Nile Rodgers supports the removal of the term 'urban' as a label in the music industry.
After Universal-owned Republic Records announced it was ditching the term, major labels have recently pushed to dispense the label from its verbiage in "describing departments, employee titles and music genres." In a new interview with Metro, the Chic guitarist voiced his support of the "really productive" change in helping to overcome the 'boundaries' of society.
‘When I grew up there was always a mountain to climb, no matter how successful your record was in your own community, what you really wanted it to do is to cross over into the other community," explained the music legend.
He reflected over his prolific career as a longtime musician as he recalled, "I remember when George Michael made a big deal out of being No. 1 on the R&B chart and that’s because society puts up these boundaries and these gates that we have to get through. When we’re artists we just want the world to hear our music. When someone has a big record, that’s the reason why they call it pop because it’s popular. You go to a concert, and I don’t care who the artist is. If it’s a really really big record, you’re gonna see a fairly disparate crowd."
In the wake of the mass Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, Nile continues to take action into his own hands. Taking part in Apple Music's new year-long mentorship program with The Ivors Academy, Nile currently spends his free time mentoring soul singer-songwriter Amahla and applauded her talents in "[connecting] to the emotional message of a song."
Shawn Barron, Vice President of A&R at Motown, also spoke on the matter, describing Republic’s move “a step in the right direction.” “The ‘urban’ title can pigeonhole you,” he shared to Billboard. “We all like all kinds of music — if you want to do something pop, it shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, you do urban music [so you can’t do that].'”
When the Grammys return in 2021, the Recording Academy will replace the Best Urban Contemporary Album category with the title Best Progressive R&B Album.
The Academy's statement shared, "This change includes a more accurate definition to describe the merit or characteristics of music compositions or performances themselves within the genre of R&B."