The Recording Academy has acknowledged the evolution of music and announced its third change to the Best Urban Contemporary Album category in the R&B field.
The 2013 successor to Best Contemporary R&B Album has been renamed to Best Progressive R&B Album. The reflection of this name change is to “appropriately categorize and describe this subgenre.” It also “includes a more accurate definition to describe the merit or characteristics of music compositions or performances themselves within the genre of R&B.”
According to the amended category rules, Best Progressive R&B Album is merely designed for “artists whose music includes the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music.”
This esteemed honor is also dedicated to artists whose music combines “production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk, and alternative.”
“I’m truly excited for the name change of Best Urban Contemporary Album to Best Progressive R&B Album,” Recording Academy PA Chapter Trustee Ivan Barias said in a press statement. “It shows that the Academy is listening to the music community and self-correcting by removing a term that’s been a contentious topic of discussion over the years in the spirit of inclusion. I along with the co-authors, felt it was time to find a new name that still reflects the original definition while making room for the more progressive styles emerging in the genre.
The award for Best Urban Contemporary Album has been presented eight times, with Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You album as its final winner under that title alias.
Ahead of the award’s name change, Rated R&B spoke to Harvey Mason, Jr., interim CEO/president of The Recording Academy, to find out the next steps of possibly dropping the word “urban” from award after years of backlash, most recently from Tyler, The Creator.
“This is something that lands right on my desk and on my plate of things that we’re going to take a look at,” Mason told Rated R&B. “All of our categories and awards and processes around The Academy are generated by our members. So, members propose changes or categories or procedures, and they go to the board room, and the trustees vote on what they are going to call a category or how they are going to regulate submissions or how they’re going to do X, Y, and Z.”
Several other changes have been made to award categories (rap field, Latin field, General field), as well as its rules and guidelines. More information can be found here.