Leading up to their historic eight-minute rap performance of “God Did” at the 2023 Grammys , Jay-Z and DJ Khaled reflected on their complex relationship with the institution in an interview with Tidal , a subscription-based music service of which Jay-Z owns a share.
The interview, which was released Monday, contains Khaled’s and Jay-Z’s reflections going into Sunday’s Grammy ceremony.
Jay-Z shared that he boycotted the Grammys in the past when he felt the institution was not even close to getting it “right.” “The truth is, we grew up wanting to be on the Grammys, and it was our goal,” he said. “We just want them to get it right. That’s what we want… Obviously, it’s music and it’s all subjective, but you got to be in the ballpark.” The rapper cited the competitions of 2015 and 2017, when Beyoncé, his wife, did not win album of the year for “Beyoncé” and “Lemonade,” respectively.
The rapper reflected on the 1999 Grammys, where he did not attend despite his album “Hard Knock Life” receiving album of the year: “I remember in ’99 when they wouldn’t even let us get onstage, nothing. I boycotted. It was my year. I sold five million. No. 1 for five weeks, never done before. ‘Hard Knock Life.’ I didn’t go when they shut out DMX, who released two albums,” Jay-Z said,.
He shares the record for all-time Grammy nominations, with 88, tied with Beyoncé.
Despite feeling the Grammys sometime gets it wrong, particularly with hip-hop, the rapper acknowledged that deep down everyone wants to win. “It’s just a marketing thing. You go, you got an album out and it could help the sales go up,” he said. “But deep down, again, we grew up idolizing this. It was like one of the pillars for us. It was like, ‘We want to go gold.'”
Interviewed before the ceremony, where album of the year ultimately went to Harry Styles’ “Harry’s House,” the rapper shared that he believed Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” deserved the title. “Look what it’s done to the culture. Look how the energy of the world moved. They play her whole album in the club. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. The whole entire joint – like, everything,” he said.
The decision to take part in Sunday night’s performance of the triply Grammy-nominated “God Did,” featured Jay-Z’s four-minute-plus verse, came down to a sense of duty to the genre. “For the culture and for hip-hop, we got to do that. We owe that. This thing that changed our lives,” Jay-Z said. “A four-minute verse performed at the Grammys. We owe it to the culture, and it ain’t even a burden. It’s a blessing. It’s easy and fun.”
The song has a star-studded lineup including John Legend, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Fridayy, in addition to Khaled and Jay-Z. The performance came the same year the award show honored 50 years of hip-hop .
“When the Grammys announced the date and he had some time, the stars aligned,” Khaled said. “The song is so special. All of us make a lot of records. But there’s always those special moments, those special records.”
The Grammy performance of “God Did” closed out the show, filmed outside the Crypto.com Arena, with a “Last Supper” tableaux set up in the middle of the street, adorned with candles and a feast.
“Jay doesn’t even perform for himself,” Khaled said. “For him to do this for me and to do it for the people and to do it for hip-hop – that’s the biggest blessing. For me, he’s our leader. A leader did what he had to do. It’s called showing up.” More from Variety Best of Variety
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