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Republic Records retires 'urban' from its verbiage

Effective immediately, “urban” is no longer a descriptor that Republic Records will use to classify its “departments, employee titles, and music genres.” The imprint, which is home to Tiësto, Drake, Kid Cudi, and more, announced that it would eliminate “urban” from its verbiage in an Instagram post, in which Republic Records urged “the rest of the music industry” to retire the term rather than “adhere to the outdated structures of the past.”

“Urban,” which dates back to the mid-1970s, has been criticized for its reduction of the rich and diverse styles of music made by black musicians. In its use as a blanket term to categorize releases from black artists, “urban” fails to acknowledge the various genres of music that have roots in black culture and history, such as R&B, hip-hop, and soul, according to various sources in the music industry including Sam Taylor, former senior vice president of Kobalt Music. Says Taylor,

“The connotation of the word doesn’t hold a positive weight. It’s downgrading r’n’b, soul, and hip-hop’s incredible impact on music, and as black executives, we have the power to phrase ‘urban’ out–to change the description.”

In the time that has followed Republic Records’ declaration, Los Angeles management company, Milk & Honey, has since extinguished its use of “urban,” writing that it will no longer continue using the word. Milk & Honey called the decision “an important step forward and an outdated word which has no place in 2020 onwards.”

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