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For The Record: How The Fugees Settled 'The Score' 25 Years Ago

When they first approached creating 'The Score,' The Fugees were hoping to win the battle. Twenty-five years later—as the latest episode of For The Record demonstrates—we see now that they won the war

GRAMMYs/Apr 6, 2021 - 06:19 pm

When The Fugees released their second album, The Score, the timing felt eerily perfect. As hip-hop's East and West Coasts continued their tussle, their lighter-hearted approach to socially conscious rap curtailed any overarching assumptions that hip-hop was going down a "bad road." Plus, they had Lauryn Hill, who doubled as a songbird and lyrical spitfire. Together, by juxtaposing life instrumentation, soulful melodies and abstract bars, The Fugees gave hip-hop a renewed spirit and propelled it to a different kind of mainstream. 

But above all, The Score changed the way artists made their music—even 25 years later.

By the time The Fugees released The Score, was nominated for Album Of The Year and won Best Rap Album and Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "Killing Me Softly With His Song," they were more than ready to puff out their chests. The group checked the temperature of the streets with their debut album Blunted On Reality in 1994, almost two years prior to the day of The Score's release on February 13, 1996.

Still, their introduction left listeners a little confused by the group's collective identity. Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel were a lot of everything. They were eccentric Jersey kids—two-thirds of whom were Haitian—and were more than willing to fling art, politics, multi-culture and lyricism against a wall and record the sounds of what stuck and what slid off. 

The centerpiece of Blunted was the second single "Nappy Heads," a deeply rhythmic and melodic track with a video that takes place on the steps of the library at Columbia University, where Lauryn Hill was a student at the time. Hill was already the de-facto star of the group, complete with a lead role in the Whoopi Goldberg film Sister Act 2: Back In the Habit. On that debut album, she had a solo track called "Some Seek Stardom," which many point to as the moment they knew she would one day stand out from her comrades. Still, the group was full of promise and their evolution was quick and steadfast.

With The Score, The Fugees were arguably more focused. They were no longer working with Khalis Bayyan of Kool & The Gang (who theoretically influenced so much of Blunted's sound). This time, Lauryn and Wyclef took the bulk of the writing and production duties with the help of Wyclef's cousin Jerry Wonda and Salaam Remi as a creative consultant. They experimented with creating their own take on R&B-skewed hip-hop tracks and even reggae while adding a live element since Wyclef was a trained musician. 

Then, there was Lauryn Hill's phenomenally authentic singing voice, which lent itself to some of the more prominent hooks on the project. The Score was still an amalgam of everything the group stood for, but where Blunted chose to go more animated in parts, The Score opted to get deeper and darker in both sound and style. 

"Red Intro" sets a unique tone as the opener. The track is a monologue that challenges rappers' desires to posture themselves as gangsters and pretend to be mobsters when people are dying out in the streets. It's an unequivocal backhand to nearly everything that was happening in hip-hop at the time. 

There was a rise in neo-gangster rap, where artists like Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. were poetically flaunting wealth and gun talk, woven expertly through their bars. They were the byproduct of '80s artists like N.W.A., and while that surge in gangster rap was tempered by hip-hop's D.A.I.S.Y. Age (A Tribe Called QuestDe La Soul, etc.), the '90s now had groups like The Fugees and The Roots, who stood in stark contrast to Pac and Biggie. 

But there was more to the mission of The Score, considering the group didn't want to be relegated to one corner of hip-hop. So they dropped breadcrumbs throughout the album to show they knew how to stunt, they were aware of the on-goings of the world, yet they could even be strapped… if they wanted to be. The Score is laden with innuendos, firing shots at the competition while simultaneously making biblical references about false prophets. The songs tell a story from beginning to end, with peaks and valleys.

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The album's introductory track "How Many Mics" gets the chest-thumping started early, as the group details their creative superiority over so many other emcees. The concept of The Score was layered; The Fugees felt slighted by the lukewarm response of their first album and this was pure redemption. They use the title track to tie that all together by the middle of the project, by even sampling parts of the rest of the album on the song's hook.

"Ready Or Not" takes an Enya sample and transforms it into a battle cry that doubles as a love song. Tracks like "Zealots" take jabs at biting emcees who dumb their work down for mainstream attention, where "The Mask" goes in on manufactured personas. "The Beast" is a politically charged anthem that tackles political corruption and police brutality, further extended on the track "Family Business," about how being Black and in America can have you murdered for no reason.

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"Fu-Gee-La" takes on more braggadocio, along with "Cowboys" which features another New Jersey rap outfit: The Outsidaz, starring a young Rah Digga. "No Woman, No Cry" mourns those who have passed due to violence. The "Manifest/Outro" has Lauryn contemplating suicide over a toxic breakup. 

Then, of course, there's "Killing Me Softly," the Roberta Flack remake that shifted gears for The Fugees and made them a household name. Thanks to "Killing Me Softly," more attention was paid to the project as a whole, so the casual rap listener suddenly became a hip-hop fan once they experienced The Score. That was The Fugees' superpower: they won over massive audiences with messaging that hip-hop was struggling to convey on a greater platform. Some saw it as a curse to the purity of the art, but in the events that followed it became a gift.

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What happened following The Score's release was complicated. Tupac Shakur was murdered in September 1996, The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in March 1997, and Puffy's "Shiny Suit Era" threatened the purism of hip-hop even more. This gave The Fugees an open lane to not only secure that mainstream success, but retain some of the integrity of hip-hop's soul that they were ironically accused of snatching prior to those milestone events in hip-hop's history.

The spoiler alert here was that they were always being their true selves the whole time. The Fugees were eccentric, they were artsy, and they were messengers—of the lives they lived and of those they witnessed around them. They weren't afraid to toss around hard bars on The Score nor were they too scared to let Lauryn's voice softly coat the hooks. They spoke about anything and everything they damn well pleased. 

In the decades that followed, rappers who could carry a tune emulated exactly what Lauryn and the Fugees did by alternating between rapping and singing, and weren't afraid in one song to talk about love and society in the next. It was a lasting impression that became one of hip-hop's many archetypes, and it started with a couple of kids who loved being eccentric. 

When they first approached creating The Score, The Fugees were hoping to win the battle. Twenty-five years later, we see now that they won the war.

