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5 Women Essential To Rap: Cardi B, Lil' Kim, MC Lyte, Sylvia Robinson & Tierra Whack
(L-R): Cardi B, MC Lyte, Tierra Whack, Lil' Kim, and Sylvia Robinson

Source Photos (L-R): Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; Josh Brasted/FilmMagic; Scott Dudelson/Getty Images; Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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5 Women Essential To Rap: Cardi B, Lil' Kim, MC Lyte, Sylvia Robinson & Tierra Whack

In honor of Women’s History Month, GRAMMY.com explores the thriving world of female rap, highlighting some of the culture-shifting women who have changed the course of the genre and spotlighting one artist who is moving the genre forward.

GRAMMYs/Mar 4, 2022 - 08:00 am

Women have always been essential to rap and, today, they’re getting their deserved recognition more than ever before. The world of female rap has continuously contributed to the genre’s sound, fashion, commercial success — not just in comparison to their male counterparts, but across the genre as a whole — increasing its global impact.

The lyrical prowess of early pioneers such as MC Sha-Rock and MC Lyte demanded respect in a male-dominated industry, while rappers such as Queen Latifah, Monie Love and Yo-Yo advanced conscious hip-hop and confronted misogyny. Salt-N-Pepa owned their sex appeal, while Lil’ Kim introduced a feminine perspective to a sex-positive narrative that had previously been controlled by men.  

The current and future landscape of women in rap appears even brighter. Gone is the genre’s unwritten rule that only one female superstar can exist at a time, and women are thriving in new ready-to-be-conquered rap territory. In 2020, Nicki Minaj and Doja Cat’s "Say So (Remix)" topped the Billboard Hot 100, marking the first time a female rap collaboration led the chart. That same year, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s "WAP" broke the record for the biggest debut steaming week in U.S. history. Today, more women rappers are finding success than ever before — from City Girls and Latto, to Saweetie and Flo Milli. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, GRAMMY.com highlights some of the pioneering, culture-shifting women who have changed the course of rap and one promising up-and-comer who is at the forefront of the genre’s future.

MC Lyte: The first GRAMMY-nominated female hip-hop artist and first woman to release a solo rap album

A 16-year-old MC Lyte broke onto the rap scene with the single, "I Cram To Understand U (Sam)" in 1987. The following year, she released her debut album, Lyte As A Rock, becoming the first female rapper to release a solo album.

Lyte’s first three albums spawned hits like "Cha Cha Cha," "Paper Thin," "10% Dis" and "Poor Georgie." In 1993, the acclaimed anthem "Ruffneck" became Lyte’s third No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart and was certified gold, making her the first female rapper to achieve the feat. "Ruffneck" was also nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 36th GRAMMY Awards in 1994, designating Lyte as the first-ever GRAMMY-nominated woman rapper.

MC Lyte’s conscientious records and classic hits drew critical acclaim and commercial success, making her an influence on female rap for generations to come. A true pioneer, she was honored with the I Am Hip Hop Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards.

Sylvia Robinson: Sugar Hill Records founder and "Mother of Hip-Hop"  

Rightfully nicknamed the "Mother of Hip Hop," Sylvia Robinson helped push rap into the public music arena. Robinson started out as a chart-topping R&B singer, releasing "Love Is Strange" in 1956 with her duo, Mickey & Sylvia. After a solo singing and songwriting career, Robinson founded Sugar Hill Records in the 1970s. With the label, she assembled Harlem rap trio the Sugarhill Gang and produced their 1979 hit, "Rapper’s Delight," which went on to be the first rap single to break the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40.

Besides having a hand in one of hip-hop’s first hits, Robinson was also instrumental in one of the genre’s most impactful records. In 1982, she co-produced "The Message" for Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. The track broke ground lyrically — detailing the gritty realities of growing up in poverty — and creatively, as it was the first rap song where the DJ was not involved in its creation, setting the stage for MCs to become the stars of hip-hop. In an interview, Grandmaster Flash conceded that without Robinson’s insistence and direction, "The Message" would never have been created.

Lil’ Kim: The "Queen of Rap" who reinvented hip-hop fashion

Salt-N-Pepa introduced feminist sex appeal to hip-hop, but Lil’ Kim took it a step further. The Brooklyn native burst onto the rap scene in 1996 with her solo debut album Hard Core, quickly gaining attention with her raunchy lyrics and feminine style. Prior to Kim, rappers like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte had gained entry to the male-dominated hip-hop space with masculine swagger and fashion. Choosing instead to steal the spotlight with jaw-dropping and sexy styles, Kim created a new avenue for women rappers — owning their sexuality — which is still mimicked today.

"[Lil' Kim]  was the first time for me that I saw that much sexiness in female hip-hop," Trina, whose own explicit lyrics catapulted her to success in the late '90s and early 2000s, recounted in "The Real Queens of Hip-Hop," TV special. "She created and started that." 

Kim also pushed the boundaries for female rap music success. Her debut album Hard Core debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200, the highest-ranking debut for a woman MC at the time. Kim was also the first female rapper to have three consecutive No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart; her GRAMMY-winning collaboration with Christina Aguilera, P!nk and Mýa, "Lady Marmalade," was the best-selling single of 2001.

Cardi B: Pushing female rap to new commercial heights

Cardi B’s commercial success ushered in a new era of mainstream domination and profitability for female rappers. Creating her own celebrity through social media and reality TV, the Bronx native made history with her 2018 debut album, Invasion of Privacy. The record was the best-selling female rap album of the 2010s and won Best Rap Album at the 61st GRAMMY Awards in 2019, making Cardi the first solo female rapper to win the award. Her breakout hit, 2017’s "Bodak Yellow," also became the first diamond-certified single by a woman rapper. She’s since tacked on two other diamond records: Maroon 5’s "Girls Like You" and "I Like It" featuring Bad Bunny and J. Balvin.

Cardi’s commercial success, brand partnerships and social media appeal helped break hip-hop’s one woman superstar at a time mold by proving female rap’s lucrative potential to the masses. As Cardi tweeted in 2019, "I didn’t say I pave[d] the way for female rappers, but I deff gave the hood and women hope. Nikkas wasn’t collabing with female rappers. Labels where [sic] signing female rappers and putting them in a shelf and not focusing on them, not giving them proper attention… How many female rappers before me where [sic] getting chances or getting pushed? They wasn’t believing and now they are!"

