Grammy Awards Drop the Term 'Urban' in Awards as Part of Latest Guidelines
The Recording Academy's new rules and guidelines will be in effect for the 2021 Grammy Awards
For the 2021 Grammys, best urban contemporary album will now be named best progressive R&B album, meant for albums that "include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music," the Recording Academy said.
Meanwhile, the category of best Latin rock, urban or alternative album has now been split between two categories: best Latin pop or urban album, and best Latin rock or alternative album.
Additional changes come to the best rap/sung performance category, which is now being named best melodic rap performance, which makes room for artists like Future and Lil Nas X.
Also, the best new artist category will no longer have a specified maximum number of releases. Instead, a screening committee will determine if a prospect has already had a breakout year in a prior eligibility period. An affirmative determination would then disqualify them. Nominations Review Committee members will also have to fill out a conflict of interest disclosure form before voting in any of the categories they are invited to participate in.
"As a peer-driven and peer-voted award, members of the music community are directly involved in the growth and preservation of the GRAMMYs process,” said Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy. "Each year we receive a number of rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking us to reevaluate our process to better reflect the current state of the music industry and how it's evolved over the past 12 months."
The Grammy Awards became the center of controversy earlier this year when the Recording Academy’s CEO and President Deborah Dugan, who was placed on administrative leave, claimed the nomination system for the award show is rigged.
However, the Recording Academy denied these allegations.
“Spurious allegations claiming members or committees use our process to push forward nominations for artists they have relationships with are categorically false, misleading and wrong. This process is strictly enforced with everyone involved and has no exceptions,” Bill Freimuth, the Recording Academy’s chief awards officer, said in a statement to PEOPLE.
In a formal complaint that she filed, Dugan alleged that some musicians did not get Grammy nominations due to favoritism and conflicts of interest.
“Moreover, in an outrageous conflict of interest, the Board has selected artists who are under consideration for a nomination to sit on the committee that is voting for the category for which they have been nominated. As a result, one artist who initially ranked 18 out of 20 in the 2019 ‘Song of the Year’ category ended up with a nomination,” the document read. “This artist was actually permitted to sit on the ‘Song of the Year’ nomination committee. Incredibly, this artist is also represented by a member of the Board.”
Dugan had been the head of the Recording Academy for just five months after being appointed in August 2019. She became the first female president and CEO of the organization last year, following allegations of gender bias against the Recording Academy, and after former president Neil Portnow stepped down in July 2019.