Sean “Diddy” Combs received the Industry Icon Honor at Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy gala on Saturday night (Jan. 25), and he didn’t pull any punches in his acceptance speech, delivering an ultimatum to the Recording Academy in the wake of Deborah Dugan’s allegations of voting irregularities and discrimination: “You’ve got 365 days to get this shit together.”
In his 45-minute speech, Combs called out the Recording Academy specifically for its history of snubbing black artists. “The last few days I’ve been conflicted,” he told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “I’m being honored by the industry that I love, the family that I love, but there’s an elephant in the room, and it’s not just about the Grammys. There’s discrimination and injustice everywhere all the time. But there’s something I need to say to the Grammys. … 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 shit.’ 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,” he continued. “Black music has never been respected by the Grammys — to the point that it should be. So right now with this current [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 shit together.”
Combs wrapped up by dedicating his award to several black artists and their albums that he believed were snubbed by the Grammys: Prince for 1999, Beyonce for Lemonade, Missy Elliott for The Real World, Kanye West for Graduation, Snoop Dogg for Doggystyle, and Nas for Illmatic. You can watch a snippet of his speech below.
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