'The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill': For The Record

Photo of Sexyy Red performing onstage during at the 2024 Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles. She is wearing a blue bikini top with white stars, red and white shorts, white sunglasses, and bright red hair.
Sexyy Reds perform onstage at the 2024 Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Albums & Songs From Sexyy Red, Charlie Puth, Vince Staples, Aaron Carter & More

Don't slide into your Memorial Day weekend without stocking your New Music Friday playlist with fresh tunes. Here are new albums and songs from Maya Hawke, Sexyy Red, Trueno, and many more.

GRAMMYs/May 24, 2024 - 02:11 pm

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means we're inching closer to another music-filled summer. Less than halfway through 2024, we've received a veritable bounty of new music from Green Day, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Zayn … the list goes on and on.

Clearly, no matter which musical world you inhabit, 2024 has had something for you — and the slate of today's releases continues that streak. Pull up your favorite streaming service — or dust off your record player — and check out this slate of new music that's fresh out of the oven.

Sexyy Red — In Sexyy We Trust

The #MakeAmericaSexyyAgain train is unstoppable. Amid numberless recent accolades — including five nominations at the 2024 BET Awards, including Best Female Hip Hop Artist and Best New Artist — Sexyy Red has dropped a new EP, In Sexyy We Trust. By the sound of "Awesome Jawsome," we all live in Sexyy's lascivious, irresistible universe: "Give me that awesome jawsome, suck it, baby, use your teeth / Shake your dreads between my legs, do it for a G." (Take that under advisement.) And with more than 8.3 million YouTube views for her "Get it Sexyy" music video, legions are clamoring for her second official release without a doubt.

Charlie Puth — "Hero"

"You smokеd, then ate seven bars of chocolate / We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist." So recounted the one and only Taylor Swift in the title track to her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, which rocketed Puth's name even further into the public consciousness. This shine partly inspired Puth to release "Hero": "I want to thank @taylorswift for letting me know musically that I just couldn't keep this on my hard drive any longer," he stated on Instagram. "It's one of the hardest songs I've ever had to write, but I wrote it in hopes that you've gone through something similar in your life, and that it can fill in the BLANK for you like it did for me," he continued. Leave it to a hero to shake that loose for Puth.

Vince Staples — Dark Times

If you're currently rounding a difficult corner in your life, Vince Staples' latest album is a trusty companion. Take the first single "Shame on the Devil," where he licks his wounds amid thick isolation and friction with loved ones. "It's me mastering some things I've tried before that I wasn't great at in the beginning," he said in a statement. "It's a testament to musical growth, song structure — all the good stuff." By the sound of this haunted yet resolute single, Dark Times could materialize as Staples' most realized album to date — and most hard-won victory to boot.

Willie Nelson — The Border

By all means, we should have Aaron Carter alive, healthy and, yes, recovered. But the beloved singer unexpectedly died in November 2022. (He accidentally drowned in his bathtub after taking sedatives and inhaling a spray cleaner.) Still, the 2000s-era teen star, who gave us "I Want Candy," "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)" and "That's How I Beat Shaq," left us with a poignant, posthumous statement in The Recovery Album: "Tomorrow is a new day / Tryin' to shake the pain away / 'Cause I'm still in recovery," he sings in the title track. Carter, who was open about his struggles with addiction, substance abuse and mental health, is also in the news for a rough ride of a documentary, Fallen Idols: Nick and Aaron Carter. But if you'd rather focus on Carter the artist, The Recovery Album shows that his considerable talent remains undimmed.

DIIV — Frog in Boiling Water

The idiom of a frog in boiling water is a familiar one, but it's never quite unfolded in music like this — and DIIV, one of rock's most impressionistic acts, is the band for the job. In a press statement, the group, led by Zachary Cole Smith, called Frog in Boiling Water a reflection of "a slow, sick, and overwhelmingly banal collapse of society under end-stage capitalism." To wit, tracks like "Brown Paper Bag," "Raining on Your Pillow" and "Soul-net" sound like dying in a beautiful way. "Everyone Out," another album highlight, provides a clear, critical directive.

Shenseea — Never Gets Late Here

To hear Jamaican leading light Shenseea tell it, she's been boxed in as a "dancehall artiste," but she's so much more than that. "By next year I want to be international," she said back in 2018. "An international pop star." Her second album, Never Gets Late Here, might be that final boost to the big time she's chasin. Throughout the sticky-sweet album, the genre traverser tries on disco vibes ("Flava" with Voi Leray), an Afrobeats tint ("Work Me Out" with Wizkid), and a bona fide, swing-for-the-rafters anthem in the power ballad "Stars." "Everyone is looking at everything I'm going through," she recently told Revolt, "which is special because they can see the fight I'm getting, but still see me pushing and persevering."

Trueno — EL ÚLTIMO BAILE

Argentine phenom Trueno — a rapper, singer and songwriter of equal fire — has been on a sharp rise ever since his debut, 2020's Atrevido. This time, he's especially leaning into his rap skills as he pays homage to his beloved hip-hop. And, as he explained to Rolling Stone, he's been diligently crafting this artistic culmination. "We also don't want to rush anything. We're working day and night on it," he said of EL ÚLTIMO BAILE. "I'm an artist who's all about albums and big projects, so I'm immersed in this." We're about to be, too.

Yola — My Way

Yola has been nominated for six GRAMMYs to date; this impressive feat has thickened the momentum behind her latest batch of music. For her new My Way EP, the British singer/songwriter tapped GRAMMY-nominated producer Sean Douglas, who's worked with everyone from Lizzo to Madonna to Sia. Not that this synthesist of progressive R&B, synth pop, electronica, and more needs a reintroduction. But if you're not already on board with this musically keen, lyrically conscious artist, songs like "Future Enemies" should lure you there.

2025 GRAMMYs To Take Place Sunday, Feb. 2, Live In Los Angeles; GRAMMY Awards Nominations To Be Announced Friday, Nov. 8, 2024

Michael Sticka, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Museum, Lauryn Hill, and Jimmy Jam
(L-R): Michael Sticka, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Museum, Lauryn Hill, and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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6 Key Highlights From The Inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala Honoring Lauryn Hill, Donna Summer, Atlantic Records & Many More

The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum celebrated music's legacy with tributes to Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, Buena Vista Social Club, and more, featuring performances by Andra Day, The War and Treaty, and other musical greats.

