye West Is Threatening to Boycott the 2017 Grammys

"All we need is a fair shot, you know what I'm saying?" the rapper tells fans in Oakland

By Zach Johnson Oct 24, 2016 12:50 PMTags
Kanye West, Grammy Awards, PerformanceJohn Shearer/Invision/AP

Kanye West's love for Frank Ocean runs deep.

Ocean's two albums, Blonde and Endless, have been deemed ineligible for consideration at the 2017 Grammys, as neither was submitted before the Sept. 30 deadline. When West took the stage in Oakland, Calif., Saturday as part of his Saint Pablo Tour, the 39-year-old rapper argued that there's a double standard at play—and he pointed to pop singer Lady Gaga as an example.

"So, I don't know if any of y'all remember: I was supposed to go on a tour with Gaga, like about six, seven years ago—a while back," West told concertgoers inside the Oracle Arena, referring to the scrapped Fame Kills tour planned for late 2009 and early 2010. "I remember, that it was something...She wasn't nominated for Best New Artist, right? But they wanted her to perform at the show; they wanted her to open, right? So, the Grammys secretly changed something about the nominations in order to nominate her—in order for her to perform in the show."

The audience booed in solidarity with West.

Frank Ocean's First Interview in Three Years Was All Too Brief

Indeed, a lone nomination at the 2009 Grammys prevented Gaga from receiving a Best New Artist nomination the next year; that prompted a revision of the eligibility criteria for the Best New Artist category. Gaga opened the 2010 Grammys, singing with Elton John, and she won two awards: Best Electronic/Dance Album (The Fame) and Best Dance Recording ("Poker Face").

So, why bend the rules for one and not another? As West pointed out, Ocean has been "very vocal that his album wasn't nominated for the Grammys." And because "he's vocal," West said, "No one wants to say nothing about it. No one wants to do nothing about it."

"I'm saying this to y'all, because a lot of people, you know, they try to make a scene, like, 'I'm so self-centered.' But the album I listened to the most this year is Frank Ocean's album," he said. "And I will tell you this right now: If his album's not nominated in no categories, I'm not showing up to the Grammys."

The audience erupted in thunderous applause. "As artists, we gotta come together to fight the bulls--t they been throwing us with. All we need is a fair shot, you know what I'm saying? Let the album lose, let whoever win or lose," he said. "My whole point—my purpose, my existence, everything that people try to diss me for—is based on an instant replay clock. Imagine in sports if they didn't have no instant replay clock and someone could step completely out of bounds."

Nominations for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards will be announced Dec. 6.

Saturday wasn't the first time the rapper publicly praised Ocean. In August, West said he was listening to the singer's album "on repeat" and then promoted Ocean's music in a series of tweets. "If anyone at radio really loves music ... Come together and pick your favorite Frank Ocean song and play it at least 10 times a day. Every station across the globe. I Heart. Clear Channel local stations. Satellite. Every station. This will make the world better. Me and Drake both listen to Frank. Radio has to support amazing artists. Ask yourself Why did you love music in the first place and what can you do to add to the story. Power to the people. Power to the artist," the 21-time Grammy winner said. "Empower the artist and create a more inspired world."