The Grammys are considering adding an Afrobeats category to the Best Song category, and they have an example that makes the connection seem even more likely.
When “Dive” was nominated for Best Pop Song, its singer, Jidenna, was nominated for Best R&B Song.
He was nominated for Best R&B Song — the first black person to achieve that distinction in a ceremony dominated by R&B.
The category was first introduced in 2014, but it was only added to the Grammys’ Best Song nominees list in 2018. It was meant to be a celebration of black history, but a Grammy committee could not come up with a better title.
With the Best R&B Song category, the Academy has a chance to acknowledge the artists who helped elevate the genre, such as Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, or more recently, Marvin Gaye and Quincy Jones.
So, here’s another way it would be a celebration. A chance to acknowledge an artist who made it even more difficult for black artists to break in their own genre.
Best R&B Song nominee Marvin Gaye with Quincy Jones on Grammy stage during the 1991 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo: Reuters/Fred Prouser)
The Grammys have always had a history of recognizing singers, but the Best R&B Song category is very specific, and the songs nominated never quite fit the genre, so it is always difficult to get anyone, be it singer, producer, record label or musician, to nominate them.
This category is not supposed to be about what genre any one artist belongs to, or what any one song fits in, so it is unlikely that it will ever have a truly diverse selection of music.
The only songs in the category that can really be considered R&B are Marvin Gaye’s “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” the late Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” Stevie Wonder’s “What’s Going On,” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition (Is My Business).”
It is also hard to imagine a category in which two