The record label behind big-name stars including Drake, Ariana Grande and The Weeknd has put out a statement saying it will no longer be using the term “urban,” explaining that it minimizes the distinct contributions of Black artists to the music world.
Republic Records posted on their Instagram on Friday that they would be removing the word urban “from our verbiage in describing departments, employee titles and music genres.”
“Urban,” or “urban contemporary,” has been used in the music industry as a catch-all term for a myriad of music genres and styles created and popularized by Black people, such as R&B, hip-hop and soul — essentially cramming these specific and individual genres into one box.
The full memo from Republic Records, as reported by Variety, said the term was “rooted in the historical evolution of terms that sought to define Black music.”
“As with a lot of our history, the original connotation of the term urban was not deemed negative. Nearly 50 years ago Frankie Crocker coined the term “urban” to define the sound of his radio station in an attempt to better represent his audience,” the memo said.
“However, over time the meaning and connotations of “urban” have shifted and it developed into a generalization of Black people in many sectors of the music industry, including employees and music by Black artists.”