Grammys to drop the term ‘urban’ from awards categories

The Recording Academy will stop using the term “urban” in awards categories at the Grammys, it has been announced, as part of the organisation’s efforts to launch “a new chapter” in its history.

The prize for Best Urban Contemporary album will be renamed Best Progressive R&B Album as part of changes being made ahead of next year’s ceremony.

In an interview with Variety, the Recording Academy’s interim president and CEO, Harvey Mason Jr, said the word had been “a hot button for a while”.

“A lot of creators and people in that genre didn’t like that description and felt it pigeonholed certain styles of music,” he said.

This year, Tyler, the Creator was among the artists to call out the category and say he was torn between winning an award and the fact he disliked the term “urban”.

“I’m half and half on it,” he said. “On the one side I am very grateful that what I made can be acknowledged in a world like this… but it sucks that whenever we, and I mean guys that look like me, do anything that’s genre-bending or anything, they always put it in a rap or urban category.”

“And I don’t like that ‘urban’ word,” he added. “It’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word, to me. So when I hear that, I’m just like, why can’t we just be in pop? So I felt like – half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment.”

The Recording Academy said it had made the changes to ensure its awards were “inclusive and [reflected] the current state of the music industry”.

Other changes at the Grammys include renaming Best Rap/Sung Performance as Best Melodic Rap Performance “to represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre” by artists such as Drake and Post Malone.

The word urban has been added to the award for Best Latin Pop Album, which will henceforth be known as Best Latin Pop or Urban Album.

Organisers said this change was made in order to “migrate the genres of Latin urban and represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres”.

Republic Records, home to stars including Drake, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, recently made the announcement that it would no longer use “urban” to describe its departments or artists.


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