Photo: Terence Rushin/Getty Images for the Recording Academy
Armani White Details How To Use Social Media To Shape Your Career In GRAMMY U Masterclass
Rising rapper Armani White rocketed to fame via TikTok. During a GRAMMY U Masterclass Presented by Mastercard, White explained how to shape your career using social media: Know yourself, be yourself and stay hungry.
TikTok famous: A phrase that didn't exist a few years ago can now be a golden ticket into the music industry. Today, a 15-second clip has the power to alter someone’s career and life.
Sometimes, going viral on social media is purely luck of the draw. Other times, it’s a very calculated and tactful business strategy that can be used to help the masses realize your full potential and maximize your success. For Philadelphia-born rising rapper Armani White, the latter has never been more true.
A now-viral TikTok of White and friends vibing in the studio to his new song "BILLIE EILISH." changed the trajectory of his career. Within several hours of being uploaded, the video reached two million views and has since surpassed 80 billion views.
White says that while he posted that TikTok in February 2022 for fun, he had no doubt that it would be something special. With his favorite mantra, "losers get lucky, winners do it again," on a loop in his head, White was able to turn what could’ve been a fleeting viral hit into a pivotal career move.
At the HBCU Love Tour in Atlanta this October, White advised students on how to use social media to take their careers to new heights. The discussion is part of the GRAMMY U Masterclass, Presented by Mastercard, and was moderated by musician, actress, and Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter Board member Kat Graham. Read on for GRAMMY U's takeaways from Armani White's masterclass.
It’s Not About Making "TikTok Music," It’s About Making Music That Feels Genuine
Armani White compared the process of being an actor to what it is like to be a musical artist. Actors are constantly having to audition, and one role in a movie or TV show doesn’t necessarily lead to a lasting career. Similarly, one hit song doesn’t immediately make a substantial career for an artist.
The goal isn’t to make a song that will go viral, White continued, noting that he makes music that speaks to his character and experiences. The viral TikTok of White and crew blasting "BILLIE EILISH." over the studio's speakers and goofing off was raw, pure, and true to who he is. This genuine glance behind the curtain is what made his audience feel connected.
Pay Attention To Audience Reactions
Both White and Graham noted that social media can create an overwhelming feeling of comparison. White's advice? Rather than focusing on the number of views other videos are getting, focus on your own analytics.
The rapper said he will dissect a video that has been more successful than others and try to pinpoint what it is about that video that gained traction. Look to see what you did differently in each video and what the outcome was based on that tactic. Then, try to recreate it.
First, Know Who You Are
Even before the attention and opportunity that followed his TikTok, White knew who he was and wanted to be. He advised the audience to refrain from creating a persona that people want to see — that won’t get you far, and you’ll be chained to that version of you.
Instead, know who you are and stick with it. That certainty will allow others to understand your unique perspective and experiences, and will ultimately move you further along in your career. White decided who he was and implements that into every record he creates, whether by himself or in collaboration with others.
"Stay Down, Stay Hungry, Stay Determined"
Though White now has the career he always dreamed of, it wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter. He had to work hard, be patient and remain optimistic when things weren’t going as he had hoped. Even with the popularity of his original TikTok, he had more steps to climb to get the song to where it is now.
White’s first obstacle was finding a way to get the sample he used from N.O.R.E’s song "Nothin'" cleared for use. This is not a task that can be accomplished overnight, and the waiting process can be brutal. He decided the best way to go about this was to get his fans involved.
White encouraged his fans to use "Nothin'" as much as they could in their videos. As trends surrounding the song started rising up, it became clear that people weren’t losing interest in it. The TikTok sound of his song even made its way onto the “for you” page of Billie Eilish, who reposted a video using the sound. This solidified that everyone, including Eilish herself, were supporting not only the song itself, but Armani White as an artist.
White also spoke about life before "BILLIE EILISH." went viral and the struggles he went through. White says that through it all, he kept reminding himself, If I can get there, it’ll be worth it. He is now proud to have an encouraging story for artists to look at and remember that if you stay motivated, your wildest dreams are possible.
Graham echoed these sentiments, adding "Everyone has a unique journey…You gotta really look at yourself and know you have your own journey. Stay humble, hardworking, do the work, and you might just end up on this stage."
The full GRAMMY U Masterclass with Armani White, Presented by Mastercard, is available to stream now. Click the video below to hear more on the advice White and Graham share and the full story behind White's success.
