Photo: Rebecca Sapp
6 Things To Know About Bonnie Raitt: Her Famous Fans, Legendary Friends & Lack Of Retirement Plan
During "A Conversation With Bonnie Raitt" at the GRAMMY Museum, 13-time GRAMMY winner detailed her career trajectory, history of big-name collaborations, and how her win for Song Of The Year at this year’s GRAMMY Awards was "a total surprise."
For the uninitiated, Bonnie Raitt is just an "unknown blues singer" — albeit one who managed to nab the Song Of The Year award at the 2023 GRAMMYs, plus two other trophies. But to the millions in the know, and the choice few in attendance for a chat with Raitt at the Grammy Museum on March 5, she is a living legend.
Over the course of her decades-long career, Raitt has earned 30 GRAMMY nominations, taking home 13 golden gramophones for tracks like "Nick Of Time," "Something To Talk About," and “SRV Shuffle,” as well as albums such as Luck Of The Draw and Longing In The Hearts. Last year, Raitt was awarded the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award, and at this year’s ceremony, she snagged GRAMMYs for Best American Roots Song, Best Americana Performance and the coveted Song Of The Year.
Before she heads out on a tour of the western United States and Australia, Raitt sat down to chat with moderator David Wild for about two hours, musing not only about her "total surprise" about snagging the Song trophy, but also about her experience at the ceremony. It was an illuminating and downright charming experience — as well as an educational one. Here are six things we learned at "A Conversation With Bonnie Raitt."
Taylor Swift Is A Fan — And A Humble One At That
Raitt recounted being chatted up by Taylor Swift during the GRAMMYs, with Swift telling Raitt backstage that she felt okay losing Song Of The Year to her. Swift's "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" was in competition, alongside works by Lizzo, Adele and Harry Styles.
Swift also introduced herself to Raitt, whom she’d never met, saying,"Hi, I’m Taylor." Raitt said she responded, "Ya think?" — which made the audience in the Clive Davis Theater crack up.
She’s A Master Collaborator, With More On The Way
"No one commands more respect" amongst their musical peers than Bonnie Raitt, said Wild, who's worked on the GRAMMY Awards as a writer since 2001. Whenever the show’s team has struggled to think of who could best pay tribute to someone like John Prine, Ray Charles, or Christine McVie, "the answer is always Bonnie Raitt."
That’s probably why, as Raitt noted, she’s recorded duets with more than 100 different musical acts — from Bryan Adams to B.B. King. Raitt added that she’d still love to work with Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, and H.E.R., and that fans can anticipate new collaborative work coming from work she’s done with Brandi Carlile and Sheryl Crow.
Raitt added that she’s gotten really into Unknown Mortal Orchestra lately, who she heard about through Bruce Hornsby.
She’s Learned From And Befriended Musical Masters
Raitt was effusive about her love for King, among others, saying that one of the great joys of her career has been sitting at the feet of blues greats like Sippie Wallace and Son House. The singer/songwriter expressed her gratitude for being able to help get so many of these once-forgotten masters both the attention and the pay they deserved. She cited her work with the Rhythm And Blues Foundation as being of great importance to her personally, saying that it’s vital that the roots of blues and jazz are taught in schools today.
Wild also got Raitt to open up about her friendship with legendary gospel-soul singer Mavis Staples, who toured with Raitt just last year. Calling Staples, "all the preacher I’ll ever need," Raitt said she thinks she and Staples bonded over being the daughters of famous fathers. "It’s a great honor of my life being friends with her," Raitt said of her "mutual sister."
Later, Raitt also waxed rhapsodic about another famous daughter, Natalie Cole, who she said she’d been thinking about all day.
Raitt’s Got An Independent Spirit And An Independent Label
A good portion of Wild and Raitt’s chat was devoted to the star’s career trajectory. The two detailed how, as a 21-year-old college student, Raitt signed to Warner Bros. only after they promised her complete creative control of her own indie label, Redwing.
Raitt said it was only with the help of a"team of mighty women" that she was able to go independent. She cited lessons from friends like Prine, Staples, and Jackson Browne, from whom she learned going it alone could be done successfully.
Bonnie Raitt Almost Missed Out On "I Can’t Make You Love Me"
Raitt also talked a bit about her previous GRAMMY triumphs, including her run of nominations and wins around 1989’s Nick Of Time. Her popular single, "I Can’t Make You Love Me," was originally written for Ricky Skaggs, who intended to make it a lively bluegrass record.
