Photo: AP

Frank Ocean, artist of artists, has deliberately declined to win a Grammy this year, and you know what—that’s his right.

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In a rare profile in yesterday’s Times, Ocean—who reentered the public with new music this August after a four-year hiatus—said he sees withholding his music from the awards ceremony as a protest against its hard-on for bad pop music performed primarily by white people.

He tells the Times’ Jon Caramanica, “That institution certainly has nostalgic importance... It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.” He noted that since he was born, just a few black artists have won album of the year, including Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Ray Charles.

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Though Mr. Ocean said the Grammys reached out to his representatives, he never spoke with them directly before making his decision. “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated,” he said. “I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.”

Fair enough! Though a protest is probably more efficient when people are watching.

Ocean also detailed how he got out of his deal with Def Jam, a negotiation he described as “a seven-year chess game,” that ended with him buying back all his masters and releasing Blonde independently—just two days after the label released his last contractually obligated project, Endless, a streaming video album that was more like a mixtape. “With this record in particular, I wanted to feel like I won before the record came out,” he says. “And I did, and so it took a lot pressure off of me about how the record even would perform after the fact. Once the goal is met, everything else is lagniappe.”