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Grammys will no longer use the term ‘urban’ to describe Black music

Grammys will no longer use the term 'urban' to describe Black music
Lizzo (Photo credit: Bang Media)

The Grammys has announced plans to stop using the word “urban” to describe music of Black origin in their awards categories.

When the prestigious awards ceremony returns in 2021, the Recording Academy will replace the Best Urban Contemporary Album category with the title Best Progressive R&B Album.

A spokesperson said: “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.”

Lizzo was the recipient of the accolade this year, with her acclaimed debut album Cuz I Love You taking the prize.

The move comes as Republic Records announced they are dropping the term.

The company — which is one of the most influential record labels in the US and is home to the likes of Drake and Ariana Grande — will no longer use the contentious word to describe “departments, employee titles and music genres”.

In a statement, Republic explained: “‘Urban’ is rooted in the historical evolution of terms that sought to define black music.

“As with a lot of our history, the original connotation of the term urban was not deemed negative. However, over time the meaning and connotations of ‘urban’ have shifted and it developed into a generalization of black people in many sectors of the music industry, including employees and music by black artists.

“While this change will not and does not affect any of our staff structurally, it will remove the use of this antiquated term.

“We encourage the rest of the music industry to consider following suit, as it is important to shape the future of what we want it to look like, as to not adhere to the outdated structures of the past.”

Elsewhere, Milk & Honey — a well-known management company — also announced it will “formally eliminate the term ‘urban’ at our company.”

The company said in a statement: “We will no longer be using the term as we believe it’s an important step forward, and an outdated word, which has no place in 2020 onwards.”

The decision to stop using the word follows anti-racism protests across the world following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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