meta-scriptArtists Who Define Afrofuturism In Music: Sun Ra, Flying Lotus, Janelle Monae, Shabaka Hutchings & More | GRAMMY.com
Artists Who Define Afrofuturism In Music: Sun Ra, Flying Lotus, Janelle Monae, Shabaka Hutchings & More
Sun Ra and his Sun Ra Archestra perform in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1978

Photo: Leni Sinclair/Getty Images

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Artists Who Define Afrofuturism In Music: Sun Ra, Flying Lotus, Janelle Monae, Shabaka Hutchings & More

Afrofuturism — the "intersection of imagination, technology, the future and liberation" centered on the African diaspora — includes a history of classics and contemporary visionaries. Explore some of the musicians behind this ever-evolving genre.

GRAMMYs/Oct 18, 2022 - 01:46 pm

Web3, cryptocurrency, NFTs — these were all imaginative ideas that appeared in lyrics from OutKast and Shabazz Palaces way before they became trending topics. Ideas that stem from an innate love that Black culture has with science fiction and world-building. If you YouTube Goodie Mobb’s "Cell Therapy," you’ll watch them highlight concerns about the technology that has now become your Face ID on your mobile device.

All of these concepts originates from Afrofuturism, a belief coined by critic Mark Dery in 1994’s
Black to the Future, and combines elements of astral jazz, Black American sci-fi, and psychedelic hip-hop into an imaginative, alternative vision of tomorrow. Rooted in exploring the otherworldliness that exists in Black artistry, Afrofuturism is directly responsible for Black Panther’s global success, and how artists like FKA twigs and THEESatisfaction were able to breakthrough in a crowded soundscape.

Culturally, Afrofuturism, as argued by author Ytasha L. Womack, is a "cultural and artistic practice that goes back to ancient African griot traditions and Egyptian astronomy," even describing it as" the intersection between Black culture, technology, liberation, and the imagination, with some mysticism thrown in, too." As Afrofuturism has become more visible and championed in pop culture, Afrofuturistic music offers a hopeful vision to a community whose existence has long been marginalized and ignored by mainstream gatekeepers.

This list champions the artists and creatives who have defined and iterated on Afrofuturism, inviting exploration of this rich sonic universe.

Sun Ra

Sun Ra is and will forever be a legend. Influenced by his Afrocentric spiritualism, Ra’s music is imbued with a powerful energy that levitated listeners to new galaxies, taking them on sonic voyages, while exploring themes that related (and released them from) to the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

Ra’s imagination was unparalleled and his music, which dominated spaces from the mid-1950s until his death, made him a svengali of symbolism, imagery, and sound. With his Arkestra, Ra blended ancient Egyptian mythology, the aspirations of the Black community, and multidimensional expression that continues to have significant impact. And even with his spirit transitioned onto another plane, The Sun Ra Arkestra remains active, performing under the leadership of veteran Ra sideman Marshall Allen.

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu, a Queen Mother who defies description, ushered in a higher level of consciousness in R&B. Unapologetically Black and an effortless communicator, Badu spoke to the needs of Black women and the community as a whole.

Badu’s visual aesthetic — innovative music videos, remixed hip-hop fashion, and shaman-esque live performances — balanced our real-life, near-dystopian reality with the hope that the Black woman is not only the Alpha-and-Omega but the key to saving our world. 

As Baduizm came into being in 1997, just as Mark Dery’s theories were taking shape, the two symbiotic pairings would open the door for new languages and practices. Through her music and presence, Badu pushed R&B forward in a freer and more eccentric way.

Shabaka Hutchings

The much-acclaimed jazz musician and bandleader, Shabaka Hutchings, says a lot in his music and if listening closely enough then you’re welcomed to already be in the know.

Hutchings, alongside his bands Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming, not only adopts Sun Ra and Afrofuturism into his work but are also genuine fans of the genre. From reading N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy to using messages that are squarely from a Black POV, Hutchings is a masterful innovator whose sharp social critique asks the necessary questions that could create a better future.

Betty Davis

In the vast realm of Blackness, which typifies Afrofuturism, there was an irreverent goddess and funk pioneer who averted simplistic viewpoints in favor of commingling contrasts, paradoxes and presumed oppositions. Betty Davis was her name and her broad, theatrical form of visual and musical storytelling has been adapted by the likes of the aforementioned Erykah Badu and new genre stars like Durand Bernarr.

