Published Jun 05, 2020"Urban" has long been used as an umbrella term for record labels to categorize hip-hop and R&B, and Republic Records has now announced plans to stop using the word within its company entirely.
The Universal Music Group subsidiary — which is the label home of Taylor Swift, Drake, Post Malone, Ariana Grande, the Weeknd and many more — will cease the use of the word "effective immediately."
"Republic Records will remove 'URBAN' from our verbiage in describing departments, employee titles and music genres," the label wrote in a statement on Instagram. "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industry to follow suit as it is important to shape the future of what we want it to look like, and not adhere to the outdated structures of the past."
Billboard notes that the use of "urban" as a musical descriptor dates back to the mid-1970s, when black New York radio DJ Frankie Crocker coined the phrase "urban contemporary" before it was shortened. Artists and executives have argued that the word symbolizes the music industry's history of defining music by Black artists as a singular category.
"The connotation of the word doesn't hold a positive weight," former Kobalt Music Group VP Sam Taylor told Billboard in 2018. "It's downgrading R&B, soul and hip-hop's incredible impact on music. And as black executives, we have the power to phase 'urban' out — to change the description."
While it's a step in the right direction for the American industry, it appears their Canadian counterparts still have work to do.