Grammy Awards renames controversial “urban” category

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(CBS NEWS) – The Grammys has announced that it is dropping the term “urban” from its awards show following criticism from black artists. The move is just one of the many changes the organization revealed this week, as ongoing protests against police brutality have forced businesses to reconcile with controversial policies.

At all future Grammy Awards ceremonies, the “Best Urban Contemporary Album” category will be replaced with “Best Progressive R&B Album.” The Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, announced the change on Wednesday as part of its “commitment to evolve with the musical landscape,” calling the new name “more accurate.”

Last year, Lizzo took home the award for her album, “Cuz I Love You.” Previous winners include Beyoncé, The Weeknd and Pharrell Williams. 

The 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,” the academy said. “It may also incorporate production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk, and alternative.”

The term “urban” is often used as a catchall for music created by black artists, regardless of genre. Many people in the entertainment industry have been calling on companies to drop the term for years. 

After the awards show in January, Tyler, the Creator called out the use of the word “urban” as a way for the Academy to avoid including black artists in other genres. 

“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,” the 29-year-old artist told reporters.

“I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me,” he said.

The renaming is just one of nine changes the organization is making to its awards and nominations process. But it isn’t completely dropping the term “urban” altogether. 

The organization is also renaming “Best Rap/Sung Performance” to “Best Melodic Rap Performance,” “Latin Pop Album” to “Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album” and “Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album” to “Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album.”

“As a peer-driven and peer-voted award, members of the music community are directly involved in the growth and preservation of the GRAMMYs process,” said Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy. “Each year we receive a number of rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking us to reevaluate our process to better reflect the current state of the music industry and how it’s evolved over the past 12 months.”

Last week, Republic Records, home to artists like Drake, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande, also said it would no longer use the term “urban” to describe departments, employee titles or music genres. “We encourage the rest of the music industry to follow suit,” the company said. 

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