GRAMMYs/May 23, 2024 - 12:34 am

Many years ago, veteran CBS journalist Anthony Mason lost his entire record collection when it disappeared in transit as he moved from one place to another. Mason was inconsolable, and you could still hear a tinge of sadness in his voice when he recounted this painful story at the inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala, held on May 21 at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles. The evening’s eloquent and entertaining host, Mason was making a point with his personal anecdote of lost records: music is priceless, one of our most treasured possessions — both as individuals and as a community. Preserving its legacy is essential.

It’s been over 50 years since the GRAMMY Hall of Fame was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees to honor records of deep historical significance that are at least 25 years old. This year, the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Museum paid tribute to 10 newly inducted recordings (four albums and six singles) by artists including De La Soul, Lauryn Hill, Buena Vista Social Club, Donna Summer, Guns 'N Roses, Charley Pride, Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra, the Doobie Brothers, William Bell, Wanda Jackson, and Atlantic Records, the annual Gala's inaugural label honoree. 

The first Hall of Fame Gala was a dazzling event presented by City National Bank, complete with guest speakers and performances by Andra Day, The War and Treaty, William Bell, Elle King, and HANSON covering some of the inducted works. The event underscored the sumptuous variety that continues to define popular music, spanning the sounds of hip-hop, rock, country, R&B, disco, and even the venerable Cuban dance music of decades past.

Here are six takeaway points from an evening marked by celebration and transcendent musical memories.

Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” Has Lost None Of Its Edge

Studious music fans are well aware that “I Feel Love” — written by Donna Summer with visionary Italian producer Giorgio Moroder and British songwriter Pete Bellotte — is a shimmering disco gem, a futuristic precursor to the entire EDM genre. What was stunning about the Gala performance of the track by singer and actress Andra Day is how edgy and fresh the 1977 track still sounds today. Day’s ethereal reading was appropriately hypnotic, with live drums, nebulous synth textures and glorious, three-part vocal harmonies.

The Future Of American Music Is In Good Hands With The War and Treaty

Formed by husband and wife Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter, The War and Treaty were rightfully nominated for Best New Artist at the 2024 GRAMMYs earlier this year. The duo’s electrifying combination of Americana, gospel, and rock is especially effective on a live stage, and the pair delivered a memorable rendition of Charley Pride's inducted Hall Of Fame country hit, “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’,” recorded in 1971. The War and Treaty also received a standing ovation later in the evening for their performance of Ray Charles' classic, "What'd I Say," released in 1959.

26 Years Later, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Is Still Ahead Of Its Time

Released in August 1998, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, and became the first hip-hop artist to win Album Of The Year at the 1999 GRAMMYs. At the Gala, Andra Day delighted the audience — including Lauryn Hill and her family — with a soulful version of hidden track “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” originally a Frankie Valli hit from 1967. Day's performance was marked by brassy accents and funky bass lines, creating an unapologetically lush rendition that mirrored the sonic richness of Hill's original take.

Read more: Revisiting 'The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill': Why The Multiple GRAMMY-Winning Record Is Still Everything 25 Years Later

Atlantic Records Transformed The Face Of Global Culture

Celebrating 75 years of inaugural label honoree Atlantic Records in the span of a few minutes loomed like an impossible task, but the Gala producers paid tribute to the legacy label well. Beginning with a short video, the event segment highlighted the miraculous roster assembled by Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson that included Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, ABBA, Phil Collins, and Bruno Mars — to name just a few. But it was the actual performances that highlighted the label’s hold on pop culture: Ravyn Lenae’s breathy take on Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” made a case for considering the 1973 hit as one of the most vulnerable recordings of all time. On the other side of the dynamic spectrum, the epic rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” by alt-rock quartet Shinedown was appropriately intense.

The Wondrous Legacy Of Stax Records Should Not Be Underestimated

The home of such legendary artists as Otis Redding, The Staple Singers and Carla Thomas, Memphis-based Stax Records developed a rich, ragged sound with gospel, blues, R&B and luminous pop as its foundational pillars. Currently the subject of an HBO documentary series, "Stax: Soulsville USA," the record label defined American music during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Memphis singer/songwriter William Bell was one of its most prolific artists, and he regaled guests with a performance of his Hall of Fame inducted debut 1961 single, “You Don’t Miss Your Water.” At 84 years of age — and the winner of a Best Americana Album at the 2017 GRAMMYs — Bell was in rare form, and the band backed him up seamlessly, reproducing the sinuous organ lines of the original.

Read more: 1968: A Year Of Change For The World, Memphis & Stax Records

Future Editions Of The Gala Will Continue To Surprise And Delight

The inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala set a high standard for future celebrations of iconic recordings. The event proved to be fertile ground for the creation of indelible music moments, showcasing the beauty and authority of music across genres and generations. Other honored Hall of Fame inducted recordings including De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising, Guns’N’Roses Appetite For Destruction, the Buena Vista Social Club’s debut, Wanda Jackson’s “Let’s Have A Party,” Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra’s “Ory’s Creole Trombone” and The Doobie Brothers’ “What A Fool Believes.”  

As we look ahead, the excitement for future Galas grows, with each event promising to honor more historic recordings, and uphold the tradition of celebrating excellence in music's rich legacy.

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inducted Recordings: Lauryn Hill, Guns N' Roses, De La Soul, Donna Summer & Many More

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductees

The Recording Academy revealed the 2024 inducted recordings to the distinguished GRAMMY Hall Of Fame on its 50th anniversary. Graphic shows all of the 10 recordings newly inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
The GRAMMY Museum's inaugural GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala and concert presented by City National Bank on May 21, 2024 at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles.

Image courtesy of the GRAMMY Museum

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Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inducted Recordings: Lauryn Hill, Guns N' Roses, De La Soul, Donna Summer & Many More

Learn more about the 2024 GRAMMY Hall of Fame inducted recordings, including iconic works by Buena Vista Social Club, Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, and more. The inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala takes place May 21 at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles.

