Grammys Drop 'Urban' From Two Category Names in Wake of Backlash

Grammys Drop Urban Name

The Recording Academy announced on Wednesday multiple changes for the 63rd Grammy Awards, that in part “reflect [an] ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape.”

First and foremost, the Best Urban Contemporary Album category has been renamed Best Progressive R&B Album, “to appropriately categorize and describe this subgenre” and offer “a more accurate definition to describe the merit or characteristics of music compositions or performances themselves within the genre of R&B.”

Best Progressive R&B Album 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.”

After winning Best Rap Album at this January’s Grammys, Tyler the Creator opined, “It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending, they always put it in a ‘rap’ or ‘urban’ category. I don’t like that ‘urban’ word. To me, it’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word. Why can’t we just be in Pop?”

Billie Eilish echoed Tyler’s sentiment in a GQ interview, saying, “Don’t judge an artist off the way someone looks or the way someone dresses. Wasn’t Lizzo in the Best R&B category that night? I mean, she’s more pop than I am.” (Lizzo this year won Best Traditional R&B Performance, for “Jerome,” as well as Best Urban Contemporary Album, for her 2019 breakout Cuz I Love You.)

Similarly, Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album has been renamed Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album, whereas Latin Pop Album has been renamed Best Latin Pop or Urban Album — with both changes intended “to migrate the genres of Latin urban and represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres.”

Other changes for the 63rd Grammy Awards, to be held Jan. 31, 2021:

* Best Rap/Sung Performance has been renamed Best Melodic Rap Performance, to represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre.

* There is no longer a specified maximum number of releases prohibiting artists from entering the Best New Artist category.