Raitt added that she thinks the song "Nick Of Time" struck a chord because she opened up about what it means to be getting older.
She’s Not Planning On Retiring (Or Dying) Any Time Soon
After joking that COVID lockdown felt like "house arrest" and "hibernation," Raitt said that her recent tours have been a blessing. "It feels like I was under the earth without any sunshine," Raitt says, reassuring attendees that she’s "never retiring." She said that while she’s lost eight friends in the past three or four weeks, including the great David Lindley, the 73-year-old is optimistic that she can "be here and celebrate for another couple of decades."
Raitt capped off the event doing what she loves best, teaming with long-time bassist Hutch Hutchinson for an intimate four-song set that included "Angel From Montgomery," "Shadow Of Doubt," "Nick Of Time," and the GRAMMY-winning "Just Like That." Raitt ended the evening by thanking the Recording Academy for inviting her out, joking, "I can’t believe I get to do this for a living."
Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Watch: "A History Of L.A. Ska" Panel At The GRAMMY Museum With Reel Big Fish, NOFX & More
Featuring musicians, DJs, curators and more, the multi-part series "A History Of L.A. Ska" explores the genre's deep history in Southern California. The latest installment included members of Hepcat, Ocean 11 and others.
Ska — as any lover of the genre will tell you — is far from dead.
In fact, the genre that burst forth in Jamaica at the time of the nation's independence in the early 1960s (and, crucially, is the musical seed from which reggae grew) is alive and well around the globe. Call it a fourth wave, a revival or a scene of stalwarts, but the horn-heavy, grooving and uptempo music continues to march forward — and the GRAMMY Museum is all-in on the celebration.
For several years, the GRAMMY Museum has hosted "A History Of L.A. Ska" — a discussion and performance series featuring local musicians, DJs, journalists, and others. Panelists reminisce about their early years in ska, working with legends, and the important role Southern California has played in the development of the culture. The most recent panel was held on Nov. 7 (but more on that later).
Although born in Jamaica, ska migrated to the UK in the latter half of the '60s and, the following decade, mixed with burgeoning punk sounds to create the genre's second wave: Two Tone. Bands such as the Specials, Madness and the Selecter struck a chord with local audiences as well as those in Southern California — which saw its first ska band, the Boxboys, debut in 1979. Then by the late ‘80s, California-based bands such as the Untouchables, Fishbone, Hepcat and Let’s Go Bowling were building a distinct scene.
As the ‘90s began, Southern California was the focal point of ska's third wave. Helmed by bands like Reel Big Fish, the Aquabats and, early on, No Doubt, a new generation further enmeshed punk and ska to become faster, catchier and more memeable. While third wave groups of the era came from all corners (see New Jersey's Catch-22, Florida's Less Than Jake and Boston's Mighty Mighty Bosstones), Southern California remained a stronghold for ska music and was buoyed by a strong subculture of mods and non-racist skinheads.
Today, Los Angeles remains a hotbed for a new generation of ska acts — many of which harken back to the sounds of the '60s. Southern California has also played host to ska legends, including Derrick Morgan (whose song "Forward March" became an independence anthem), Pat Kelly, the Pioneers and more.
"When I was first introduced to ska in Southern California, I was blown away by the level of musicianship and the love that these young talents had for the music that I grew up listening to in Jamaica,” shares Junor Francis, a moderator and veteran radio DJ/emcee who co-curates the "A History Of L.A. Ska" series with Eric Kohler. The two also host a video interview series of the same name. [Editor's note: Author Jessica Lipsky has appeared on this series.]
"While many fans of American third wave ska were introduced to the sound in the 1990s, more casual listeners may not be aware that ska in Southern California dates back four decades," notes Kohler. "To that end, Junor and I have made it our mission to celebrate and highlight the scene’s rich history, vibrancy and uniqueness."
Part four of the series — and the most recent — featured seven panelists representing a broad swath of L.A. ska history: Hepcat drummer Greg Narvas (Hepcat), singer Karina Denike (Dance Hall Crashers, NOFX), keyboardists Matt Parker (the Donkey Show) and Paul Hampton (the Skeletones), DJ and drummer Nina Cole (the Cover Ups), drummer Oliver Charles (Ocean 11, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Gogol Bordello), and multi-instrumentalist Scott Klopfenstein (Reel Big Fish, the Littlest Man Band). The panel was moderated by Junor Francis.