GRAMMYs/May 21, 2024 - 12:46 am

As the GRAMMY Hall of Fame celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum are proud to honor the 2024 inductees with the inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala, presented by City National Bank, taking place Tuesday, May 21, at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles. This year, the GRAMMY Hall of Fame will induct 10 recordings: four albums and six singles.

This year's class of inductees highlights the diversity and historical significance of recordings that have shaped the musical landscape. From Lauryn Hill's groundbreaking album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to the electrifying Appetite For Destruction by Guns N' Roses, the selected recordings span genres and eras and showcase the lasting impact of these timeless works. Other notable inductees include De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising, Buena Vista Social Club's self-titled album, and singles by Donna Summer, Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra, the Doobie Brothers, and William Bell.

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala promises an unforgettable night, featuring performances that pay tribute to the newly inducted recordings. Artists such as Andra Day, William Bell, Elle King, and HANSON will bring these iconic songs to life while celebrating the rich heritage of the music honored this year. Hosted by veteran CBS journalist Anthony Mason, the evening will also recognize the contributions of Atlantic Records and feature an online auction benefiting the GRAMMY Museum.

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees in 1973 to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance that are at least 25 years old. The inducted recordings are selected annually by a special member committee of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts with final ratification by the Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. There are currently 1,152 inducted recordings in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. Explore the full list of all the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inducted recordings.

Join us as we honor the 2024 GRAMMY Hall of Fame inductees and celebrate the recordings that continue to resonate with listeners around the world by exploring the newly inducted works in depth below.

Tickets for the inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala are available now.

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductees

De La Soul, 3 Feet High And Rising

Tommy Boy Records, 1989

Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2024, 3 Feet High and Rising is the debut studio album from Long Island, New York-born hip-hop trio De La Soul. Released on Tommy Boy Records in 1989 — considered one of the years during hip-hop’s "Golden Age" — and produced by legendary DJ and hip-hop producer Prince Paul, the album was a critical and commercial success. Featuring samples that draw on a vast array of genres — from doo-wop and psychedelic rock to children’s music — the album was unlike any hip-hop album that came before it. Melding inventive production with clever and humorous wordplay and samples from artists as diverse as Johnny Cash (the title of the album is derived from the Cash song "Five Feet High and Rising"), Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, and the Turtles, 3 Feet High And Rising is often considered the beginning of 1990s alternative hip-hop. De La Soul’s use of skits/comedy sketches as interludes also had a huge influence on future generations of rappers. In a review of the album for The Village Voice in 1989, music critic Robert Christgau wrote, "An inevitable development in the class history of rap, [De La Soul is] new wave to Public Enemy’s punk."

Featuring the singles "The Magic Number," "Buddy," "Eye Know," and the GRAMMY-nominated "Me Myself and I," 3 Feet High and Rising spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. "Buddy" is one of the album’s hallmark songs and features cameos from Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, and Monie Love — who are collectively known as the Native Tongues (along with Black Sheep, the Beatnuts and Chi Ali). 

The platinum-certified record consistently places on lists of the greatest albums of all time, including in 2023 when Paste magazine featured it at No. 4 on their list of the Greatest Debut Albums of the 1980s. In 2010 it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. 3 Feet High and Rising has influenced countless artists, from the Roots and Yasiin Bey to OutKast and Common. With the album's undeniably trailblazing release, Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove and Pasemaster Mase of De La Soul have cemented themselves as one of the best rap groups of all time. 



Kelvin "Posdnuos" Mercer – Artist/Songwriter

David "Trugoy the Dove" Jolicoeur – Artist/Songwriter

Vincent "Maseo" Mason – Artist/Songwriter

"Prince Paul" Huston – Producer/Engineer/Songwriter

Alan Watts – Engineer/Mixer


Guns N’ Roses, Appetite For Destruction

Geffen, 1987

Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction LP will go down in history as one of the most iconic and influential rock albums ever made. But when it was released in the summer of 1987, Appetite didn’t initially garner much mainstream attention. Once the band hit the road in support of the album, singles "Welcome to the Jungle", "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" started getting significant airplay. By the summer of 1988, the band found themselves with a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Appetite For Destruction became the best-selling album of all time in the U.S. and the best-selling debut album. In a review for Pitchfork, Maura Johnston said, "The debut from Guns N' Roses was a watershed moment in '80s rock that chronicled every vice of Los Angeles led by the lye-voiced Axl Rose and a legendary, switchblade-sharp band."


Produced by Mike Clink, Appetite for Destruction is widely considered a near perfect album where the deep cuts are just as good as the hits. From the opening roar of "Welcome to the Jungle" and the iconic "Sweet Child O’ Mine," to "It's So Easy," "Nightrain," "You're Crazy," and "Mr. Brownstone," the album is an artistic triumph in sound, songwriting and production, earning its place at No. 62 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In many ways, the album changed the world. In a 2018 article for Revolver, Dan Epstein noted that Appetite ushered in a new wave of bands like the Black Crowes with its "blues-based music played by an unflashy yet hard-swinging rhythm section, a rock-solid rhythm guitarist, a flashy-but-soulful lead player and a charismatic vocalist who exuded danger and decadence." It also paved the way for Nirvana and the arrival of grunge as rock fans’ "ears were primed for more raw, real and rebellious hard rock." Now, nearly 40 years since its release, Appetite for Destruction has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and is without a doubt one of the most successful debut albums of all time.

Axl Rose – Artist/Songwriter

Slash – Artist/Songwriter

Duff McKagan – Artist/Songwriter

Steven Adler – Artist/Songwriter

Izzy Stradlin – Artist/Songwriter

Mike Clink – Engineer/Producer

Steve Thompson – Mixer


Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club

World Circuit/Nonesuch, 1997 

In 1996, a group of veteran Cuban musicians was assembled to record an album that would pay tribute to Cuba’s "musical golden age" of the 1930s to 1950s. Showcasing styles of music that were popular at the time, such as son, bolero and danzón, the group became known as the Buena Vista Social Club, named after a 1940s-era members-only music club that was located in the Buenavista quarter of Havana. Organized by British music producer and executive Nick Gold and produced by GRAMMY-winning American guitarist Ry Cooder and Cuban director Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Buena Vista Social Club recorded their eponymous 14-track debut album in just six days. Released in September 1997, the album featured 20 of Cuba’s most prominent musicians, including vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer (1927–2005), pianist Rubén González (1919–2003), and vocalist/guitarist Compay Segundo (1907–2003). Buena Vista Social Club was an instant hit with tracks such as the four-chord song "Chan Chan," written by Segundo, and a rendition of the romantic criolla "La Bayamesa." Everything fell into place at the right time for this album — from the chemistry between the musicians to the rich music history of Havana — to create one of the moments that can only be described as pure musical magic. Buena Vista Social Club sold more than 1 million copies, earned a spot on the Billboard 200, and won the GRAMMY Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance. 

