Republic Records Bans the Term “Urban”

Critics say it's an outdated term that generalizes Black artists

republic records music label logo
The label is urging the music industry to part ways with the dated term.
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Republic Records

Republic Records, the music label behind major artists like Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and the Weeknd, has announced it will no longer use the term “urban” within the company.

“Effective immediately, Republic Records will remove ‘URBAN’ from our verbiage in describing departments, employee titles and music genres,” the company wrote in a statement shared on Instagram over the weekend.

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According to Billboard, the term was first coined as “urban contemporary” in the 1970s by Black New York radio DJ Frankie Crocker, and while it initially carried no negative connotations, it has since come to be seen as an outdated term that marginalizes and generalizes Black artists by lumping them together within the music industry.

Republic Records urged other companies to follow in its footsteps. “We encourage the rest of the music industry to follow suit as it is important to shape the future of what we want it to look like, and not adhere to the outdated structures of the past,” the company continued in the Instagram post.

The announcement follows a similar move from entertainment management company Milk & Honey, which announced it would be dropping the term just one day before Republic Records.

“Change starts at home. Therefore, we, here at Milk & Honey have decided to formally ELIMINATE the term ‘urban’ at our company,” Milk & Honey exec Lucas Keller wrote in a statement on Instagram. “We will no longer be using the term, as we believe it’s an important step forwards, and an outdated word, which has no place in 2020 onwards.”

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