Photo: Courtesy of Armani White
Hip-Hop Re:Defined: Armani White Gives Lil Wayne's "A Milli" A Fresh, Personal Twist
Philly-born newcomer Armani White personalizes Lil Wayne's GRAMMY-winning 2008 smash "A Milli" by shouting out his hometown in the lyrics.
Lil Wayne had already hit a new high point when he released "A Milli" in the winter of 2008. "Lollipop," the single that directly preceded "A Milli," had scored the rap legend his first hat trick by hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Rap Songs charts.
With "A Milli," the rapper born Dwayne Carter Jr. continued his chart-topping success by capturing yet another No. 1 on the latter two tallies and winning him the GRAMMY for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 2009 ceremony. The modern classic also heralded Wayne's blockbuster album Tha Carter III, which became the final album of the decade to sell more than a million copies in its opening week.
In this new episode of Hip-Hop Re:Defined, rising rap star Armani White tackles Wayne's noughties smash, with the Philadelphia-born newcomer building his flow over the same stuttering sample of A Tribe Called Quest's "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" as the original.
"A millionaire/ I'm a West Philly millionaire, tougher than Nigerian hair/ My criteria compared to your career just isn't fair," White raps, personalizing the lyrics with a shout-out to his hometown while still echoing Weezy's trademark cadence.
Press play on the video above to watch White rip through "A Milli," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Hip-Hop Re:Defined.
Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: Back to the Grind Monthly Member Playlist
The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from our talented members. This month, GRAMMY U features motivational tracks that will inspire you to hit the ground running this fall.
Did you know that among all of GRAMMY U’s members, songwriting and performance is one of the most sought after fields of study? We want to create a space to hear what these creators are making today.
The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that members are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music pages. Our goal is to celebrate GRAMMY U members, as well as the time and effort they put into making original music — from the songwriting process to the final production of the track.
Each month, we accept submissions and feature 15 to 25 songs that match that month’s theme. This month, we’ve crafted the perfect mix of tunes to get you feeling energized and back in your element.
Want to be featured on the next playlist? Submit your songs today! We are currently accepting submissions for songs of all genres for consideration for our September playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify, Apple Music and/or Amazon Music link to the song. Artists must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.
About GRAMMY U:
GRAMMY U is a program that connects aspiring professionals and creatives ages 18-29 with the music industry's brightest and most talented minds. We provide a community for emerging professionals and creatives in addition to various opportunities and tools necessary to start a career in music. Throughout the program year, events and initiatives touch on all facets of the industry, including business, technology, and the creative process.
As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.
Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.
Former GRAMMY U Reps Heather Howard and Sophie Griffiths contributed to this article.
Image courtesy of the Recording Academy
Introducing Hip-Hop Re:Defined, A Limited Online Series Paying Tribute To Hip-Hop's Greatest Hits
The new series Hip-Hop Re:Defined asks an artist to perform an original, live cover of a classic hip-hop song. The series launches Aug. 9.
The Recording Academy has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop year-round — now, it's joining in the celebration via its bounty of video content.
In honor of hip-hop's 50th Anniversary, GRAMMY.com has created a limited online series, Hip-Hop Re:Defined, a series paying tribute to some of hip-hop's greatest hits. In this new series, artists will perform an original, live cover of a classic hip-hop song.
This 10-episode series launches on Aug. 9. Armani White, Bizzy Banks and Asha Imuno are among the artists included in Hip-Hop Re:Defined.
Artists could pick a GRAMMY-winning or -nominated song, but hip-hop was around for 15 years before the Academy made a category for it, so artists were welcome to pick from the entire hip-hop catalog.
Hip-Hop Re:Defined will be posted weekly for six episodes and then begin posting every other week for the remainder of the series.
Performances will be published to GRAMMY.com, as well as the Recording Academy's YouTube channel, Facebook and Instagram, with additional support from Twitter. Watch this space as this limited series flourishes and develops in service of a quintessential American artform!
Photo: Karl Walter
10 Moments From SXSW 2023: Life Lessons With Killer Mike, Acoustic Sets & New Music From Kx5
From The Stage at SXSW to So Satisfying and the RnB Forever Showcase, the Recording Academy’s GRAMMY U team highlights the most exciting moments from SXSW Music Festival.
GRAMMY U Chicago Representative Kegan Grace contributed to this story.
Another iconic year of South by Southwest has come and gone. And while the dust has settled in Austin, there's still much to reminisce about — from unforgettable live shows, to panels and behind the scenes interviews.
The Recording Academy’s GRAMMY U team had their boots on the ground during the best events at SXSW Music Festival, held March 13-18. As the team hopped around town and watched a ton of showcases, they also went backstage to chat with artists about their time at SXSW.
