Another piece in Grammys vs. Kanye saga.
In a new interview with Pitchfork, the Recording Academy President, Neil Portnow, opens up about the absence of Frank Ocean, Drake and Kanye West at this year’s awards show, namely that Kanye was in talks to perform.
“Kanye, as you know, had some medical concerns and situations,” Portnow said. “We had dialog with him about actually performing. At the end of the day, what we had heard was he just wasn’t in a place where he felt comfortable doing that. That’s completely understandable.”
Portnow has no hard feelings for any of these men, particularly Drake: “We know he had a European tour booked. That’s a big piece of business for an artist, to do a continent. So, can’t argue with that.”
Ocean, of course, is another story. He now-famously did not submit either of his 2016 albums Blonde or Endless for nomination consideration and on the Saturday before the ceremony, bumped heads with members of the creative team. After they referred to his 2013 Grammys performance as “faulty” and “not great TV,” Ocean responded in kind, writing a Tumblr post that included sentiments like “you know what’s really not ‘great TV’, guys? 1989 getting album of the year over To Pimp a Butterfly. Hands down one of the most ‘faulty’ TV moments I’ve seen.”
However, Portnow is expressing no hard feelings for Frank: “Not everybody likes or wants to be part of every organization or awards process. I respect that.”
He continues: “What I’ll say about Frank is he did have his earlier album out at an early stage of his career, we were delighted that it was entered, we were delighted that he was a Grammy winner, we were delighted to have him on our stage, which gave him a platform very early in his career. That’s something we’re proud of, and down the line he may feel differently. Artists change their opinion. I don’t begrudge his choice at all.”