meta-scriptInside The Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors: A Celebration Of Black Joy, The Power Of Hip-Hop & Community |
Kurupt, Snoop Dogg, and Ty Dolla
Kurupt, Snoop Dogg, and Ty Dolla perform on stage during the Recording Academy Honors presented by The Black Music Collective.

Photo: Maury Phillips/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


Inside The Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors: A Celebration Of Black Joy, The Power Of Hip-Hop & Community

Hip-hop — and the genre’s 50th anniversary — was at the center of the GRAMMY Week celebration, which honored Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott and Sylvia Rhone honoring Black excellence throughout the music industry.

GRAMMYs/Feb 9, 2023 - 08:22 pm

"The birth of hip-hop completely changed the course of my life. Just imagine where a lot of Black men, including myself, would be without hip-hop," Dr. Dre questioned, as the audience at the Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors event nodded and murmured in agreement. 

Hip-hop, and the genre’s 50th anniversary, was at the center of celebration during the second annual BMC event, held Feb. 2 at the Palladium in Hollywood. The night also paid respect to Black excellence throughout the music industry, with many leading lights in attendance.

"The creation of the BMC is one of the things that I'm most proud of," said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, jr. "Establishing the BMC did more than just boost the number of Black members of the Academy; it did more than help make changes to the awards processes. It provided a platform to give Black music creators a voice, a powerful voice that can tell us the things we needed to hear…a voice to guide us as we expand opportunities and mentor the next generation of artists."

The BMC honored GRAMMY-winning artists Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott and Lil Wayne, as well as music executive Sylvia Rhone, each of whom was bestowed with the Global Impact Award and lauded for their personal and professional achievements. Each award was presented by the honorees’ close colleagues and friends , followed by a performance by an artist who had worked with or been influenced by the awardee. Busta Rhymes opened the night’s acts, issuing a quick and incredibly nimble set "Baby If You Give it To Me" and "Look at Me Now" before (literally) dropping the mic. 

Read more: Listen: Playlists To Honor Global Impact Award Honorees Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, & Sylvia Rhone

For all the joy present, style on lock and flowers given, the BMC Honors were incredibly humbling — especially for the guests of honor.

"This doesn’t get old to me. I’ve won a lot of awards and feel the same way," a teary Elliott said upon accepting her award. "It hits different when you stand up here. We’ve been through a lot. I know Dre, Wayne, none of us rolled over into success." 

“It has been an honor putting together such a special event with MVD to commemorate some of the most innovative artists in Black music history, especially as we kick off the celebrations for Black History Month,” Ryan Butler, Recording Academy Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Black Music Collective Staff Advisor said in a release. “ I hope to continue helping give these creative geniuses the spotlight they deserve through our BMC programs.”

Read on to learn more about the Recording Academy Honors presented by the BMC and for six takeaways from the GRAMMY Week event. 

The BMC + Recording Academy Rolled Out The Black Carpet

One of the first GRAMMY Week events drew a bevy of stars to the black carpet, including PJ Morton, Robert Glasper,, Lil Kim, and Swizz Beatz. And while honorees and big-name musicians looked stunning, the audience of executives, industry professionals and artists in the audience were equally fly.

Sylvia Rhone Is Celebrated As Everyone’s Champion

Busta Rhymes, Sylvia Rhone and Swizz Beatz

Busta Rhymes, Sylvia Rhone and Swizz Beatz | Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Sylvia Rhone may have had the biggest impact on the evening's honorees. A groundbreaking and glass ceiling-shattering woman, Rhone has been CEO of Elektra Entertainment Group and Epic Records — the first Black woman in either role. And while her rise to the c-suite is remarkable, her championing of artists and dedication to their vision is unparalleled. Rhone was thanked profusely by nearly everyone who crossed the Palladium stage.

"She put her job on the line to make sure we could be trailblazers," Busta said of Rhone, citing her support of expensive and now-iconic music videos. "Every dream I had, I could wake up, come into the office, and Sylvia went balls to the wall to make our dreams come true." Added Elliott, "she never told me 'you need to lose weight,' she never told me to change my records." 

