Grammys drop ‘Urban’ from R&B category amongst new rules that ‘reflect the current state of the music industry.’

The Recording Academy has made a number of major changes to several of its Grammy Awards rules and guidelines in an effort, according to a press release, “to reflect its ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape”.

In addition, in order to make the nominating process and rules “more transparent and fair”,  the event’s Rules & Guidelines are now publicly available for the first time.

Among the changes are updates to the Best New Artist category, Latin, R&B and Rap Fields, Nominations Review Committees, and more.

Most notably, the Grammy Awards’ ‘Best Urban Contemporary Album’ category has been renamed ‘Best Progressive R&B Album’ in order to “appropriately categorize and describe this subgenre”.

“This change includes a more accurate definition to describe the merit or characteristics of music compositions or performances themselves within the genre of R&B,” state the amended guidelines.

The Recording Academy says that the Best Progressive R&B Album category “is intended 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,” but that “it may also incorporate production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk, and alternative”.

The removal of the term ‘Urban’ in this category follows Republic Records’ recent announcement that it has officially scrapped the term from its own company lexicon.

It also follows the news yesterday that a raft of senior music execs in the UK have called for the removal of the word ‘urban’ at major UK music companies, in addition to anti-racism training for staff.

Speaking to Variety, Recording Academy Chair & Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said that the decision to drop the term, and to make all the other changes, were made in May.

The amended rules can be seen below and the Grammy Awards’ rulebook can be found here.


  • Best Urban Contemporary Album Category — Renamed and Redefined  

Best Urban Contemporary Album has been renamed Best Progressive R&B Album to appropriately categorize and describe this subgenre. This change includes a more accurate definition to describe the merit or characteristics of music compositions or performances themselves within the genre of R&B.

  • Best Progressive R&B Album

This category is intended 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. It may also incorporate production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk, and alternative.

  • Best Rap/Sung Performance Category — Renamed and Redefined 

Best Rap/Sung Performance has been renamed Best Melodic Rap Performance to represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre. The expanded category is defined as follows:

  • Best Melodic Rap Performance

This category is intended to recognize solo and collaborative performances containing elements of rap and melody over modern production. This performance requires a strong and clear presence of melody combined with rap cadence, and is inclusive of dialects, lyrics or performance elements from non-rap genres including R&B, rock, country, electronic or more. The production may include traditional elements of rap or elements characteristic of the aforementioned non-rap genres.

  • Latin Field: Placement of Latin Urban Recordings — Reclassify  

Latin Pop Album has been renamed Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album and Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album has been renamed Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album to migrate the genres of Latin urban and represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres.

  • Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album

This category is intended to recognize excellence in Latin pop or urban music recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content, and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of Latin pop music style and culture. The category includes recordings from balladeers and commercial Latin music and is not limited to any one region. 

  • Best Latin Rock Or Alterative Album

This category is intended to highlight Latin rock or alternative music recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of the Latin music style and culture.

Best New Artist — Eligibility 

There is no longer a specified maximum number of releases prohibiting artists from entering the Best New Artist category. As such, the screening committees will be charged with determining whether the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year. Such a determination would result in disqualification.


Harvey Mason Jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, said: “I’m excited to announce our latest changes, as 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,”

“The Academy accepts proposals for rule changes from members of the music community throughout the year that are carefully reviewed and, if accepted, ultimately ratified at our annual Board meeting, a process that we are proud to have continued in this challenging year.”

“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., the Recording Academy

Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy, added: “As a peer-driven and peer-voted award, members of the music community are directly involved in the growth and preservation of the Grammys process.

“Each year we receive a number of rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking us to reevaluate our process to better reflect the current state of the music industry and how it’s evolved over the past 12 months.”Music Business Worldwide

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