When Drake appeared at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 10, everyone was shocked. Earlier this month, Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich told The New York Times he had offered Drake a performance slot at the show – which he turned down. The singer, 32, hasn’t appeared at the biggest night in music since 2013. Then, in 2017, he said in an interview with OVO Sound that he doesn’t consider himself a rapper but “the only category they can manage to fit me in is a rap category.”
“If I ever feel like an outsider, it’s usually because I’m not American. That’s when I feel like people are against me,” Drake, whose real name is Aubrey Graham, said at the time. “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.”
However, 2019 was the exception. Drake walked out on stage when Dan + Shay announced that he had won the Best Rap Song trophy for “God’s Plan.”
“It’s like the first time in Grammys history where I actually am who I thought I was for a second, so I like that. I definitely did not think I was winning anything,” he began his speech. “I want to take this opportunity while I’m up here to talk to all the kids watching, those aspiring to do music, and all my peers that make music from their heart, that do things pure and tell the truth. I want to let you know we play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport. It is not the NBA, where at the end of year you’re holding a trophy because you made the right decisions or won the games.”
He continued: “This is a business where sometimes it is up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed-race kid from Canada has to say … or a fly Spanish girl from New York or anyone else, or a brother from Houston right there, my brother Travis [Scott],” the “Hotline Bling” crooner said. “You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you are a hero in your hometown. If there is (sic) people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here, I promise you, you already won.”
Audiences at home then could hear him say, “but,” before CBS went to a commercial break.
Update: A rep for the show informed press after the show that producers thought Drake was done with his speech when he paused; they offered him the chance to get back on stage and finish his speech, but he said he was happy with what he had said and didn’t have anything to add.
Fans took to Twitter following the short speech, assuming that he was cut short for “devaluing” the show.
The Grammys is cancelled for cutting off Drake.
— Jaclyn Hill (@Jaclynhill) February 11, 2019
They beg Drake to come.. but they wanna control your words. Yea nah….
— El Viejo Ebro (@oldmanebro) February 11, 2019
Bummed that drake got cut off as he was speaking from the heart. #Grammy2019
— Gabriel Eduardo Saporta (@GabrielSaporta) February 11, 2019
Drake devalued the Grammy and they said CUT TO COMMERCIAL.
— Thelonious Martin™ (@KingThelonious) February 11, 2019
— Hannah Westbrook (@hansmichelle_) February 11, 2019