Diddy was recognized with the 2020 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons Award during the Recording Academy and Clive Davis’ annual Pre-GRAMMY Gala on Saturday.
While accepting the honor, the 50-year-old rapper spoke out about the lack of diversity in the awards’ top prizes and failure to recognize rap and R&B artists outside of their respective categories.
“So I say this with love to the GRAMMYs, because you really need to know this, every year y’all be killing us man. Man, I’m talking about the pain. I’m speaking for all these artists here, the producers, the executives,” he said. “The amount of time it takes to make these records, to pour your heart into it, and you just want an even playing field.”
“In the great words of Erykah Badu, ‘We are artists and we are sensitive about our (expletive).’ We are passionate. For most of us, this is all we got. This is our only hope,” the music mogul continued. “Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be.”
“So right now with this current situation, it’s not a revelation,” he said, referencing allegations made by suspended CEO Deborah Dugan, who claims that the GRAMMYs voting process is rigged. “This thing been going on, and it’s not just going on in music, it’s going on in film, it’s going on in sports, it’s going around the word. And for years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interest at heart to judge us. And that stops right now.”
Throughout the evening, the GRAMMYs controversy had not been addressed until Diddy took the stage. Diddy received a standing ovation from the crowd that included Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
He also dedicated his award to iconic albums, like Beyoncé‘s Lemonade and Kanye West’s Graduation, which were not named Album of the Year at past GRAMMY Awards.
In the awards’ 61-year history, only two rap or hip-hop albums -- Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below -- have taken home the top prize.
Prior to the gala, the rapper and three-time GRAMMY winner said that recognition was “truly a blessing.”
"Clive Davis and Arista Records gave me a chance when I was starting Bad Boy Records, he was one of the first industry executives to really believe in me. I’m forever grateful for him," he said in a statement.
Previous honorees include JAY-Z, Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss, Clarence Avant, Irving Azoff, Martin Bandier, Sir Richard Branson and Antonio "L.A." Reid, among others.
The rapper’s speech comes ahead of the 2020 GRAMMYs, which will air live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS.