Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
The nominees for the 60th annual Grammys were announced Tuesday morning, and JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, SZA, and Khalid are among the most nominated. If that list is any indication, hip-hop and R&B are finally getting their due at the award show.
Leading with eight nominations, JAY-Z’s critically acclaimed “4:44” is one of his most consistently personal albums ever. His work on the album with producer and writer No I.D. has led to five nominations for the latter.
Right behind JAY-Z is Kendrick Lamar, whose album “DAMN.” has contributed to his seven nominations. Bruno Mars has six nominations. R&B-pop singer-songwriter Khalid, R&B singer SZA and Childish Gambino -- known as an actor as Donald Glover -- all have five nominations.
Khalid and SZA are nominated for best new artist, along with rapper Lil Uzi Vert and pop singer-songwriters Julia Michaels and Alessia Cara. SZA stands out as one of the few women of color nominated this year.
Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito,” which includes Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber, is also groundbreaking. The reggaeton song is mostly in Spanish and is nominated for record and song of the year, as well as best pop duo/group performance. It could make history as the first Spanish-language song to win song of the year
The Associated Press noted that no rock or country acts were nominated in the big four categories -- song of the year, album of the year, record of the year and best new artist.
The nomination of so many black artists in categories beyond hip-hop and R&B also marks a change in the Recording Academy. No longer are musicians of color relegated to mostly genre-specific honors. It’s a newer effort, according to a Billboard interview with Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow.
“We have taken a concerted effort to making sure that the voting membership of the Academy is representative of the creative community,” Portnow said. “We’ve got 84 categories. Are we well-represented with membership from all of them? Are we engaging them? Are they participating? We look at that regularly and to the extent that we find there are areas that need more attention, we’ll do that.”
“We have a current membership that is savvy and certainly timely, is current and reflective of what music is about today and in the future,” Portnow said. “And clearly, the diversification work that we’ve done for our membership is evident in all of the nominations this year. I think it’s a testimony to our hard work and intention of having a very vibrant, current, relevant, diverse voting membership.”