The Recording Academy Renames & Redefines Certain Rap/R&B Grammy Categories

Yohance Kyles (@HUEYmixwitRILEY)

The nomination process for the Best New Artist field was also altered.

(AllHipHop News) #BlackLivesMatter protests are not just forcing the United States to look at law enforcement practices and the culture of policing. It appears a societal shift is taking place across all sectors of the country.

Corporate America is also having to reevaluate its role in perpetuating racial injustice and discrimination. For example, Republic Records will no longer use the term "urban" to describe music by black artists.

While the Recording Academy did not directly mention #BLM, the 63-year-old organization announced it made changes to several guidelines in order to make the nominating process and rules "more transparent and fair." The R&B and Rap fields were among the categories that have been modified.

Best Urban Contemporary Album has been renamed Best Progressive R&B Album. The name change is supposed to reflect albums that include the "more progressive" elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of Hip Hop, Dance, and Electronic Music. It may also incorporate production elements found in Pop, Euro-Pop, Country, Rock, Folk, and Alternative.

Best Rap/Sung Performance has been renamed Best Melodic Rap Performance. According to the Recording Academy, the performance for this category requires a "strong and clear presence of melody combined with rap cadence." The production may include traditional elements of rap or elements characteristic of non-rap genres including R&B, Rock, Country, Electronic, or more.

“These changes were necessary for the culture; the naming and defining of expressions from our culture is significant in providing agency for the historically underserved, misidentified, and misrepresented," says Kokayi Walker, Recording Academy DC Chapter Trustee. "I’m thankful for [Chris McClenney (Los Angeles Chapter member), and Ivan Barias (Pennsylvania Chapter Trustee)] and the many creatives and professionals that expressed the need for these changes; the sacrifice of their time to engage in hours of conversation and debate; the care, attention and sweat equity given to drafting the right language; all to make sure that the entire community benefitted from these changes."

Walker continues, "This is why I got involved with the Recording Academy in the first place; this wasn’t about personal gain, this was about the cultural shift for the music community. We wanted to provide a clear message as to who we are and for those who see and hear from our community, an opportunity to understand that there are no limitations in how we express ourselves.”

Barias adds, “I’m truly excited for the name change of Best Urban Contemporary Album to Best Progressive R&B Album. It shows that the Academy is listening to the music community and self-correcting by removing a term that’s been a contentious topic of discussion over the years in the spirit of inclusion. I along with the co-authors, felt it was time to find a new name that still reflects the original definition while making room for the more progressive styles emerging in the genre. The change from Best Rap/Sung Performance to Best Melodic Rap Performance was important in order to establish specificity in this category. While the definition is the same, it gives our members and screening committees a better understanding of what belongs in the category. It was a necessary update that future-proofs this category and will help it grow.”

In addition, Latin Pop Album has been renamed Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album and Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album has been renamed Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album. There is also no longer a specified maximum number of releases prohibiting artists from being nominated for Best New Artist.

"I’m excited to announce our latest changes, as we're constantly evaluating our Awards process and evolving it to ensure the Grammy Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry," said Harvey Mason Jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy. "The Academy accepts proposals for rule changes from members of the music community throughout the year that are carefully reviewed and, if accepted, ultimately ratified at our annual Board meeting, a process that we are proud to have continued in this challenging year."

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