Tierra Whack: Rising rap artist leading the next generation 

Tierra Whack continues to push the envelope with both her eclectic style and lyrics. At a time when sex-positive femcees rule the charts, Whack instead leads with creativity and quirkiness. Innovative and wildly eccentric music videos ( à la Missy Elliott) are an artistic staple for the 26-year-old, who earned her first GRAMMY nomination for Best Music Video with her 2017 "Mumbo Jumbo" visual.

Whack first gained fame for her freestyling and battle rap skills in her native Philadelphia , but her 15-minute debut album, Whack World, skyrocketed her to viral acclaim. By blurring genre lines — most recently through her Rap?, Pop? and R&B? EPs —Whack is poised to remain at the forefront of hip-hop’s future and brings a fresh wave of variety and uniqueness to the female rap landscape.

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10 Ways To Support Women Musicians & Creators Year-Round
Spanish artist Ana Fabiola López Rodríguez performs with her band Annie B Sweet at the Noches del Botánico music festival in Madrid, Spain.

Photo: Miguel Pereira/Getty Contributor

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10 Ways To Support Women Musicians & Creators Year-Round

March may be Women’s History Month, but you can support female music professionals and creatives year-round. From posting jobs on female-centric platforms, to buying from women-owned record labels, here are 10 impactful ways to support women in music.

GRAMMYs/Mar 1, 2022 - 08:30 pm

Gender inequality in the music industry has remained a constant issue. Countless media outlets, including Pitchfork and Complex, have brought attention to the gender disparity n festival lineups with quantifiable breakdowns while organizations such as Keychange and Book More Women toil to foster change. A major factor in this industry-wide imbalance is a lack of gender equity in positions of power, according to a 2021 study on "Inclusion in the Music Business."     

The struggle for women to hold space in any part of the male-dominated music industry — be it as an industry professional or a creative — is very real and ongoing. A study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Institute found that women comprised 21.6 percent of all artists on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Charts between 2012 and 2020, and accounted for just 20.2 percent of artists on the 2020 chart. The latter percentage, according to the institution, incorrectly demonstrates that "there has been no meaningful and sustained increase in the percentage of women artists in nearly a decade."    

Before female artists can make it to playlists and festival stages, there needs to be women behind the scenes putting them there. Women need to be in recording studios, become event producers, agents, managers, talent bookers and music executives. In order for that to happen, there needs to be guidance and support for women entering the music industry.    

Here are a few ways fans and music industry workers can help make that happen.   

Make the recording environment a safe space 

Stories of sexual harassment in recording studio have been around for so long, they are nearly cliché. Unfortunately, instances of harassment and assault for both for artists and for the small percentage of women who work in an audio engineering environment  continue to occur. 

Creating safe spaces provides women with "a fair chance, more opportunities, " said engineer Suzy Shinn. Shinn has worked on GRAMMY-nominated albums including Weezer’s Pacific Daydream and produced Van Weezer.  

Yet producer and songwriter Jake Sinclair was the first person to give Shinn a safe and stable studio in which to work and learn. "Before [Sinclair], I was running around town, doing every job I could get, dealing with unfamiliar situations that were different every day. [Sinclair] really gave me space to grow, " Shinn told GRAMMY.com. "When I get into that room, I do insane work and make sure I can blow it out of the water."  

Get involved with organizations that support women in audio

The percentage of women in the audio space is growing, albeit incrementally. A number of organizations led by long-time, well-respected professionals are encouraging women to enter these careers and support them when they do. Among these are SoundGirls, Women’s Audio Mission, We Are Moving the Needle and Femme House

Each one of these organizations has a "donate" button or merchandise, the proceeds of which go toward supporting their causes. You can go one step further and set up a scholarship fund (also a handy tax write-off) for women pursuing music education, or help fund existing scholarships offered by We Are Moving the Needle and Femme House. 

Hire women and provide support once they’re on board

Have a position you need filled or a project you need done? Post it with shesaid.so, "a global community of women, gender minorities and allies in the music industry," or at Women Connect, who are "creating safer, inclusive spaces and equal opportunities for women, gender fluid and non-conforming people."  

If you’re looking for a job in the industry, tune into MeloCompasspodcast, and tap into Producers Program, "an initiative to support female-identifying music producers and help right the gender imbalance in their field." 

Providing continual support to music professionals who are currently working is also important. Shesaid.so hosts mentorship programs where female professionals can uplift each other.    

Listen to women-created and women-focused music podcasts 

There are many informative women- and music industry-centric podcasts which allow listeners to gain insight into the position of women in the music industry. These podcasts often feature professionals and musicians who speak about their experience and offer advice.

Some excellent options are the radio show/podcast (and also zine), "Women in Sound," run by audio engineer Madeleine Campbell; "We Are the Unheard"; and the award-winning The Last Bohemians, which profiles women in arts and culture.  

Provide basic amenities in venue dressing rooms 

If you book women at a venue, they should have a private place to get dressed with adequate lighting and a mirror.  

2022 Brit Award-nominated artist Rebecca Taylor (professionally known as Self Esteem) breaks it down quite simply: "Women, like all musicians, have to start small at 300-400-capacity venues," Taylor tells GRAMMY.com. "My band is six women and the space in these venues isn't for a woman. There isn’t anywhere to change. If there's a mirror it's covered in stickers. There is no light. The dressing room is for drinking and being a dude.   

"That's where it starts, at the grassroots. The absolute smallest thing you can do, which is play a gig, the venue is not expecting women to be there. The knock-on from that has a huge effect. That’s why women are second all the time in music."  

Bring up women bookers, promoters and festival organizers

There are not many women working as talent bookers, concert/event promoters and even less working as festival producers/organizers — at least independently.  

Lauren Kashuk, founder and creative director of Ideaison, an experiential event production and marketing company, noted that female-fronted businesses are significantly less financially supported. "Events are expensive. You have to have the capital from somewhere, especially the first few years when they’re not profitable," she says. "For so long, the decision-makers have been men, and that ties in with financial implications."  

Back-of-house positions such as Kashuk’s are often neglected in conversations about gender, she added. "Women behind the scenes need to have equal representation. Speak our names in rooms. If you sit at a table where there is no diversity, you are not going to represent the diverse population of your event and that’s going to impact every aspect of it. 

"Empower and bring people that are different than you. We need confident men in positions of power to share that table and not be intimidated by women who are ambitious," Kashuk tells GRAMMY.com. "The way we’re going to change the industry is together, with allies."  

Fill rooms and festival stages — including virtual events — where women perform

When promoters see sparse attendance for a woman performer, it is unlikely they will book her again. So showing up goes a long way. Make an effort to time your festival movements so you are in the vicinity of the stage with the rare female artist.   

