The Recording Academy is notorious for at least one giant Grammy snub every year. When nominations were announced Tuesday, all eyes were on the omission of the Neptunes from the Producer of the Year, Non-Classical category(Click here for the list of nominees and for photos of this year's Grammy nominees and performers.)
As the masterminds behind Justin Timberlake's "Like I Love You," Nelly's "Hot in Herre," Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy's "Pass the Courvoisier Part II," Mystikal's "Bouncin' Back (Bumpin' Me Against the Wall)" — all Grammy-nominated — and hits for Jay-Z, Britney Spears, N.O.R.E., Snoop Dogg, Beenie Man, Beyoncé Knowles, the Clipse and their own group, N.E.R.D., the Neptunes would seem guaranteed to get a Producer of the Year nomination. Nope.
The snub, however, wasn't the fault of the Recording Academy, but rather the many record labels that released Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo-produced tracks during the year.
"Nobody thought to put us on the ballot," Williams said angrily. "It's usually CEOs that do it. And for whatever reason, none of them motherf---ers, as much money as we made for all those guys this year, none of them put us on the ballot to be voted for. I'm pretty sure we would have gotten some votes."
A spokesperson for the Recording Academy confirmed on Thursday that nobody had entered the Neptunes in the Producer of the Year category.
According to the official voting rules, record labels and academy members are responsible for entering albums, songs, videos and artists that are eligible to compete for Grammys. Academy voters then vote on the top four, five or six entries to become nominees, except in craft categories, including Producer of the Year, which are determined by special committees.
This year's committee did not have the choice to nominate the Neptunes because they were not entered. Instead, it nominated Dr. Dre, Rick Rubin and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, all big-name producers who were hardly as productive in 2002 as in years past, along with Arif Mardin, a veteran whose sole contribution to the year was Norah Jones' debut, and Nellee Hooper, whose biggest hit in 2002, it turns out, was co-written by the Neptunes — No Doubt's "Hella Good."
"[This is] the second year. Can you imagine that?" Williams said. "All the work we've done?"
Just why no one entered the Neptunes remains a mystery. A few industry insiders pointed to Virgin Records as the obvious label to enter them, since they released N.E.R.D.'s In Search Of ... The finger could also be pointed at Williams and Hugo, who could have registered to become academy members and entered themselves.
Nobody at the labels would go on record on the topic. A spokesperson for Jive, the label behind Timberlake's and Mystikal's hits, said, "We love the Neptunes and support them in everything they do."
Though upset about the situation, Williams said he isn't bitter at the nominees in the category. "I'm sure they're all worthy," he said. "There's a lot of great producers."
The Neptunes could still share a part of several Grammys, including the prestigious Album of the Year, should Nellyville win.