The fly met the ointment when Drake accepted his award for best rap song at this year’s Grammys. “The point is, you’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown,” the Started From the Bottom Torontonian said, questioning the value of the very trophy he was clutching. “Look, if there’s 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.”
Such bad form. And so easy for him to say.
Drake will not be speechifying at this year’s Juno Awards, happening Sunday at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont., because he requested that his name not be put forward for any nominations. The record-setting achievements of his 2018 album Scorpion will not be acknowledged during a proceeding the purpose of which is to celebrate those kinds of successes. And, so, when someone other than Drake wins some of the big awards, not only will history not be served, it will be rewritten in real time.
Drake has been estranged from the Junos since getting shut out of the winner’s circle when he hosted the affair in 2011. One could argue that the God’s Plan rapper has every right to opt out of the Junos, and one could argue that the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS, the organization which runs the annual award-giving) is helpless but to capitulate to Drake’s petulance.
One would be wrong, though, for a couple of reasons. First, a Juno award represents a team accomplishment. Drake’s anti-award position leaves his co-songwriters, his engineers, his producers, his publicists and his distributors unrecognized; his “you already won” righteousness is cold comfort for those denied a trophy.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, CARAS is circumventing its own Juno rules and mandate by not rewarding Drake’s year of unprecedented streaming. The Juno voting process is a byzantine procedure. The nominations in the Fan Choice and top single categories are based on consumption – physical sales, downloads, streams and radio spins – and are independent of an artist’s decision to submit his recordings for consideration or not. The Fan Choice nominations are also dependent on social-media data. Very simply, Drake belongs in the running for those awards whether he likes it or not.
Unlike the annual Polaris Music Prize, which aims to honour the year’s best album without regard to commercial popularity, Juno isn’t as high-minded: “Because the nature of pop is that it’s popular, the sales component, the consumption component, needs to be part of [the awards,]” Allan Reid, the president and chief executive officer of CARAS told The Globe and Mail not long ago.
“It’s how pop is consumed,” Reid continued. “We are simply a reflection of what’s happening in the industry.
Simply a reflection? If so, without Drake, who placed seven songs in the Billboard Hot 100 last year, the Juno mirror is untrue.