Brow Beat

Frank Ocean: Skipping the Grammys Was My “Colin Kaepernick Moment”

Ocean explained the decision to the New York Times in a rare interview.

Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images

Frank Ocean’s long-awaited album, Blonde, was met with widespread acclaim when it was finally released in August. But it won’t be nominated for a single Grammy, because Ocean chose not to submit it for consideration. Ocean explained the decision to the New York Times’ Jon Caramanica in a rare interview, calling it his “Colin Kaepernick moment” and citing the Grammys’ historical failure to recognize black artists as an explanation for the purposeful omission:*

That institution certainly has nostalgic importance. It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.

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Ocean went on to note that in his lifetime, only a handful of black artists have won Album of the Year, including Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and Ray Charles. Though a few other black artists have won Album of the Year since Ocean was born in 1987—the most recent being Herbie Hancock in 2008—recent years have seen multiple high-profile snubs of black artists, with Taylor Swift’s 1989 beating out Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly in 2016 and the award going to Beck over Beyoncé the year before that. His 2012 album, Channel Orange, was nominated in the category but lost to Mumford & Sons’ Babel.

Ocean went on to say that he finds the infrastructure of the awards system “dated,” explaining that his previous performances at awards shows had more to do with “how those things made me feel before I was actually in the business” than an enthusiasm for the shows themselves.

*Correction, Nov. 16, 2016: This post originally misspelled Jon Caramanica’s last name.

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