Why The Urban Contemporary Grammy Is Important To The Exposure Of Non-Traditional R&B

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It’s been five years since lauded R&B producer Ivan Barias (famously known for being one half of production duo Carvin & Ivan), helped to create the Grammys ‘Urban Contemporary Album’ category as a home for exceptional non-traditional R&B releases. Speaking with The FADER previously, Barias explained that the category includes, “anyone that’s singing on urban radio, [sic] not doing anything that you would call traditional R&B.”

As the 59th Annual Grammy Awards are only days away, the producer shared some more insight about why putting nominees like Beyonce and Rihanna against emerging artists serves as ‘positive osmosis for music.’ Continuing the conversation with The FADER again, Barias spoke about the boundless evolution of music genres and why it’s important for The Recording Academy to honor a dynamic combination of exceptional artists despite their level of popularity.


IVAN BARIAS: To me, this year’s nominations typify what the true spirit of that category is supposed to be. In the past, people have looked at the name “Urban Contemporary” and they automatically think that it has black connotations but it really doesn’t. It’s indicative of a certain musical energy that encompasses all of the diverse genres of urban music. [The category is meant to] celebrate all of these other artists who tend to pull from different genres; for example, there’s a lot of albums in that category that contain elements of R&B, hip-hop, pop, rock, and electronic dance music.

The goal was always to have all of this music in one space. Music is so diverse now, a lot of times you can’t really categorize things for what you want to categorize them as. It’s like what are they? Are they soul? Are they R&B? Jazz? Electronic? The blessing of having such diverse music exist in the same field together is, you get such a residual interest from what one artist would generate. That’s going to be something for them that will expose them.

Read the full interview here.

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