Grammy award-winning South African DJ and producer Black Coffee
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The Grammys Announce New African Music Category

Many claim the inclusion of a category catered specifically to African artists may put them in a box, while others are elated at being included at all.

The Recording Academy of the United States will officially recognize and award the biggest and best in the world of African music. Last year, the Grammys announced that they were considering adding an "Afrobeats" award to their historical list of acknowledgments, and, nine months later, the Best African Music Performance award was born. The famed music award show announced the inclusion of the new African-focused category, as well as the inclusion of the newly introduced "Best Alternative Jazz Album, and Best Pop Dance Recording.

On the new lane that the company is paving for itself, CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said, "The Recording Academy is proud to announce these latest Category changes to our Awards process. These changes reflect our commitment to actively listen and respond to the feedback from our music community, accurately represent a diverse range of relevant musical genres, and stay aligned with the ever-evolving musical landscape." African music has evolved beautifully over the last few years, and with international stakeholders paying more attention to creativity coming out of the continent, the move looks to further celebrate the world's biggest stars and help keep the academy relevant.

According to the Grammys' website, the African Music Award will manifest as, "A track and singles Category that recognizes recordings that utilize unique local expressions from across the African continent. Highlighting regional melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic musical traditions, the Category includes but is not limited to the Afrobeat, Afro-fusion, Afro Pop, Afrobeats, Alte, Amapiano, Bongo Flava, Genge, Kizomba, Chimurenga, High Life, Fuji, Kwassa, Ndombolo, Mapouka, Ghanaian Drill, Afro-House, South African Hip-Hop, and Ethio Jazz genres." At first glance, the academy is attempting to include every corner of the continent, casting a relatively wide net in an attempt to encompass a continent abundant in rhythmic favor and heterogeneity.

Right on cue, social media users took the opportunity to share their thoughts on the matter

“We went from theatre shows to 80k-stadiums in two years. Secondary genre already, I can argue. Finally, it's being called 'African Music' and not 'Afrobeats.' Underscores the growth of the genre stateside and what's to come. Future is bright.”

“The good part about this Grammys new category for “Best African Music Performance” is that African artistes especially the non-Afrobeats artists that are not enjoying commercial success have the chance of winning. The award is based on artistic excellence not only popularity.”

“Love this so much. Let’s just make sure the winners are always African artists.”

“Nigerians artistes who are good with amapiano stand a big chance of winning “Best African Music Performance” at the Grammys in 2024. They recognize the sound for this category.”

“At least the Grammys are finally waking up to realise how good African music is thanks To Afrobeats ,Burna boy especially for finally opening the curtains ,Fela kuti Afrobeat creator ,Femi kuti also for always being nominated over the years they all opened the curtains”

“This is a huge step for African music. African Music is now well recognised by the Grammys. That means African tracks can also win the Grammys. Congratulations to all artistes on the continent. Can't wait to see the first Grammy winner from this category solely for African music”

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