Yesterday, May 10, the cop and lead vocalist from the Village People, Victor Willis, sent an open letter to The Weeknd on Facebook, reprimanding him for the way he handled his recent complaints against the Grammys. Willis has been criticizing the Grammys for years, but he didn’t think The Weeknd was doing it for the right reasons.
In 2012, Willis won back the rights to his publishing royalties thanks to an amendment onto the US Copyright Act that allows contract termination after 35 years. In 2017, he won the rights to the Village People’s name. Soon after that, he called the Grammys out for their secret committees, alleging that the committees are used to override votes for Black artists.
Following the Village People’s iconic hit “YMCA” getting inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2020, he stuck to his complaints, saying that the awards association should “show respect for classic artists who built the recording business.” He complained to TMZ about how little fanfare the ceremony had made for the induction, and said that they hadn’t even mentioned it during the telecast.
The Weeknd’s complaints came up after his extremely popular 2020 album After Hours didn’t receive a single Grammy nomination, in spite of the hit song off of it, “Blinding Lights,” being the first song to ever stay in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 for an entire year straight. He announced his intention to boycott the ceremony, saying “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”
Following the complaints, the Grammys decided to open up the nomination process for the big four categories, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist, as well as the nomination of the awards for genre-based categories. However, The Weeknd stood his ground, stating “The trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organization and artists that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag. I think the industry and public alike need to see the transparent system truly at play for the win to be celebrated, but it’s an important start. I remain uninterested in being a part of the Grammys, especially with their own admission of corruption for all these decades. I will not be submitting in the future.”
Willis saw all of this and formulated his letter to The Weeknd. He begins, “Pssst, ‘The Weeknd,’ lighten up on the Grammys already why don’t cha!? I know a thing or two about attacking the Grammys, and their once secret committees. I must say you’re not handling this in the spirit of black protest of this important issue.”
“You see, while black artists like me were making honest complaints about the secret committees, you were busy racking up one Grammy after another under those secret committees,” he continues. “I don’t recall you complaining about the secret committees when you were benefiting from those secret committees. But on the one occasion the secret committees didn’t benefit you, the Grammys are suddenly corrupt, and it’s off with their heads? Under the circumstances, you’re much too talented to be pouting about the Grammys. And it seems you’re out for blood despite the secret committees being eliminated. Negative.”
He concluded with a limited display of support for some of the changes happening inside the association, “This important American institution known as the Grammys has an African American in there (Harvey Mason) that’s making real, meaningful and historic changes that will likely benefit the music business for decades to come. Cut the brotha some slack!”
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat