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The Pioneer

New wave hits Grammy Awards

AIkaika Nichols,
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Diverse “Album of the Year” category highlights show

Now in its 60th year, the Grammys released its nominees last month. There are many expected picks and unsurprising category favorites. However, there is one unexpected surprise: this is the first time white artists or groups will not be nominated for “Album of the Year” since 1999.

This is a huge milestone for the hip hop and R&B genres in music and for the expansion of more diversity at the highest levels of recognition. The last time this happened, all five nominees were female acts and included Lauryn Hill, Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Shania Twain and Garbage.

The Grammy Awards will be held on Jan. 28 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and will be hosted by James Corden.

The lineup of nominees includes Childish Gambino’s album “Awaken My Love,” Jay-Z’s “4:44,” Kendrick Lamar’s album “DAMN,” “Melodrama” by Lorde and Bruno Mars’ “24k Magic.”

At last year’s Grammy ceremony, Adele was awarded the Album of the Year award over Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and on stage during her acceptance speech she stated Beyoncé deserved the award. Since then, the Grammys have been under fire due to their rarely acknowledging the black community and bias promoting white artists. In regard to the hip hop community, several snubs including elite projects from Kendrick Lamar in recent years have left fans seeking authenticity.

Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy and the man in charge of the Grammy nominations, has made changes to this year’s voting process to allow for a wider variety of voters and demographics. This is important because it allows for voter variety and an expansion of fan interaction. For the first time, the Grammys included online voting which led to a wider range of ballots than usual totaling to about 13,000 votes. This new standard of voting for the Grammy Awards emphasizes the people and what they truly want.

“The results are reflecting the music of the times. Hip hop and urban music is pervasive in our society worldwide, not just America,” Portnow said in an interview with Variety.

In the history of the Grammy Awards, only 10 black artists have won Album of the Year. The 2018 awards will surely be an epic and historic night if another could be added to the list. Artists such as Jay-Z with eight nominations, Kendrick Lamar with seven and Bruno Mars with six will have a chance to take home awards in more than just one category. This year’s ceremony is full of new expectations, allowing for music fans to be excited rather than snoring through the upcoming award show.

As music continues to evolve at all levels and in all genres, institutions such as the Grammys are also evolving with them.

For Portnow, in an interview with Billboard he stated, “As always, there are some surprises and I wonder how that might have been determined. I’m not losing any sleep whatsoever [over] the outcome of where we end up this year.”

Moving forward, music fans should expect to have more of a role in determining nominees for their favorite artists and be open to the possibility that they might not be chosen as well.

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