With songs rooted in describing the Black working-class women’s experiences in street culture, she never bit her tongue. The cover of her 1974 album, They Say I’m Different, exemplifies this greatly, as she was photographed in a space-age outfit, and forever demonstrated how magically surreal she truly was.

George Clinton/Parliament Funkadelic

There have been many who have embraced the funk, but none — other than its architect James Brown — have used it to totally rewrite the rules of music history. George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic directly addressed stigmas and taboos attached to race, gender, class and sexuality, incorporating  theatrics that impressed young artists like Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar.

More than any other funk collective at the time, the group experimented with Afrofuturism. Their Mothership mirrored Sun Ra’s own plan for Black people to escape a racist planet, departing for a utopia that existed elsewhere in space. With funkier-than-a-mug characters like Dr. Funkenstein and Star Child, as well as avant garde players like Bootsy Collins — Clinton’s Afrofuturist funk reflected a "backward and forward" vision that is still being clamored for.

Janelle Monáe

A multifaceted phenomenon and serious force on the stage and screen, Janelle Monáe has gone from a recluse singer-songwriter under the Bad Boy label to a trailblazer for inclusionary rights in the LGBTQ+ community and an ASCAP Vanguard recipient.

Monáe has used Afrofuturism on concept albums like
Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) to her first full-length studio album, The ArchAndroid to Dirty Computer. By elaborating on funk’s theatrical nature and using the love of artificial intelligence, non-human lifeforms, and other worlds as a form of storytelling, Monáe differentiates herself among other Afrofuturists as a"free-ass-motherf—ker" and griot worth keeping on repeat.

Flying Lotus

Afrofuturism is a label that usually gets slapped on Flying Lotus, the Los Angeles, California native, but not one that normally sticks. The man born Steven Ellison was always known as being left-of-center, but in 2008, he delved into sci-fi as a way of processing grief around his mother’s terminal illness.

On "Galaxy in Janaki," an impressionistic space opera, he employed sounds recorded from the monitors and respirators that kept his mother alive. That effort grew into celebrated works like Cosmogramma, Until the Quiet Comes, and 2015’s GRAMMY-nominated ode to limbo, You’re Dead. A mad scientist who is as inventive as his lineage — his great aunt and uncle are Alice and John Coltrane — FlyLo proves to be deft at crafting emotion without using many words at all.\

Grace Jones

For years, Grace Jones has been more than a supermodel, more than a diva, and more than what any person can handle. The subversive Jamaican-born multihyphenate has always been ahead, forcing many to reframe how Black women were defined. Not overtly feminine or masculine, Jones' appearance and performance played with being non-binary at a time when only David Bowie was engaging with futurity with such ease.

The now 74-year-old artist still uses disruptions in her work. With her tenth album, 2008’s Hurricane, she delved into sonic landscapes with Tricky with much more success than more of her "alternative" contemporaries, making her live experience one never to miss.

OutKast

Those two dope boyz in a Cadillac have always been futuristic and plain ole’ funky. Before André 3000 and Big Boi became immortal legends, OutKast was the strangely cool outlier in the East Coast-West Coast-dominated rap landscape. Along with the Dungeon Family, Goodie Mob, Killer Mike, and a host of other legendary producers — the Mighty O changed how the culture regarded southern hip-hop. They definitely had something to say, and their messages are still being felt.

Billed as ATLiens, the duo channeled the imagination of George Clinton, the force of Rakim and KRS-One, and the effortless cool that led to audio revolutions all beneath the Mason-Dixon line. With themes such as knowledge of self, revolution, and dream-walking — OutKast might not have been the Afrofuturists that the culture expected, but surely were the ones hip-hop needed.

Shabazz Palaces

Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire are Shabazz Palaces, an atmospheric, bassed-out duo that comes from rap music’s id. Less interested in being formulaic, Shabazz Palaces is more about enrichment, offering solutions to one’s problems, embracing Afrofuturism, and emphasizing being socially conscious.

From their style of dress to their visual aesthetic, Ishmael, a former member of
Digable Planets, may come off as plain weird to those who are only into  the scam-raps and crypto-flexing found in today’s chart-topping songs. But this duo is progressive AF, laying down enough jewels for the next generation of hip-hop stars to stand out.

