Here’s Why Jay-Z’s Grammys Speech Was Such A Long Time Coming In Light Of The Recording Academy's “Refusal To Reward Black Women When They Deserve It”

“So even by your own metrics, that doesn’t work,” Jay said. “Think about that. The most Grammys, never won Album of the Year. That doesn’t work.”

In what is being described as the “best moment” of the night, Jay-Z shook up Sunday’s Grammys ceremony by directly calling out the Recording Academy on their own stage.

Closeup of Jay-Z accepting his Grammy

If you’ve not seen it yet, Jay was honored with the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, and used his three-minute speech to highlight the Recording Academy’s complicated history of failing to properly reward the work of iconic artists, like his wife, Beyoncé.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z sitting at the Grammys

Standing alongside his and Bey’s eldest daughter, Blue Ivy, Jay recalled Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s memorable boycott of the 1989 Grammys, where they refused to attend the ceremony despite being nominated for Best Rap Performance after learning that their category would not be televised along with the others.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith holding their Grammys

“And then they went to a hotel to watch the Grammys. I don’t even understand, it was not a great boycott,” he said jokingly, admitting that he did the same thing nearly a decade later when he felt the late DMX was unfairly snubbed.

Jay-Z and Blue Ivy onstage at the Grammys

“But then in ’98, I took a page out of their book and was nominated for Best Rap Album. And DMX put out two, they were both number one, and he was not nominated at all. So I boycotted and I watched,” he remembered.

Jay-Z at the VMAs

Proceeding to call out the Recording Academy on their own stage, he said candidly: “I’m just saying, we want you all to get it right. We love y’all, we love y’all. We want you to get it right — or at least get it close to right.”

Jay-Z and Blue Ivy onstage

The rap legend acknowledged that music and all the awards that come with it are obviously “subjective” and “opinion-based,” but still took a moment to directly highlight that, despite having the most Grammys of any artist in history, Beyoncé has been repeatedly overlooked in the Album of the Year category.

Closeup of Beyoncé at the Grammys wearing a large cowboy hat

“I don’t want to embarrass this young lady, but she has more Grammys than everyone and never won Album of the Year,” he said, pointing to his wife in the audience. “So even by your own metrics, that doesn’t work. Think about that. The most Grammys, never won Album of the Year. That doesn’t work.”

Beyoncé accepting a Grammy award

After this, Jay did not hold back as he went on to seemingly shade this year’s entire Album of the Year category — which consisted of Taylor Swift, Jon Batiste, boygenius, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Janelle Monáe, Olivia Rodrigo, and SZA.

Closeup of Taylor Swift on the red carpet

“Some of you are going to go home and feel like you've been robbed, some of you may get robbed, some of you don't belong in the category,” he said, prompting shocked laughter and yells from the crowd. “When I get nervous, I tell the truth,” he added.

Jay-Z and Blue Ivy onstage

Needless to say, Jay’s scathing speech came as quite a shock in the moment. Although, it’s hardly a surprise given that last year saw Beyoncé at the center of one of the most egregious Album of the Year snubs in Grammys history.

Beyoncé accepting a Grammy

In case you need reminding, heading into the 2023 Grammys it was widely anticipated that Beyoncé’s Renaissance would take home the top prize for Album of the Year. However, it was Harry Styles whose name ended up being called out.

Harry Styles accepting his Grammy

And so, when Harry took to the stage as shocked as everyone else and gushed about how such honors are rarely given to “people like [him],” the scenario felt all too familiar.

Harry Styles accepting his Grammy

For context, in the history of the Grammys, there have been many instances where Black artists have lost out on the top prize for Album of the Year to white musicians, despite being the favorites to win.

Beyoncé singing onstage

Whether it was U2 winning over Kanye West’s Late Registration in 2006, Mumford & Sons over Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange in 2013, or Taylor Swift over Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly three years later, these snubs are relatively common — but especially so when it comes to Beyoncé.

