Beyonce's 'Renaissance' Sparks Grammys Genre Debate

Beyonce's 'Renaissance' Sparks Grammys Genre Debate

by Payton Dunn

Apparently Renaissance wasn’t house enough for the Grammys.

The Recording Academy reportedly considered putting the album in the pop category even though Beyoncé’s team submitted the album for consideration under the dance/electronic category. The debate went all the way to the Academy’s National Screening Committee, who came to the decision that Renaissance should be in the dance category where it belongs.

The Recording Academy has a long and controversial history of putting innovative albums in blatantly wrong categories, especially those by Black creators. Tyler, The Creator famously critiqued the Grammys for putting his album IGOR in the rap and urban categories instead of in the pop category, saying that he viewed “urban” as “a politically correct way to say the n-word to [him].” He saw the "urban" category as a label the Grammys could slap on Black creators who were making music that toyed around with the rigid genre system that they have upheld since their inception. The Grammys swiftly did away with the “urban” category, renaming it to “Best Progressive R&B Album” in the wake of the criticism.

Beyoncé made her rightful foray into house music this summer with Renaissance, which came right after Drake’s shift to the genre on Honestly, Nevermind. The two projects became a part of the wider dance revival making its way to the cultural forefront as Black artists reclaim the roots of the genre that started in Chicago’s Black and queer communities but had long since become coopted in white and heterosexual spaces.

Although Renaissance will be considered for the dance/electronic categories, it’s unclear whether it’ll actually score a nomination, with a full list of nominees set to come out on November 15 ahead of the full awards show on February 5. The upcoming awards show will mark over two decades since she won her first Grammy, with her group Destiny’s Child taking away the award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best R&B Performance for “Say My Name” in 2001. Despite taking home 28 wins and 79 nominations as a solo artist since then, she’s never actually won the award for Album of the Year, giving her a lot to gain at the 2023 Grammys.

If everything goes well for Beyoncé, she could very well win her first Album of the Year and electronic/dance awards.

Photography courtesy of Hagop Kalaidjian/BFA