The four-part series is available to view on the GRAMMY Museum's website, or you can immerse yourself in the "History Of L.A. Ska" panel by panel below:
Featuring: Greg Lee, Persephone “Queen P” Laird, Joey Altruda, Brian Dixon and Luis Correa
Featuring: Angelo Moore, Chris Murray, Darrin Pfeiffer, Kip Wirtzfeld, Tazy Phyllipz
Featuring: Jerry Miller, Chuck Askerneese, Ivan Wong, Greg Sowders, Norwood Fishe, Greg Lee, Bill Bentley, Howard Paar, Marc Wasserman, Karena Sundaram Marcum, Laurence Fishburn
If the excitement on display during the "History Of L.A. Ska" panel sessions isn't enough to convince you of the genre's staying power, consummate emcee Junor Francis shares words of affirmation:
“After being baptized into this scene and welcomed with open arms, I realized this was absolutely the right place for me!”
Photo: Roy Cox
Exclusive: Joey Alexander Shares Rendition Of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"
On his forthcoming album 'Continuance,' three-time GRAMMY-nominated pianist Joey Alexander is laser-focused on sharing his original music. But he knows when an outside tune is too good to pass up — in this case, Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."
Joey Alexander is into primacies and raw materials. Speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021, the pianist and composer rhapsodized about the Biblical symbolism of salt — and compared it to the role of the blues across musical idioms.
"The blues is that thing that preserves just like salt — that has inspired us in our ups and downs," he said, while promoting his 2021 single "Under the Sun." Two years later, the blues is still on his mind: "The blues is really a center of power."
On his new album, Continuance, out Nov. 3, Alexander forges ahead with original music, like "Why Don't We," "Zealousy" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness." But such is the power of "I Can't Make You Love Me" that it compelled him to take a detour.
"Bonnie Raitt is such an amazing soul; the way she delivers, the way she sang the song is just amazing," Alexander tells GRAMMY.com. "I'm really glad that I found a song that I can build in my repertoire, as this has become something that is part of me."
Below, Alexander shares an exclusive premiere of "I Can't Make You Love Me"; he spoke with GRAMMY.com about Continuance — which features Theo Croker on trumpet on four tracks, and his touring bassist, Kris Funn, and drummer, John Davis, throughout.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
What attracted you to Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"?
I always find myself in a song from a specific period that connects with people. I didn't know a lot about Bonnie Raitt, but when I first heard the song years back, I wanted to have my stamp on it.
Years later, we discovered it again in the process of making the album. Once it was done, I decided to [include] "I Can Make You Love Me" on the album, with my new material — my original works. I'm really glad that I found a song that I can build in my repertoire, as this has become something that is part of me.
I always played popular songs before. I've played "My Favorite Things," "Over the Rainbow," the Beatles. Definitely, this is one of the best songs ever written.
I'm really thankful that this song is included on the album. Even though it is instrumental, as people hear the song, they can hear the lyrics and [apply them to] the times that they lived. I understand it's a love song — in the song, there's some struggles.
As we mature, I think we can learn a lot just by hearing a song. I think It's a special song.
What was the genesis of Continuance? This is a big leap for you, recording with your touring band for the first time.
We've been touring in this group for two to three years, and we played different music. In the process of making the new album, we just started performing the music, really.
I didn't have a lot of time to prepare the music. I got to do a gig in Seattle before there was a time period for me to prepare the music. [Over] four nights, that was the time period that prepared John and Kris to tune into the music and have their personalities, and I wanted to see if this could work.
I'm glad that we could perform the music, and once we got into the studio, we just kind of let it fly, and it was amazing. And of course, one of the songs we performed was Bonnie Raitt. So, it was really nice that we could get ourselves ready. The whole process was really organic.
To you, what binds the compositions on Continuance?
The theme is centered around the places where I lived before I was inspired by New York City. Now, because I'm living in Baltimore, Maryland, I'm inspired by living in Baltimore. I live in this neighborhood called Fells Point. It's a nice area right by the water.
So, the song "Blue" is pretty much inspired by just day to day, seeing the water. The water is kind of a reflection of the sky, just how I see it. But it's more than that. It's also talking about music now.