Notes Kashuk, "it’s easy to go to the glamorous large festival. You have to make a conscious effort to go to the smaller events." This support includes buying tickets and sharing information about the performance on social media. 

Even tuning into a virtual festival, like SiriusXM’s EMPOWERED, led by the platform’s Rida Naser, makes a difference. After the festival, Naser said the ultimately wanted to have an EMPOWERED stage at a festival. This is an attainable goal, but only if Naser has (among many other things) the audience numbers to take to festival producers.   

Support women-owned record labels 

Women have great taste in music. They also are great at business. This makes women-owned record labels a double threat, and purchasing from them doubles down on a commitment to support women. Buying directly from a record label (or indie distributor or record store) allows label owners and artists to continue creating and releasing. 

There are many women-owned labels to choose from, including Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records, Tokimonsta’s Young Art Records and the femme queer collective Surround’s Dusk Recordings. While you’re in a buying mood, grab some merchandise, post a photo with it and tag everyone involved. 

Interact on social media — the right way

Follow, interact, comment, retweet, share. These are givens for any creative you want to support. But if a female artist has a non-algorithm platform you can connect with, such as Discord, engage there to create a direct line between artist and audience.   

"I would love it if people used my songs in Instagram Reels and TikTok," independent artist TRISHES told GRAMMY.com. "Everyone wants to know if one of your songs is blowing up on TikTok. Using my music gives it a little bit more of a shot to catch on to a trending thing. Plus, a lot of trending sounds are made by Black creators, but not credited to Black creators. This way you’re not just using it, but also crediting it."   

Focus should be shifted from physically objectifying women, TRISHES notes. Adds Self Esteem, "never comment one way or another on what we look like. I like shoes. I like fashion, but I don’t want you to tell me either way what you think about how I look, that would be helpful."  

Do more than stream 

According to Chartmasters, only two of top 10 most streamed artists on Spotify are women: Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift. The same source shows only two more in the top 20: Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa. 

This extreme imbalance has broad ripple effects that leads to more gender inequity. "The people that book festivals, make playlists, those are the ones impeding women because they’re the ones that make those lists 80 percent men," TRISHES explains.  

Naturally, you should follow women artists whose music you enjoy on streaming platforms and YouTube, but also add them to your playlists and share those. Since the individuals at these platforms are not necessarily picking women to populate playlists, any playlist women show up on helps to bring attention to their music.  

9 Ways To Support Black Musicians & Creators Year-Round

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Dave Koz, MC Lyte host 2012 GRAMMY Pre-Telecast Ceremony

Co-hosted by Dave Koz and MC Lyte, ceremony to present nearly 70 awards and feature performances from Kim Burrell, Joyce DiDonato, Reirth Brass Band, and Trin-I-Tee 5:7, among others

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast Ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 12 from 1–3:30 p.m. PT at the Los Angeles Convention Center and will be streamed live in its entirety internationally at www.grammy.com/live and www.cbs.com.

Attended by nominees and industry VIPs, the star-studded ceremony with be co-hosted by current GRAMMY nominee Dave Koz and Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter President and rapper MC Lyte.

The Pre-Telecast will feature performances by current nominees Kim Burrell, Le'Andria Johnson, Kelly Price, and Trin-I-Tee 5:7 in a "Ladies of Gospel" segment as well as current nominees mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, singer/songwriter Steve Earle and New Orleans' Rebirth Brass Band.

Presenting the first GRAMMY Awards of the night in 68 categories will be current nominees Gerald Clayton, Chick Corea, Brandon Heath, Arturo O'Farrill, OK Go, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Esperanza Spalding as well as GRAMMY-winning producer Jimmy Jam.

Co-host Koz is nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album for Hello Tomorrow.

Performers Burrell, Earle, Johnson, Rebirth Brass Band, and Trin-I-Tee 5:7 each have one nod: Burrell for Best Gospel Album for The Love Album; Earle for Best Folk Album for I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive; Johnson for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance for "Jesus"; Rebirth Brass Band for Best Regional Roots Music Album for Rebirth Of New Orleans; and Trin-I-Tee 5:7 for Best Gospel Album for Angel & Chanelle Deluxe Edition. DiDonato has two nominations for Best Opera Recording for Vivaldi: Ercole Sul Termodonte and Best Classical Vocal Solo for "Diva Divo." Price has three nods for Best R&B Performance (with Stokley) and Best R&B song for "Not My Daddy" and Best R&B Album for Kelly.

Presenters Clayton, O'Farrill, OK Go, Rae, and Spalding each have one nomination: Clayton for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Bond: The Paris Sessions; O'Farrill for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for 40 Acres And A Burro; OK Go for Best Short Form Music Video for "All Is Not Lost"; Rae for Best R&B Performance for "Is This Love"; and Spalding for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Bird Songs (with Joe Lovano/Us Five). Corea has two nominations for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for "500 Miles High," and Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Forever (with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White). Heath has three nominations for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance and Best Contemporary Christian Music Song for "Your Love," and Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for Leaving Eden

The live stream of the Pre-Telecast will remain on GRAMMY.com as video on demand for 30 days following the event. Following the ceremony, the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Follow GRAMMY.com for our inside look at GRAMMY news, blogs, photos, videos, and of course nominees. Stay up to the minute with GRAMMY Live. Check out the GRAMMY legacy with GRAMMY Rewind. Keep track of this year's GRAMMY Week events, and explore this year's GRAMMY Fields. Or check out the collaborations at Re:Generation, presented by Hyundai Veloster. And join the conversation at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Underrepresented, Overworked & Underpaid: 7 Key Learnings From The Newly Published Women In The Mix Study

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Underrepresented, Overworked & Underpaid: 7 Key Learnings From The Newly Published Women In The Mix Study

Released today, on International Women's Day, the Women In The Mix Study explores the employment experiences, job satisfaction, family decisions, and pathways women professionals take in the music industry

GRAMMYs/Mar 8, 2022 - 02:04 pm

It perhaps shouldn't come as a shock that women working in a variety of professional fields face challenges unique to their gender. Those working in the American music industry are no exception.

The newly published Women In The Mix Study — released today by the Recording Academy, Arizona State University (ASU) and Berklee College of Music Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) — explores the experiences and socioeconomic landscape of women and gender-expansive people working in music. Built on data from a 2019 study conducted by the Berklee College of Music, the Women In The Mix Study surveyed more than 1,600 professionals working in various capacities — from behind the scenes to center stage — and at all levels, with all ages, races and ethnicities responding.

