With his group, Public Enemy, scheduled to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy this April, his words took on added resonance. He claimed she was placed on leave for “having her own struggles” within an academy “that thinks Public Enemy ended in 1992.”
Dugan was surprisingly removed just days before the Jan. 26 Grammys, which are set for Staples Center in Los Angeles. The show would have been Dugan’s first at the helm of the organization, which she joined in August.
“The Board of Trustees felt this action to be necessary, due to serious concerns that recently were brought to our attention,” interim Recording Academy President and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said in a statement. “While we are unable to share the details of the concerns to protect employee privacy, please know that the Board has retained two independent third-party investigators to conduct independent investigations into allegations that have been made.”
Dugan’s attorney Bryan Freedman responded: “What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told. When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you ‘step up’ at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit.”
Chuck D’s open letter blamed the “ignorant, testosterone-fueled, usually old white men” who tend to thwart any real progress. “They want to keep it the status quo and make sure things like Hip Hop stay the poster child of their fu**ery,” he wrote. “In 1989, we protested the Grammys because they refused to acknowledge a new art form called Hip Hop/Rap. I responded with the lyric, ‘Who gives a f*ck about a goddamn Grammy.’ We fought to be recognized and for things to change. We kicked that door in for others to come through.”