I like to connect "Blue" as something that has to do with the blues. I won't [call it a] style, but a form of expression, because a lot of people express blues in different genres, of course. We all hear a lot in country, rock 'n' roll, and of course, it's one of the important ingredients in jazz.
It binds, this music. The blues is really a center of power.
Theo Croker is a great match for you. Can you talk about meshing with him, and what he brings to Continuance?
I always had forming a new sound in mind, meaning always finding and bringing new instrumentation. So I've always been a fan of Theo. I love his sound. I always thought about having a trumpet player, and Theo was one of the guys that I had in mind.
Even though I performed the music with a trio, I always envisioned that I wanted to do this as a quartet. I reached out to Theo; I guess we already knew each other through social media, but we actually never met, nor played together.
So, the first time we played together was in the studio; we did have a rehearsal before the recording. For some of my music, I didn't really have sheet music. I think I did for just a few songs. Because my approach is, when I hire a musician, I kind of [encourage him] to just use his imagination and internalize the music.
In this case, with Theo, it was kind of by ear. I tried to help him to really get into the music, because there was only one day to really get the music right, so we didn't have a lot of time or preparation.
But Theo is such a creative person, and definitely one of my favorite trumpet players. Stylistically, he brings the vibe to the table, so it was great to see that in person. It was amazing to see that come to life, because I didn't know exactly how the music would play out. I'm glad it worked out.
How does Continuance reflect your evolution as a composer and interpreter?
This is not something new. because my last album, Origin, consists of all my original works. I would say this is the evolution that continues. This is kind of the album that I felt that I wanted to share. I just wanted to see what I can bring, and how I challenge myself to be a better composer and better leader.
Of course, once in a while I will bring in one song like Bonnie Raitt, or one gospel song, just to put it out there. I always have a little bit of both. But now, I'm focusing on introducing my new music to people. I'm very happy with what I have with this album.
In the past few years, I feel I'm more comfortable in performing my own music and sharing my story in my music. As instrumentalists, we let people imagine what they see in the music and have their stories in my music. So, I won't tell them what the story is about.
As instrumentalists, we can take people to a different place. And so that's kind of my innovation for my music: every time I make an album or perform the music, [I try to conjure] the experience that I want people to get as they listen to the music.
What built your confidence to share your original works, and tell your story?
I think by performing and finding my ground, finding my standing. Because I find that in jazz, we always have to have something new.
And I know people out there, we all are [striving] to bring our own stories in the music, but for me, it's how I connect with the people to music. And it's a funny thing, the Bonnie Raitt song — people just connect to songs like that.
As an instrumentalist, what comes first to me is always great melodies, and great harmonies that come with it. What I need in my music is all those elements together. And so when I find a song like Bonnie Raitt's, I always want to include that piece of music into the table.
I'm thankful for the artists that I have been inspired by. And so I hope that people will be inspired by the music. I hope the people will feel the energy that we have and the love that we have to share with people. That's kind of my hope for people as they check out the album.
Photo Courtesy of the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum
25 Semifinalists Announced For The 2024 Music Educator Award
Twenty-five music teachers, from 25 cities across 17 states, have been announced as semifinalists for the 2024 Music Educator Award, presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum. One ultimate recipient will be honored during GRAMMY Week 2024.
Twenty-five music teachers have today been announced as semifinalists for the Music Educator Award, an annual award, presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum, that supports and celebrates music education and music educators across the U.S. The 25 semifinalists, who hail from 25 cities across 17 states, were selected from a pool of more than 2,000 initial nominations from across all 50 U.S. states. Finalists will be announced in December, and the ultimate recipient of the 2024 Music Educator Award will be recognized during GRAMMY Week 2024, days ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs.
Nominations for the 2025 Music Educator Award are now open.
Presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum, the Music Educator Award recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the music education field and demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. The Award is open to current U.S. music teachers. Anyone can nominate a teacher — students, parents, friends, colleagues, community members, school deans, and administrators — while teachers are also able to nominate themselves; nominated teachers are notified and invited to fill out an application.
Each year, the recipient of the Music Educator Award, selected from 10 finalists, receives a $10,000 honorarium and matching grant for their school's music program. The nine additional finalists receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grants. The remaining 15 semifinalists, among the group announced today, will receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants.
