Though he was a no-show at the 59th Grammy Awards ceremony, Drake is making his presence known to the Recording Academy — outside the category they’d initially placed him in.
The 30-year-old appeared on Saturday’s episode of Apple Music’s OVO Sound radio show for a one-hour interview that highlighted his struggles to be taken seriously as a black Canadian artist covering multiple genres — and new sonic ground, as a result — in the American market.
“I ever feel like an outsider, it’s usually because I’m not American. That’s when I feel like people are against me,” he told BBC 1Xtra’s DJ Semtex. “I guess maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have quite an eclectic makeup. I am mixed, I am Jewish… at the end of the day, when it comes to everything else, I’m black.”
Echoing racially-charged industry criticism of the Grammys, which intensified Sunday night after Adele beat out Beyoncé in the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year categories, Drake questioned the Recording Academy’s decision to classify his gilded gramophone-winning hit “Hotline Bling” under the rap umbrella at the 2017 awards show.
“I am referred to as a black artist, like last night at [the Grammys], I’m a black artist… I’m apparently a rapper, even though ‘Hotline Bling’ is not a rap song. The only category they can manage to fit me in is in a rap category, maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m black. I can’t figure out why.”
Though he did voice support for Chance the Rapper’s monumental victory among the Best New Artist set, Drake, a Toronto native, also pondered the omission of his 2016 hit “One Dance,” his first No. 1 single in the U.S. as a lead artist, from the crop of Record of the Year nominees.
“There’s pop obligations they have, and I fluked out. I fluked out and got one of the biggest songs of the year that is a pop song and I’m proud of that. I love the rap world and I love the rap community… I write pop songs for a reason. I want to be like Michael Jackson. I want to be like artists that I looked up to. Those are pop songs, but I never get any credit for that,” he speculated. “By the way, I’m speaking to you as a winner from last night. I won two awards last night, but I don’t even want them because it just feels weird for some reason. It just doesn’t feel right to me. I feel almost alienated, or [like they’re] trying to purposely alienate me by making me win rap awards or pacify me by handing me something and putting me in that category because it’s the only place where you can figure out where to put me.”
Listen to Drake’s full interview on OVO Sound above. The conversation about the Grammys begins around the 21:30 mark.