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Grammy Makes Changes To Awards Categories – Introduces New Rules

The Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammy Awards on Wednesday, June 10 announced a number of changes to its category names, including changing “Urban Contemporary” to “Progressive R&B.”

The announcement was made amid growing criticism of the term “Urban” which generalized genres including hip-hop and R&B, belittling the innovation of black music. The Recording Academy said the changes had been made to ensure its awards were “inclusive and reflect[ed] the current state of the music industry”.

The statement read in part; 

 “The renamed category is intended to highlight albums that include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music. It may also incorporate production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk, and alternative.”

Other changes at the Grammys include renaming best rap/sung performance as best melodic rap performance “to represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre” – as artists like Drake and Post Malone blur the lines between spoken and sung delivery.

The academy however did not completely drop the word “urban” as it remained in categories including the newly titled field “Best Latin Pop or Urban Album.” The category for best Latin rock, urban or alternative album has also been given a new title – best Latin rock or alternative album. 

Organisers said the changes had been made “to migrate the genres of Latin urban and represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres”.

See the new changes for 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

  • “Best Urban Contemporary Album” will now be called “Best Progressive R&B Album” to “highlight albums that include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music,” along with elements found in pop, Europop, country, rock, folk, and alternative
  • “Best Rap/Sung Performance” has been renamed “Best Melodic Rap Performance”. Recognizing both solo and collaborative performances, this category “requires a strong and clear presence of melody combined with rap cadence” and is inclusive of non-rap genres, such as “R&B, rock, country, electronic, or more.” So … very similar to Best Progressive R&B Album.
  • The Academy has combined “Best Latin Pop Album” with “Best Latin Urban Album” (Best Latin Pop or Urban Album), previously in conjunction with Rock and Alternative, “to migrate the genres of Latin urban and represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres.” Best Latin Rock and Alternative will stick together.
  • Best New Artist category: There will be no specified maximum number of releases an artist can have to be eligible for this category. Screening committees will be in charge of determining whether or not the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year. If so, the artist will be disqualified.

Each member of a Nominations Review Committee must submit a conflict-of-interest disclosure form, noting connections with anyone who may directly receive a nomination or win, any direct financial ties to a recording or creator up for consideration, relationships with any artists, or other connections, actual or perceived. Conflicts will now result in removal, and failure to disclose will permanently bar them from the Nominations Review Committee.

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