Each year, the Grammy Awards pay tribute to musicians who have passed away since the previous year’s ceremony. This year, the Grammys’ “In Memoriam” segment featured tributes to Aretha Franklin, Mac Miller, Avicii, and many others.
However, XXXTentacion—who was tragically shot and killed in June 2018—was missing from the segment, and fans immediately took notice:
— Will Hamilton (@WillHamilton24) February 11, 2019
So the #GRAMMYs just left Xxxtentacion out of the musicians we lost this year ?
— BANDO Breez¥ (@SnowBreez3y) February 11, 2019
— Catherine Miller (@cathmillaa) February 11, 2019
According to Variety, before the show aired Sunday night (Feb. 10), reps for the late rapper reached out to the Recording Academy multiple times requesting that they recognize him, considering “Sad!” was one of the most listened to songs of 2018.
But, due to the rapper’s well-known history of domestic violence, he was rejected from the “In Memoriam” segment, Variety reported.
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.”
Legendary hip-hop producer 9th Wonder said XXXTentacion should have been included in the Grammys’ “In Memoriam” segment based on his musical legacy alone.
“Everybody has a right to be remembered,” he said. “If you’re an artist in this game and you gave a lot to it and you gave a lot to the game and changed culture […] he should have been remembered.”