Urban Contemporary or Contemporary R&B?

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On Urban page is written that "Urban was the term given to the R&B/soul music of the 1980s and '90s." and on Contemporary R&B page is written that "Contemporary R&B developed after years of urban R&B." So, i suppose that Contemporary R&B is the R&B/soul music of the '00s and '10s. But doing a research, i looked that many albums from the past decades has Contemporary R&B as style and not Urban. Some examples are Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982) and Dangerous (1991) by Michael Jackson. Robbery (1983) by Teena Marie, Parade (1986) by Prince & the Revolution, Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989) by Janet Jackson. Diamond Life (1984) by Sade has both Urban and Contemporary R&B.

Is there an explanation? Are they the same thing? However, i knew that Urban Contemporary is a radio format, not a style.
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Posted 8 years ago

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Photo of johnbush360


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Very good question, thanks for asking.

From an editorial perspective, the terms are virtually interchangeable, but Urban is more a radio format and a chart term, so it's not necessarily a great name for a musical style. We added a style for Contemporary R&B after we added Urban, and several years ago began to phase out Urban from the styles that we assign. You will definitely still see it, but you can basically substitute Contemporary R&B for Urban (and vice versa) wherever you find either of them.

John Bush
AMG Senior Managing Editor, Pop Music
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John, I'm also against radio/chart formats defining musical styles. Currently, AMG's R&B genre at http://www.allmusic.com/explore/genre... has the following "metastyles": Contemporary R&B, Early R&B, Funk, Hip-Hop/Urban, R&B/Soul, Soul, and Urban.

Most of these metastyles are also listed as a style under another metastyle. "Urban" actually redirects to a style under the metastyle Dance, which is missing from the metastyles in the R&B genre. On Beta, the Urban style is instead listed under the subgenre of Contemporary R&B.

Why does Beta's R&B genre at http://beta.allmusic.com/genre/r-b-ma... include only 3 of the metastyles as subgenres? Why do the styles listed under Beta's subgenre differ from those listed under metastyles?
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hi Rootsmusic,
We've tried to update some of the hierarchies to bring them more up-to-date for 2012. Many of these had not been looked at or updated since the 2004 re-design and we found them to be confusing to a lot of users.

We've tried to lay out these paths in a manner that makes sense to users (but may not be exactly the same as they were on the legacy site).

If you take a look at the current Rap page, Gangsta Rap appears in three places (and the Style of Gangsta Rap is not within the SubGenre of Gangsta Rap):

The new version is more of a direct hierarchy with Styles residing within single SubGenres in an effort to guide users to the information about the specific kinds of music they're looking for.

I hope this makes sense. I really hope it does.
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Thanks for the answer, Mr. Bush. But at this point, don't you think that the two pages should merge? Also because the two different descriptions may be confusing to users.