In 1998 the ensemble held performances in Amsterdam and New York that were captured on film by German director Wim Wenders. Along with interviews with musicians that were conducted in Havana, a documentary, titled Buena Vista Social Club, was released in 1999 and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (Feature). In 2003, Buena Vista Social Club was named on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 2022, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. Further cementing its place in the music history books, Buena Vista Social Club was recognized by Guinness World Records as the best-selling album of world music with more than 8 million copies sold worldwide.

Ry Cooder – Leader/Producer

Juan Demarcos Gonzalez – Director

Larry Hirsch – Engineer

Jerry Boys – Engineer/Mixer


Donna Summer, "I Feel Love"

Casablanca, 1977

When the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, released her hit single "I Feel Love" in 1977, it propelled Brian Eno (who was in the studio with David Bowie at the time) to rush in and declare, "This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years." Now, more than 40 years after its release, "I Feel Love" definitely changed something – it changed pop music forever. Recorded with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, the goal was to create a song that signified the future — and it did. "I Feel Love" was the first song to pair repetitive synthesizer loops with four-on the-floor bass drum and an off-beat hi-hat, helping to forge the path for synth pop, New Romantics, Italo disco, Hi-NRG, electro, house, techno, and more. Along the way, the global smash influenced countless artists, including Blondie, who became one of the first punk-associated groups to embrace disco, releasing "Heart of Glass" the following year.

Upon its release, "I Feel Love" reached No. 1 in several countries, including the UK, and peaked in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200. In 2012, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Recording Registry. Many of today’s biggest artists have paid tribute to Summer’s groundbreaking track with covers or samples, including Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bronski Beat, and Beyoncé, the latter of whom samples "I Feel Love" on "Summer Renaissance," the closing track on her 2022 GRAMMY-winning album Renaissance. To this day, "I Feel Love" is considered the No. 1 greatest dance song of all time (Rolling Stone).

The song's impact on the LGBTQ+ community is equally as great as its impact on the dance community. GRAMMY-winning artist Sam Smith, who released a cover of "I Feel Love" in 2019, wrote on X: "As a queer person, ‘I Feel Love’ has followed me to every dance floor in every queer space from the minute I started clubbing. This song, to me, is an anthem of our community." In 2023, Pride Life Global ranked the track as one of the best gay anthems. 

Donna Summer – Artist/Songwriter

Giorgio Moroder – Producer/Songwriter

Pete Bellotte – Producer/Songwriter

Jürgen Koppers – Artist/Songwriter


Charley Pride, "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'"

RCA Victor, 1971

"Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’" is GRAMMY winner Charley Pride’s biggest hit of his career. Released in 1971 as the first single from his GRAMMY-winning album Charley Pride Sings Heart Songs, the song peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, his only single to break the Top 40. Considered one of Pride’s signature songs, the track marked his eighth single to top the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and became one of the biggest country hits of the decade. "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’" was produced by Cowboy Jack Clement (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton) and written by Ben Peters, who got the inspiration for the song after he and his wife Jackie welcomed their daughter Angela. It’s a song purely about love and a slight departure from Pride’s other hits, such as "I’m Just Me" and "I’d Rather Love You." In a 2021 article for CMT, Marcus K. Dowling writes, "The achievement of conveying life's simple joys with a magnificent voice over complex countrypolitan rhythms and melodies — instead of discussing complex emotions over those same types of tracks — is the greatest victory of Pride's signature song." The single also earned Pride a GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male. Since its release, "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’" has been covered by countless artists, including George Jones, Conway Twitty, Gene Stuart, and Roy Clark — all of whom released the song in 1972 — along with Percy Sledge, Alan Jackson and Heather Myles. 

When he signed with RCA in 1964, Pride became the first Black country music singer to get a major record label deal. He went on to have 29 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, selling more than 70 million records. When it comes to sales for RCA, he is second only to Elvis Presley. Though he passed away in December 2020, Pride’s impact on country music, especially Black country music artists, remains. His influence can be heard in the music of up-and-coming artists such as Brittney Spencer, Mickey Guyton and Shy Carter. As country music’s first Black superstar, Pride and his warm baritone captivated audiences, broke racial and cultural barriers, and earned him an induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 1993.

Charley Pride – Artist

Jack Clement – Producer

Ben Peters – Songwriter

Ray Butts – Artist

Mike Shockley – Producer


Wanda Jackson, "Let's Have A Party"

Capitol, 1960

Originally recorded by Elvis Presley for the 1957 musical/romance film Loving You, "Let’s Have a Party" was recorded by Wanda Jackson and released on her eponymous debut album in 1958. After Jackson’s version of "Let’s Have a Party" was discovered by an Iowa disc jockey and received an increase in interest from radio listeners, Capitol Records encouraged Jackson to release the song as a single two years later in 1960. The song became a hit, making the Top 40 in the U.S. and topping the chart in the U.K. The success of "Let’s Have a Party" inspired Jackson to rename her band the Party Timers and Capitol subsequently released the compilation album, Rockin’ With Wanda that same year. As one of the first women to have a career in rock and roll, Jackson recorded a series of singles in the 1950s that helped earn her the nickname of The Queen of Rockabilly. It was Elvis, with whom she toured with in 1955, who encouraged her to record in the rockabilly style. 

 In 2005, Jackson received the Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, becoming the first female country and rock artist to receive the honor. In 2009, after several artists advocated on her behalf — including Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper — Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lauper has cited Jackson as one of her earliest influences, recording a cover of "Funnel of Love" for her 2016 album Detour. Other artists who have listed Jackson as an influence include Adele and Elle King. 

 Lauper told Rolling Stone in 2016: "I think for country you look at Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn who played a guitar, or sang the songs she wrote, and Dolly Parton. But Wanda Jackson was a rocker, and so, of course, I was going to listen and learn from her because I was a rocker and that's what we did."

