The Recording Academy Introduced Inclusive Changes for the Annual Ceremony

Annual Ceremony – The Grammys have made changes to its annual awards program in an effort to be more specific and inclusive for other musical genres. 

The changes for the awards were announced by Recording Academy including renaming categories like Urban Contemporary to be more inclusive and relevant to “the current state of the music industry,” interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. stated. 

Additionally, Best Urban Contemporary Album is now renamed as Best Progressive R&B Album that will further intricately describe the mixed subgenre, which may include musical  elements of folk, hip-hop, rock, rap, electronic, and more. The Urban Category was made mainstream in 2013, with Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange claiming the first coveted award.. Previous winners include Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Rihanna’s Unapologetic, The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness, and Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You last 2019. 

“Not only is urban an obviously wrong category, but it is also born out of racial stereotyping of black communities,” Kehinde Andrews previously explained in The Guardian. The term urban is new to everybody but has been an argumentative genre in the music industry in the past few years, point and center of criticism for being specific in a negative manner and generalizing language for music from artists from the black community, including hip-hop, rap, grime, and R&B. ” 

Few days before the changes made by Recording Academy were announced, Republic Records which takes care of musicians like Ariana Grande, Drake, and Taylor Swift has stated that the term urban will be out of phase use to describe musicians and genres, specifically the black artists. The Black Lives Matter have also left a mark in putting another flavor in the recording academy. 

A post from Republic Records that is imported from Instagram,  their short ad cryptic caption says a lot. 

#WeUseOurVoices, Use Yours.

A post shared by Republic Records (@republicrecords) on Jun 5, 2020 at 9:53am PDT

Moreover, the term urban in the musical genre isn’t gone by the wind that fast. Indeed, the Best Latin Pop Album is now renamed as Best Latin Pop or Urban Album, to widely allow “the broad spectrum of Latin pop music style and culture.”

Also, other awards were also changed like Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album to Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album, and renaming Best Rap/Sung Performance to Best Melodic Rap Performance. There will no longer be a “maximum number of releases prohibiting artists from entering the Best New Artist category” as well.

A set of new rules were also presented and will also require that new faces of the Nominations Review Committee to avoid leaks and biased connections to prospective nominees before award consideration. Those with unlikely and unnecessary personal interest that may spark conflicts on the committee will be no longer invited to part of nominating committee on that year. 

The puzzling metamorphosis in the awards came after the 2020 Grammys were boiled in the hot water of controversy, when the former CEO Deborah Dugan was caught up in alleged sexual misconduct within the company she managed and made allegations that the board was involved of corruption, personal interest and favoritism that neglects the deserving artists of color to win a certain award. 

The sparked controversy raised issues in so many levels and even after the recently concluded Recording Academy stirred up confusions and criticisms with the list of winners for the major awards. 

The music release eligibility period for the upcoming 2021 Grammy Awards will end on August 31, 2020 and the ceremony takes place on January 31, 2021.

Thomas Miller
Thomas is an entrepreneur, business graduate and freelancer. His field of expertise includes digital business, strategic decision making and marketing.


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