Photo: Timothy Norris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
BJ The Chicago Kid
BJ The Chicago Kid, Northern Cree, I Prevail & More Share Their Excitement At The 2020 GRAMMYs Nominee Reception
Go inside the exclusive GRAMMY nominee reception held at the Ebell Theater in Los Angeles where first-time nominees and veterans gathered to celebrate and pick up their GRAMMY medallions
The night before Music's Biggest Night, before anyone had a golden gramophone in their hand, artists from all genres enthusiastically gathered to celebrate and collect, among other gifts, their medallions—one way to recognize their GRAMMY nominations.
Los Angeles' elegant Wilshire Ebell Theatre was full of gleeful nominees on Saturday, Jan. 25. Nominees in categories from American Roots to Metal chatted with each other as a house band played jazz tunes and they enjoyed gourmet dishes. The GRAMMY Nominee Reception is one of the last parties of week-long events before the Sunday telecast. At the nominee reception, artists can document their nom with a photo.
Among them were La Energia Norteña, whose album Poco A Poco is nominated for Best Regional Mexican Music Album. The norteño group from Dallas has two Latin GRAMMY nominations but earned their first GRAMMY nom last year.
"It's very exciting, it's a dream come true," band member Adrian Zamarripa told the Recording Academy. "It's our first time here so it's unbelievable, really." Their album, he said, was "a great team effort" and so the whole band came along to "get the whole experience." He added: "It's so great to be here."
Metal band I Prevail was just as excited to be experiencing their first GRAMMY nominee reception. The first-time GRAMMY-nominated band collected their medallions and gathered outside of the medallion room to open their boxes at the same time. On Sunday, Jan. 26 the band will be up for Best Metal Performance and Best Rock Album.
The result of their nominations was still too far in the future. For now, the band was just excited to be holding their medallions. "We just got our GRAMMY metals," guitarist Dylan Bowman said. "[It's] pretty surreal, I mean a year ago we put out our brand new album, Trauma, and we didn't think it would take us this far, but we're just so happy and grateful to be here."
Best New Artist Nominees Tank And The Bangas were in the house too and lead singer Tarriona "Tank" Ball was still feeling the high from the nomination. "I feel so honored to be a part of this amazing week," she said. Ball came to the reception with a mission. "I'm here because I want to pick up the free gifts," she added laughing.
Though not as fresh as first-time nominees, GRAMMY vets were just as excited to be there. Nine-time nominee Northern Cree's Penny McGilvery still feels enthusiastic about the whole process."The people, the atmosphere. It's exciting," she said.
GRAMMY-nominated R&B singer/songwriter BJ The Chicago Kid agrees with McGilvery. "I love meeting a lot of artists that I never got to meet as well. Taking the photo, the whole process of being honored and being acknowledged by the highest musical accolade possible," he said. "It's really cool." He mentioned the medallions, of which he owns six, always go to his mom. The GRAMMY-nominated singer said he was looking forward to one thing Sunday: "I'm excited to find out what's in the envelope."
Tune in to the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards Jan. 26 on CBS to find out who takes home the golden gramophone.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Courtesy of BJ The Chicago Kid
Press Play: Watch BJ The Chicago Kid Pay Tribute To His Childhood Best Friend With "Liquor Store In The Sky"
Neo soul singer BJ The Chicago Kid offers an emotional, acoustic performance of "Liquor Store in the Sky," a single from his upcoming album that honors his late best friend.
Like many artists, BJ The Chicago Kid often draws from personal experiences when he writes songs. One of his newest songs is also one of his most vulnerable: "Liquor Store in the Sky," which honors the memory of Al Howard, a childhood best friend he tragically lost in a car accident.
In this episode of Press Play, BJ The Chicago Kid delivers a stripped-down performance of "Liquor Store in the Sky." Accompanied by a guitar player, he improvises along to the instrumental with his velvety runs.
"Hair braided, but it's nappy like the Bible say/ Don't know what you call Him, but I call Him 'Yahweh'/ It blow my mind, it's kind of crazy 'cause he with Him now/ I ain't see the car crash, but I could hear the song," he sings in the opening verse.
"Liquor Store in the Sky'' — originally a collaboration with Freddie Gibbs — is a track from BJ The Chicago Kid's upcoming album, which he produced in collaboration with multiplatinum producer Yeti Beats via Reach the World Records.
"This song resonates with anyone who has lost someone special, particularly with those who yearn for a cherished drink with their favorite person," the neo-soul singer shared with GRAMMY.com.
Watch the video above to hear BJ The Chicago Kid's honest performance of "Liquor Story in the Sky," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.
Photo: Courtesy of Tank and The Bangas
Press Play: Tank And The Bangas Deliver A Vulnerable, Sultry Performance Of "Heavy"
Tank and The Bangas highlight the importance of communication and trust with this intimate performance of "Heavy."
For Tank and The Bangas frontwoman Tarriona "Tank" Ball, honest communication is king. But even if that isn't always easy to practice in her personal life, it always comes through in her group's music — and that's exactly the case with "Heavy."
"Heavy on your love/ Heavy on your trust in me/ Heavy on communication/ Honesty," Tank sings on the track, a B-side from their latest album, Red Balloon. It's an understated, yet powerful statement that characterizes the foundation of any healthy relationship.
In this episode of Press Play, the group shares the importance of an open dialogue with a sultry performance of "Heavy." As Tank stands front and center at the microphone, The Bangas — Joshua Johnson, Norman Spence II, and Albert Allenback — evoke a casual, intimate atmosphere to help put the song's vulnerable message at the forefront.
Red Balloon is Tank and The Bangas' third studio album and serves as a successor to their 2019 release, Green Balloon. The project earned the group their second GRAMMY nomination, as it's up for Best Progressive R&B Album at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Press play on the video above to watch Tank and The Bangas' performance of "Heavy," and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.
Photo: Rachel Kupfer
A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.
It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.
Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.
Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.
In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.
Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.
There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.
Say She She
Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.
While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."
Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.
Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.
Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.
Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.
L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.
During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.
Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.
Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.