The last few weeks have been eye-opening, pushing one to reflect on themselves and their actions. These last few weeks have pushed us to strive for and accomplish progressive change to create a safer, all-encompassing space.
Last week, the Recording Academy announced the updated guidelines for the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards that work to promote inclusion. Harvey Mason Jr., the Chair of the Recording Academy Board of Trustees provided a statement along with the updated guidelines, declaring, “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." The Recording Academy provides more detailed explanations for their changes here.
The new major changes
For Best New Artist, there is no longer a limit for the number of released tracks an artist can have. This alteration gives even more artists the opportunity to be eligible. Artists can still have their work acknowledged. Plus, there is no longer that pressure to have to hit big success in an artist’s first releases. Their eligibility depends on if they have hit what the Academy considers a breakthrough.
Best Urban Contemporary Album is now “Best Progressive R&B Album” and Best Rap/Sung Performance is now “Best Melodic Rap Performance.” Not only did the Academy rename the categories, but they also adjusted their meaning so that they begin to include genre-bending artists/tracks.
These changes might also have to do with statements made at this most recent Grammy Awards. Back in January, Tyler, the Creator won the Grammy for Best Rap Album. Of course, Tyler appreciated his much-deserved win. However, in his TV/Radio Room Interview backstage, Tyler spoke out about the GRAMMYs voting process, revealing, "On one side, I'm very grateful that what I made could just be acknowledged in a world like this. 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. … 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?” Tyler made excellent points. Luckily, his statements received an actual response from the Academy.
Is more revision needed?
As seen previously, the Academy removed the word “urban” from “Best Progressive R&B Album”. However, in the midst of all these new rules, the word still appears in the Latin Field Category. The original “Latin Pop, Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative” category separated into two new ones: “Best Latin Pop or Urban Album” and “Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album.”
Billboard asked different Latinx artists how they felt about the changes. Some artists felt that the merging of genres within categories felt like an oversimplification. They acknowledge how music tends to genre-bend, but still believe that people recognize the differences between various types of music, posing an opportunity for the Academy to create even more categories for the Latin field.
The Recording Academy's new rules and guidelines have found new ways to recognize different artists and the innovative music created every day. It will be interesting to see how these changes will affect the Grammy 2021 nominations when they come out later this year.