Grammys Change “Urban Contemporary” Category to “Progressive R&B”

The controversial category has a new name

Lizzo accepting a Grammy Award
Lizzo accepting the Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album in 2020.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Amid a slew of rules changes, the Recording Academy announced Wednesday that the Grammy Awards’ controversial “Urban Contemporary” category has been renamed “Progressive R&B.”

The category, which was added in 2012, has been viewed as racist for many years, and after this year’s ceremony in February, Tyler, the Creator addressed it, saying, “It also 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. And I don’t like that ‘urban’ word. It’s just the politically correct way to say the n-word to me. So when I hear that I’m just like, ‘why can’t we just be in pop?’”

The Recording Academy said in a statement that the “Progressive R&B” category will “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.”

“We’re constantly evaluating our Awards process and evolving it to ensure the Grammy Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry,” Harvey Mason Jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy, said while announcing the change.

Using “urban” as a synonym for “music made by Black people” is obviously problematic, but as Rolling Stone points out, the term will still be used in some of the awards show’s Latin categories, including “Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album.”

“At the time that this category amendment proposal was put forth earlier in the year, use of the word ‘urban’ when classifying certain genres in Latin music was widely accepted,” Mason told Rolling Stone. “However, we understand that in the current climate, sentiment might be changing. We are continuing to follow the conversation and are committed to making necessary adjustments.”

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