Rhone has shepherded the success of everyone from  Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Jason Mraz, Pantera, and Metallica to Lil Wayne, Kelly Rowland, Akon, Kid Cudi, Nicki Minaj and A Tribe Called Quest, Fabolous. At Epic, she oversaw historic releases from Future, Travis Scott, 21 Savage, DJ Khaled and Camila Cabello

"This is a whole room filled of leaders of hip-hop, and I appreciate more than you could ever know to be recognized with these cultural icons," Rhone said during her acceptance speech. "But it’s nights like these that keep me revitalized. They serve as a powerful reminder that hip-hop was a calling. As we celebrate its 50th anniversary, it’s gratifying to see how far we actually have come….We have made history. We have changed lives. We are mighty. And we are worldwide." 

Missy Is Moved To Tears

Missy Elliott

Ciara and Mona Scott-Young | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The second honoree of the night, Missy Elliott was introduced by longtime manager Mona Scott-Young and by friend and fellow singer Ciara, who described Elliott as both a legendary artist and human.

Onstage with a manila folder full of notes, an emotional Elliott described how Rhone who dropped Elliott from a girl group and then signed her as a solo act "saw something in me that I didn’t see myself." Rhone "never told us 'no,'" Elliott reflected, adding that she eventually recorded six albums for Rhone. 

"We are in this together, and I hope I can be an inspiration to somebody after me because there's so many that I know in here that have been an inspiration to me," Elliott said in closing. 

A testament to Elliott’s inspiring nature, Chloe Bailey nodded to the superstar’s production work in a performance of Aaliyah's "One in a Million" and Elliott’s own "One Minute Man"; Tweet covered "Oops (Oh My)"; and Ciara closed the segment with her Missy collabs "1, 2 Step" and "Lose Control."

Dr. Dre Receives An Eponymous Impact Award

Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre | Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

"To tell you the truth, I was a little bit nervous when Harvey called me about this award because I was wondering if he knew something I didn’t. I was thinking to myself that they usually give this type of s to dead people," Dre quipped to uproarious laughter as he received the inaugural Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, which was also awarded on the 2023 GRAMMYs telecast. "I’m incredibly honored for my body of work to be recognized in this way."

Following a video that detailed Dre’s staggering production credits, streams and record sales, the visionary artist was lauded for business acumen and philanthropy, which focuses largely on Compton-area schools. But during a brief speech, Dre explained how it all comes back to music. 

"I was in junior high school when I had ever heard hip-hop for the first time," he reflected, continuing that he "couldn’t get enough of that sound. And once I got my hands on the turntables, I knew I had found my wings and I was determined to know how to fly." 

Dr. Dre has soared to great heights but, in tribute, Snoop Dogg kept it old school with his performance of 1992’s "Deep Cover" and "Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang" with Kurupt. Snoop brought up Ty Dolla $ign for "Ain’t No Fun (if the Homies Can’t Have None)" and casually blew smoke as they closed out their set. 

Lil Wayne Is Humbled

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne | Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

DJ Khaled presented Lil Wayne with the Impact Award in his trademark braggadocious gassing-up, but not without getting real. Khaled recalled seeing a teenage Wayne while working at a New Orleans record store, and watching him grow into the forward-thinking artist who signed Drake and Nicki Minaj. "I was blessed to know Lil Wayne from the beginning. Lil Wayne is a rap god," he said.

In a pre-recorded video, Drake effused that "our careers, our cadences, our melodies, maybe our face tats or our outfits or our decisions in general would not have been the same without your natural gift to just be yourself."

Wayne kept his own speech brief, thanking his mother and the mothers of his four children — the eldest of whom was born when Wayne was a young teen — and lowered his eyes humbly.

"I don’t get honored where I’m from," he said, choking up briefly. "Where I’m from, In New Orleans, you’re not supposed to do this. We don’t get honored. I don’t know all of y’all tonight. Thank you. I ain’t s without you." 

Honoring the rap icon, 2 Chainz covered early Wayne single "Duffle Bag Boy," one of Wayne’s first singles, and Tyga performed "A Milli."

 Rico Love Makes A Call To Action

Rico Love

BMC Chair Rico Love, a GRAMMY-nominated songwriter and producer, offered words of praise for the honorees while speaking to the larger impact of the Black Music Collective.   

"We need to stop allowing people to make us feel like they're doing us favors when they recognize us. We did everyone a favor when we came here and we changed the game and we built this building that they're thriving in," Love said. "Now it is time for us to capitalize off the riches of the land, and under my watch, [we] are going to make sure that we do just that."

