Chuck D Pens Open Letter Amid Grammys Turmoil
Earlier this week, we reported that the Recording Academy and The Grammys were having an internal battle, with the former CEO Deborah Dugan seeking a $22 Million dollar settlement to leave her position quietly. At this point, though, it would have to be a settlement to take back her comments. She has now appeared on morning talk shows with her lawyer and is doing the opposite of exiting quietly.
Dugan’s claims have caught the attention of fans and industry insiders alike as she exposes what a lot of us have always thought: the Grammys are rigged and artists have been screwed over due to favoritism on several occasions, like when Macklemore won best rap album over Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Kanye West, and Jay-Z.
Now, hip-hop legend Chuck D has penned an open letter about the situation and to hip-hop as an art form. Read the letter in its entirety below:
Figures… I salute Deborah Dugan for her truth and courage to try and effect change. As always, a bunch of ignorant, testosterone-fueled, usually old white men stop progress and screw it
up. Same old bullshit. They want to keep it status quo and make sure things like Hip Hop stay the poster child of their fuckery.
In 1989 we protested the Grammys because they refused to acknowledge a new art form called Hip Hop/Rap. I responded with the lyric, “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy.” We fought to be recognized and for things to change. We kicked that door in for others to come through.
After 35 years in this industry, folks should know that I always defer any individual accomplishment, always giving salutes to those before me and trying to open the door for those after me. In agreeing to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award when Deborah called me was no different.
We discussed these issues and what needed to change. Hip Hop can’t be judged by a bunch of old corporate guards who rewrite history to serve their corporate bottom line.
But it was obvious she was having her own struggles with an academy that thinks Public Enemy ended in 1992 yet want to give us a lifetime achievement award without acknowledging a lifetime of work. We had to haggle, to educate, to justify why a core member of our group for the past 22 years, DJ Lord, should be part of this award. We had to question why our biggest UK hit and the theme to the global Paralympics Games, “Harder Than You Think,” was left out. Maybe because it was released on my own independent label, SlamJamz, and not a major?
Never could I have imagined that pushing for the recognition our art form deserved would turn into artists being coerced into disrespecting the craft, themselves, the culture and other people only to chase the bag and validation from corporations and award shows who don’t care about you. I hope this letter will be a wake-up call for them.
New folks but the same ol bullshit pattern doesn’t change a thing. So I’m not surprised that Deborah Dugan is out. I am appalled because it reeks of the same old jive, a New Whirl Odor that considers the masses simply as “them asses.”