Until recently, rap albums, EPs and singles have always been submitted for consideration under one category, Rap Recording of the Year. This changed in 2022 when the JUNO Awards implemented their decision to split the award into two separate categories: Rap Single of the Year and Rap Album/EP of the Year.
Since its inception in 1991, the Rap Recording of the Year award has been presented to many of Canada’s most influential artists from hip hop pioneer Maestro Fresh-Wes to global superstar Drake. But as Canada’s rap scene has continued to grow and evolve, so has the need for a second rap category.
During a panel on The Future of Rap + R&B at the JUNOS, PR Strategist Dalton Higgins spoke to the limitations of having a single rap category saying, “for about 15-20 [years] you just saw rap singles competing against EPs and competing against albums. That’s highly unusual. You’re recording artists, you recorded a 16-track album – 30-track album and you’re competing against a single or an EP. That’s just awkward… A more wholesome embrace of Black music is important.”
This sentiment was shared by artists and industry members who advocated for the creation of the Album/EP versus Single category designation. At the time, Rap Music Advisory Comittee chairperson Kyle Kraft was seeing as many as 30 nomination-worthy submissions competing for only 5 spots. “Our goal [was] to help as many deserving artists as possible get more opportunity to further their careers,” he told Complex.
With the introduction of the rap category split, the JUNOS are now able to recognize and honour twice the amount of Canadian rap artists by highlighting the success of both albums, EPs, and singles in each respective category. Not only does this allow for more a diverse and representative nomination pool, but it creates more opportunities for up-and-coming artists and first-time nominees.
In 2022, Canadian rap artist and first-time nominee, Haviah Mighty made history as the first woman to ever win Rap Album/EP of the Year. In response to whether she had ever dreamed of achieving this sort of accomplishment, she told ET Canada, “The picture wasn’t that big and I think that that’s a little bit of the problem for people that can’t see themselves on certain stages because they haven’t seen other people on those stages before. It’s hard to fathom that it could be you… In this moment I am hoping [the impact of me winning a JUNO] does create a shift for someone that is like ‘I never believed you could be different and kind of be in that space.’”
As rap continues to dominate as one of the fastest-growing genres, the JUNOS hopes to continue amplifying and shining a light on the incredible rap music talents that come from all across Canada. Submissions for the 2023 JUNO Awards Presented TD are now open until Friday, October 28th at 11:59PM ET. For more information visit junosubmissions.ca.
Featured image: Haviah Mighty winning Rap Album/EP of the Year at the 2022 JUNO Awards Broadcast on May 15, 2022. Credit: Ryan Bolton