Frank Ocean has addressed his decision not to submit his albums Endless and Blonde for Grammy consideration, likening it to an act of protest — or at least nonparticipation — toward an institution that has not always given black artists the recognition they deserve.
In a wide-ranging new profile in the New York Times, Ocean said of the Grammys, “That institution certainly has nostalgic importance. It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.”
Noting that only a handful of black artists have won album of the year in the past three decades, Ocean added, “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated. I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.”
(Kaepernick is the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who, since the NFL pre-season, has chosen to protest “a country that oppresses black people and people of color” by not standing during the national anthem.)
Ocean, who has two Grammys and several more nominations to his name, initially made headlines last month when he let the award ceremony’s Sept. 30 eligibility deadline pass. In the immediate aftermath, fellow artist and sometime collaborator Kanye West called for Ocean to be nominated anyway.
“I’ll tell you this right now, if his album is not nominated in no categories, I’m not showing up to the Grammys,” West said during one of his concerts. “As artists, we’ve got to come together to fight the bulls‑‑‑.”
Elsewhere in the Times interview, Ocean discussed why he didn’t release a new album for four years, how he extricated himself from his contract with Def Jam and bought back his master recordings, and what creative pursuits he’ll pursue moving forward. The latter might well go beyond music.
“I believe that I’m one of the best in the world at what I do, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be,” Ocean said. “It’s more interesting for me to figure out how to be superior in areas where I’m naïve, where I’m a novice.”
Read the full interview at the New York Times.