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  • Niall Smith

The BRIT Awards slammed for not including R&B artists in their 'Pop/R&B' category

Unpacking the BRITs backlash.

Image via Instagram.

The BRIT Awards are a staple in UK music and British culture as a whole. Launched back in 1977, the historic music award show has recently come under fire for not including any R&B artists in their conjoined 'Pop/R&B' nomination category.

Before the unveiling of the artists included—Ed Sheeran, Adele, Dua Lipa, Griff and Joy Crookes, to be exact—many voiced their disapproval of the category for fusing together two very distinct genres of music. With R&B being a predominantly Black genre, many claimed the lack of artists included was a way to marginalise those excluded.

Although all of the artists nominated are fantastic in their own right, the lack of diversity in the category is similar to the removal of gendered categories last month. Like the current genre wars, the gender-neutral awards were engineered to be more inclusive—especially to gender minorities and those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Sadly, with the ever-present male focus throughout music, the combination of categories for women, ethnic and gender minorities (and now genres) will likely breed an unvaried playing field for artists.

Currently, the UK R&B scene is thriving. Artists like Mahalia, Jorja Smith, Cleo Sol, Children of Zeus, Mnelia, Miraa May, Odeal, Pip Millett, Sinéad Harnett, NAO, Greentea Peng, and Lianne La Havas are all thriving and setting industry-wide trends.

“Putting pop and R&B in the same category is really nuts to me. And proves that the powers that be once again just do not get it,” said Mahalia via Twitter. “I love the Brits. I have since I was a kid. But as an R&B singer/songwriter, this feels completely unprogressive to the whole UK R&B scene.”

To reiterate Mahalia’s statement, R&B’s lack of recognition from the music industry elites can be seen as taking two steps forward and one step back for the genre. Hopefully, the masses of backlash will see his category revised in future years, meaning both pop and R&B artists have a fair shot at recognition.

The 42nd BRIT Award ceremony is pencilled in for February 8th 2022, at The O2 Arena in London. Comedian Mo Gilligan will take centre stage as host, replacing Jack Whitehall after four consecutive years of presenting.

Peep the full list of BRITS nominees here.


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