The Music Educator Award program, including honorariums, is made possible by the generosity and support of the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation. In addition, the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, NAMM Foundation, and National Education Association support this program through outreach to their constituencies.
The full list of the 2024 Music Educator Award semifinalists is as follows:
|Dawn Amthor||Wallkill Senior High School||Wallkill||New York|
|Jeremy Bartunek||Greenbriar School||Northbrook||Illinois|
|William Bennett||Cane Bay High School||Summerville||South Carolina|
|Meg Byrne||Pleasant Valley High School||Bettendorf||Iowa|
|Ernesta Chicklowski||Roosevelt Elementary||Tampa||Florida|
|Michael Coelho||Ipswich Middle and High School||Ipswich||Massachusetts|
|Drew Cowell||Belleville East High School||Belleville||Illinois|
|Marci DeAmbrose||Lincoln Southwest High School||Lincoln||Nebraska|
|Antoine Dolberry||P.S. 103x Hector Fontanez||Bronx||New York|
|Jasmine Fripp||KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School||Nashville||Tennessee|
|J.D. Frizzell||Briarcrest Christian School||Eads||Tennessee|
|Amanda Hanzlik||E.O. Smith High School||Storrs||Connecticut|
|Michael Lapomardo||Shrewsbury High School||Shrewsbury||Massachusetts|
|Ashleigh McDaniel Spatz||Rising Starr Middle School||Fayetteville||Georgia|
|Kevin McDonald||Wellesley High School||Wellesley||Massachusetts|
|Coty Raven Morris||Portland State University||Portland||Oregon|
|Trevor Nicholas||Senn Arts at Nicholas Senn High School||Chicago||Illinois|
|Vicki Nichols||Grandview Elementary||Grandview||Texas|
|Annie Ray||Annandale High School||Annandale||Virginia|
|Bethany Robinson||Noblesville High School||Noblesville||Indiana|
|Danni Schmitt||Roland Park Elementary/Middle School||Baltimore||Maryland|
|Kevin Schoenbach||Oswego High School||Oswego||Illinois|
|Matthew Shephard||Meridian Early College High School||Sanford||Michigan|
|Alice Tsui||New Bridges Elementary||Brooklyn||New York|
|Tammy Yi||Chapman University||Orange||California|
Learn more about the Music Educator Award and apply to the 2025 Music Educator Award program now.
Photo Courtesy of the Recording Academy™️/photo by Rebecca Sapp, Getty Images© 2023.
Inside The GRAMMY Museum’s New Exhibit, "Hip-Hop America": From Dapper Dan To Tupac’s Notes
Open now through September 2024, "Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit" commemorates the genre’s 50th anniversary through interactive installations and displays of everything from photos to fashion.
You can get up close and personal with the Notorious B.I.G.’s red leather peacoat or test out your turntable skills at Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit, open now at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles. A retrospective look to mark the genre’s 50th anniversary, Hip-Hop America brings together elements of fashion, music, dance, graffiti, business, activism, and history — all with the aim of capturing the sweeping, global impact of hip-hop.
"It's something that started as a genre that people considered a fad, as a novelty," says GRAMMY Museum Chief Curator Jasen Emmons, "but it has become not only a global musical force, but a global cultural force. So many young people have grown up with hip-hop and take it for granted, but its ability to evolve and continue to be relevant is pretty powerful."
The 5,000-square foot exhibit space is packed with artifacts, interactive elements, and curated video, as well as photo ops. Here are six things we learned walking through the installation, which runs through Sept. 4, 2024.
There Were Always Women In Hip-Hop
Saweetie┃Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Entering Hip-Hop America, you’ll get a look at a few standalone cases featuring everything from an essay Tupac Shakur wrote in junior high, to a gorgeously over the top set of custom nails made for Saweetie by celebrity nail artist Temeka Jackson. The exhibit’s main space showcases what life was like in the Boogie Down Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop music and culture. On display are pieces like a leather vest made for a junior member of the Young Nomads street gang and pieces of graffiti art from Edwin "HE."
Also on display are various paint caps used by Lady Pink, an artist known for her work in New York in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. She would go on to star in 1983’s Wild Style, which is widely regarded as the first hip-hop movie.