The Women In The Mix Study explores demographic characteristics, employment experiences, career challenges, job satisfaction, family decisions, and pathways into the music industry. More than 1,000 respondents also provided suggestions for improving the climate for women in music.

Ultimately, the study is designed to influence advocates, allies and leaders in music to work toward a more inclusive and equitable industry, while amplifying women's voices.  

"The Women In The Mix Study is a groundbreaking account of the realities and decisions that we as women working in music are publicly and privately making each day," Recording Academy Co-President Valeisha Butterfield Jones said. "By centering this study around active listening, learning and building solutions, we've armed the industry with valuable data about the barriers affecting women in music and how we can together take a stand."

"When trying to create meaningful change you have to speak directly to the people who will be most affected by that change and let them be a part of the conversation," Erin Barra, Director of Popular Music at ASU, added; Barra co-authored the study with Mako Fitts Ward, Ph.D.; Lisa M. Anderson, Ph.D.; and Alaysia M. Brown, M.S.  

In celebration of International Women's Day, GRAMMY.com is taking a deep dive into some of the major findings of the Women In The Mix Study. 

Read the Women In The Mix Study in full.

Women are underrepresented, overworked and underpaid

The Women In The Mix Study cites work from the University of Southern California's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which found that women are severely underrepresented in the music industry, accounting for just 21.6 percent of artists, 12.6 percent of songwriters, and 2.6 percent of producers. The Initiative's annual Inclusion in the Recording Studio report found that there has been no meaningful increase in these numbers over the years.

More than half (57 percent) of Women In The Mix respondents work two or more jobs. Twenty-four percent work between 40-51 hours per week, while an additional 28 percent clock more than 50 hours per week. 

Thirty-six percent of respondents earn less than $40,000 per year, and nearly half of them feel like they should be further along in their careers. Nearly half of the respondents who identify as music creators and/or performers reported making less than $40,000 a year. 

Approximately 57 percent of music creators felt they should be further along in their career, compared to those working in music education (48.5 percent), event/tour production and management/promotion (41.7 percent), music business (37.4 percent), and music media and technology (32.9 percent).

Discrimination is prevalent — especially for gender-expansive respondents and women of color

Across all racial identities, 84 percent of respondents had faced discrimination. Seventy-seven percent felt they had been treated differently in the music industry because of their gender, while more than 56 percent believed their gender had affected their employment. Music creators and performers experienced this the most, with 65 percent experiencing discrimination. Sixty percent of respondents said they had been discriminated against for their age. 

Gender-expansive respondents were less satisfied than those who identified as women by a 16 percent margin. They were twice as likely to make less than $40,000 per year and felt less comfortable in their workplace by a margin of almost 18 percent.

Women of color reported feeling the highest level of discomfort in the workplace and noted less workplace support. More than half of respondents of color felt they should be further along in their careers.

Career advancement is often prioritized over parenthood

Roughly one out of every two respondents said they chose not to have children or had fewer children than they wanted because of their careers. Respondents with children under the age of 18 represent slightly less than two out of every 10 women and gender-expansive people in the music industry.

People who make over $100,000 per year had a 27 percent likelihood of having children. Those earning less than $40,000 a year have a 15 percent likelihood of having children. Women of color are the most likely respondents to have children, though they still reported that their career was a factor in their decision-making around having or rearing children.

Work-life balance development should begin early

While less than half of respondents reported having an internship during their career, 78 percent felt internships contributed to their career. 

However, since internships, particularly those in creative fields, are often unpaid, these opportunities may not be feasible for people without sufficient financial and/or supportive resources. Study respondents suggested paid internships as one method of addressing networking, access to opportunity, and work-life balance. 

Respondents — many of whom are working more than 40 hours per week — noted that burnout is a significant challenge. Additional and/or mandatory paid days off would also improve work-life balance throughout the industry. 

Mentorships and advocacy organizations are valuable

Ninety-three percent of respondents felt that mentoring had contributed to their career. These respondents were more likely to feel they were where they should be in their careers and reported feeling satisfied with their jobs. Respondents suggested that providing access to quality mentorship and mentors can have a profoundly positive effect on the careers of women and gender-expansive people.

Forty percent of respondents were members of advocacy organizations, while 35 percent of respondents cited professional or industry-related organizations as crucial factors to their growth and advancement. Roughly 20 percent mentioned advocacy in their recommendations to help improve the climate for women and gender-expansive people.

However, mentorship and networking are both largely built upon a person's interpersonal skill set, as well as their ability to negotiate and advocate for themselves. By bolstering soft skill development, while also building and strengthening institutional programs, support infrastructure, and active education, the music industry can improve business acumen for women and gender-expansive people early in the employment pipeline. 

Organizations should take real action and spend money

Simply saying your business is committed to DEI isn't enough. Women In The Mix Study respondents suggested recruitment pledges — a commitment from hiring managers to recruit diverse and robust candidates — as a means of intentionally addressing access to opportunities and dismantling gatekeeper culture.

Addressing women's representation in music has been a longstanding priority for the Recording Academy. In 2019, the organization launched Women In The Mix, which prompted hundreds of music professionals and organizations to pledge to consider at least two women in the selection process every time a producer or engineer is hired. That same year, the Recording Academy pledged to double the number of women voters in its voting membership by 2025; the organization has reached 60 percent of that goal.

In 2021, the Recording Academy donated a total of $25,000 to five charities and organizations that support the growth of women and girls in production and engineering. Based on the Women In The Mix Study findings, and to help address issues surrounding access to resources and opportunities, the Academy has committed to donating an additional $50,000 to five organizations that support the growth of women and girls in music, including Beats By Girlz, Femme It Forward, Girls Make Beats, She Is The Music, and Women's Audio Mission. 

Career satisfaction and passion for the music industry remain high

Despite the challenges around insufficient earnings, burnout, gatekeeper culture, sexism, and the competing demands of creative vision and generating revenue, 78 percent of Women In The Mix Study respondents reported feeling satisfied in their careers. Even in career categories that seem to face the most obstacles — such as freelancers and music creators and performers — more than 80 percent of respondents said they felt satisfied. Respondents working in event and tour production, management and promotion were the least satisfied, noting a 65 percent satisfaction rate.

Such satisfaction may be the result of inherent passion: Over half of respondents said that their pathway into their careers was through their inherent love for and excitement about the music industry.