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2023 Year In Review: 5 Trends That Defined R&B
(From left) Babyface, Emily King, SZA, Usher & Summer Walker

**Photos: **Steve Granitz/FilmMagic; Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Webby Awards; Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ABA; Paras Griffin/Getty Images

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2023 Year In Review: 5 Trends That Defined R&B

R&B dominated in 2023, with women leading the vocal-charge behind R&B’s biggest recognitions. From deep confessional projects to the comeback of Usher, check out this year’s R&B biggest trends

GRAMMYs/Dec 27, 2023 - 05:42 pm

R&B lovers were spoiled in 2023. 

Talented legends received well-deserved flowers, while focused newcomers celebrated many exciting firsts. Usher set his sights on an epic comeback, and Best New Artist nominees Coco Jones and Victoria Monét (who are nominated in the category alongside Gracie Abrams, Fred again.., Ice Spice, Jelly Roll, Noah Kahan, and The War And Treaty) set the R&B charts ablaze while embarking on their first headlining tours.

R&B in particular is set up for a big year at the 2024 GRAMMYs: SZA earned the most nominations at the 66th GRAMMY Awards with a total of nine, followed by Monét with seven nods. What's more, women led the way in the genre this year — four out of the five Best R&B Album and Best R&B Song nominees are ladies.

As R&B music continues to evolve and shatter naysayers' expectations, revisit some of the biggest trends that defined the genre in 2023.

The Ladies Dominated

Women ate and left no crumbs in 2023. Vulnerable as ever, self-discovery through romantic heartbreak was a common theme — as evidenced by Emily King and Summer Walker's confessional projects (more on those later).

R&B-infused bangers from Tyla and Tems took the male-dominated Afrobeats genre by storm, while Chlöe and Halle Bailey's solo endeavors set the sisters apart creatively. Janelle Monáe's first album in five years saw her basking in the fierceness of sexual freedom. Part of R&B's new class, Kiana Ledé joined forces with London-born Ella Mai for a "strong R&B girl moment" and her first release of 2023, "Jealous," is set to appear on Ledé's upcoming sophomore album.

Women were the highlight of Babyface's collaborative Girls Night Out — which is nominated for Best R&B Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs alongside Coco Jones' What I Didn't Tell You (Deluxe), Victoria Monet's JAGUAR II, Emily King's Special Occasion, and Summer Walker's CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE. Singers Ari Lennox, Kehlani, Muni Long, Queen Naija, and a host of other female R&B artists shined bright as they belted out tunes about the highs and lows of love.

But the year in R&B unequivocally belonged to SZA, who boasts the most nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs, including Record of the Year, Song Of The Year, and Album Of The Year.

Women Made Vulnerability Their Superpower

The ladies of R&B took the confessional route with their 2023 projects. On Special Occasion, Emily King channeled the inevitable pain brought on by the end of her 15-year relationship but not without leaving room for joy — from the delightful opening track "This Year" to feeling regretful on "Bad Memory." Summer Walker similarly left it all on the table with CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE, a nine-track EP that chronicles her frustration with feeling undervalued in relationships. The frankness of "Hardlife" speaks to the emotional burdens many Black women face in their relationships and beyond.

SZA's SOS (nominated for Album Of The Year alongside Jon Batiste's World Music Radio, boygenius' the record, Miley Cyrus' Endless Summer Vacation, Lana Del Rey's Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, Janelle Monáe's The Age Of Pleasure, Olivia Rodrigo's GUTS, and Taylor Swift's Midnights) was the gift that kept on giving in 2023. Self-described as "bizarre acts of self-embarrassment," SOS solidifies SZA as a generational talent as she fearlessly toys with folk ("Special") and grunge ("F2F") and spits rap verses ("Smoking on My Ex Pack") like it's nothing all while wearing her heart on her sleeve. That unapologetic candor is what makes SOS such a standout.

R&B Veterans Made A Comeback

Nostalgia was front and center in 2023 as acts like New Edition announced a 2024 Las Vegas residency and Y2K-era duos like Ashanti and Nelly gave love (and touring) a second chance.

After two show-stopping runs in 2021 and 2022, Usher's acclaimed Las Vegas residency continued well into 2023 and solidified him as the "New King of Vegas." In between shows, the eight-time GRAMMY winner released "Good Good" featuring Summer Walker and 21 Savage — signaling a new and exciting era that also includes a headlining spot at the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show. The performance will coincide with a global tour and the release of Coming Home, marking Usher's first studio album in nearly a decade. 

