This year’s nominees are Childish Gambino, JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and Lorde. Additionally, all five tracks nominated for 2017′s Record of the Year came from artists of color.
The Grammys have been under fire for their lack of diversity over the years, so an absence of white men in the top category this year could signify a sea change in the organization.
Last year, the Grammys snubbed two artists of color ― Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar ― for Album of the Year, instead favoring white female artists Adele and Taylor Swift. Many noted the enormity of Beyonce’s work in “Lemonade” and Lamar’s in “To Pimp A Butterfly.” Adele herself even expressed concern over her win, saying of Beyonce, “What the fuck does she have to do to win album of the year? That’s how I feel.”
Fans have also been asking another awards institution ― the Academy ― to increase diversity of nominees.
At the Academy Awards in both 2015 and 2016, all 20 actors nominated in the lead and supporting acting categories were white (which, as USA Today noted, hadn’t happened since 1998). The lack of diversity sparked outrage in the form of a trending Twitter hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, and many celebrities boycotted the show altogether.
It’s not clear if the Recording Academy voting members, which determine the final nominations for the Grammys, considered last year’s fan feedback in making this year’s choices. But as Vanity Fair noted, if Jay-Z wins for his 444 album, just imagine his possible acceptance speech after his wife’s work was passed over in 2016.
This story has been updated to clarify that this is the first time since 1999 that the Album of the Year category has included no white male artists or groups composed entirely of white men.