Taio Cruz on the term “Urban”

Taio Cruz sparked some conversation on Twitter today, questioning, ‘What does “Urban” really mean?’

This is conversation that has been tossed around frequently, but seemingly never loud enough. “Urban” music and culture, a label generally affixed quite sloppily to all genres and sub-genres which includes, samples or capitalises on music (or culture) of Black origin – is one that I’m not particularly fond of either.

However, since the moniker has existed for at least 5 years, is it too late to unlearn the term? And what would possibly be the alternative? I feel a replacement word for “urban” would probably be much worst. Personally, I don’t feel that any term needs to be affixed to market or sell music made by Black artists – in this day and age it should just be MUSIC. Shouldn’t defining the sound sonically – R&B, soul, pop, funk, hip hop, grime, etc, be enough?

Interestingly, if there was one artist I didn’t imagine to vocalise an opinion about such things, it’d probably have been Taio Cruz. The popstar spoke openly and frankly about his opinion on “Urban” labelling.

Im thinking “urban” is politically correct speak for “Black” – Highly annoying!! I’d prefer it if people just had the guts to say black! I would just like people to #CallItWhatItIs. I cant stand the lazy branding for any music black kids make as Urban! Highly Annoying! If only people would class u by your creations & not on face value; and judge u by your actions & not on skin color. This goes for everyone! I just like people to #keepitreal. Taio Cruz – Black producer who makes hip hop, rnb, dance, and pop. Urban is not a genre of music

Taio’s twitter page @TaioCruz

What do YOU think about the term “urban”?