SZA was originally in talks to perform at MTV’s VMAs this year, turn outs—until the awards show decided that the bestselling SOS artist didn’t qualify as a potential Artist Of The Year. This is per THR, which talked to manager Terrence Henderson about his decision to pull SZA’s performance from the annual awards show, calling her non-inclusion in its Artist Of The Year category “disrespectful.”
“Obviously, she had one of the best years, if not the best year, of any artist at this point,” Henderson told press. “I don’t see why she wouldn’t be nominated for artist of the year. It just really didn’t make any sense to me. It’s disrespectful.” He also noted that some of the artists who were nominated—Karol G, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, Doja Cat, Shakira, and Taylor Swift, who ultimately won—“Were even off-cycle. They didn’t have an album out. I mean, no disrespect to them or anybody else; everybody’s great and all of that, but still, you can’t discredit what SOS has done and is currently doing.” (In fact, of the artists nominated, only Karol G and Swift have put out albums in the last 12 months; Minaj and Doja Cat are both expected to release new albums before the year is out, while Shakira and Beyoncé have confined themselves to singles.)
Henderson says tensions broke out while SZA’s team was negotiating for a potential performance at the show, which went forward, sans SZA, on September 12. According to the manager, MTV “Couldn’t give a clear answer as to why she wasn’t [nominated]. It was just, ‘Well, she’s nominated for all these other [awards].’” (SZA was nominated for Video Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Best R&B, Best Direction, Best Art Direction, and Best Editing at the show, winning only for Best R&B for SOS’s “Shirt”—which she wasn’t in attendance to accept.)
Noting that his client is “a very sweet person,” Henderson made it clear that the decision to pull out of the show was his call. “I figured, why go perform and do this if she’s not going to be respected to the highest level? So, it was my call to actually pull out of the performance.” Meanwhile, SZA and her entire team will have to merely content themselves with the fact that SOS, released in December of 2022, has been really, ridiculously successful: The album sat at the top of the Billboard album charts for a decent chunk of the year, and its single “Kill Bill” topped the publication’s Hot 100 list.