The Grammys are considering adding an Afrobeats category, but only to one of its 18 categories. This will allow fans of the genre to have its music added to the popular ones, which also includes classical music, country and pop categories.
At the moment, Afrobeats is included in three categories — R&B, hip-hop, and pop. So the R&B category could be split between R&B and Afrobeats, while the hip-hop category is split between hip-hop and Afrobeats. In that sense, fans of the genre would now be able to vote in its category, while keeping the three popular categories.
“We are exploring options,” Grammy officials said in a statement. “We will not be commenting on rumors or speculation but will continue to gather fan input.”
Currently, the Grammy Awards include three categories: pop, R&B, and hip-hop. However, critics have suggested that adding a fourth Afrobeats category would be fitting for the genre.
“Afrobeats might not have the recognition it deserves, and be recognized more prominently, if it were given that status as its own category,” Scott Yanow, senior vice president of research for entertainment for data and consulting firm IHS, told Billboard last year. “It’s an emerging genre, and there’s room for it to get more attention from the awards bodies.”
According to Yanow, the Grammys only started recognizing Afrobeats in 2012. In 2016, the category appeared in a “special guest” spot in the R&B category.
The Grammys has previously considered adding more Afrobeats categories. Last year, the awards body added a Latin category to its big three pop categories.
“It’s difficult,” one Grammy executive says of adding “another Afrobeats category” to the Grammy Awards. “It’s not an easy category because we don’t have the full picture.”
Pop, R&B and Afrobeats are grouped under a special category, “Contemporary World Music,” which also includes genres such as ska/reggae, Latin, dubstep and electronica.