Jackson is also a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Honors. 



Wanda Jackson – Artist

Ken Nelson – Producer/Engineer

Jesse Mae Robinson – Songwriter


Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra (As Spike’s Seven Pods Of Pepper Orchestra), "Ory's Creole Trombone"

Nordskog, 1922 

Louisiana-born composer, trombonist and bandleader Edward "Kid" Ory put New Orleans jazz on the map. Kid Ory’s 1922 hit "Ory’s Creole Trombone" was the first recording of Black/Creole New Orleans jazz. Recorded in Los Angeles, the single features Ory on trombone, along with Thomas "Papa Mutt" Carey on cornet, Oliver "Dink" Johnson on clarinet, Fred Washington on piano, Ed "Montudie" Garland on bass, and Ben Borders on drums. Upon release, the entire first pressing of 5,000 records sold out, leading to gigs for Ory and his band down the California coast in San Diego and Tijuana.

Born on Christmas Day in LaPlace, Louisiana, Ory led a band early on in his career in New Orleans that featured music legends such as Joe "King" Oliver, Johnny Dodds, Johnny St. Cyr and, later, Louis Armstrong. Ory relocated to Los Angeles after the prohibition of alcohol in 1919 changed the landscape for jazz musicians performing in New Orleans nightclubs. Many of the musicians who played on his L.A. sessions had also recently relocated from New Orleans. After moving to Chicago in 1925, where jazz was just starting to gain traction, Ory worked and recorded with artists such as Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and many others. He was an original member of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, with whom he would later re-record "Ory’s Creole Trombone" in 1927. As demonstrated on "Ory's Creole Trombone," Ory was an early adapter of the glissando technique, now a central element of New Orleans jazz. While he might not have been the first to play a glissando on a trombone, he was certainly the most influential.

In 2005, "Ory’s Creole Trombone" was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. In an essay written upon the recording's selection by the Library of Congress, GRAMMY-nominated musician and jazz historian David Sager wrote, "‘Ory’s Creole Trombone’ offers a rare glimpse into the origins of New Orleans jazz and a remarkable insight to this music’s durability and universal appeal." A pioneering record and one of the most essential jazz recordings, "Ory’s Creole Trombone" helped define the New Orleans style of jazz and served as the prototype for future musicians of that genre.

Edward "Kid" Ory – Artist/Songwriter


Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

Ruffhouse Records / Columbia Records, 1998 

Widely considered one of the greatest albums of all time, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is the debut album and only solo studio set released by GRAMMY-winning singer and rapper Lauryn Hill. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 422,000 copies in its first week, breaking the record for first-week sales by a female artist. Credited for bringing hip-hop and neo-soul to the forefront of popular music, the album earned Hill 10 GRAMMY nominations, which now has her tied with Beyoncé for the Guinness World Record for most GRAMMY nominations in a single year for a female artist. Hill turned half of those nominations into wins, taking home the awards for Album Of The Year, Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, and Best Rhythm & Blues Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Doo Wop (That Thing)." With lyrics that present arguably the most poignant of female perspectives on life, love and relationships, while also touching on the turmoil within her former group the Fugees, three of the album’s singles — "Everything Is Everything, "Ex-Factor" and "Doo Wop (That Thing)" — peaked in the Top 40 on the Billboard 200, with the latter claiming the top spot. 

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was partially recorded at Bob Marley’s studio Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, while Hill was pregnant with her first son, Zion. Speaking about that time, Hill told Rolling Stone, "When some women are pregnant, their hair and their nails grow, but for me it was my mind and ability to create. I had the desire to write in a capacity that I hadn't done in a while. I don't know if it's a hormonal or emotional thing ... I was very in touch with my feelings at the time." The album’s track "To Zion," which features Carlos Santana on guitar, is a song about her son. 

In 1999, Hill became the first hip-hop artist to appear on the cover of TIME magazine. Now, more than 25 years since its release and with more than 20 million copies sold, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill continues to be one of the most influential albums ever made. 

Lauryn Hill – Artist/Producer/Songwriter

Gordon "Commissioner Gordon" Williams – Engineer

Tony Prendatt – Engineer


The Doobie Brothers, "What A Fool Believes"

Warner Bros. Records, 1978

One of the few non-disco songs to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979, the Doobie Brothers’ "What a Fool Believes" is featured on their 1978 eighth studio album, the Album Of The Year-nominated Minute by Minute. Co-written by Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, "What a Fool Believes" won the Doobie Brothers two GRAMMY Awards, including Record Of The Year. Stylistically speaking, the song is unlike anything the Doobie Brothers had done before.

 

"What a Fool Believes" started off as a piano piece idea McDonald had. Producer Ted Templeman heard what he was working on and encouraged him to put some lyrics down with a co-writer. It turns out that McDonald and Loggins had talked about working together for some time. When they got together at McDonald’s house in Los Angeles to write, Loggins had already come up with the song’s hook — "she had a place in his life." Telling the story of a man who attempts to rekindle a romantic relationship, "What a Fool Believes" is about the lies we sometimes tell ourselves about past romances. When the protagonist in the song attempts to reconnect with an old love, he realizes that he barely registers in the woman’s mind. The Doobie Brothers and Templeman recorded numerous takes of its rhythm track over five or six days, but they couldn’t land on a version they all liked. Templeman eventually decided to cut up the master tape of a recording into sections. "In those days when you cut the tape, you’re over – that’s the master of your recording," recalled Templeman in an interview with The Guardian in 2022. "But we got lucky and I put it together on the spot." McDonald completed the rest of the arrangement, adding keyboards, vocals and strings. Before it was released by the Doobie Brothers, Loggins released his own jazzier and experimental version of the song on his 1978 album Nightwatch. 

"What a Fool Believes" was rated as the Doobie Brothers’ all-time greatest song by Ultimate Classic Rock critic Michael Gallucci and listed on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Today, "What a Fool Believes" is considered a "foundational yacht rock classic," as Tom Breihan wrote in a review for Stereogum in 2020.

