An online panel featuring a number of Black executives from the US music industry has been discussing the catch-all genre term ‘urban’ and Republic Records’ recent decision to stop using it.
MBW has a good writeup of the panel, with views both for and against. Rayna Bass, head of marketing at 300 Entertainment, was for it.
“I feel like ‘urban’ is the politically correct way to say black. And, doing research, it seems it was formed as a way to make black music and black culture more palatable to white people… I do understand the need for it 40 years ago, but today I find it to be restrictive and outdated,” she said. “In my experience, ‘urban’ has been used to keep black executives at a certain level [so] we’re not able to participate at the highest levels.”
Other executives on the panel weren’t so sure. “Changing the word urban is really just a Band-Aid to the real conversation. [The bigger issue] is about the way black artists and executives are treated – that we’re not just a persona of color in the room, that we have a real voice,” said Columbia’s co-head of Urban Shawn Holiday. “I’m never going to trade my blackness in order to move forward. Whether it’s urban or it’s black, I’m taking that word with me no matter where I go,” added Marsha St. Hubert, co-head of marketing at Atlantic Records.