10 Ways To Support Women Musicians & Creators Year-Round

30 Must-Hear Albums In 2022: Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Rosalía, Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie & More

(L - R): Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie, Earl Sweatshirt, Rosalía

(Source Photos L - R): Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp; Jason Koerner/Getty Images; Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for iHeartRadio; Marc Grimwade/WireImage; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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30 Must-Hear Albums In 2022: Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Rosalía, Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie & More

2022 has no shortage of new albums to keep your shuffle hard at work. GRAMMY.com compiled a list of 30 upcoming releases — from Kid Cudi, Earl Sweatshirt, Combo Chimbita, Dolly Parton, and Guns N' Roses — to keep you moving in the new year.

GRAMMYs/Jan 8, 2022 - 12:28 am

Editor's Note: This piece has been updated to reflect release dates and album titles announced after publishing. 

While it may feel like there's not much to look forward to during yet another wave of COVID-19, music fans around the world are eagerly waiting to load their playlists with new releases as 2022 gets underway.

And there's certainly plenty to look forward to: Along with The Weeknd, who released his fifth studio album, Dawn FM, on Jan. 7, superstars like Machine Gun KellyCamila CabelloDolly PartonGuns N' Roses, and Rosalía have all announced or teased albums coming this year.

The pandemic may have slowed things down, but there's no stopping artists in 2022. Keep an eye out for these 30 albums from ENHYPEN, Mitski, Saweetie, Bastille, and many more.

The Weeknd, Dawn FM

Release date: Jan. 7

Only a year removed from his incendiary Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, the crowned pop prince of Canada returns with the semi-surprise Dawn FM, a hotly anticipated follow-up to his record-breaking 2020 release, After Hours (you know, the one with "Blinding Lights" and "Save Your Tears" on it).

As The Weeknd's album teasers promised, Dawn FM delivered sinister synthesizers, a vocal appearance from Jim Carrey, and old-man makeup that's arguably only slightly less distressing than his wax-faced After Hours persona.Max Martin is back (on lead single "Take My Breath"), and other guests include Tyler, the Creator and Oneohtrix Point Never.

As for what the three-time GRAMMY winner wants his listeners to take away from his latest work? "Picture the album being like the listener is dead," The Weeknd told Billboard. Capisce? — Brennan Carley

ENHYPEN, DIMENSION : ANSWER 

Release date: January 10

Seven-piece boy group ENHYPEN may still be relatively new to the K-pop scene (the band formed in 2020 on the Korean survival competition show "I-Land"), but they're already making moves to put themselves in the ranks of BTS and EXO. Their latest release, DIMENSION : ANSWER, marks the group's first studio repackage album, expanding on their 2021 debut set, DIMENSION : DILEMMA.

DIMENSION : ANSWER will feature three new tracks,: "Polaroid Love," "Outro : Day 2," and lead single "Blessed-Cursed." Fans got a first taste of the three B-sides thanks to an album preview the group released on Jan. 4, which teased a wide array of sounds: punchy pop-sprinkled production on "Polaroid Love," sultry R&B vocals with "Outro : Day 2," and guitar-heavy rock on "Blessed-Cursed." With such vast musical prowess, DIMENSION : ANSWER may just be the group's ticket to K-pop superstardom. — Taylor Weatherby

Read More: 5 Rising Korean Artists To Know Now: STAYC, ENHYPEN, ITZY, TOMORROW X TOGETHER & ATEEZ

Cordae, From a Bird's Eye View

Release date: Jan. 14

Cordae set the bar high with his GRAMMY-nominated debut album The Lost Boy and emerged as one of the most exciting new talents of 2019, making his return to the game with his hotly anticipated second album.

The Maryland-raised rapper held fans over with his Just Until… EP last April before launching into his album rollout with the braggadocious hit, "Super" and a collaboration with Lil Wayne, "Sinister." The 24-year-old wordsmith — known for his reflective, carefully-crafted raps — said From a Bird's Eye View was inspired by "a life-changing trip to Africa, enduring the loss of a friend gone too soon and evolving as an artist and a man." 

The album will also mark Cordae's first full-length effort since the official disbanding of his YBN collective in 2020. — Victoria Moorwood

Animal Collective, Time Skiffs

Release date: Feb. 4

Followers of experimental pop adventurers Animal Collective have waited six years for a new album following 2016's Painting With. At last, the four-piece will release Time Skiffs, an album full of otherworldly harmonies and mind-opening melodies.

Animal Collective has released two singles from the LP so far: the gently psychedelic "Prester John" and the equally trippy "Walker." The latter is a tribute to Scott Walker, the prolific singer-songwriter who died in 2019. Its beautifully intricate music video, directed by band member Dave Portner and his sister Abby, brings the Time Skiffs album cover to life in vivid detail. — Jack Tregoning

Avril Lavigne, Love Sux

Release date: Feb 25 

Like everything Y2K, pop-punk is making a comeback. And nearly 20 years since the release of her seminal pop-punk debut Let GoAvril Lavigne brings back her pop-punk princess persona in all its glory — combat boots and all. In early November, the "Sk8r Boi" singer shared her the angsty anthem "Bite Me," first new single in over two years, featuring Travis Barker.

With the new music, Lavigne also shared she had signed to the drummer extraordinaire's label DTA Records. Her seventh studio album is set to be the artist's first LP since her more traditional pop LP Head Above Water in 2019. — I.K.

Bonobo, Fragments

Release date: Jan. 14

Like everyone else around the world, electronic shapeshifter Simon Green had a very unusual past two years. The British musician and DJ, better known as Bonobo, found himself grounded in his adopted home of Los Angeles, itching for new inspiration to get through the pandemic. His wanderings took him from a tent in the Californian desert to a new appreciation for modular synths back home in lockdown, all with a nervous eye on the precarious state of the world.

This activity fed into a flood of music which we'll soon hear on Bonobo's seventh studio album, Fragments, out on Ninja Tune. Fragments features guests including Jamila Woods, Joji and Kadhja Bonet, while channeling influences from UK bass, Detroit techno and global music through Bonobo's widescreen lens. The producer is already up for two Best Dance/Electronic Recording awards at this year's GRAMMYs, for "Heartbreak," his collaboration with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and "Loom," with Ólafur Arnalds. Bonobo begins a tour of the US in February, giving fans a few precious weeks to soak up the album before its live debut. — J.T.

Earl Sweatshirt, SICK

Release date: Jan. 14

With a decade-plus of acclaimed projects such as 2018's Some Rap SongsEarl Sweatshirt is both an underground hero and a critic's darling. He hasn't achieved the same level of mainstream success as former Odd Future colleagues Tyler, the Creator and Syd – which is fine with him.

