The Grammy Awards will no longer use the word "urban" as part of a larger change to its rules and guidelines, the Recording Academy announced Wednesday. Other changes include updates to the Latin, R&B, Rap and Best Artist Field, Variety reports, and the Recording Academy will make the Grammy Awards rules and guidelines book publicly available for the first time on its website.
The Best Urban Contemporary Album category has been renamed the Best Progressive R&B Album, which interim president and CEO Harvey Mason jr. told Variety is meant 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. The Best Rap/Sung Performance category has been renamed Best Melodic Rap Performance to "represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre," he added. The Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative category has also been renamed Latin Rock Or Alternative to "represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres."
Mason told the outlet these changes were all part of a larger effort to form a "completely new, and very transparent and transformed" Recording Academy. "It's all part of what I hope will be a new chapter in our history," he continued. "We're listening to and learning from our partners and constituents and stakeholders; we're trying to make sure we're able to pivot and change and adapt; and we want to be really inclusive."
As for removing the word "urban," Mason said the change was something the Academy had been discussing for "a couple of years," as the term has been "a hot button for a while." He added that many of the people who fell within the genre didn't like the description and "felt it pigeonholed certain styles of music." After being brought the issue by their constituents, the Academy voted to approve the change. "'Progressive R&B' gives us a chance to lean more into the modern R&B and hybrid-style recordings and give us a little bit of flexibility in that category," he said of the new category.
Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer, said in a statement of the many changes being made that the "peer-driven and peer-voted award" board annually received rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking the Academy to "reevaluate our process to better reflect the current state of the music industry and how it's evolved," leading to the new state of the awards