Along with the social-change efforts announced by its parent company Universal Music Group earlier this week, Republic Records has announced its own campaign — one aspect of which is that the company will cease to use the term “urban” to describe black music.
“ ‘Urban’ is rooted in the historical evolution of terms that sought to define Black music,” the memo reads. “As with a lot of our history, the original connotation of the term urban was not deemed negative. Nearly 50 years ago Frankie Crocker coined the term ‘urban’ to define the sound of his radio station in an attempt to better represent his audience.
More from Variety
- Universal Music Task Force Details Action Plan, With $25 Million Fund
- Blackout Tuesday Was No Day Off for Labels, Managers: Will It Yield Real Results?
- Universal Music's Lucian Grainge Outlines Call to Action as Interscope Halts Releases
“However, over time the meaning and connotations of ‘urban’ have shifted and it developed into a generalization of Black people in many sectors of the music industry, including employees and music by Black artists. While this change will not and does not affect any of our staff structurally, it will remove the use of this antiquated term.”
“We encourage the rest of the music industry to consider following suit as it is important to shape the future of what we want it to look like,” it concludes, “as to not adhere to the outdated structures of the past.”
Read the full announcement below:
As I am sure you are aware, Republic Records has taken some time this week as a pause to reflect on the ongoing injustices to the Black community in America. In order to hold ourselves accountable and implement long term changes, in addition to holding all releases this week, we launched the Republic Records Action Committee (R2AC) led by Steven Carless. The committee is led by a leadership committee that is broken into 5 subcommittees headed by each leadership member.
Communication – Led by Amaiya Davis
Political Action – Led by Marleny Reyes
Creative – Led by Damion Presson and Sammie Taylor
Education and Community Outreach – Led by Steven Carless
Music – Led by Ken ‘Duro’ Ifill
R2AC has created the below mission and value statements and goals that will address social justice issues.
Mission Statement: Social Responsibility and Sustained Leadership
Value Statement: WE USE OUR VOICES, USE YOURS
EDUCATE: We want to make sure we educate ourselves and everyone around us too. We will create resources, tools and training for employees, peers and our extended community.
ACTION: This is a peer leadership initiative that will tackle a multi-faceted collection of different issues that plague our internal and external communities.
SUPPORT: We vow to support our community: our staff, our artists and actions that will contribute to equality and social justice.
In addition to committing to help the larger cause, we have also decided to make internal changes that will impact not only our staff, but, we hope, the music industry as a whole. We’ve decided, effective immediately, Republic Records will remove “urban” from the label’s verbiage in describing departments, employee titles and music genres.
By way of background, “urban” is rooted in the historical evolution of terms that sought to define Black music. As with a lot of our history, the original connotation of the term urban was not deemed negative. Nearly 50 years ago Frankie Crocker coined the term “urban” to define the sound of his radio station in an attempt to better represent his audience.
However, over time the meaning and connotations of “urban” have shifted and it developed into a generalization of Black people in many sectors of the music industry, including employees and music by Black artists. While this change will not and does not affect any of our staff structurally, it will remove the use of this antiquated term.
Currently, Billboard, Apple Music, Spotify and other industry standard charts do not utilize the word “urban” and we see that it is important for us to evolve and remove it all together. For reference, in last week’s Billboard 200 Chart, 9 of the top 10 albums were from the Hip-Hop and R&B genres.
We encourage the rest of the music industry to consider following suit as it is important to shape the future of what we want it to look like, as to not adhere to the outdated structures of the past.
In addition to this, for phase 1, Republic Records is working closely with UMG’s Task Force, which includes members of the Republic team, to donate $25 million to several different organizations including Black Girl Ventures, Black Lives Matter, Black Mental Health Alliance, Colin Kaepernick Foundation, Color Of Change, Equal Justice Initiative, National Association of Black Journalists, Silence the Shame, Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, The Bail Project, When We All Vote and more.
R2AC has several initiatives on the horizon, including a forthcoming industry town hall meeting that will occur in the next couple of weeks. Details to follow.
We also launched a social media handle for our committee, which provides several resources, petitions and initiatives to directly address the injustices happening to the Black community. Please visit @RRActionCommitte and @RepublicRecords for more information.
This is just the beginning. We Use Our Voices, Use Yours.
Best of Variety
- The Best Movies on Netflix
- Everything Coming to Netflix in June
- What's Coming to Disney Plus in June 2020