Babyface kicked off 2023 with "As a Matter of Fact," his first solo record in eight years. It spent five consecutive weeks atop Billboard’s Adult R&B Airplay chart, becoming his longest-running single. In June, Babyface crammed four decades' worth of music into his NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which included snippets of his own hits like "Whip Appeal" and beloved songs he penned for other artists like Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" and Tevin Campbell's "Can We Talk." The latter song is sampled in his duet with Ella Mai, "Keeps On Fallin'." 

Meanwhile, vocal powerhouse Cheryl Lynn's 1983 hit "Encore" went viral on TikTok. Penned by the legendary duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the song's resurgence 40 years later even took Lynn by surprise. "What in the world is going on?" she tweeted. The "Got to Be Real" singer now boasts over 500 million Spotify streams.

New Names Shined Bright

While icons like Usher, Babyface, and Cheryl Lynn took us down memory lane, Best New Artist nominees Coco Jones and Victoria Monét achieved critical and commercial success while proving that the future of R&B is in gifted hands.

Thousands of miles away in South Africa, 21-year-old Tyla's "Water" cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first solo song by a South African artist to chart since Hugh Masekela's "Grazing in the Grass" 55 years ago. "Water" is nominated for Best African Music Performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs alongside ASAKE & Olamide's "Amapiano," Burna Boy's "City Boys," Davido's "UNAVAILABLE" featuring Musa Keys, and Ayra Starr's "Rush."

Two weeks after inking a new deal with Epic Records, Mariah the Scientist kept the celebratory vibes going by dropping her third studio album, To Be Eaten Alive, on her 26th birthday. Lead single "From a Woman" not only answers boyfriend Young Thug's "From a Man," but it explores relationship-centric vulnerability and surrender through the lens of empowerment. "I close my eyes and trust your plan / Won't let no one force my hand," she sings softly against a smooth beat — illustrating that the studio is indeed a creative lab for the former biology student.

EPs Stole The Show

Many emerging artists are choosing to release EPs over studio albums as a more cost-effective way of establishing their fan base while creating anticipation for future full-length projects. In fact, two of the five nominated works in this year's Best R&B Album category are categorized as EPs.

After many years of putting out music independently, Coco Jones' debut EP, What I Didn't Tell You, repositioned the 25-year-old "Bel-Air star" as someone worth watching on the charts. "Sometimes people see me as the characters I play, but these stories are my own script," Jones shared in a press release. Becoming her first-ever entry on the Hot 100, Jones' "ICU" is nominated for Best R&B Song (alongside Halle Bailey's "Angel," Robert Glasper's "Back To Love" featuring SiR & Alex Isley, Victoria Monét's "On My Mama," and SZA's "Snooze"). The sizzling ballad is also up for Best R&B Performance (alongside Chris Brown's "Summer Too Hot," Glasper's "Back To Love, Victoria Monét's "How Does It Make You Feel," and SZA's "Kill Bill").

Following the success of Summer Walker's 2021 sophomore effort, Still Over It, many fans awaited another studio album from the 27-year-old mother of three. But in late spring, Walker surprised audiences by dropping an EP titled, CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE. Walker is diaristic in detailing her journey toward joy and self-compassion, from being fed up in "Mind Yo Mouth" to holding herself accountable on closer "Agayu's Revelation."

Whether you prefer the old or new school, R&B's biggest names are putting their own spin on a decades-old sound, proving that the genre knows no bounds.

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Pop Music

Here Are The Album Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs
(Clockwise): Jon Batiste, Olivia Rodrigo, Janelle Monae, Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, boygenius, SZA, Taylor Swift

Photos (clockwise, from top left): Dave Benett/Getty Images for Alexander McQueen; Image from TiVO; Mason Rose; Image from TiVO; Arturo Holmes/Getty Images; Image from TiVO; Prince Williams/WireImage; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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Here Are The Album Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs

The 2024 GRAMMY nominees for Album Of The Year have arrived: Jon Batiste, boygenius, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Janelle Monáe, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, and SZA.

GRAMMYs/Nov 10, 2023 - 04:16 pm

In a world dominated by singles and streaming, it's even more important for albums to be cherished and preserved. The Recording Academy celebrates albums as essential, beloved formats of artistic expression, especially in the coveted Album Of The Year Category.

