Per the New York Times, the three hip-hop artists — who have consistently topped charts this past year and appear in the nominations for major categories at the show as well — were all approached as potential Grammy performers, but all of them declined. The absences add to the slate of major celebrities who will not be in attendance, as confirmed this week by insiders. Taylor Swift will not be at the ceremony due to conflicts with her filming schedule for Cats. Ariana Grande, despite her face appearing in a massive, building-sized Apple Music advertisement across from the Staples Center, will also not be attending the show because of disputes with the producers over what she could or could not perform. The show announced yesterday that Lady Gaga has been added to the performance list.
“You know, this is a fluid process and there are always conversations with artists who are nominated trying to figure it out,” Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Grammys’ parent organization the Recording Academy, tells Rolling Stone when asked about the absence of Lamar, Gambino or Drake during a Grammy red carpet press preview on Thursday morning. “Not every artist at every time is available. Not every artist will necessarily feel like they want to do something that perhaps we feel is appropriate. And remember it’s a three-and-a-half hour performance; you have 20-plus performances; we have to have a macro view on it. So we always love our nominees, we always try to do the best we can in terms of balance, and because it’s live, I can’t exactly tell you until Sunday morning how it’s going to turn out. Until we get to Sunday, things are in flux and we will have to see.”
The Grammys, airing on CBS this Sunday from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, are facing the same problems with dwindling home viewership as other celebrity awards ceremonies; a lack of major artists in attendance is not likely to spur an uptick. Check back with Rolling Stone over the weekend for updates.