Drake Withdrew His Two Grammy Nominations In An "Unprecedented" Move On The Day Voting For The Winners Was Due To Begin

"​The Recording Academy received a request from Drake / his management to remove his nominations from our final-round ballot and that request has been honored."

Drake withdrew his nominations for next year's Grammys on the same day that the Recording Academy was due to begin voting for its winners.

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Seemingly without explanation, on Monday, the 35-year-old pulled the two nominations he'd received, with reports claiming that it was a decision made by Drake and his management team.

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The news was originally broken by Variety. When contacted by BuzzFeed News to clarify the situation and ask why he'd withdrawn his nominations, reps for Drake declined to comment.

Last month, it was announced that Drake had tallied two nominations for next year, scoring nods for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album. However, he was missing from the big three categories, including Album of the Year.

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Upon its release, Certified Lover Boy debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, with the album marking the biggest sales week of the year at the time with 613,000 units. With 744 million streams in the US alone, it also broke Spotify's record for most streams in a single day. 

However, despite its success, the project was missing from the Album of the Year field, despite the nominees list being upped from 8 to 10. It's unclear whether Drake chose not to submit his work for any of the big three categories or if it was simply not voted for by the Academy.

Although no explanation has been given regarding Drake's decision to withdraw his nominations, a rep for the Recording Academy confirmed the news, revealing they'd honored the request upon receiving it.

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In a statement to E! News, they said: "​The Recording Academy received a request from Drake / his management to remove his nominations from our final-round ballot and that request has been honored."

No other nominees were drafted in to replace Drake, most likely because the voting had already begun with the ballot being sent out on Monday. Variety called the move at this late-stage "unprecedented."

Drake has had a contentious relationship with the Grammys over the years, dating back to 2017 when he refused to submit his album More Life for consideration after winning Best Rap Song earlier that year.

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At the 2017 Grammys, which he chose not to attend, Drake took home the award for Best Rap Song for his hit "Hotline Bling" but was far from happy over the win.

"Maybe because I've rapped in the past or because I'm Black, I can't figure out why," he said in an interview at the time. "I feel almost like alienated or you're trying to purposely alienate me by making me win rap awards, or either just pacify me by handing me something, putting me in that category, cos it's the only place you can figure out where to put me."

And the tension between Drake and the Grammys intensified in 2019 when he (along with Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino) declined to perform, something that was reportedly down to the Academy's snubbing of rap and hip-hop artists over the years.

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"The fact of the matter is, we continue to have a problem in the hip-hop world," Ken Ehrlich, a producer of the show, told the New York Times. "When they don't take home the big prize, the regard of the academy, and what the Grammys represent, continues to be less meaningful to the hip-hop community, which is sad."

Although he declined a performance spot, Drake did attend the ceremony. However, when "God's Plan" won the award for Best Rap Song, he took the opportunity to disregard the Grammys entirely during his acceptance speech, which was quickly cut off by producers.

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"We play an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport," he said. "This is a business where sometimes it's up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed-race kid from Canada has to say."

He added: "If there's people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don't need this right here, I promise you. You already won."

As he went to continue speaking, the show cut to commercials. 

"During Drake's speech, there was a natural pause and at that moment the producers did assume that he was done and then cut to commercial," a rep for the Grammys told Variety afterward. "However the producers did speak with Drake following his speech and did offer him to come back on stage to finish whatever his thoughts were. But Drake said he was happy with what he said and didn't have anything to add."

Drake also lent his support to The Weeknd in 2020 when his album After Hours was entirely snubbed, leading him to call the Recording Academy "corrupt."

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Despite having one of the biggest albums and songs of the year, The Weeknd was absent from the 2021 Grammy nominees. He wrote on Twitter at the time: "The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency..."

Jumping on social media after the announcement, Drake said he'd assumed The Weeknd was certain to sweep the nominations. "The other day I said @theweeknd was a lock for either album or song of the year along with countless other reasonable assumptions and it just never goes that way," he wrote on his Instagram story. "This is a great time for somebody to start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come."

"I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after," he added. "It's like a relative you keep expecting to fix up but they just can't change their ways."

BuzzFeed News has reached out to reps of the Grammys for comment.

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