Judging from SICK's lead track "2010," where he pays homage to his mother in cryptic terms, the 10-track album promises to be another collection of stylized verses, dusty beats and autobiographical confessions (albeit rendered in a clearer voice than his previous album, 2019's lo-fi affair Feet of Clay). As its title suggests, SICK was inspired by the pandemic. "My whole thing is grading things on the truth, you know what I mean? However expansive or detailed the truth is," he told Rolling Stone. — Mosi Reeves

iann dior, On To Better Things

Release date: January 21

After blasting onto the scene with his 24kgoldn team-up (and runaway smash) "Mood" in 2020, iann dior hasn't slowed down, releasing an EP and countless other collabs. On To Better Things marks dior's first full-length album since 2019, serving up 15 tracks that will help the rapper truly come into his own.

Like the Lil Uzi Vert-assisted "V12" and the racing single "Let You," On To Better Things will see dior further explore his capabilities as a rapper while also tapping into his alt-pop/rock sensibilities. Judging by his previous releases, dior won't be afraid to get raw and real on his latest project as he opens up about love, relationships and loyalty. There may be glimmers of hope on the album, though, as dior captioned a post teasing the album, "life is better now." — T.W.

Dive Deep: 9 Revolutionary Rap Albums To Know: From Kendrick Lamar, Black Star, EarthGang & More

Combo Chimbita, IRÉ

Release date: Jan. 28

The melding of cumbia beats and psychedelic vibes was embraced during the '70s by many pioneering outfits in Peru and Colombia. Since the release of their 2017 debut, New York quartet Combo Chimbita has built on that foundation, amping up the mystical tinge of its material through the soulful chanting of extraordinary vocalist Carolina Oliveros. 

Always ready to speak up on social and political issues, Chimbita uses cumbia as a starting point, adding swashes of funk and soul, Afro guitar lines and atmospheric samples. The band's new album expands its palette, enhancing lead single "Oya" with a video shot at the ruins of Puerto Rico's abandoned Intercontinental Hotel. A tour with the awesomeLido Pimienta will follow soon. — Ernesto Lechner

Aaliyah, Unstoppable

Release date: January 2022

Anticipation surrounding Aaliyah's fourth album has been building since 2012, when Blackground Records released "Don't Think They Know," which paired the late singer's vocals with Chris Brown, and a Drake collaboration, "Enough Said." The long-awaited arrival of her back catalog to streaming last fall added fresh fuel for a project that has been controversial, with some diehard fans questioning whether it honors Aaliyah's legacy.

Unstoppable includes guests like Snoop Dogg, Future and Ne-Yo. The first single, a woozy ballad titled "Poison," features The Weeknd as well as lyrics originally written by the late Static Major. "Some of the people Aaliyah liked are on the album. She loved Snoop Dogg," Blackground CEO and Aaliyah's uncle Jomo Hankerson told Billboard. "Everything I do at Blackground is always with her in my heart and my mind." — M.R.

Read More: For The Record: How Aaliyah Redefined Her Sound And Herself On One In A Million

Bastille, Give Me the Future

Release date: Feb. 4

If the pandemic had even a glimmer of a bright side, it comes courtesy of musicians like Bastille pivoting and positioning their art to address the present, as Give Me the Future promises to do.

Bandleader Dan Smith had already begun work on the English pop-rock group's fourth album before COVID-19 threw a wrench in his plans, but the pandemic made the album's probing themes seem that much more prescient. Glistening songs like "Thelma + Louise" and the vocoded "Distorted Light Beam" dig more deeply into Bastille's exploration of escapism when the troubles of the world are thundering outside our windowsall with the help of new collaborators Rami Yacoub and One Republic's Ryan Tedder. We promise it's way more fun than it sounds. — B.C.

Mitski, Laurel Hell

Release date: Feb. 4

Mitski almost pressed pause on her music career which, according to a Rolling Stone interview, was "shaving away my soul little by little." After a final performance, "I would quit and find another life."  Fortunately, though, Mitski has stuck with it.

Three years since the release of her fifth studio album Be the Cowboy, the indie singer-songwriter is set to share her forthcoming project Laurel Hell. While the majority of the LP was penned in 2018, it wasn't mixed until 2021, making it the longest the singer has spent on one of her records. What listeners can expect is a transformative set of songs that pair Mitski's signature vulnerability with uptempo dance beats and, ultimately, catharsis. — Ilana Kaplan

Guns N' Roses, Hard Skool EP

Release date: Feb. 25 

In 2021, 36 years after the band first formed in the hard rock hotbed of Los Angeles, Guns N' Roses returned with two new singles. This productive streak was remarkable enough in itself given the group's notoriously haphazard release schedule. The singles "ABSUЯD" and "Hard Skool" are doubly remarkable, though, because they usher in a new EP that brings beloved members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan together again after 28 years.

Reinterpreted from the band's Chinese Democracy sessions, "ABSUЯD" features a raw, punk-tinged sound that surprised some fans before rewarding repeat listens. "Hard Skool," meanwhile, harkens back to the classic sound that Guns N' Roses perfected in the late 1980s. The Hard Skool EP will feature the two 2021 singles alongside live renditions of GNR favorites "Don't Cry" and "You're Crazy." To mark this new era, the band is touring arenas throughout 2022, reuniting Axl, Slash and Duff as a powerhouse onstage trio. — J.T.

Take a Look Back: Guns N' Roses' 'Appetite For Destruction' | For The Record

Charli XCX, CRASH

Release date: March 18

Pop polymorph Charli XCX has been promising fans her sellout era for months now ("tip for new artists: sell your soul for money and fame," she tweeted last July), ushered in with last summer's "Good Ones" and buoyed into the holidays with "New Shapes," a powerhouse team-up with Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens.

CRASH is the fifth and final album she owes Atlantic Records — a benchmark not lost on fans or Charli herself. For it, Charli promises edge-of-your-seat appearances from Rina Sawayama, frequent collaborator A. G. Cook, and frequent Weeknd cohort Oneohtrix Point Never. Come for the bloody album artwork, stay for the cheeky, self-aware pop concoctions contained within. — B.C.

Dolly Parton, Run, Rose, Run

Release date: March 2022

The beloved, multi-GRAMMY Award-winning singer-songwriter Dolly Parton has built a career as a trailblazer, so it stands to reason that her next musical effort would carry on that grand tradition. Run, Rose, Run is an album of original tunes taking its energetic moniker from a companion novel that Parton co-authored with the acclaimed writer James Patterson.