Love encouraged the audience to become voting members of the Recording Academy, noting that the energy present that evening in the Palladium should continue throughout the year. The work the BMC does goes beyond awards, he said, noting grave mishandling of justice and a lack of respect for Black lives. 

"I'm committed to making it my business in the BMC to take a stand and use our resources to fight for change. This can't just be about music, this can't just be about lifting ourselves up; this can't be just about Instagram photos and vanity," he said. "It has to be about helping somebody. It has to be about encouraging people who are influenced by the work that we do. I'm holding everybody in this room accountable."

Head to all year long to watch all the GRAMMY performances, acceptance speeches, the GRAMMY Live From The Red Carpet livestream special, the full Premiere Ceremony livestream, and even more exclusive, never-before-seen content from the 2023 GRAMMYs.

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Omar Apollo Embraces Heartbreak On 'God Said No'
Omar Apollo

Photo: Aitor Laspiur


Omar Apollo Embraces Heartbreak And Enters His "Zaddy" Era On 'God Said No'

Alongside producer Teo Halm, Omar Apollo discusses creating 'God Said No' in London, the role of poetry in the writing process, and eventually finding comfort in the record's "proof of pain."

GRAMMYs/Jun 27, 2024 - 01:21 pm

"Honestly, I feel like a zaddy," Omar Apollo says with a roguish grin, "because I'm 6'5" so, like, you can run up in my arms and stay there, you know what I mean?"

As a bonafide R&B sensation and one of the internet’s favorite boyfriends, Apollo is likely used to the labels, attention and online swooning that come with modern fame. But in this instance, there’s a valid reason for asking about his particular brand of "zaddyhood": he’s been turned into a Bratz doll.

In the middle of June, the popular toy company blasted  a video to its nearly 5 million social media followers showing off the singer as a real-life Bratz Boy — the plastic version draped in a long fur coat (shirtless, naturally), with a blinged-out cross necklace and matching silver earrings as he belts out his 2023 single "3 Boys" from a smoke-covered stage.

The video, which was captioned "Zaddy coded," promptly went viral, helped along by an amused Apollo reposting the clip to his own Instagram Story. "It was so funny," he adds. "And it's so accurate; that's literally how my shows go. It made me look so glamorous, I loved it."

The unexpected viral moment came with rather auspicious timing, considering Apollo is prepping for the release of his hotly anticipated sophomore album. God Said No arrives June 28 via Warner Records.

In fact, the star is so busy with the roll-out that, on the afternoon of our interview, he’s FaceTiming from the back of a car. The day prior, he’d filmed the music video for "Done With You," the album’s next single. Now he’s headed to the airport to jet off to Paris, where he’ll be photographed front row at the LOEWE SS25 men’s runway show in between Sabrina Carpenter and Mustafa — the latter of whom is one of the few collaborators featured on God Said No

Apollo’s trusted co-writer and producer, Teo Halm, is also joining the conversation from his home studio in L.A. In between amassing credits for Beyoncé (The Lion King: The Gift), Rosalía and J Balvin (the Latin GRAMMY-winning "Con Altura"), SZA ("Notice Me" and "Open Arms" featuring Travis Scott) and others, the 25-year-old virtuoso behind the boards had teamed up with Apollo on multiple occasions. Notably, the two collabed on "Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me At All)," which helped Apollo score his nomination for Best New Artist at the 2023 GRAMMYs

In the wake of that triumph, Apollo doubled down on their creative chemistry by asking Halm to executive produce God Said No. (The producer is also quick to second his pal’s magnetic mystique: "Don't get it twisted, he's zaddy, for sure.") 

Apollo bares his soul like never before across the album’s 14 tracks,  as he processes the bitter end of a two-year relationship with an unnamed paramour. The resulting portrait of heartbreak is a new level of emotional exposure for a singer already known for his unguarded vulnerability and naked candor. (He commissioned artist Doron Langberg to paint a revealing portrait of him for the cover of his 2023 EP Live For Me, and unapologetically included a painting of his erect penis as the back cover of the vinyl release.) 

On lead single "Spite," he’s pulled between longing and resentment in the wake of the break-up over a bouncing guitar riff. Second single "Dispose of Me" finds Apollo heartsick and feeling abandoned as he laments, "It don’t matter if it’s 25 years, 25 months/ It don’t matter if it’s 25 days, it was real love/ We got too much history/ So don’t just dispose of me." 

