Drake and Ariana Grande’s record label will stop using the term ‘urban’ as it describe music of black origin

Republic Records, one of the most vigorous record labels in the US, will stop using the word “urban” to describe music of black origin.

The company, which is accommodation to Drake and Ariana Grande, says it will no longer use the term to describe “departments, employee titles and music genres”.

“We encourage the rest of the music industry to follow suit,” it added.

The term is often considered to be a generalisation that marginalizes music by black artists.

“‘Urban’ is a lazy, inaccurate generalisation of several culturally rich art forms,” radio presenter DJ Semtex told the magazine Music Business UK in 2018.

“I despise the word,” he added. “I know artists that do hip-hop, grime, or rap. I don’t know anyone that does urban music.

“The connotation of the word doesn’t hold a positive weight,” agreed Sam Taylor, a senior vice president at Kobalt Music, in an interview with Billboard in 2018.

“It’s downgrading R&B, soul and hip-hop’s incredible impact on music.”

This term was created back in the mid-1970s, when black New York radio DJ Frankie Crocker coined the phrase “urban contemporary” as a label for the eclectic mix of songs that he played – which covered everything from James Brown to Doris Day.

At the time, the label didn’t carry negative connotations but, after being shortened to “urban” it started being used as a catch-all for music created by black musicians – effectively lumping them into one category, regardless of genre.

Republic Records considered the growing irritation around the term in a statement announcing it would remove the word from its company vocabulary.


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