The Recording Academy have finally, after years of criticism and controversy, renamed the ‘Urban Contemporary Album’ GRAMMY award category to ‘Progressive R&B Album’.
The category has drawn criticism throughout the years, with people accusing it of generalising Black artists and lumping them into one group. The most recent winner of the award is Lizzo, with her debut album Cuz I Love You.
The move follows Republic Records doing something similar by dropping the ‘urban’ term entirely, saying it’s because of a “generalisation of Black people in many sectors of the music industry, including employees and music by Black artists,” as reported by Pitchfork.
In a statement to Variety, GRAMMYs temporary president and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said that this change has been long in the making.
“The time frame of our process is that proposals are turned in by March, they’re discussed in May, and now we’re talking about them publicly, so these are things that have been in the works for six months,” he said.
This isn’t the only change to the ceremony the Recording Academy has introduced. They’ve also changed the ‘Latin Pop’ category to ‘Latin Pop & Urban’ – which seems reductive to say the least – and they’ve changed ‘Best Rap/Sung Performance’ to ‘Best Melodic Rap Performance.’
Interestingly, the eligibility criteria for ‘Best New Artist’ has also changed, scrapping all limits on previous releases determining eligibility. Instead, each potential nominee will have their eligibility judged by a screening committee.
Billie Eilish is the most recent winner of the ‘Best New Artist’ award.