Jeff "Skunk" Baxter – Artist

John Hartman – Artist

Keith Knudsen – Artist

Michael McDonald – Artist/Songwriter

Tiran Porter – Artist

Patrick Simmons – Artist

Ted Templeman – Producer

Kenny Loggins – Songwriter

Donn Lander – Engineer


William Bell, "You Don’t Miss Your Water"

Stax Records, 1961

As the first male solo act signed to the legendary Stax Records, Memphis-born GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter William Bell released his solo debut with the melancholy "You Don’t Miss Your Water" in 1961. Recorded as a demo with members of the Mar-Keys and MG’s, "You Don’t Miss Your Water" was originally released as a B-side of his single "Formula of Love" and gained steam after DJs flipped the record over and started playing "You Don’t Miss Your Water." The song became the first hit for Stax Records, charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962. It was later released on Bell’s 1967 album The Soul of a Bell and remains his best-known recording to this day.

 "The message is universal: appreciate what you have," said Bell in a 2022 interview with Uncut magazine. "Back then I didn’t realize what I was writing, but after I got a little older, I realized that although the world changes physically, every generation has the same wishes, desires and aspirations. If you just write truthfully about life and write things you think will help people, it will resonate."

And indeed, the song did resonate. More than six decades since its release, "You Don’t Miss Your Water" has gone on to become a Southern classic. Countless artists have recorded covers of it, including Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Taj Mahal, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Black Crowes, Sturgill Simpson, Peter Tosh & the Wailers, Brian Eno, and, most notably, the Byrds, on their seminal 1968 country-rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

In 2013, Bell performed "You Don’t Miss Your Water" before President Barack Obama during "In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul." The following year, Bell was featured in the documentary Take Me to the River, reflecting upon American music's soul. He was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2020, the National Endowment for the Arts celebrated him as a Heritage Fellow. Bell was instrumental in ushering in the Southern soul music genre, which is now known as the globally influential "Memphis Sound."

William Bell – Artist/Songwriter

Chips Moman – Producer

Explore The History Of The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame

Kid Cudi performs at Coachella 2024
Kid Cudi, whose music often discusses mental health, performs at Coachella 2024.

Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Coachella

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10 Times Hip-Hop Has Given A Voice To Mental Health: Eminem, J. Cole, Logic & More Speak Out

From the message of "The Message" to Joe Budden's vulnerable podcast and Jay-Z speaking about the importance of therapy, read on for moments in the history of hip-hop where mental health was at the forefront.

GRAMMYs/May 20, 2024 - 03:10 pm

In a world of braggadocio lyrics, where weakness is often looked down upon, hip-hop can often seem far from a safe place to discuss mental health. 

But underneath its rugged exterior, hip-hop culture and its artists have long been proponents of well-being and discussing the importance of taking care of one's mental health. Openness about these topics has grown in recent years, including a 2022 panel discussion around hip-hop and mental health, co-hosted by the GRAMMY Museum, the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective, and MusicCares in partnership with the Universal Hip-Hop Museum. 

"Artists are in a fight-or-flight mode when it comes to being in this game," said Eric Brooks, former VP of Marketing & Promotions at Priority Records who worked with NWA and Dr. Dre. "And there need to be strategies on how to deal with the inner battles that only happen in the mind and body."  

The panel only scratched the surface of the many times hip-hop culture has illuminated critical mental health issues that often remain hidden or under-discussed in the music industry. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, read on for 10 times hip-hop has shone a light on mental health. 

J. Cole Apologized To Kendrick Lamar

A long-simmering beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar was reignited in March 2024 when Metro Boomin' and Future released "Like That." The track featured a scathing verse from Kendrick, where he took aim at  Drake and J. Cole, and referenced the pair's collaborative song "First Person Shooter." 

The single begged for a response, and J. Cole, under what was presumably a significant amount of pressure, surprise-released his Might Delete Later. The album featured "7 Minute Drill," in which Cole calls Kendrick's To Pimp, A Butterfly boring. 

But the same week Cole's album came out, he apologized to Kendrick onstage at his Dreamville Fest, saying it didn't sit right with his spirit and that he "felt terrible" since it was released. Cole added that the song didn’t sit right with him spiritually and he was unable to sleep. Cole subsequently removed "7 Minute Drill" from streaming services. 

Strong debate followed about whether or not Cole should have removed the song. However, many heralded Cole’s maturity in the decision and said it was an important example of not doing things that don’t align with one's true emotions, and avoiding allowing others expectations of you weight down your own physical and mental health.

SiR Spoke Candidly About Depression & Sobriety

Although an R&B artist, TDE singer SiR is hip-hop adjacent, having collaborated with former labelmate Kendrick Lamar on tracks like "D'Evils" and "Hair Down." SiR recently spoke with GRAMMY.com about the troubles that followed him after the release of his 2019 album Chasing Summer.

"I was a full-blown addict, and it started from a string of depression [and] relationship issues and issues at home that I wasn't dealing with," SiR says. After the Los Angeles-based singer had hit rock bottom, he found the spark he needed to do something about it. His initial rehab stint was the first step on the road to change.  

"I was there for 21 days [in 2021]. [The] second time, I was there for two months and the third time wasn't technically rehab…I did personal therapy, and, man, [that] did wonders," he recalls. 

SiR also tackled the stigma many Black communities place on therapy and seeking help for mental health issues. "I would've never done something like that if I was in any other position, so I'm thankful for my issues because they led me to a lot of self-reflection and forgiveness," SiR says.

Big Sean Educated His Audience About Anxiety & Depression 

One of the biggest challenges in addressing anxiety and depression is the feeling that those issues must be kept under wraps.  In 2021, Big Sean and his mother released a series of videos in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month, in which the GRAMMY nominee opened up about his battles with depression and anxiety. 

In one of those videos, Sean and his mother discussed  the importance of sleep and circadian rhythms when managing depression and mental health issues. In an industry that prioritizes the grind, the hip-hop community often overlooks sleep — much to its detriment.

"Sleep is the most overlooked, disrespected aspect of our well-being," said Myra Anderson, Executive Director & President of the Sean Anderson Foundation and Big Sean's mother. "Even one day without good sleep can mess up your hormones severely." 

As a busy recording artist, Sean concurs that, for him, a lack of sleep contributes to challenges with anxiety. “If I’m not in the right mindset, I don’t get the right sleep,” says Sean in the mental health video series. “Then that anxiety rides high, and my thoughts are racing. I’m somebody that lives in my head.”

