Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Childish Gambino turned down Grammy performances, New York Times reports

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Three of hip-hop's biggest stars rejected offers to perform on music's biggest night. Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich said Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino all turned down opportunities to perform at this year's awards show.

All three are up for awards, but Ehrlich told The New York Times the Grammys has a continued problem with hip-hop artists. "When they don't take home the big prize, the regard of the academy, and what the Grammys represent, continues to be less meaningful to the hip-hop community, which is sad," Ehrlich told the Times.

Ehrlich said he offered all three artists performance slots this year, but they all declined. CBS News has reached out to representatives for Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino for comment.

The Grammys has received criticism for the show's lack of diversity and appreciation of hip-hop in the past. Last year, fans were astounded that Jay-Z, who was the most nominated artist, didn't win any of the eight Grammys he was up for. Lamar won five awards but lost the highly coveted album of the year award. He later went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for his music. Fans have often wondered how Lamar could win a Pulitzer for his rap but lose a Grammy to the more pop centric Bruno Mars.

How is it that Kendrick Lamar's Damn wins a Pulitzer but loses to Bruno Mars at the Grammys for album of the year?

— Evan, Voight-Kampff passer (@evan7257) April 16, 2018

Last year, President of the Recording Academy Neil Portnow also came under fire after saying women who want to be part of the industry need to "step up." Critics said the Grammys awarded too few female artists in 2018.

When asked backstage how women could be better represented, Portnow said: "It's hard to have a balanced show. Think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls who want to be musicians to step up. Because I think they would be welcomed."

A place card for Drake is seen during Staples Center ahead of the GRAMMY Awards. According to the show's producer, he is one of three hip-hop artists who turned down performance slots. / Getty Images

In a statement, Portnow told CBS News his words "step up" were taken out of context, and do not convey his beliefs, or the point he was trying to make

A number of female artists slammed his remarks, including Pink who tweeted "Women in music don't need to 'Step up' — women have been stepping since the beginning of time."

In response, the Recording Academy created a diversity and inclusion task force, which would examine "barriers and biases affecting women and other underrepresented voices in the music industry and, specifically, the Recording Academy."

Despite the Recording Academy's efforts, it is unclear if some artists will even show up to the Grammys this year. Several big names with big album releases were snubbed.

After the major snub last year, Jay-Z rapped the lyric "Tell the Grammys f**k that zero for eight s**t" on the track "APES**T." What followed was yet another snub from the Recording Academy for his and wife Beyoncé's joint album "The Carters," which only got one nomination. Taylor Swift's "Reputation" only received one nomination, too.

And Ariana Grande, who released an album in August, only received two nominations. The pop star also addressed Ehrlich publicly on Thursday, calling him a "liar."

Ehrlich said the Grammys had several conversations with Grande about performing on Sunday. He said Grande "felt it was too late for her to pull something together," the Associated Press reported. On Thursday, the pop star tweeted a response "i've kept my mouth shut but now you're lying about me. i can pull together a performance over night and you know that, Ken. it was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you, that i decided not to attend. i hope the show is exactly what you want it to be and more."

i’ve kept my mouth shut but now you’re lying about me. i can pull together a performance over night and you know that, Ken. it was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you, that i decided not to attend. i hope the show is exactly what you want it to be and more. 🖤

— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) February 7, 2019

It is unclear if Grande will still be attending the Grammys on Sunday. She brings the total number of artists who turned down performances to four, according to Ehrlich himself.

The Recording Academy has not returned CBS News' request for comment.

First published on February 8, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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