The Grammys are considering adding an Afrobeats category, perhaps on par with Latin, to recognize the international presence of the genre. Billboard has learned that while the organizers don’t expect to have to name a rapper or a group to enter the Afrobeats category, they will likely have to come up with a category name for the genre itself.
The Latin music category is a tricky one because it’s basically created to recognize Latin pop artists, especially those who were born and raised in Latin America. While there is a good deal of Latin pop artists who have made it into the international mainstream without ever becoming international superstars, there is also a small percentage of Latin pop artists who were actually born and raised in the United States.
As a result, the Latin category in the Grammys is largely populated by Latin-based artists who are either born and raised in the U.S. or have moved there for a period of time before going on to make it big in their country of origin. The category also has a small but significant Latin pop starlet in the category, Mariah Carey, who is a native of the U.S. and not from the Latin America region. She has had her biggest crossover success internationally with her albums “Attitude” and “Emotion” which were hugely successful in the U.S., but she’s not considered part of the Latin pop market anymore. That’s in part because Latin music has moved on and has become primarily a product of the international album market.
The inclusion of an Afrobeats category would be a nice way to recognize a new form of music that is coming out of the Middle East and Africa and is becoming increasingly big in the U.S., but this isn’t the first time Grammies has considered adding an Afrobeats category. Back in 1999, the category was thought to be in the works, but then it wasn’t.
At the moment, Billboard expects to learn more about the Afrobeats category as we get closer to the April 15 deadline to submit nominations for the Grammys. The deadline for Grammy submissions is April 14.