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The GRAMMYs has stopped using the term 'urban'

A letter calling for the word to stop being used has also been signed by numerous industry execs

  • Patrick Hinton
  • 11 June 2020
The GRAMMYs has stopped using the term 'urban'

The GRAMMY Awards has announced it is dropping the term ‘urban’ to describe music of Black origin.

In an announcement on its website outlining the rules and guidelines for the 63rd annual ceremony, the GRAMMYs revealed that the ‘Best Urban Contemporary Album’ category is being renamed to the ‘Best Progressive R&B Album’.

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The decision was explained as: “This change includes a more accurate definition to describe the merit or characteristics of music compositions or performances themselves within the genre of R&B.

“This category is intended to highlight albums that include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music. It may also incorporate production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk and alternative.”

To make the nomination process more transparent, the GRAMMY Awards Rules & Guidelines have also been made publicly available for the first time and can be read here.

Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, said: "I’m excited to announce our latest changes, as we're constantly evaluating our Awards process and evolving it to ensure the GRAMMY Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry.

“The Academy accepts proposals for rule changes from members of the music community throughout the year that are carefully reviewed and, if accepted, ultimately ratified at our annual Board meeting, a process that we are proud to have continued in this challenging year."

At the 2020 ceremony, Tyler, The Creator criticised the term, saying: "I don't like that 'urban' word - it's just a politically correct way to say the N-word to me. Why can't we just be in pop?"

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The GRAMMYs decision to stop using the term ‘urban’ follows Republic Records decision to do the same.

Earlier this week Music Business Worldwide reported that a “raft of senior music execs call for removal of ‘urban’ descriptor at major uk music companies” as well as “anti-racism training for staff”.

Among the signees to a letter making the calls to action are employees of Universal Music, Virgin EMI, Sony Music Group and more. Read the letter here.

Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Features Editor, follow him on Twitter

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