SZA pulled out of a planned performance at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards when MTV failed to explain why she was not nominated for Artist of the Year, Top Dawg Entertainment president Terrence “Punch” Henderson told Rolling Stone in a new interview. According to Punch, who is one of SZA’s managers, the musician had been in talks to perform “Snooze,” but withdrew because MTV did not “even want to discuss why she wasn’t nominated or what the criteria was.” SZA and SOS were nominated in six other categories. She eventually won Best R&B for “Shirt.”
In a SZA cover story, Punch told Rolling Stone’s Mankaprr Conteh that MTV’s lack of engagement on the Artist of the Year question was the reason for the withdrawal. “That was the disrespect,” he said. “It wasn’t not getting nominated. The ultimate disrespect is you don’t even want to discuss why she wasn’t nominated or what the criteria was.” He added: “When I asked about the Artist of the Year nomination, they were basically like, ‘She got nominated for a bunch of other ones.’ And to me, that felt like, ‘Shut up and dribble,’” alluding to Laura Ingraham’s infamous 2018 comments on basketball stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Punch previously criticized MTV and the VMAs in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “Obviously, she had one of the best years, if not the best year, of any artist at this point,” he said. “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 mentioned the potential performance without saying the snub led directly to the withdrawal.
Elsewhere in the new Rolling Stone interview, SZA continued to tease the deluxe edition of SOS, titled Lana, saying it will add 10 songs to the album. It may be out as soon as the end of fall.
Pitchfork has emailed the Video Music Awards and SZA’s respective representatives for comment.