From gutsy pop to psychedelic soul, the eight nominees for Album Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMYs — which are notably dominated by women, people of color, and the queer community — are a reflection of the joyous diversity within the music community.

Below, take a deeper dive into who's in the running for Album Of The Year on Music's Biggest Night.

Jon Batiste — World Music Radio

On the opening track of World Music Radio, Jon Batiste importantly reminds listeners that music is not just a passive recreation, but an experience. Or, at least the interstellar radio host Billy Bob does.

Narrated by Billy Bob, Batiste's 21-song concept album is made to sound like it's an actual radio station; amid intermittent static and between-song messaging, the station welcomes a slew of high-profile musical guests, ranging from Lana Del Rey to NewJeans to Lil Wayne. Including everything from smooth DJ interludes to crystal-clear saxophone solos to sparkling piano riffs, World Music Radio has something for everyone within its one-hour runtime.

With five GRAMMYs under his belt — including one for Album Of The Year — Batiste understands the significance of pushing boundaries in music. Consequently, World Music Radio questions genre as much as it questions how we can make the world a more inclusive place.

According to an Instagram post, Batiste's album aims to "'re-examine and redefine terms like world music as they exist in the culture."' The "'re"' prefix is what music is all about: reliving memories, reinventing what's been done before, and redefining things we previously thought we understood. Riding the airwaves all the way to an Album Of The Year nomination, Batiste's latest visionary work reminds us to reconsider what we think we know — and then, dial in.

boygenius — the record

On the vinyl version of the record, a locked groove leaves listeners perpetually listening to a single word: "'waiting."' The lyric goes eternally unfinished.

But good things come to those who wait, and for boygenius, a year like 2023 has never made this more discernible. Less than a year after the group debuted at Coachella and embarked on not one but two tours, they're now in the running for the GRAMMY for Album Of The Year.

Skyrocketing to headliner fame this year, the indie rock supergroup composed of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus released their debut album back in spring. Preceded only by a singular, successful EP from five years prior, the record proves itself to be very much worth the wait: chock-full of dreams of arson, $20 bills, and calls to kill the bourgeois, it froths with charisma and jocular amity.

This marks boygenius' first collective GRAMMY nomination, as well as the first nominations for Baker and Dacus. Bridgers' Punisher made her a 4-time GRAMMY nominee at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards. But it's not the group's only nod at the 2024 show — boygenius earned six nominations in total, including Record Of The Year.

What makes the record so momentous is its testament to the trio's vibrant, long-standing friendship — specifically, a companionship rooted in queerness, as well as in opposition to the idea that women in the industry should be pitted against each other. the record intensely and unmistakably feels the gravity of their organic bond, and in this way, it stands for so much more than 12 songs.

Miley Cyrus — Endless Summer Vacation

It's time to give Miley Cyrus her flowers. The GRAMMY-nominated artist already struck gold earlier this year, with her liberating lead single "'Flowers"' breaking records left and right. The track blossoms with the sweet nectar of independence, and this embrace of freedom is the heart of Endless Summer Vacation.

Her album's title denotes a perpetual stretch into eternity, but if there's one thing Cyrus is known for, it's change. Whether it's radically altering her style or switching up her aesthetic, the longtime pop queen knows that creative adaptability is one of her many strengths.

Endless Summer Vacation spotlights this versatility, from Cyrus warmly soaking up "'Violet Chemistry"' to reflecting on when she "'Used To Be Young."' Her signature gravelly drawl suits the album's disco-infused, beachy production — a major shift from the unyielding, punk rock of predecessor Plastic Hearts (2020), or the power pop-trap spotlighted on her 2019 EP, SHE IS COMING.

Notably, this marks Cyrus' first Album Of The Year nomination for her own work (she received a nod for her feature on Lil Nas X's 2021 LP Montero). The honor praises not just Endless Summer Vacation as a salient career highlight, but also applauds the singer's resilience after years of musical shapeshifting — Cyrus was due for a well-deserved vacation.

Lana Del Rey — Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd

On her ninth studio album, Lana Del Rey honors kintsugi, or the ​​Japanese art of repairing broken pottery pieces with gold. Now, with an Album Of The Year nomination, she could be taking home GRAMMY gold.

