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Spotify UK is no longer using the term 'urban' to describe Black music

"We won't be using the term 'urban' anymore"

  • Dave Turner
  • 7 July 2020
Spotify UK is no longer using the term 'urban' to describe Black music

Spotify UK is no longer using the term 'urban'.

Safiya Lambie-Knight, UK artist & label partnerships lead for hip hop, rap, grime, drill, r'n'b, Afrobeat, reggae and dancehall, revealed Spotify would drop the term in an interview with Music Week.

Lambie-Knight said: “Moving forward, we won’t be using the word ‘urban’ in the UK anymore. I look after a breadth of what were previously ‘urban’ genres and it will allow us to have broader conversations around creativity and artists. Honestly, I think there are bigger problems that we need to resolve, but we will be talking about music in genres going forward.”

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All UK playlists that were previously named with the term 'urban' will now be labelled by the genre.

Spotify UK dropping the terms comes after Republic Records and the GRAMMYs announced they would no longer be using it to describe music by Black artists.

Adele White, an A&R for Island Records, also revealed in Music Week that Universal were discussing the use of the word 'urban'.

White said: “There’s a conversation going on internally at Universal. In some territories, ‘urban’ is seen as a very positive thing, I believe it has different meanings in different countries. In the UK, it’s been used as a PC term for Black people that felt uncomfortable. I think people feel it’s stigmatised. People may feel that urban isn’t given the same respect in the UK or, I don’t know, not treated the same. Maybe we don’t need it as much, but I know it’s important in other territories.

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"If we’re working with Black artists, there’s nothing wrong with saying that, in the same way there’s nothing wrong with saying dance or indie.

"‘Black’ isn’t a bad word, to specialise in music that comes from a diaspora of people that you may understand better for whatever reason. Black music has always existed and there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘black music’ or ‘music by black artists’, it’s positive.”

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Dave Turner is Mixmag's Commerical Content Editor, follow him on Twitter

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