Fans may have been rightly surprised by the fact that the ubiquitous Neptunes weren't nominated for producer of the year, non-classical, for the upcoming 45th annual Grammy Awards. But it turns out th

Fans may have been rightly surprised by the fact that the ubiquitous Neptunes weren't nominated for producer of the year, non-classical, for the upcoming 45th annual Grammy Awards. But it turns out that the Neptunes' name was never submitted for consideration.

"We're disappointed by the Neptunes' omission," says Angelia Bibbs-Sanders, the regional VP and executive director for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), which presents the Grammys. "However, being members of our New York chapter, they should certainly be aware of this process. Members have the right to enter product themselves. It's hard to put the onus on one label here, as we're talking about submitting a specific body of work. It's about relying on someone who has knowledge of what the Neptunes have done. That's one reason why managers and attorneys join [NARAS], to make sure their clients are covered."

In the nominations process, academy members and record companies submit entries (from June 1 to Sept. 30) that are screened for eligibility (this year, it was Oct. 1, 2001-Sept. 30, 2002) and category placement by 150 music business professionals. This year's 15,000 entries were narrowed down to about 10,000 on the first-round ballot. It was sent in mid-November to the 13,000 voting members, who can nominate in the four major categories (best new artist, plus record, album, and song of the year) and nine out of 28 fields. Special committees determine final nominations in such categories as producer of the year.

"It's one thing to join and another to vote. Anyone who is a member could have entered the Neptunes," says Bibb-Sanders, who adds that Nelly and Eminem's major-category nods "directly reflect on the outreach and work we've done on a national level. I see a tremendous amount of growth in the urban membership.

"It's not perfect by any means. But we've seen a major increase from this community, especially on the elected-leadership side. Jermaine Dupri is our Atlanta chapter president and attends the trustee meetings. Jimmy Jam, Rodney Jerkins, and Nile Rodgers are also very involved. You can't affect anything without becoming involved and active."

Having staged previous urban music forums on women in power and the state of R&B music, NARAS -- in association with Def Jam -- is presenting an "Up Close and Personal" session with Russell Simmons Feb. 6 in New York.