Spotify renews the term ‘urban music’ after black stars’ concerns that the term is old-fashioned
- Urban music was used as a generic term for a variety of musical subgenres
- Some black artists and experts say the phrase perpetuated racial stereotypes
- Spotify is now abandoning the term in the UK and will instead use the names of each genre used to cover
Spotify stopped using the phrase ‘urban music’ in the UK, after complaints from artists and experts that the term was outdated.
Urban was first used as a generic term to describe several subgenres of music, including rap and R&B.
However, after the movement for equality and an effort to eradicate systemic racism, the phrase was criticized.
Some black artists say that the phrase perpetuates racial stereotypes and “takes away the real darkness” of black music.
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Spotify stopped using the phrase ‘urban music’ after complaints from artists and experts that the term was outdated. Urban was first used as a generic term to describe various subgenres of music (archive)
Safiya Lambie-Knight, leader of Spotify UK artist and record partnerships, gave an interview with Music Week in the topic
She said: ‘Moving on, we will no longer use the word’ urban ‘in the UK.
‘I take care of a variety of previously’ urban ‘genres and this will allow us to have broader conversations about creativity and artists.
“Honestly, I think there are bigger problems that we need to solve, but we will talk about music in the genres going forward.”
Now, the full Lambi-Night position features all kinds of usic that she oversees and does away with the word urban.
Instead, it now includes hip hop, rap, grime, drill, R&B, afrobeat, reggae and dancehall.
The move away from the urban is being discussed on several labels, with Republic Records, Ariana Grande’s label, calling it ‘antiquated’ and vowing to abandon it.
However, parent company Universal Music says only that it is reviewing its policy on the phrase.
Some black artists say that the phrase ‘urban music’ perpetuates racial stereotypes and ‘takes away the real darkness’ of black music. Spotify decided to stop using the term
Adele White, senior manager of the urban division, told Music Week ‘there is an internal conversation’.
She said: ‘In the UK, it has been used as a PC term for black for people who are uncomfortable. I think people think it’s stigmatized.
“People may feel that the urban does not receive the same respect in the UK or, I don’t know, it is not treated in the same way.
We may not need this much, but I know it is important in other territories.
“If we are working with black artists, there is nothing wrong with saying that, just as there is nothing wrong with saying dance or indie,” he added.
‘Black’ is not a bad word, specializing in music that comes from a diaspora of people that you can understand better for whatever reason.
‘Black music has always existed and there is nothing wrong with saying’ black music ‘or’ music by black artists ‘, it is positive.’
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