Urban contemporary, also known as hip hop, urban pop, or just simply urban, is a music radio format.
The term was coined by New York radio DJ Frankie Crocker in the early to mid-1970s as a synonym for Black music.
Urban contemporary radio stations feature a playlist made up entirely of Black genres such as R&B, pop-rap, British R&B, quiet storm, adult contemporary, hip hop, Latin music such as Latin pop, Chicano R&B and Chicano rap, and Caribbean music such as reggae.
Urban contemporary was developed through the characteristics of genres such as R&B and soul.
Largely a US phenomenon, virtually all urban contemporary formatted radio stations in the United States are located in cities that have sizeable African-American populations, such as New York City, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Montgomery, Memphis, St. , LouisNewark, Charleston, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Oakland, Los Angeles, Trenton, Columbia, Jacksonville, Flint, Baltimore, Boston, Birmingham, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Savannah, and Jackson.
Urban contemporary includes the more contemporary elements of R&B and may incorporate production elements found in urban pop, urban Euro-pop, urban rock, and urban alternative.
The term urban contemporary is heavily associated with African-American music, particularly with R&B in African-American contexts.
Urban contemporary playlists are dominated by singles by top-selling hip hop and R&B performers.
On occasion, an urban contemporary station will play classic soul songs from the 1970s and early 1980s to satisfy the earlier end of the genre.
Mainstream urban is a branch of urban contemporary, and rhythmic contemporary is also a branch.
The station was an instant success, the most listened-to radio station in the country.
In 1975, WDMT in Cleveland began programming a mix of rhythm, blues, R&B, disco, and rap.
The station's popularity grew and in 1980, it was Arbitron rated No.
2 12+, just behind the No.
Freddie Jackson and Luther Vandross were popular in urban contemporary music scene.
WBLS continued as the flagship station of the urban format; however, Kiss FM surpassed them in the ratings.
Another successful early urban outlet was WDRQ in Detroit, which switched from a top 40 format in the spring of 1982 and made a #2 showing 12+ in its first Arbitron ratings book.
In addition to rap, R&B and dance music, WDRQ featured mainstream pop music with a danceable beat from artists.
Many radio stations imitated the urban sound since it was proven to be more profitable than other formats and had proven itself more adept than straightforward black-targeted R&B formats at attracting white and Latino listeners.
Another subformat of urban contemporary is rhythmic contemporary hits which plays a great deal of dance music.
Since the 1990s, as urban contemporary hits have dominated the US pop charts, many top 40 stations have turned to playing tracks popular on urban contemporary radio stations.
Following periods of fluctuating success, urban music attained commercial dominance during the early 2000s, which featured massive crossover success on the Billboard charts by R&B and hip hop artists.
Along with Usher's streak of singles, top 40 radio and both pop and R&B charts were topped by OutKast's "Hey Ya! ", Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot", Terror Squad's "Lean Back" and Ciara's "Goodies".
Chris Molanphy of The Village Voice later remarked that by the early 2000s, urban music was pop music
By the late 2000s, urban music had taken a backseat on top 40 radio to mainstream EDM sounds, and several successful urban artists, including Rihanna, Chris Brown, Ciara, Usher, Nicole Scherzinger, Akon, Trey Songz, Pitbull, Flo Rida, and Ne-Yo, were making EDM records for top 40 airplay while continuing to make hip hop or pure R&B records for urban airplay.
Pure urban formats continue to be successful in markets with large African-American populations, while medium or smaller markets are more likely to feature urban music through the subset of rhythmic contemporary stations with danceable mainstream hits mixed in.
The Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration has been awarded since 2002.
There is disagreement in the music industry over the use of the term urban in describing music genres and formats, especially among African-American artists who sees the term as a "catchall for music created by Black artists, regardless of genre".. Lance Venta of radio industry publication RadioInsight claimed that the term urban is outdated in that hip hop and R&B music have gained massive popularity outside the inner cities and the descriptor should not serve as a euphemism for "black music".
He recommended substituting the terms hip hop for the urban contemporary format and adult R&B for urban adult contemporary.
Tyler, the Creator have stated that "[i]t sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that's genre-bending or that's anything, they always put it in a rap or urban category", adding that "I don't like that 'urban' word — it's just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me".
Myron Fears, operations manager and program director of the black owned Carter Broadcast Group in Kansas City, defended the use of the urban tag.
Responding to Republic's elimination of the term, he expressed concern that the action diminishes the status of black music executives within record companies and the industry as a whole:
In June 2020, Republic Records and artist management company Milk & Honey stated that they would drop the use of the word in relation to music of a black origin.
Similarly, the National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences renamed and redefined the Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album with Best Progressive R&B Album, "to appropriately categorize and describe this subgenre.
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".
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban contemporary.