Last night at Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy gala, Sean “Diddy” Combs received the Industry Icon award. Upon accepting the award, he made an epic 45-minute speech which saw him putting the Recording Academy on blast. He called out “the elephant in the room,” referring to the recent controversy around the Grammys and calling for more diversity. “You’ve got 365 days to get this s*** together,” he said, according to Yahoo.
Combs was, of course, referring to the ousting of Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan, who was put on administrative leave Jan. 16 — only 10 days before the Grammy Awards, and less than six months after she’d been hired — supposedly to bring change and create more diversity within the organization.
Per Yahoo’s Lyndsey Parker, who shared some of the speech on Instagram (see the clip below), Diddy said, “I say this with love to the Grammys, because you really need to know this. Every year, y’all be killing us, man. I’m talking about the pain. I’m speaking for all the artists here, producers, executives. The amount of time that it takes to make these records, to pour your heart out 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 s***.’ We are passionate. For most of us, this is all we got. This is our only hope.”
“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 [firing of Deborah Dugan] situation, it’s not a revelation; this thing’s been going on. And it’s not just going on in music; it’s going on in films, it’s going on in sports, it’s going on around the world. And for years, we have allowed institutions that have never had our best interests at heart to judge us. And that stops right now. I’m officially starting the clock. You’ve got 365 days to get this s*** together.”
“We need the artists to take back control. We need transparency. We need the diversity. This is the room that has the power to make the change that needs to be made. They have to make the changes for us. [The Recording Academy is] a nonprofit organization that is supposed to protect the welfare of the musical community. That’s what it says on the mission statement. That’s the truth. They work for us. We have the power. … Now, we’re not going to solve this tonight, but it’s going to take all of us to get this done. It’s going to take the artists and executives to recognize the power. And I’m standing here today not to bash y’all; we just need to get it right, I’m here for the artists. So sign me up. I’m here to help make a difference and help have a positive outcome.”
He told the audience, which included Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Motown founder Berry Gordy, Quincy Jones, Billy Porter, Jamie Foxx, Smokey Robinson, Timbaland, Usher, John Legend, Wiz Khalifa, Cardi B, Nancy Pelosi, and Janet Jackson, “My goal used to be about making hit records. Now it’s about ensuring that the culture moves forward. My culture, our culture, the black culture. And to be worthy of receiving the Icon Award, I have to use my experience to help make a change.”