Grammy Awards Categories Progressively Renamed

The Grammy Awards finally made some long-awaited changes: several categories have been renamed. The Recording Academy altered the category setup and titling in preparation for the 63rd (2021) annual Grammy awards. These changes are predominantly focused on the “urban” categories that have been controversial in recent years.

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Spring of 2020 has depicted the danger, discrimination, and close-mindedness that occurs when Black, brown, and other musicians of color are placed into restrictive boxes; this, therefore, motivated the “urban” categories of the Grammy Awards to undergo this progressive transformation.

The Best Urban Contemporary category — the award Lizzo won in 2020 with her Cuz I Love You album — will now be called the “Best Progressive R&B Album”. To be honest, this title is far more sensible! The Recording Academy renamed this as to “appropriately categorize and describe this sub-genre”. The “progressive” aspect of this category addresses the various inter-genre influences of an album: hip-hop, rap, dance, pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk, alternative music, EDM, jazz, etc. 

The Best Rap/Sung Performance category is now “Best Melodic Rap Performance”. First of all, that title is so much more accurate — a song can have a melody and a rap — and the new title respects that! The name was updated to “represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid trends”. Therefore, the category will now nominate solo artists and collaborations that include elements of R&B, rock, country, EDM, and the like in their work. 

The progressivity of these updates is evident. In recent weeks, many brands and organizations have become introspective and aware of their discriminatory system — the Grammy Awards are no different. 

Tyler, the Creator had commented on the “urban” categories historically being awarded to blacks earlier this year, after winning the Grammy for Best Rap Album. He felt this was a “backhanded compliment”.

Tyler, The Creator 62nd Grammy Awards

Tyler, the Creator arrives at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on January 26, 2020. **WENN/Avalon**

“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything, they always put it in a rap or urban category. I don’t like that ‘urban’ word—it’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word to me. When I hear that, I’m just like why can’t we be in pop? Half of me feels like the rap nomination was just a backhanded compliment.”

The final two categories that received a name change were the Latin Pop Album and the Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album. 

The former has become “Best Latin Pop or Urban Album”. The latter is now “Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album”. 

The Best New Artist category — perhaps one of the most interesting awards — will not change its name. However, the rule occluding artists from nomination based upon “a specified maximum number of releases” will be removed. The nomination committee will instead determine artists’ nominations based upon their success.

 

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