The Grammy Awards have always had a complicated history with Black people.
Although many Black artists have won Grammys over the years, the Grammy Awards are heavily criticized for noticeably snubbing influential rap/hip-hop artists from winning in the three biggest categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. (For example, OutKast’s 2003 album “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” is so far the first and only hip-hop album to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.)
This mixed bag is also reflected in the nominations for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards, which will be presented at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Feb, 4. Grammy-winning R&B singer SZA has the most nominations (nine), but rap/hip-hop was completely shut out of nominations for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.
The ceremony can be seen live on CBS and Paramount+, while the presentation of non-televised categories will be livestreamed on Grammy.com. In addition to SZA (whose real name is Solána Rowe), other Black artists who received several Grammy nominations for the show include R&B/pop singer Victoria Monét (seven nods) and Grammy-winning jazz/pop artist Jon Batiste (six nods), who are all contenders for Record of the Year.
Eligible recordings were those commercially released from Oct. 1, 2022, through Sept. 15, 2023. The Recording Academy has three types of membership among its approximately 23,000 members: Voting Membership (artists and others who create recordings), which totals about 13,000 people; Professional Membership (non-creators in the music industry); and Grammy U Membership (students). In 2023, the Recording Academy announced that it invited 3,700 people to join, with 2,800 of those people eligible for Voting Membership. Songwriter/producer Harvey Mason Jr., who is Black, has been CEO of the Recording Academy since 2021. Before that, he was the Recording Academy’s interim president/CEO in 2020.
SZA’s “SOS” is nominated for Album of the Year and Best Progressive R&B Album, while her “Kill Bill” song is nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best R&B Performance. Other tracks from “SOS” have gotten Grammy nods. “Ghost in the Machine” featuring Phoebe Bridgers is up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. “Love Language” is one of the nominees for Best Traditional R&B Performance. “Snooze” is nominated for Best R&B Song. “Low” is a contender for Best Melodic Rap Performance.
Monét is also one of the contenders for Best New Artist. Her “Jaguar II” is nominated for Best R&B Album, with several tracks from the album getting separate Grammy nods. “On My Mama” is nominated for Record of the Year and Best R&B Song, while “How Does It Make You Feel” is up for Best R&B Performance. Monét’s “Hollywood,” featuring Earth, Wind & Fire and Hazel Monét, is one of the nominees for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
Batiste’s “World Music Radio” is a nominee for Album of the Year. Tracks from the album that are nominated are “Worship,” up for Record of the Year; “Butterfly,” a contender for Song of the Year and Best American Roots Performance; and “Movement 18’ (Heroes),” a nominee for Best Jazz Performance. Batiste is also nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, for being a featured artist on Lana Del Rey’s “Candy Necklace.”
Other Black artists who received multiple nominations include R&B singer Coco Jones (five nods) and rapper Ice Spice (four nods), who are both among the eight nominees for Best New Artist. Janelle Monáe received two Grammy nods for “The Age of Pleasure”: Album of the Year and Best Progressive R&B Album.
Ice Spice reacted to her Grammy nods by posting this message on X (formerly known as Twitter): “Four Grammy nominations?! Are u sh*ttin me!!! Thank you.” In addition to her Grammy nod for Best New Artist, Ice Spice is nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for her collaboration on Taylor Swift’s “Karma.” Ice Spice (whose real name is Isis Naija Gaston) also received two nominations for her “Barbie” soundtrack remake of “Barbie Girl” with Nicki Minaj: Best Rap Song and Best Song Written for Visual Media, which are the only two Grammy nods for Minaj at this ceremony.
Ironically, Minaj has been among the Black artists who have been the most vocal in criticism of the Grammy awards and has vowed to boycott the Grammy Awards. Minaj has been nominated for several Grammys in her career but has not yet won any Grammy Awards. Drake, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa, and Teyana Taylor are other Black artists who have publicly stated that they are boycotting the Grammys until further notice, because they believe that the Grammys discriminate against rap/hip-hop artists in general categories where all music genres, including rap/hip-hop, are eligible. Drake has four Grammy nominations for his collaboration with 21 Savage, and these nods are only in categories for rap: “Her Loss” (Best Rap Album); “Rich Flex” (Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song); and “Spin Bout U” (Best Melodic Rap Performance).
Regardless if there are artist boycotts of the Grammys, most nominees usually attend the ceremony and/or express appreciation for their nominations. War and Treaty posted their Grammy nomination reaction on Instagram: “We were in the airport this morning when we heard the news that we have been nominated for Best New Artist & Best American Roots Song at the 2024 #GRAMMYs!! Thank you to the @recordingacademy for this immense honor. Thank you to our fans for taking this beautiful journey with us. We are so blessed beyond words y’all. This is how love is made. Let’s gooo!!!”
The 2024 Grammy Awards also mark the debuts of three new categories: Best African Music Performance, Best Alternative Jazz Album and Best Pop Dance Recording. The categories for Best African Music Performance and Best Alternative Jazz Album have opened up more nominations for Black artists. The first nominees for Best African Music Performance are Asake & Olamide’s “Amapiano”; Burna Boy’s “City Boys”; Davido featuring Musa Keys’ “Unavailable”; Ayra Starr’s “Rush”; and Tyla’s “Water.” Best Alternative Jazz Album nominees are Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, and Shahzad Ismaily’s “Love in Exile”; Louis Cole’s “Quality Over Opinion”; Kurt Elling, Charlie Hunter, and SuperBlue’s “SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree”; Cory Henry’s “Live at the Piano”; and Meshell Ndegeocello’s “The Omnichord Real Book.”
A complete list of nominees can be found on the Grammy Awards website.