Urban. That is the word All Access, the music news and radio data online platform, has decided to retire when referring to the urban adult contemporary (urban AC) format.
The move to rename the format to simply “R&B” follows Mediabase, the music airplay monitoring service of more than 1,800 radio stations.
In a press statement, the All Access Urban/R&B Editor Sam Weaver said the change came after an “overwhelming majority agreed R&B is a better fit as the format continues to evolve.”
“For a couple of years, there’s been a discussion on renaming the UAC (Urban AC) charts. The listeners and the music in the 25–54-year-old demo are different than when the format first started. I’ve talked with programmers, music promotion executives, and musicians on the subject of another name for the format,” shared Weaver about the rebranding.
In recent years, R&B (formerly urban AC) mainstays like Toni Braxton, Charlie Wilson, Kem, and Mary J. Blige have had to share airplay space with acts who lean more toward hip-hop and trap style music.
Most recently, Braxton, critically-known as the Queen of Adult R&B, has been vying for the top spot on the format with “Gotta Move On” against Chris Brown and Young Thug’s “Go Crazy.”
This is another reason why the name change made sense to Weaver and his colleagues. “The format is becoming a mix of seasoned performers, new faces, and in some cases a fusion of R&B, Trap, and Hip-Hop. For some time, the stations that target fans of the format have used the term R&B in position statements, imaging, and slogans to describe the music. The consensus has been, it’s time to rebrand the format name.”
The name change at All Access and Mediabase is not coincidental to Republic Records banning the word from within their company to describe departments, employee titles and music genres. Soon after, talk circulated online that conglomerates like iHeartMedia and Mediabase would likely follow suit to address the negative and outdated connotation associated with the term, especially in today’s current racial climate.
The Recording Academy did the same last year for the best urban contemporary album category, which is now titled best progressive R&B album. The change reflects “a more accurate definition to describe the merit or characteristics of music compositions or performances themselves within the genre of R&B.”
In the 1970s, the legendary radio personality Frankie Crocker first coined the phrase “urban contemporary.”