Grammys rename Urban Contemporary category to Progressive R&B, report.
Today, the Recording Academy announced a number of changes to its annual awards, including renaming categories like Urban Contemporary to be more inclusive and better reflect “the current state of the music industry,” interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. announced.
Best Urban Contemporary Album will now be named Best Progressive R&B Album to more accurately describe the mixed subgenre, which may include elements of hip-hop, rap, folk, electronic, rock, and more. The category was first introduced in 2013, with Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange claiming the initial prize. Subsequent winners include Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Rihanna’s Unapologetic, The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness, and Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You just last year.
The term urban has been a contentious one in the music industry in recent years, attracting criticism for being outdated, generalizing language for music from Black artists, including hip-hop, rap, grime, and R&B. “Not only is urban an obviously wrong category, but it is also born out of racial stereotyping of black communities,” Kehinde Andrews previously explained in The Guardian.
The announcement comes just days after Republic Records—which houses artists like Ariana Grande, Drake, and Taylor Swift—announced that it would no longer use the word urban to describe musicians and genres, effective immediately.