According to Parton, the accompanying album consists of "all new songs written based on the characters and situations in the book" and centers on a tale about a girl who treks to Nashville to pursue her dreams. Adds Patterson, "the mind-blowing thing about this project is that reading the novel is enhanced by listening to the album and vice versa." Both projects are dropping in tandemIt's a unique undertaking that celebrates a smoldering passion for music; but if you've been following the legend's career, would you expect anything less? — Rob LeDonne

Maren Morris, Humble Quest

Release date: March 25

GRAMMY-winning singer Maren Morris has conquered modern country music with her soulful solo material and even forayed into pop (just mentioning "The Middle" will glue its sticky chorus to your every waking moment for the next week). So whatever magic Morris might make with her highly anticipated third album, Humble Quest, is cause enough for celebration.

Morris kicked off her next LP with "Circles Around This Town," an expansive, freewheeling single that blends the echoing production of her 2016 debut HERO and super-personal lyrics of 2019's GIRL. The album will be Morris' first since the untimely 2019 passing of her longtime creative partner busbee, but her partnership with pop hitmaker Greg Kurstin (who produced "Circles Around This Town" as well as four GIRL tracks) hints that this next project is going to be a timeless trip and an emotional walloping. — B.C.

Thomas Rhett, Where We Started Country Again: Side B

Release date: April 1 / Fall 2022

Though country music has always been the core of what Thomas Rhett has done since his debut album (2013's It Goes Like This), the star's 2021 set, Country Again: Side A, was more traditional than his past projects. Clearly his roots (along with the unexpected pandemic-induced downtime) sparked a bout of inspiration, as Rhett announced in November that he'll be releasing Side B as well as another LP, titled Where We Started, in 2022.

Surprisingly, Side B won't be coming first. But it will create one cohesive Country Again narrative once it arrives, as Rhett promised in an interview with Rolling Stone last year — though he did hint that Side B will feature production that's "a smidge more experimental" than Side A. His latest single, the wistful "Slow Down Summer" hints that Where We Started will also bring back more of the pop-leaning production he's incorporated in his previous albums.

Still, that doesn't mean he'll lose sight of the country boy that has been unleashed: In writing all of this music, Rhett told his producers (per Rolling Stone), "This is the direction I'm headed in, and I think I'm gonna be here for a long time." — T.W.

Read More: Saddle Up With The Best Country Song Nominations | 2022 GRAMMYs

Jack White, Fear of the Dawn / Entering Heaven Alive

Release date: April 8 / July 22 

Epic ambition fuels the very essence of rock 'n' roll and Jack White has embodied the genre's weakness for glamour, dissonance and excess since his days with The White Stripes. The reckless propulsion of "Over and Over and Over" — off 2018's Boarding House Reach — proved that he has kept the bravado in his songwriting very much alive. 

2022 will find the multi-GRAMMY Award winning singer/guitarist releasing two full-length albums: Fear of the Dawn, led by the wonderfully bombastic single "Taking Me Back," will also include a collaboration with rapper Q-Tip. No details are available on July's Entering Heaven Alive, but the appearance of two albums in the same year is the kind of grandiloquent gesture that rock is in need of more than ever before.  — E.L.

Swedish House Mafia, Paradise Again

Release date: TBA, ships April 15

When GRAMMY-nominated Swedish House Mafia announced they were getting back together (and this time for good), fans were cautiously optimistic. The trio of DJ-producers — Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell —  promised a host of new music to mark their return, and so far they've kept to their word. The comeback began with the dark, guest-free "It Gets Better," which deviated from the big-room EDM sound championed by the Swedes up to their split in 2013.

From there, the trio delivered "Lifetime," featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 070 Shake, and "Moth to a Flame," featuring The Weeknd, which became their first major hit of the new era. This flurry of activity sets the stage for Swedish House Mafia's first full album, Paradise Again. As Ingrosso told NME, the album will combine their trademark "Scandinavian melodies with dark production and hard sounds." Starting July 2022, the DJs embark on their first tour in a decade, playing 44 dates throughout the US, UK and Europe. — J.T.

Jason Aldean, Georgia 

Release date: April 22

Jumping on country music's 2021 double album trendJason Aldean issued Macon, the first half of his own two-disc set, Macon, Georgia, in November. The title is an homage to his hometown, which he refers to as a "melting pot" that shaped his music, according to Country Now. Yet, the 30-song project expands on Aldean's signature country-rock sound without steering too far away from what fans have grown to love, as evidenced with both Macon and Georgia's crooning lead single, "Whiskey Me Away."

Like its predecessor, Georgia will include 10 new songs and five live recordings of his biggest hits, essentially creating Aldean's first-ever live album.With the aptly titled track "Rock and Roll Cowboy" to boot, Georgia helps make Macon, Georgia a career highlight for Aldean. — T.W.

Machine Gun Kelly, Born with Horns

Release date: TBD 

The upcoming sixth studio album from enigmatic rocker Machine Gun Kelly, ominously titled Born with Horns, was rumored to drop on New Year's Eve 2021, but it seems Kelly had a change of heart tweeting "See you in 2022." While the release date continues to be murky, there is some solid information about the highly anticipated fresh slate of music from the multi-hyphenate rockstar.

For one, the album is produced by fellow rock luminary Travis Barker and includes the decidedly dark single "Papercuts." "It feels more guitar-heavy for sure, lyrically it definitely goes deeper, but I never like to do anything the same," Kelly said of Born with Horns in an interview with Sunday TODAY, noting it'll also mark a personal evolution. "I'm not scared anymore, there's nothing holding me back from being my true self — and my true self can't be silenced, can't be restrained." — R.L.

Watch Now: Up Close & Personal: Machine Gun Kelly On Working With Travis Barker & Influencing The Next Decade Of Music

Camila Cabello, Familia

Release date: TBD

There's perhaps never been a better advertisement for an album than Camila Cabello's edition of NPR's Tiny Desk. Released last fall, the session begins with three old songs and ends with two Familia cuts strong enough to bowl you over. In just 20 minutes, the former Fifth Harmony singer genuflects at the altar of pop's past while steering its ship into the future.

"Don't Go Yet" brims with the promise of comfort as it opens with a warm flamenco guitar. "La Buena Vida" is a Mariachi-based explosion of emotion and evocation, anchored by Cabello's arresting vocals. Whereas her prior albums sought to cement the 24-year-old amidst her contemporaries, the uber-personal Familia seems likely to propel her into a whole new pedigree of artistry. — B.C.