Read on for GRAMMY U's 10 favorite moments from SXSW, and be sure to visit their Instagram for more content from the festival .
PinkPantheress, Rett Madison, Cafuné & Sueco Are So Satisfying
PinkPantheress performs at Mala Vida | Lorne Thomson/Redferns
The GRAMMY U team started the week of music discovery at the IMGN x WMG So Satisfying House on March 14. This multi-day activation at bar/venue Mala Vida showcased a ton of music, with experiential photo areas and loads of LEDs displayed throughout.
Different acts took the stage throughout the night, beginning with singer/songwriter Rett Madison, whose powerful voice filled the room. Indie pop duo Cafuné and rapper Sueco followed, switching up the vibe but keeping the energy high. Pink Pantheress closed out the set for the night. Despite singing to a track, the audience sang along with all her viral hits, while other fans peeked over from outside the venue to catch her set.
The So Satisfying House was also open on March 15 with performances by Tiago PZK, Pheelz, Rini and Elena Rose.
Life (And Career) Lessons From New Order, Killer Mike & More
Killer Mike | Rick Kern/FilmMagic
In the panel "A Songwriter’s Guide to Branding: The Power of No," moderator Evan Bogart, Seeker Music CEO and Recording Academy Songwriter and Composers Wing Chair, spoke with Bonnie McKee, Larry Waddell, and electropop artist/producer MNDR about the ways projects can affect your brand. A songwriter's brand can manifest in many ways, and the projects you take are a reflection of not only the tools you bring to the table, but the type of songwriter you are in a writing session.
The SXSW Keynote conversation with legendary new wave synth pop group New Order. The British band discussed their lengthy recording history, current tour and what has kept them inspired over 40 years. "There’s something in what you're doing that you enjoy very much, otherwise you wouldn’t enjoy doing it," the band said. "The sense of achievement when you play a really good gig, the audience having a good time is a real boost…. It’s like having a party together."
At "Introducing Michael: The Man Known as Killer Mike," the rapper discussed being a thriving Black artist in the industry and how he has embraced his culture. "I have not fully accepted the wealth of knowledge and inspiration from the people who raised me and my culture… I understand how fortunate I am. I move with that intent," he told the audience. "I'm a believer inBlack people. When you hear my music, I'm giving you the power black music gives you when it works. We are capable, we are able. I don't have to be mad at everything or seeking escapism."
Killer Mike also offered wise advice about navigating the industry. "You're going to have bad karma if you're bad to people," he said. "Leave your ego at the doors and enter a place with conversations that people would love."
Acoustic Sounds At Antone’s
Brian Sella performs an acoustic set | GRAMMY U
On Wednesday evening, C3 Management brought their talent to the stage at iconic blues venue Antone’s. The crowd clearly was ready to have a great time, as the line for the event was long and out the door. Once inside, the atmosphere was electric and everyone was hyped for the upcoming acoustic sets by their favorite artists.
GRAMMY U caught Brian Sella of the Front Bottoms strumming his indie rock hits as fans sang along word-for-word. Andrew McMahon showed off his expert musicianship and songwriting on the keyboard, inserting funny anecdotes about how some of those songs came to be throughout his set.
Tomorrow's Stars On The Rise At Bose x NME: C23
Renforshort | Lorne Thomson/Redferns
The Bose x NME: C23 launch party was truly the place to be to witness the future of music. The event featured an incredible outdoor stage and a 15-artist lineup, a fun walkway activation with a panel of all the artists as magazine covers, and swag bags of custom cassettes with all the artists featured that day.
The pop-rock sounds of Canadian artist renforshort resonated with the crowd, and the singer was feeling comfortable. "I’ve done so many shows, it’s second nature to me. I love [performing] so it masks any anxiety I would typically have," she told GRAMMY U.
Singer/songwriter and bassist Blu DeTiger conquered the stage with her funky grooves and spunky energy. Known for showing off her bass skills in her music, DeTiger notes in an offstage interview "Bass is the best instrument ever. My whole mission as an artist is just to bring the instrument more to the forefront and inspire people to pick it up."
Later that night, JVKE's piano stylings and steady, recognizable voice drew cheers as he played his hit "Golden Hour." In a backstage interview, JVKE told GRAMMY U that he "always want[s] to give people the 'feels,' whatever the feels are."
