Grammys Make Changes to R&B and Rap Categories

The Grammys are taking action.

The Recording Academy has announced several rule changes and additional guidelines for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, which include the renaming of two R&B and rap categories.

The Best Urban Contemporary Album category, which was added to the Grammys in 2012, will now be called Best Progressive R&B Album. The Academy said that the new title serves as a “more accurate definition to describe the merit or characteristics of music compositions or performances themselves within the genre of R&B.”

The “urban” title change arrives amid conversations surrounding Black Lives Matter protests and the shifting climate. The word, which has become a synonym for black music, has been criticized for being antiquated and inappropriate at a time when hip-hop and R&B are the most dominant genres of music. As Rolling Stone points out, the Grammys will still use the “urban” verbiage in other categories including Best Latin Pop or Urban Album.

Previous winners for Best Urban Contemporary Album include Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You in 2019, Beyoncé and JAY-Z’s Everything Is Love in 2018, The Weeknd’s Starboy in 2017, and Beyoncé’s Lemonade in 2016.

Additionally, the Best Rap/Sung Performance category has been rechristened as Best Melodic Rap Performance to “represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre.”

“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,” said Kokayi Walker, the Academy’s DC Chapter Trustee.

Other changes were made to categories including Best New Artist. Starting with the 2021 ceremony, artists will be eligible regardless of how much material they’ve previously released. Until now, artists who had released more than 30 singles/tracks were not eligible for the category.

“The new rules were voted in last month and aim to better serve the music community by ensuring they are inclusive and reflective of modern perceptions of music of all genres,” said the Academy in a statement.

The 63rd Grammy Awards will take place January 31, 2021.