XXXTentacion, who was shot to death in June 2018, was rejected from the Grammys’ in memoriam segment on Sunday night. According to a source, representatives for the late rapper requested repeatedly that the Recording Academy recognize the artist, whose “Sad!” was one of the most consumed songs of 2018. But because of the rapper’s history of domestic violence, the show opted not to include him alongside such acts as Avicii and Mac Miller.
After the nominations were revealed in December, Academy president Neil Portnow was asked by Rolling Stone whether the segment would include XXX. “I will tell you it’s a daunting challenge,” said Portnow. “We track those that we lose in our industry in any given year and then we have a process by which we go through it. Our on-air in memoriam — we’re lucky if we wind up [featuring] 10 to 15 percent of those we lose. Because it’s always hard choices. All of that is to say, I don’t have any answers for you now, but obviously artists who were prominent and well-known by the public are people who are recognized and we’ll just wind up having to see how it plays out.”
The divisive artist first broke in 2017 after appearing on the cover of XXL Magazine’s influential “Freshman” issue alongside Kamaiyah, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, PnB Rock, MadeinTYO, Playboi Carti, Aminé, Kap G, KYLE and Ugly God. XXX won the fan vote to make the cover.
The 20-year-old Florida native has been embroiled in legal problems over his alleged beating of a girlfriend while pregnant. The controversy has resulted in numerous articles calling for the greater music industry to not “co-sign,” or endorse, his music, including one that was published by Pitchfork titled, “XXXTentacion Is Blowing Up Behind Bars. Should He Be?”
XXX was also one of the artists to spur a “hateful conduct” ban on Spotify — since revoked — which removed his music from popular playlists like Rap Caviar. Hours after his death, XXXTentacion claimed the top two spots on the playlist, with songs from “?,” along with a tag at the top that read, “Rest In Peace, XXXTENTACION.”
Also omitted from the in memoriam were the Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley and Black Keys collaborator Richard Swift, though they appear on a tribute page on the Grammy website.