The Grammys are considering adding an Afrobeats category to the competition, a spokesperson for the Recording Academy told CNN on Thursday night.
The move would recognize “the incredible contributions that this African, global music has made to the creative life of our world,” said a statement from Grammy President Neil Portnow.
“Our goal is to honor artists who may not yet be recognized by Grammy voters or critics, but are equally deserving of our most prestigious awards.”
“I do not believe it is right to exclude any artist from consideration for inclusion in the 2016 nomination cycle,” said Portnow. “This is an important addition to the 2016 Grammy nominations that recognizes the incredible contributions that this African, global music has made to the creative life of our world.”
The Grammy’s Recording Academy announced the new category in February at the Los Angeles ceremony of the 2014 Grammy Awards. The winners will get two more chances to be considered as candidates for the Grammy Awards, which are held each year in February.
Hip hop artist Nappy Roots was initially announced as a candidate for the Afrobeats category. But after he was recognized by the Recording Academy for his Grammy-winning album, “My Nappy Boy,” Portnow announced that “Nappy Roots” had been disqualified as a Grammy contender because of his relationship to BET Networks, a division of Viacom. The rapper was also considered for a Best Traditional R&B Performance Grammy, but he was unable to qualify for that category because of a rule change made in 2015.
This year, it appeared that R&B and hip-hop would again fail to crack into the Grammy’s Best Traditional R&B Performance category. The category was expanded to include artists who have a single “Best R&B Album” nomination in the last ten years. The rules had previously been that all the nominees had to be on either R&B, hip-hop or rap albums in that span. But in March, the Recording Academy announced a rule change that allowed artists to nominate albums for the category for the first time. That decision caused the Grammy voters to eliminate hip-hop from the category.
This year’s Grammy nominees in the Best New Artist category include a diverse talent pool. They include rap groups such as the Black Lighters, Childish Gambino’s Childish Majors and the Brooklyn Brats, singer-songwriter Sammie Smith, British R&B group Dizzee Rascal, French-Canadian singer David Guetta, and the American