Rosalía, MOTOMAMI

Release date: TBD 

In 2018, Rosalía's cinematic El Mal Querer signified a before-and-after for the music of Spain and Latin America. A visionary blend of flamenco, hip-hop and confessional torch song, the album introduced her to the world as an intellectual, musicologist and pop diva wrapped up into one slick sonic package. Subsequent singles (2019's "Haute Couture" was a gorgeous slice of electro-pop) demonstrated that Rosalía's path to global domination relies on a voracious curiosity for disparate styles and high-profile collaborators such as Billie Eilish and Bad Bunny. 

Titled MOTOMAMI, Rosalía's much anticipated release includes "LA FAMA," a deliciously distorted bachata duet with The Weeknd. We can only imagine what other wonders Rosalía's remarkable imagination has dreamed up for this, her first full-length album since becoming a cultural icon. — E.L.

Saweetie, Pretty Bitch Music

Release date: TBD

Saweetie is set to finally release her debut album, Pretty Bitch Music, this year. After first announcing the project in 2020, the Bay Area native's star power has exploded, reaching new heights last year with major endorsements, her first GRAMMY nominations and a "Saturday Night Live" debut. Pretty Bitch Music was initially slated to arrive in 2021, but Saweetie postponed the effort for some additional fine-tuning.

"I'm just living with it to ensure it's perfect," she told Hollywood Life in August. "I'm really challenging myself and I just want to ensure that I put out a body of work that [will] symbolize art."

Pretty Bitch Music is expected to include Saweetie's 2x Platinum-certified collaboration with Doja Cat, "Best Friend" and her single "Tap In" with production by TimbalandLil Jon and Murda Beatz, among other heavy-hitters. — V.M.

Kid Cudi, Entergalactic

Release date: TBD

Three years after it was announced, Kid Cudi's animated music adventure for Netflix is set to arrive this summer, as the rapper declared during his set at Rolling Loud California in December. "I got some tasty surprises," he told fans before offering a snippet of unreleased music that may be on the soundtrack. 

Not much else is known about the project, which takes its title from a song on Cudi's 2009 debut Man on the Moon: The End of Day, and which co-creator Kenya Barris referred to as "the most ambitious thing" in a 2019 interview with Complex.

Entergalactic might not be where Kid Cudi stops in 2022, either: Amid his Rolling Loud teases, he said, "I want to drop another album before [Entergalactic]... I really am excited about all this new s, this new music to give to you guys. So that's why I'm teasing this s now, 'cause it's comin' out soon." — M.R.

Beach House, Once Twice Melody

Release date: throughout 2022

Nearly four years since the release of their seventh studio album aptly titled 7, Beach House is slowly unveiling their latest record Once Twice Melody. But instead of dropping all 18 tracks at once, the dreamy indie duo has been giving fans a taste of their new sound in four chapters.

Once Twice Melody is a significant shift as it's the first album produced in full by the band. Beach House also thought about its structure completely differently than they had in the past. "It didn't just feel like a regular, like another album of ours, it felt like a larger, newer kind of way of looking at our music," singer Victoria Legrand told Apple Music. Instead, they view it as "cinematic" and "literary." What fans can expect, they say, is "a lot of love" and "a sacredness of nature." — I.K.

Kendrick Lamar, TBA

Release date: TBD

One of our most celebrated artists of his generation may make his triumphant return this year.  Although it's been nearly five years since Kendrick Lamar released his GRAMMY- and Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN, Lamar has remained busy. In 2018, Lamar  curated the Black Panther soundtrack and he's also made guest appearances on tracks by artists as varied as Nipsey Hussle, Anderson .Paak, U2 and his cousin, Baby Keem. 

But Lamar has been mostly mum about his own music, save for an August blog post titled "nu thoughts." "Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family," he wrote, adding that his next album will be his last with Top Dawg Entertainment. It's the sort of thoughtful, precise announcement (and perhaps a hint to his album's content) that fans have come to expect from the notoriously private rapper. Lamar will thankfully make an appearance at this year's Super Bowl in February. — Britt Julious

Read More: Black Sounds Beautiful: How Kendrick Lamar Became A Rap Icon

Cardi B, TBA

Release date: TBD

Despite the slow-burning success of her single "Bodak Yellow," few could have predicted the popularity of Cardi B'sdebut album, Invasion of Privacy. A critical and commercial success, "Invasion of Privacy" won Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards, making Cardi the first woman to win in the category. That's why anticipation for her sophomore record is so high.

Cardi's brand of hip-hop is provocative and fun, and her two singles (possibly from the record) seem to confirm that same mood is still present in her music. In 2020, she dropped "WAP," a cultural reset of a collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, and in 2021, she released "Up," which later inspired a viral TikTok dance challenge. As with many artists, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the release of Cardi's new album. But late last year on Instagram Live, Cardi said she has "lots of jobs now" and one of them is to "put out this album next year." Hopefully fans won't have to wait too long. — B.J.

Koffee, TBA

Release date: TBD  

If Koffee's latest single is any indication, the youngest GRAMMY Award winner for Best Reggae Album is planning a glorious homecoming in 2022. Sung with a wide smile you can nearly hear, "West Indies" is a dancehall love letter to the islands and an upbeat promise for what the singer has in store on her first full-length.   

"I want to speak of a solution and of a way that we can come together and get along, even when things are going wrong," Koffee told Rolling Stone.

Although the pandemic halted her album recording and nixed her first Coachella performance, Koffee defies the dour attitude of much of the past two years. On "West Indies," Koffee assures that she's partying and having the time of her life — her as-yet-untitled album will likely soundtrack yours while you do the same. — Jessica Lipsky

Read More: The Women Essential To Reggae And Dancehall

Girl Ultra, TBA

Release date: TBD 

Few musical experiences are as uplifting as listening to a singer/songwriter's follow-up to a brilliant debut, where they enhance the scope of their craft with new influences and sounds. Nuevos Aires, Girl Ultra's first full-length album, was just that – a breath of fresh air for Latin R&B, anchored on the purity of her voice and collaborations with Ximena Sariñana and Cuco (for the languid hit "DameLove.") 

Following that 2019 release, the artist also known as Mariana de Miguel returns with a new EP. Lead single "Amores de Droga" evokes the sophistication of Everything But The Girl, combining smoldering vocalizing with cool electro grooves. A study in contrasts, it finds the Mexico City chanteuse reaching a pinnacle of inspiration. — E.L.

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