Grammys drop ‘urban’ from major award category

The Grammys are to stop using “urban” to describe music of black origin in its awards categories.

The prize for best urban contemporary album will be renamed best progressive R&B album, amongst other changes.

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”.

It follows Republic Records saying it would no longer use urban to describe its departments and music genres.

Tyler, the Creator – winner of best rap album at the 2020 Grammys – is among those who have criticised the use of urban in the event’s award categories.

“I don’t like that ‘urban’ word – it’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word to me,” he told reporters at January’s ceremony. “Why can’t we just be in pop?”

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 award for best Latin rock, urban or alternative album has also been given a new title – best Latin rock or alternative album.

Conversely, 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 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”.

Canadian singer The Weeknd won the same award in 2016 and 2018

In other changes, prospective members of Grammy nomination committees will be required to notify the Recording Academy of any potential conflicts of interest.

In an interview with Variety, the Recording Academy’s interim president and CEO said urban 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,” said Harvey Mason Jr.

Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You (Deluxe) won the award for best urban contemporary album at this year’s awards, held in Los Angeles in January.

The award has been presented annually since 2013, with winners including Frank Ocean, Rihanna and two-time recipient The Weeknd.

This year’s Grammys were mired in controversy following claims by the Academy’s suspended CEO that she had evidence of voting irregularities.

In interviews with US news networks, Deborah Dugan said the organisation’s annual music awards were “tainted” by conflicts of interest.

The Recording Academy called the allegations “categorically false”, saying it had “strict rules in place” that were “strictly enforced”.

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