Eladio Carrión, Armani White & Deadmau5 Share The Stage
Eladio Carrión | Christopher Polk
This was the second year of Samsung X Billboard’s The Stage at SXSW, and the three-night concert series has become one of the most highly anticipated programs of the week. Rappers 03 Greedo, Lola Brooks, and Armani White kicked off the series at Moody Amphitheatre in Waterloo Park on Thursday. Lil Yachty was set to headline that night, but the event was cut short due to inclement weather.
The next day, DJ Gabby Got It opened for Latin superstars Eladio Carrión and Feid. Carrión showed his vast range, performing hits "Kemba Walker" and "Tata." Feid followed, keeping the energy of the roaring crowd going with his own hits, "Yandel 150" and "Hey Mar."
To wrap up The Stage for this year, Billboard brought in Kx5, a new project by electronic music veterans Kaskade and deadmau5 on Saturday night. They hyped up the crowd as they began their set with "Bright Lights" and dropped hit after hit through their hour-long set.
Chloe Bailey, Remi Wolf & More At The Future of Music
Sudan Archives | Amanda Stronza/Getty Images for SXSW
Rolling Stone hosted the Future of Music, a four-night series featuring more than 20 acts. With a versatile lineup that included Sudan Archives, Remi Wolf and Chloe Bailey, the crowd could not have been more invested in the lineup.
In a backstage interview with Sudan Archives, the self-taught violinist and artist told GRAMMY U that the stress she feels before arriving to SXSW disappears as she sees "how everyone is rushing and working hard to help and make everything be amazing."
SXSW Goes International: SIPHO., Haru Nemuri & LØREN
SIPHO. (center) | Diego Donamaria/Getty Images for SXSW
SXSW is so much bigger than Texas. Artists from around the globe are a part of the festival's programming.
UK singer/songwriter SIPHO. came across the pond for his first SXSW, showcasing his genre-bending music inspired from great modern R&B artists. Japan's Haru Nemuri attended SXSW for the second time, sharing her musical inspirations of J-pop, experimental pop, and art rock with the crowd.
LØREN, a pop-punk rocker, came from South Korea to attend SXSW for the first time. His past work includes collaborations with BLACKPINK, and singles that have collectively landed more than 14 million YouTube views.
The RnB Forever Showcase Highlights Emerging Acts
Hosted at The North Door in collaboration with the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective, the RnB Forever Showcase featured many rising stars. A live band backed all the artists, and the lineup was stacked with a spectrum of R&B sounds.
Los Angeles-based Kenyon Dixon discussed his new record with GRAMMY U before heading on stage, noting it’s "really classic R&B vibes for fans of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, but also with a more modern [sound]." V. Rose said her favorite part of SXSW is "seeing so many people show up and believing in themselves, it’s so inspiring."
R&B and pop artist Byron Juane, who is also a member of the Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter, added that was thrilled to be "seeing so many talented people through every genre of music…it inspires me to keep living through my dream."
The Recording Academy Shows Out: A Mixer, A Masterclass & A Party
Andrew McMahon | GRAMMY U
The Recording Academy and its chapters hosted its own events throughout the week as well. The Texas Chapter hosted its annual block party in the outdoor garden at the Four Seasons, with hundreds of industry professionals and artists in attendance. Stellar musical acts like Superfonicos, Sugar Joiko and Lupita Infante kept everyone dancing throughout the night.
There was also a special performance by Dakota Cohen, New York Chapter GRAMMY U member and winner of the GRAMMY U Performer National Contest. Cohen and her five-piece band traveled all the way from Berklee College of Music and lit up the stage with her vibrant energy and a stylistic vocal range.
GRAMMY U's Masterclass Presented by Mastercard featured artist and songwriter Andrew McMahon of Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. Moderator Taylor Hanson, a GRAMMY-nominated artist and the Texas Chapter Board President, led a discussion about how to navigate a successful long-term career in the music industry.
The Recording Academy also collaborated with Tunecore to present an industry mixer for artists and industry professionals.
Women That Rock — Onstage And Behind The Scenes
Ava Maybee performs at the Women That Rock day party showcase | Daniel Boczarski/Redferns
Founded by former GRAMMY U New York Chapter Representative Andie Aronow, Women That Rock is a music curation and discovery company that supports up-and-coming women and non-binary musicians. Their Music and Movement Celebration at Cheer Up Charlies featured performances from Cafuné, country singer Katie Toupin, and many others, as well as a pop-up shop of women-owned businesses.
Women That Rock also held a music industry panel at Athleta, which featured artists and professionals from all backgrounds including Charlotte Rose Benjamin and GRAMMY U Director Jessie Allen. The panel dove deep into self-care for women in the music industry, and the best ways to maximize your impact while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.