Del Rey's last nomination in this Big Four category was for Norman Fucking Rockwell! at the 2020 GRAMMYs. While NFR! freewheeled along the West Coast, paving a soft rock landscape inspired by '70s Americana, Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd leans away from Del Rey's habitual worldbuilding. Instead, the singer let spirituality guide her music-making process, dabbling in everything from gospel to trap.

Even though Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd is Del Rey's most natural album yet, the work still feels otherworldly. Throwing caution to the wind, she delves into the multifaceted nature of her identity, candidly examining personal matters relating to religion, mortality and family.

In the same way a pottery artist might delicately approach kintsugi, Del Rey approaches making music with a keen eye and open heart. She searches for ways to sculpt beauty from flaws and fractures — after all, that's how the light gets in.

Janelle Monáe — The Age Of Pleasure

The rush of a crush, the sigh from a single touch — euphoria comes in many beautiful forms, and on her latest album, Janelle Monáe wants you to experience all of them.

The Age Of Pleasure ushers in Monáe's vision of rapture, dreamily blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. The 10-time GRAMMY-nominated artist has long defied labels, whether it be regarding genre or their personal identity, and their latest album celebrates love in all its color and fluidity.

It's all smooth sailing in The Age Of Pleasure. Soulfully, the multihyphenate singer swims through romantic R&B, plunges into funky rap, and bathes in soft pop radiance — but above all, Monáe floats. She's untroubled and unbothered, and that's more than enough to warrant raising a glass.

Monáe's nomination for Album Of The Year acknowledges not just the thrill of living a life carefree, but also celebrates the divinity of all-encompassing love. The album is more than hips and lips galore: beyond giving into passion, it's about cherishing community and, most importantly, choosing joy for yourself.

Olivia Rodrigo — GUTS

Though she's the youngest nominee on the list, Olivia Rodrigo knows she has nothing to prove.

Already a 3-time GRAMMY winner before her 20th birthday, the "'drivers license"' singer/songwriter unsurprisingly resisted the sophomore slump. On her plucky second album GUTS, she leans a little more into punkish pent-up rage than the crying-on-the-bathroom-floor heartache of her 2021 debut, SOUR — and impressively, her determination earned her a second consecutive GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year.

Whether her self-reflection appears in the form of piano-led balladry or pop-rock headbangers, Rodrigo tackles wilted relationships, growing pains and everything in between with her characteristically refreshing charm. From the gritty, Joan Didion-inspired "'all american b—"' to the leave-him-to-rot breakup anthem "'vampire,"' GUTS knows how to make a statement without forgetting to have a bit of fun.

Rodrigo, who won the GRAMMY for Best New Artist at the 2022 ceremony, understands the resonant power of her pen, and the singer's swift ascent to fame mirrors her swelling talent. It's already been almost two years since the smash success of "'drivers license,"' but Rodrigo isn't taking her foot off the gas.

Taylor Swift — Midnights

Best believe Taylor Swift is still bejeweled.

Of the megastar's extensive discography, Midnights might just be its crowning jewel thus far. Swift's tenth studio album dives deeper into pop experimentalism, steering away from the indie folk journeys that folklore and evermore so calmly encompassed; Midnights silhouettes the life of a beloved, high-profile "'Anti-Hero"' and assertively offers some of Swift's most ambitious work yet.

It's this fearless ambition that makes Swift no stranger to the GRAMMYs. On top of nearly 50 nominations total, the 12-time GRAMMY winner is the first and only woman solo artist to win Album Of The Year three times for her solo recordings. As Swifties know, she loves to break her own records — and if Midnights takes home GRAMMY gold, Swift would become the artist with the most Album Of The Year wins of all time.

This Midnights nomination marks a climax for Swift's career, and even though the singer has collected countless milestones, this year might be her most colossal yet. As she continues to bring all of her musical eras to life, Swift isn't just reliving her musical past — she's writing her future.

SZA — SOS

SZA knows how to build anticipation. Keeping her fans in suspense for five years, the prolific GRAMMY winner released her 2022 sophomore album SOS to wide critical acclaim — and while its title suggests a sense of helplessness, SOS puts forth plenty of strength.

SZA understands the vast power of vulnerability, and she wields this power expertly, whether it be forcefully or delicately. During the album's wade through loneliness and insecurity, the singer occasionally employs features from friends like Don Toliver, Phoebe Bridgers, and Travis Scott, but above all, SZA's self-discovery remains in the spotlight.

