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Why The GRAMMY Awards Best Global Music Album Category Name Change Matters

Michael Brun

Photo: Leo Volcy

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Why The GRAMMY Awards Best Global Music Album Category Name Change Matters

"Global Music is the future of music…The fusion of sounds breeds innovation, and global music artists are at the forefront of that movement," Haitian DJ/producer Michael Brun told us

GRAMMYs/Nov 10, 2020 - 05:58 am

Last week, the GRAMMY Awards were in the news because of an exciting, timely update to one of its 84 categories: Moving forward, Best World Music Album will now be known as the more inclusive Best Global Music Album. While the change might appear subtle to those not familiar with the baggage the term "world music" carries, it represents an important honoring of its past and movement towards a more inclusive, adaptive future.

The new name was decided after extensive conversations with artists, ethnomusicologists and linguists from around the world, who decided it was time to rename it with "a more relevant, modern, and inclusive term," an email sent to Recording Academy members explained.

"The change symbolizes a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk and 'non-American' that the former term embodied while adapting to current listening trends and cultural evolution among the diverse communities it may represent."

Read on to hear from three international artists about what the new Best Global Music Album name means to them, and why it's more inclusive than "world music."

Read: The 63rd GRAMMYs: Looking Ahead To The 2021 GRAMMY Awards

"Miriam Makeba used to tell me the expression 'World Music' was a politically correct way of calling our music 'Third World Music,' therefore putting us in a closed box from which it was very difficult to emerge. Now the new name of the category opens the box wide open and allows every dream!" GRAMMY-winning Beninese singer/songwriter Angélique Kidjo told us. The legendary artist won (what was then called) Best World Music Album at the 2020 GRAMMYs for her Celia Cruz tribute album, Celia, and at the 2016 and 2015 GRAMMYs.

Nigerian singer Bankulli, who is featured on Beyoncé's The Lion King: The Gift album, added, "Global Music provides a more inclusive awards platform to artists from relevant new genres. The term is encompassing of what is happening today and looks to the future for better representation."

"American ethnomusicologist Robert E. Brown coined the term in the early 1960s, but it was later popularized in the 1980s as a marketing category in the media and the music industry intending to encompass different styles of music from outside of the Western world. It is by and large a determination of any type of genre or sound that Westerners consider ethnic, indigenous, folk, or simply non-American music," Uproxx explained earlier this year.

As the Guardian recently noted, "the term 'world music' was originally coined [in the music business] in the U.K. in 1987 to help market music from non-western artists… Our world music album of the month column was, like the GRAMMYs, renamed global album of the month.

Guardian music critic Ammar Kalia reasoned that the change 'does not answer the valid complaints of the artists and record label founders who have been plagued by catch-all terms. Yet, in the glorious tyranny of endless internet-fueled musical choice, marginalized music still needs championing and signposting in the west.'"

The Recording Academy awarded the first Best World Music Album golden gramophone at the 1992 GRAMMYs to Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart for his album Planet Drum. A diverse group of artists, representing many countries and musical styles, including Brazilian bossa nova great Sergio Mendes, Panamanian salsa singer Rubén Blades and South African choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo have also won over the years.

"Culturally speaking, we are living in a borderless world. Changing our language to better describe and categorize influential music from around the globe allows us to hit a reset button on how we view each other. It allows us to have a better conversation about who we are and where we're headed," Marlon Fuentes, Genre Manager, Global Music, New Age and Contemporary Instrumental at the Recording Academy, shared.

"In my opinion, this moment was symbolic of a new era that connects the past to the future. A signal that we are living in a time where creative people from all over the world are using social media and innovative approaches to overcome clichés and stereotypes by defining their identity on their own terms." 

"Global Music is the future of music. As the world continues to become more interconnected, music culture no longer has borders," Haitian DJ/producer Michael Brun said. "The fusion of sounds breeds innovation, and global music artists are at the forefront of that movement. I'm happy to see the Recording Academy working to adapt to the changing landscape and celebrate excellence from around the globe."

Related: Haiti's Michael Brun Talks Debut LP 'LOKAL,' Friendship With J Balvin & Diplo & His Legacy As Global Artist

This summer, the Recording Academy announced updates to the names and rules for four other categories, which included renaming Best Urban Contemporary Album to Best Progressive R&B Album. Conversations around nixing the term "urban music," an umbrella category encompassing traditionally Black genres like R&B and rap, came to the forefront in 2020 following the deep reckoning with racism in American and beyond. Major labels, including Universal Music Group, including affiliates Warner Music Group and Republic Records, have dropped the term.

As Billboard notes, the Best Global Music Album rename follows a similar change implemented at the 2020 Academy Awards—Best Foreign Language Film was updated to Best International Feature Film. South Korean director Bong Joon-ho won for his widely celebrated 2019 film Parasite.

The 2021 GRAMMY nominees for Best Global Music Album—along with the other 83 categories—will be announced on Nov. 24. The 2021 GRAMMY Awards and Premiere Ceremony will take place on Jan. 31, 2021, when all the big winners will be revealed.

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.