Elsewhere, the singer offers the stunning admission that "I would’ve married you" on album cut "Life’s Unfair." Then, on the very next song — the bumping, braggadocious "Against Me" — Apollo grapples with the reality that he’s been permanently altered by the love affair while on the prowl for a rebound. "I cannot act like I’m average/ You know that I am the baddest bitch," he proclaims on the opening verse, only to later admit, "I’ve changed so much, but have you heard?/ I can’t move how I used to."

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Given the personal subject matter filling God Said No — not to mention the amount of acclaim he earned with Ivory — it would be understandable if Apollo felt a degree of pressure or anxiety when it came to crafting his sophomore studio set. But according to the singer, that was entirely not the case.

"I feel like I wouldn’t be able to make art if I felt pressure," he says. "Why would I be nervous about going back and making more music? If anything, I'm more excited and my mind is opened up in a whole other way and I've learned so much."

In order to throw his entire focus into the album’s creation, Apollo invited Halm to join him in London. The duo set up shop in the famous Abbey Road Studios, where the singer often spent 12- to 13-hour days attempting to exorcize his heartbreak fueled by a steady stream of Aperol spritzes and cigarettes.

The change of scenery infused the music with new sonic possibilities, like the kinetic synths and pulsating bass line that set flight to "Less of You." Apollo and Halm agree that the single was directly inspired by London’s unique energy.

"It's so funny because we were out there in London, but we weren't poppin' out at all," the Halm says. "Our London scene was really just, like, studio, food. Omar was a frickin' beast. He was hitting the gym every day…. But it was more like feeding off the culture on a day-to-day basis. Like, literally just on the walk to the studio or something as simple as getting a little coffee. I don't think that song would've happened in L.A."

Poetry played a surprisingly vital role in the album’s creation as well, with Apollo littering the studio with collections by "all of the greats," including the likes of Ocean Vuong, Victoria Chang, Philip Larkin, Alan Ginsberg, Mary Oliver and more.

"Could you imagine making films, but never watching a film?" the singer posits, turning his appreciation for the written art form into a metaphor about cinema. "Imagine if I never saw [films by] the greats, the beauty of words and language, and how it's manipulated and how it flows. So I was so inspired." 

Perhaps a natural result of consuming so much poetic prose, Apollo was also led to experiment with his own writing style. While on a day trip with his parents to the Palace of Versailles, he wrote a poem that ultimately became the soaring album highlight "Plane Trees," which sends the singer’s voice to new, shiver-inducing heights. 

"I'd been telling Teo that I wanted to challenge myself vocally and do a power ballad," he says. "But it wasn't coming and we had attempted those songs before. And I was exhausted with writing about love; I was so sick of it. I was like, Argh, I don't want to write anymore songs with this person in my mind." 

Instead, the GRAMMY nominee sat on the palace grounds with his parents, listening to his mom tell stories about her childhood spent in Mexico. He challenged himself to write about the majestic plane tree they were sitting under in order to capture the special moment. 

Back at the studio, Apollo’s dad asked Halm to simply "make a beat" and, soon enough, the singer was setting his poem to music. (Later, Mustafa’s hushed coda perfected the song’s denouement as the final piece of the puzzle.) And if Apollo’s dad is at least partially responsible for how "Plane Trees" turned out, his mom can take some credit for a different song on the album — that’s her voice, recorded beneath the same plane tree, on the outro of delicate closer "Glow." 

Both the artist and the producer ward off any lingering expectations that a happy ending will arrive by the time "Glow" fades to black, however. "The music that we make walks a tightrope of balancing beauty and tragedy," Halm says. "It's always got this optimism in it, but it's never just, like, one-stop shop happy. It's always got this inevitable pain that just life has. 

"You know, even if maybe there wasn't peace in the end for Omar, or if that wasn't his full journey with getting through that pain, I think a lot of people are dealing with broken hearts who it really is going to help," the producer continues. "I can only just hope that the music imparts leaving people with hope."

 Apollo agrees that God Said No contains a "hopeful thread," even if his perspective on the project remains achingly visceral. Did making the album help heal his broken heart? "No," he says with a sad smile on his face. "But it is proof of pain. And it’s a beautiful thing that is immortalized now, forever. 

"One day, I can look back at it and be like, Wow, what a beautiful thing I experienced. But yeah, no, it didn't help me," he says with a laugh. 

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