The inclusion of influencers and acts like Lady Pink was a very intentional move on the part of the exhibit’s creators, Emmons says. Quite often, when people think about hip-hop’s origins, they think of acts like the Sugar Hill Gang, Cold Crush Crew, and Fab 5 Freddy, and they were all there — and are all featured in the exhibit — but they grew and prospered alongside a number of female acts, and with the help and support of women like Sylvia Robinson, the founder of Sugar Hill Records who produced "Rappers Delight." Her confidence and the success of that track helped birth a wealth of small, independent labels that helped give the new sound a platform.
Hip-Hop And Soul Have Intermingled From The Beginning
Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
In the middle of the exhibit, there’s an interactive video display dedicated to the marriage of the hip-hop and soul genres. Hip-hop, it says, "is an omnigenre that incorporates many music traditions." The relationship between hip-hop and R&B is complex, the exhibit continued:
While early rappers tended to avoid R&B-friendly topics like love and loss in favor of what the exhibit calls "braggadocio," by the 1990s rappers and R&B stars were working together in harmony. The resulting hip-hop soul gave songs like Janet Jackson and Q-Tip’s "Got ‘Til It’s Gone" and Mariah Carey and Jay-Z’s "Heartbreaker" a permanent place in the cultural lexicon.
Hip-Hop Has A Mind For Business
A history of entrepreneurs┃Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
One of Hip-Hop America’s exhibits focuses on the commercial aspects of the genre, highlighting people like the aforementioned Robinson and acts like the Wu-Tang Clan, who refused to sign all of their members to one label. They instead insisted that each member have an individual deal with one of the six majors, meaning that, come album release time, each label would have a vested interest in promoting the material and the group. That’s smart thinking.
A Lot Of Rappers Have Great Penmanship
Handwritten lyrics for "Fight The Power"┃Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
There are a number of handwritten pieces in Hip-Hop America, from Shakur’s junior high essay about citizenship to Lil Wayne’s letters home from prison and Wyclef Jean’s lyrics for the Fugees’ "Ready Or Not." Everything is remarkably legible and these pieces offer unique insight into the mind and lives of some of hip-hop’s biggest acts.
Take, for instance, a case featuring the late Shock G’s hand-drawn album cover art for "The Humpty Dance." He leaves copious notes on the drawing and in accompanying materials explaining not only what samples he wants cleared for the record but noting that in his cartoon visage, "Humpty’s gums are not white or red," saying the artist should use "the same brown used for the skin." Looking at these pieces, it’s clear that Shock G took his art and his image very seriously, and that though "The Humpty Dance" may have become a party classic, a lot of work went into creating something so fun.
B.I.G. Was Big, Big, Big
Biggie's peacoat and other distinctive jackets┃Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
For someone to earn the moniker "the Notorious B.I.G.," they probably have to be pretty large in either stature or scale. At Hip-Hop America, you’ll get a sense of how big the artist born Christopher Wallace. actually was, thanks to a mannequin sporting his iconic 5001 Flavors red leather peacoat and Karl Kani jeans.
Worn in an appearance on "MTV News," for a feature in Vibe, and in the Junior M.A.F.I.A. video for "Player’s Anthem," the coat was one of Biggie’s favorites and has the scuff marks, wear, and creases to prove it.
Ryan Butler, the VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Recording Academy and an advisory board member for the exhibit, says that Biggie’s coat is one of his favorite pieces in the exhibit, in part because it’s placed (per the Shakur family’s request) next to the white suit that Tupac wore in his last music video.
Hip-Hop Fashion Has Defined Trends For Generations
Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
"To really see the impact that hip-hop has had on fashion is just so incredible," says Butler.
That impact is made clear throughout the exhibit, which features items like Andre 3000’s fringed green pants from the 46th GRAMMY Awards, MC Lyte’s bamboo earrings, and the chain and padlock worn by Naughty By Nature's Treach before he could afford something a little more swank.
"The rugged accessory suggested strength and proved useful as a defensive weapon when the trio faced potential violence in clubs," the exhibit notes, continuing that, "It was also meant to show solidarity with those locked up."
Also on display are multiple pieces made by the legendary designer Dapper Dan, who’s been fashioning hip-hop looks since the very beginning. There’s a look at the beginning of the exhibit that he made for old school DJ Busy Bee that’s pretty sharp even now, as well as a longer black leather motorcycle jacket he customized for Melle Mel to wear at the 1985 GRAMMY Awards, where he rapped the intro to Chaka Khan’s "I Feel For You."