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Will Grammy’s honour more diverse nominations this year?

The 2023 Grammy nominations honour artists Latto, Lizzo, and Beyonce. But when it comes to supplying the trophies, will the Recording Academy pay Black women artists their dues? 

Beyonce has just cemented her status as the most nominated artist in Grammy’s history, alongside partner Jay-Z. With nine nods this year, she is the most nominated artist overall in the 2023 line-up.

The Pop-R&B singer is nominated in the most prestigious categories including Album of the Year (for Renaissance) and Record of the Year (for Break My Soul). This brings Beyonce’s total Grammy nominations to a staggering 88 across her career.

Other Black women have also triumphed in the nominees line-up, including rapper Latto who received her first two nominations for Best New Artist and Best Melodic Rap Performance.

Pop artist Lizzo also swept the competition with five major nominations, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Album. Her hit single ‘About Damn Time’ has also snagged her a nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance.

But while the 2023 nominees may look more inclusive than ever, the Grammy’s have a long history of snubbing Black artists in the top categories.

Beyonce is the most-awarded female Grammy winner, and after four further wins she’ll be the most-awarded artist overall.

And yet, out of her 88 wins, only 4 have been in the most prestigious categories; Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.

Nearly all of Beyonce’s Grammys have come from lower-profile categories such as Best R&B Performance and Best Urban Contemporary Album.

It would appear the Recording Academy has struggled to separate Black artists from specific genres, even when their music weaves various sounds and styles. Beyonce’s latest album, Renaissance, is an ode to dance hall music – splicing R&B, Rap, Pop, Dance, and Techno into single tracks.

If you have deja vu, you’re not alone. 2023 is shaping up to be a repeat of 2017, when Beyonce’s album Lemonade lost out on Album of the Year.

Despite critical and commercial acclaim – which Renaissance has now achieved to even greater heights – Lemonade was snubbed by Adele, who then dedicated her award to Beyonce in a now viral moment from the awards show.

When asked if this year would be the year Beyonce finally receives the recognition many feel she deserves, Harvey Mason Jr., president of the Recording Academy, said ‘I think she’s had a great year […] every year feels like it’s Beyonce’s year’.

The nominations announcement has also garnered criticism over snubs for Black women artists Summer Walker and Megan Thee Stallion, along with Spanish singer Rosalía.

All three artists, despite launching some of the highest-selling albums and tracks of the year, were notably absent from the nominees list.

Walker reacted to the news on Instagram last week, calling out the Grammys for what is now her second snub.

‘I was gone post some numbers, but it’s ok. At least the streets fuq with me. Y’all always pack out every show and support every time I drop. So thanks for the love I do receive.’

Fans of Megan Thee Stallion have also protested her absence from the line-up. This comes days after the rapper’s plea to ‘protect Black woman’. She has received vicious attacks from the media and other musicians like Drake who have disputed Stallion’s claims she was shot by a male rapper in 2020.

Laura Stylez, host of hip hop radio station Hot 97, said of Megan’s online abuse, ‘Black women are not celebrated enough for all [their] contributions…not just hip hop, everything’.

Stylez’ statement feels especially apt in light of the Grammys, where Black women – perhaps now more than ever before – have been given nods for their achievements. And yet who’s wins often begin and end at the narrow distinctions of ‘urban’, ‘R&B’, or ‘Hip Hop’.

The Grammy nominations have long triggered the tired trope of pitting powerful women against each other at the expense of Black success. And this year is no different.

CNN responded to the news with an Adele vs Beyonce narrative, referencing the two singers’ previous nominations in 2017.

‘It seems Grammys 2023 will look a lot like Grammys 2017 with another high-profile matchup between Adele and Beyonce’ the article stated.

This notion that two successful women cannot coexist in the same spaces, least of all a white and a Black woman, reinforces the exclusionary nature of the music industry – that there isn’t enough space for everyone; that inclusivity and representation can only come at the expense of someone else’s erasure.

Harvey Mason Jr speaks for all of us when he says it feels like Beyonce’s year. We can only hope the Recording Academy is less talk, more action in 2023.

 

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