The Grammy Awards Are Changing the Names of Their Urban Categories

The Recording Academy has decided to make some significant changes to several Grammy Awards categories ahead of the program’s 63rd annual airing.

In light of recent events, the award show’s “urban” categories have been renamed to no longer place black and brown artists into a box. Instead, the categories will now “include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music.”

Lizzo
Lizzo| Rachel Luna/FilmMagic

The board has approved changes to the urban categories

Some brand new changes are in store for next year’s Grammy Awards ceremony.

With all that has been taking place in the world in recent months, the Academy has decided to rename several music categories that have been criticized for decades.

Those subgenres that are getting much-needed updates are the “urban” categories, which have historically placed Black and brown musicians into a box.

On June 10, the Academy announced that they are changing The Best Rap/Sung Performance category to Best Melodic Rap Performance.

Though the category was renamed in 2017 to acknowledge solo artists who sing and rap on a song — i.e., Drake and Chris Brown — the new title will now “represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid trends” within the genre.

Drake
Drake onstage at the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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With this category having been renamed, tracks that feature elements of R&B, rock, country, electronic music, and more will now be nominated.

Another change that has approved by the board is renaming The Best Urban Contemporary category to the Best Progressive R&B Album category.

Rather than nominating rap and R&B tracks for this category, the Academy will now acknowledge albums that feature elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk, and alternative music.

Another change The Academy made was to The Latin Pop Album and Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album categories, which have been renamed to Best Latin Pop or Urban Album and Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album.

They’ve even made changes to The Best New Artist category, but not to its name. Instead, The Grammys has removed the rule that states, “a specified maximum number of releases prohibiting artists” from being nominated.

Now “there is no longer a specified maximum number of releases prohibiting artists from entering” the category, which will benefit up and coming musicians who go over the 30-song limit.

The Best Rap Performance category has been heavily criticized in the past

Though these updates needed to happen to keep up with the ever-changing music industry, the changes made to The Best Rap Performance category has been long overdue.

Despite the Academy making changes to the category throughout the years, it’s continued to cause separation and division amongst artists, which Tyler, the Creator pointed out backstage at the 2020 Grammy Awards.

After accepting the award for Best Rap Album, Tyler told reporters that though he was grateful for his win, he’d love for his music to be recognized on a more mainstream level.

“I’m very grateful that what I made could just be acknowledged in a world like this,” he said. “But also, it sucks that whenever we, and I mean guys that look like me, do anything that’s genre-bending, they always put it in a ‘rap’ or ‘urban’ category.”

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The rapper continued, “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word. To me, it’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word. Why can’t we just be in pop? Half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment.”

It appears that The Academy took Tyler’s commentary into consideration, finally taking the necessary steps to make the Grammy Awards more inclusive.

The name changes will go into effect during the 63rd annual Grammy Awards, which will air live on Jan. 31, 2021.