Recording Academy Renames ‘Urban’ Category for Grammy Awards


The Recording Academy is making a slew of changes to its Grammy Awards process, but one tweak is especially making headlines: There won’t be be a “best urban contemporary album” category anymore. Instead, per an academy release Wednesday, that award will now be for the “best progressive R&B album.” The newly minted category is meant to focus on albums “that include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music,” the academy notes, adding that such albums “may also incorporate production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk, and alternative.” Per CBS News, there’s been longtime pushback on the word “urban” when it comes to music industry categories, with black artists criticizing the fact that no matter what kind of music they make, they’re often shoved into that pigeonhole.

CNN notes that the academy started taking more of an initiative on diversity shortly after Tyler, the Creator complained about “urban” after winning for best rap album at the January awards ceremony. “It sucks that whenever we—and I mean guys that look like me—do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything, they always put it in a rap or urban category,” he said at the time. “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word—it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me.” The word “urban” won’t completely vanish from the academy’s vernacular: The “Latin pop album” category is also getting a rename, to best “Latin pop or urban album,” to “recognize excellence in Latin pop or urban music recordings that … create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of Latin pop music style and culture.” (Read more Grammy Awards stories.)

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