The R&B star scored her first GRAMMY just two years ago, sharing the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Doja Cat for their lovable collaboration "'Kiss Me More"' at the 2022 GRAMMYs. While the pop-rap collaboration bubbles with lost-in-the-moment delight, SOS looks at life with a wider lens; in her single "'Shirt,"' SZA admits that she's "'in the dark right now/ feeling lost but I like it,"' and it's these glimmers of self-assurance that show her a light at the end of the tunnel.

This Album Of The Year nomination nods to the singer's personal growth since her 2017 debut Ctrl. Although SZA sings about a fear of letting other people define her, SOS rejects other people's terms and soars as a bold reclamation: by defying others, she rediscovers herself.

The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.

The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy's Voting Membership.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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7 Unforgettable Sets From Outside Lands 2023: Foo Fighters' Special Guests, Lana Del Rey's Return & A Superhero DJ Shaq
Janelle Monáe performs at the 2023 Outside Lands Festival

Photo: Steve Jennings/WireImage

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7 Unforgettable Sets From Outside Lands 2023: Foo Fighters' Special Guests, Lana Del Rey's Return & A Superhero DJ Shaq

The 15th edition of San Francisco’s foggy summer festival brought the musical heat — and lots of wild surprises.

GRAMMYs/Aug 15, 2023 - 01:57 pm

On Aug. 11-13, Outside Lands returned to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the 15th time. The city's premiere multi-day music and food festival attracted approximately 75,000 daily attendees, and promoter Another Planet says that about half of the 225,000 ticket holders live outside the Bay Area. 

Though it takes place in the peak of summer, San Francisco in August is relatively cold and nicknamed "Fogust," which may have shocked any of the out of towners who showed up in shorts and barely-there tops.

The mild weather conditions meant that the true heat was left up to the performers  to generate, and the more than 90 acts happily delivered. Below, we recount seven of the sets that were worth braving the summer cold to witness.

Shaq Takes Day One Championship

Moonlighting as DJ Diesel, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal apologized for starting his incredibly surprising set a few minutes late.

"Sorry I’m late, I was just hanging with Steph Curry and Draymond Green," he said, name checking the Golden State Warriors’ star players. He laced his banter with basketball metaphors and later brought out Warriors guard Gary Payton II to play Queen’s "We Are The Champions" in the team’s honor.

After dropping jaws by firing up aggressively, atonal EDM beats, he invited the crush of fans to come up on stage and "party with Diesel" one at a time. His set veered from Guns N Roses to Imogen Heap and he has to be the first DJ to call for a "ladies only mosh pit" while playing Aqua’s "Barbie World." 

When he threw a young blonde boy on his shoulders and they both pumped their fists in unison, it was everything — and that’s how a superhero DJs.

Janelle Monáe Celebrates The Fam

With a towering stack of Jamaican sound system-styled speakers, giant beach balls, a towel-waisted band and swimsuited dancers, Janelle Monáe brought the sexy "Black Sugar Beach" and "Lipstick Lover" vibes of her new album The Age of Pleasure to the Lands End main stage, which she last graced in 2018. 

Monáe has since come out as nonbinary and greatly expanded her fanbase; at Outside Lands, she dedicated her performance to "my community, the LGBTQIA+ community," saying, "I love you so much. To be Black, to be queer, to be nonbinary, to evolve and to have family like you is a blessing."

Monáe’s natural charisma has only gotten sharper over time, and her dance moves are more infused with the quick steps of the Godfather of Soul James Brown and Prince. Her almost Rockettes-level line choreography with her dancers has leveled up as well.

This year’s Outside Lands also saw the debut of the LGBTQIA+-centric Dolores’ stage, which was powered all weekend by local party crews such as Hard French, Fake and Gay and Oasis. A highlight was Reparations, an all-Black drag show hosted by the incomparable Nicki Jizz, San Francisco’s serial Drag Queen of the Year (according to local publication 48 Hills) who wore a large penis hat that she claimed was true to her actual size. The most overtly queer-friendly edition of Outside Lands was something beautiful to continue and build on in the future.

Kendrick Lamar Brings The Friday Night Light

Last seen rapping to a small but rapturous crowd on a secondary stage at Outside Lands in 2015, Kendrick Lamar has grown immeasurably as a recording artist and live performer. Lamar commanded the Lands End stage, closing the festival’s first night with quietly assertive control and grace in a performance that felt like a rightful graduation. This veritable elder statesman slot has been previously held by major acts like Radiohead, Neil Young With Crazy Horse and Paul McCartney.