G.Herbo's "PTSD" Addressed The Impact Of Street Violence

Eastside Chicago's G. Herbo is an artist vital to the city's drill music scene. On "PTSD," the title track of his 2020 album, Herbo raps about his struggles coping with violence and loss. 

"I can't sleep 'cause it's a war zone in my head / My killers good, they know I'm hands-on with the bread / A million dollars ahead, I'm still angry and seeing red / How the f*ck I'm 'posed to have fun? All my n— dead."  

The lyrics echoed the realities of what G. Herbo grew up seeing in O-Block, considered by many to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. But it wasn't just a song title; G. Herbo was diagnosed with PTSD in 2019 and began therapy to manage it, showing that even rap's most hardened have opened themselves up to professional help. 

"I'm so glad that I did go to therapy," G. Herbo told GRAMMY.com in July 2020. "I'm glad that I did take that leap of faith to just go talk to somebody about my situation and just my thoughts and get 'em to a person with an unbiased opinion." 

Joe Budden Opens Up About His Darkest Times 

In 2017, on the "Grass Routes Podcast," rapper-turned-podcaster Joe Budden opened up about multiple suicide attempts and his lifelong battle with depression. 

"For me, there have been times where I've actually attempted suicide," Budden shared. "As open as I've been when it comes to mental health, it wasn't until retirement from rapping that I was able to dive into some of the things the fans have seen." 

Never one to shy away from rapping about his mental health struggles, Budden songs like "Whatever It Takes" peel back the layers on an artist fighting his demons: "See, I'm depressed lately, but nobody understands / That I'm depressed lately, I'm sorta feelin repressed lately." 

Budden continued to be a champion for mental health that year, including on his former Complex show "Everyday Struggle," where Budden broke down while discussing the suicide death of fellow rapper Styles P's daughter. 

In recent years, Budden has uses his wildly popular "The Joe Budden Podcast" as a tool to discuss his own struggles and raise awareness of mental health issues. 

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five Broadcast A Serious "Message"

Hip-hop culture has long used rap as a tool to highlight mental health and the everyday struggles of its community. Released in 1982, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five's "The Message" is an early, effective example of vulnerability in hip-hop.

"The Message" described the mental health impacts of poverty and inner-city struggle, describing desperate feelings and calling for support in underserved communities: "I can't take the smell, can't take the noise / Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice." Perhaps the most recognizable lyric comes from Melle Mel, who raps, "Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge/I'm trying not to lose my head." 

Eminem Got Honest About Depression While In Rehab

On "Reaching Out," Queen and Paul Rodgers sing "Lately I've been hard to reach / I've been too long on my own / everybody has a private world where they can be alone." These lyrics were sampled on the intro to Eminem's 2009 single "Beautiful," a raw tale of the rapper's struggles with depression. Half of the song was written while Eminem was in rehab, including lyrics like "I'm just so f—king depressed/I just can't seem to get out this slump." 

The lyrics pierced the core of Eminem's audience, who were able to see the parallels between the struggles of a rap superstar and their own issues. The song reached the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for a Best Rap Solo Performance GRAMMY Award. In an interview with MTV about the song, Eminem said it was an important outlet for him at a challenging time. 

But it was far from the first time Eminem has discussed mental health. One of the earliest examples was in his song "Stan," where Eminem rapped from the perspective of an obsessed fan who ended up killing himself and his wife after Eminem failed to respond to his fan mail. In a 2000 interview, Eminem told MTV that he wrote the song to warn fans not to take his lyrics literally. 

Logic Sparked Change With A Number

One of the most impactful moments hip-hop has seen regarding mental health and sparking change was when Logic released his song "1-800-273-8255" in 2017. The record, named after the real National Suicide Lifeline Prevention phone number, which is now 988, hit the top three on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Following the song's release, the British Medical Journal released a study sharing data that showed the song contributed to a 27 percent increase in calls to the prevention hotline that year and may have even contributed to an actual reduction in deaths by suicide. 

Logic's single further proved that rap music's impact extends well beyond charts and sales. "1-800-273-8255" highlighted the connection artists have with their fans, as well as the ways music can be a tool to cope with challenges like mental health and suicidal thoughts. 

Kid Cudi Opened Up About Suicidal Urges 

Cleveland's own Kid Cudi has never shied away from putting his emotions on record, rapping vividly throughout his career about his struggles with mental health. Cudi records, like the hit single "Pursuit of Happiness," are brutally honest about trying to find happiness in a world filled with trials and tribulations. 

In a 2022 interview with Esquire, Cudi recalled checking himself into rehab in 2016 for depression and suicidal urges. He had been using drugs to manage the weight of his stardom and even suffered a stroke while in rehab. "Everything was f—ed," Cudi said. 

Cudi took a break to develop stability, returning to the spotlight with the 2018 project Kids See Ghosts in collaboration with Kanye West.. Today, Cudi and his music remain pillars of strength for those facing similar challenges.   

Jay-Z Detailed The Importance Of Therapy & Getting Out Of "Survival Mode"

In 2017, Jay-Z released his critically acclaimed thirteenth studio album. 4:44 was packed with lessons on family, mental health, and personal growth.

An interview with the New York Times, Jay-Z discussed how helpful therapy had been to him. Therapy helped the rap superstar in his interactions with other people — something that had been hardened growing up as a black man in Marcy Projects. "I grew so much from the experience," he told the Times.

"I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected, and it comes from somewhere. I understand that, instead of reacting to that with anger, I can provide a softer landing and maybe, 'Aw, man, is you O.K.? You're in this space where you're hurting, and you think I see you, so you don't want me to look at you. And you don't want me to see you,'" he said. "You don't want me to see your pain."

The album also unpacked Jay-Z's infidelity. "I'll f— up a good thing if you let me," he raps on "Family Feud." In the same interview, Jay-Z shared that growing up in the hood put him into "survival mode," impacting his abilities to be a good partner and husband earlier in life. 

"You shut down all emotions. So even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can't connect," he reflected. "In my case, like it's, it's deep. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity." 

"I Made My ADHD Into My Strength": Understanding The Link Between Rap & Neurodivergence