Grammy renames controversial ‘Urban Contemporary’ category

The Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammy awards on Wednesday June 10 announced a number of changes to its category names, including changing “urban contemporary” to “progressive R&B.”


The announcement was made amid growing criticism of the term “urban” which generalized genres including hip-hop and R&B, belittling the innovation of black music. The Recording Academy said the changes had been made to ensure its awards were “inclusive and reflect[ed] the current state of the music industry”.


The statement read in part; 


 “The renamed 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.”


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” – as artists like Drake and Post Malone blur the lines between spoken and sung delivery.


The academy however did not completely drop the word “urban” as it remained in categories including the newly titled field “Best Latin Pop or Urban Album.” The category for best Latin rock, urban or alternative album has also been given a new title – best Latin rock or alternative album. 


Organisers said the changes had been made “to migrate the genres of Latin urban and represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres”.



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