His 2022 album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers featured prominently in the 21-song set, which included leftfield covers of Pusha T’s "Nosetalgia" and The Weeknd’s "Sidewalks." But Lamar knows that people still want to yell their lungs out to earlier cuts like "Swimming Pools (Drank)," "Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe," "m.A.A.d city," "HUMBLE." and "Alright" and he obliged.

Lana Del Rey Swings Back To Twin Peaks

Flower crowns were all the rage when Lana Del Rey made her Outside Lands debut in 2016 at Twin Peaks, the festival’s second largest stage. A new generation has since discovered the singer’s outsize character and vibe, and as the gates opened on Saturday, giddy groups of teenage girls rushed to park themselves at the edge of that very same stage to catch Del Rey’s big return to Golden Gate Park.

This time, Del Rey’s set included a projection that said "God Bless You San Francisco" and a giant swing woven with flowers that flung her into the air while she sang. Her set spanned her classics, like "Video Games" from 2012’s Born To Die, current hits, such as the title track from this year’s album Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd., and a loving cover of Tammy Wynette’s 1968 country hit "Stand By Your Man." 

Though she’s revered as an almost otherworldly figure and was an angelic vision in white, Del Rey doesn’t act untouchable in 2023 — in fact, she literally came down and touched some of those fans who waited all day for her.

Foo Fighters Come Out Crooning

"We’ve gotta fit 28 years into two f—ing hours!" Dave Grohl explained early in the Foo Fighters' set. It was a towering goal that they tackled with consummate ease, reaching back to hits such as "Times Like These" and "The Pretender" and showing the continuum through to recent songs like "Rescue."

After playing a few choice riffs of "Enter Sandman," it would have been less of a surprise to see a member of two-time Outside Lands headliner (and Bay Area natives) Metallica join them on stage than who actually came out for a cameo. After flying in from Argentina, Michael Bublé initially pretended to be a regular audience member before going onstage to sing his hit "Haven’t Met You Yet." 

The Foo-Bublé connection is fun and surprising: New drummer Josh Freese has also played for the Canadian crooner, and "Haven’t Met You Yet" is part of a medley that the Foo Fighters are doing on tour that is comprised of other bands Freese has supported (including Devo’s "Whip It" and Nine Inch Nails’ "March of the Pigs").

Of course, the late drummer Taylor Hawkins will always be a prominent part of the Foo Fighters and their shows, and they played "Aurora" in his memory. As the park’s Polo Field lit up in violet-colored lights, Grohl’s 17-year-old daughter Violet Grohl also joined to sing three songs with her father, which he said was his absolute favorite thing in the world to do. 

"I’m sure I’m embarrassing her right now!" he said.

Gabriels Tributes Tina Turner

"We’re California boys, but this is our first time in San Francisco," shared Gabriels singer Jacob Lusk before turning the Sutro stage into the Church of Outside Lands, and instructing everyone to share some neighborly love.

The Los Angeles band has some meteoric fans: Elton John invited Lusk, whose early resume includes being a former "American Idol" contestant who was in a gospel group with the late Nate Dogg, to sing with him on stage at this year’s Glastonbury. Lusk’s incredible vocal range flexes from baritone to falsetto on a dime, and he frequently takes a step back from the microphone while singing, as if not to overwhelm it.

In a particularly touching moment, Gabriels performed Tina Turner’s "Private Dancer" while a montage of footage of Turner filled the screen.

Megan Thee Stallion Triumphs Over Tragedy

Fog flooded the park as a super snatched Megan Thee Stallion took to the stage in a hot Barbie pink outfit and long red hair, but she blazed through the haze with ground-sweeping twerking and saucy tracks like "Body," "Her," "WAP" and "Big Ole Freak." It was her first performance since Tory Lanez was sentenced to 10 years for shooting her, and she was feeling noticeably buoyant.

"F— all my haters!" she said in the middle of the set. "None of the s— you was doing or saying broke me." 

She received nothing but love from the crowd, and she was delighted by a big pocket of "boys" that she saw. Meg truly loves her "Hotties," and even stopped in between songs to sign someone’s graduation cap. A recent grad herself, she is proud of her fans who follow suit.

"Real college girl s—!" she exclaimed.

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