Mumford & Sons with their Grammy

The Renaissance snub of 2023 marked the fourth time that Beyoncé was widely deemed to have lost out on Album of the Year, despite being considered the most worthy nominee.

Beyoncé onstage listening to the crowd sing

Starting off in 2010, Taylor Swift’s Fearless won over Bey’s I Am... Sasha Fierce, which included tracks like “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” “Sweet Dreams,” “Halo,” “Diva,” and “If I Were A Boy.”

Beyoncé and Jay-Z clapping

Five years later, she lost out to Beck for her self-titled album, which has been widely credited with revolutionizing the way that artists release music thanks to its surprise digital drop.

Kanye West and Beck onstage at the Grammys

And in 2017, Adele was caught in the middle of the drama when she reluctantly accepted the award for Album of the Year over Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

Adele with her four Grammys in her arms

Which brings us to today, and many fans were left disappointed once again after last night’s ceremony saw Taylor Swift’s Midnights crowned Album of the Year, despite expectations that SZA would win for SOS.

Taylor Swift accepting her Grammy

“We all know SOS deserved this year and Renaissance Deserved last year!” one person wrote on X. “Notice how we still hear SOS songs and even Renaissance songs but those other 2 albums that won MUTE!”

Twitter: @R0NM0NTANA

Another described Midnights as “an album that’ll be forgotten” in Taylor’s discography and “an example of the Recording Academy’s incompetence and refusal to reward black women when they deserve it.”

Twitter: @Nomartito

“Jay Z didn’t lie with his speech today one bit,” they continued. “Things might look like they have changed but they are just the same as you see the amount of effort and work people of color have to put to get recognized in the big categories in comparison to their white peers. Specially women of color.”

Twitter: @Nomartito

Amidst the discourse, plenty of people also noted that the last time a Black woman won the award for Album of the Year was Lauryn Hill in 1999, leading people to describe the Recording Academy as “an institution characterized by its historic snubbing of Black women.”

Lauryn Hill with her Grammys

Of course, some might argue that by virtue of being the most decorated Grammy winner of all time, Beyoncé is obviously being recognized for her work.

Beyoncé accepting her Grammy

However, despite showering her with wins in the R&B and Rap categories, the Recording Academy has consistently sent the message that Beyoncé somehow isn't worthy of the night’s most coveted award — which is exactly what Jay-Z and many others find so frustrating.

Jay-Z and Blue Ivy onstage

Needless to say, Jay isn’t the first artist to voice their skepticism toward the Recording Academy and the way they categorize artists.

Closeup of Jay-Z

After winning the award for Best Rap Album at the Grammys in 2020, Tyler, the Creator memorably questioned why artists of color are often placed in predominantly Black categories like Rap and “Urban,” even if their work doesn’t actually come under that umbrella.

Tyler, the Creator accepting his Grammy

“I'm half and half on it. On one side I'm very grateful that what I made could just be acknowledged in a world like this,” he said during a press conference. “But also it sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that's genre-bending or that's anything they always put it in a rap or urban category.”

Tyler, the Creator with his Grammy

“I don't like that ‘urban’ word — it's just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me,” he went on. “So when I hear that, I'm just like, why can't we be in pop? Half of me feels like the rap nomination was just a backhanded compliment.”

Tyler, the Creator onstage

Later that year, The Weeknd also publicly denounced the Recording Academy after he didn’t receive a single nomination — despite his 2020 album After Hours breaking records and being widely critically acclaimed.

Closeup of The Weeknd

“The Grammys remain corrupt,” he wrote on social media after being omitted from the list of nominees. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”

Twitter: @theweeknd

What’s more, Drake, a five-time Grammy winner, became one of the most recent artists to speak critically about the Recording Academy, writing on Instagram shortly before last night’s ceremony that artists should “remember this show isn't the facts,” but rather “the opinion of a group of people whose names are kept a secret (literally you can google it).”

Closeup of Drake accepting at Grammy

“Congrats to anybody winning anything for hip hop but this show doesn't dictate shit in our world,” he concluded.

Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Drake

You can watch Jay-Z’s full speech here.

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