The Weeknd is opening up about being snubbed by the 2021 GRAMMY Awards. The 30-year-old singer covers Billboard's latest issue, and, in the accompanying interview, reveals that receiving zero GRAMMY nominations for his critically and fan-acclaimed album, After Hours, changed how he feels about the GRAMMYs he's already won.
The Weeknd previously won three GRAMMYs; R&B Performance and Urban Contemporary Album in 2016, and the latter award again in 2018.
"Look, I personally don’t care anymore. I have three GRAMMYs, which mean nothing to me now, obviously," he says. "It’s not like, 'Oh, I want the GRAMMY!' It’s just that this happened, and I’m down to get in front of the fire, as long as it never happens again. I suck at giving speeches anyways. Forget awards shows."
The Weeknd, he says, feels as if the GRAMMYs snub was "an attack."
"I use a sucker punch as an analogy, because it just kind of hit me out of nowhere," he tells Billboard. "I definitely felt... things. I don’t know if it was sadness or anger. I think it was just confusion."
"I just wanted answers. Like, 'What happened?' We did everything right, I think," he continues. "I’m not a cocky person. I’m not arrogant. People told me I was going to get nominated. The world told me, like, 'This is it; this is your year.' We were all very confused."
At the time of the November nominations, The Weeknd says he received messages of shock and support from "people I haven’t spoken to in ages, the entire music community, all my peers."
While previous reports suggested that The Weeknd's lack of nominations was due to a disagreement over his plan to perform at both the Super Bowl and the GRAMMYs -- an allegation Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. previously denied, and one that sources largely dispelled to ET -- the singer thinks it was due to something else entirely.
"If you were like, 'Do you think the GRAMMYs are racist?' I think the only real answer is that in the last 61 years of the GRAMMYs, only 10 Black artists have won album of the year," he says. "I don’t want to make this about me. That’s just a fact."
Additionally, at the time of the nominations, The Weeknd tweeted, "The GRAMMYs remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency."
The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency...
His tweet alluded to the GRAMMYs voting process, which, for some awards, includes a committee of 15 to 30 anonymous voting members who narrow initial down top vote-getters to those who ultimately make it onto the ballot. The voting procedure also bothered The Weeknd's longtime manager, Wassim "Sal" Slaiby.
"What is that secret committee? What the f**k?" Slaiby says. "[The Recording Academy needs to] cancel the f**king secret committee and become full transparency. It’s a powerful, special award, but the leadership there has got to go. They’re weak."
The situation also perplexed La Mar C. Taylor, the creative director of The Weeknd's label, XO Records.
"Historically Abel has 'played the game,' so to speak. He’s rubbed those shoulders; he’s done those performances; he’s talked to those high-level people," Taylor says. "We’re very well respected. A lot of people know us, individually and as a collective."
Even without the GRAMMYs this year, The Weeknd is on track for a great 2021, which will include his halftime performance at the Super Bowl.
"We’ve been really focusing on dialing in on the fans at home and making performances a cinematic experience, and we want to do that with the Super Bowl," says The Weeknd, who put up $7 million of his own money to "make this halftime show be what he envisioned."
Super Bowl LV, which will be between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, will air Sunday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
As for this year's GRAMMYs, they air Sunday, March 14, also on CBS.