Courtesy Photo: Big Hit Entertainment
BTS Talk Inspiration Behind "Dynamite," New 2020 Album, Gratitude For ARMY & More
The joyful, new 2020 BTS song "Dynamite," included on the album 'Be,' is the pop superstars' first-ever English-language track and was especially crafted to bring encouragement and positive energy to listeners.
Today, Aug. 21, after several weeks of teasers, K-pop superstars BTS have released their first English language track, "Dynamite," a jubilant disco-tinged bop meant to inspire joy and hope during these difficult times.
"[The inspiration for] it all began from this: even in the midst of hardships, we must focus on what we can do. As for us, we found freedom and happiness in singing and dancing. This song goes to the ones who need encouragement. We hope people feel energized when listening to the song," the chart-topping band recently told GRAMMY.com.
Even in such an unprecedented year of turmoil and slowdown for the entertainment industry (and virtually everyone), BTS have been able to maintain their stance at the top of the global pop landscape. After having to cancel their massive 2020 Map Of The Soul World Tour, the South Korean group, already having a super engaged online presence with their huge ARMY of dedicated fans, got creative and delivered a lively, colorful—and wildly successful—pay-to-view virtual concert, BANG BANG CON: THE LIVE, in June.
This year, the loveable pop stars also led by example of what it means to be a positive force in the world, using their platform for good in many ways. In June, along with their South Korean management company, Big Hit Entertainment, they donated $1 million to Crew Nation to support out-of-work concert crews and $1 million to the Black Lives Matter Foundation. (Just 24 hours later, the BTS ARMY matched the donation by raising more than $1 million.) They also stood in solidarity with the Black community with a simple yet powerful Tweet that made their stance against racism clear.
And, of course, they've also been busy working on new music, delivering "Stay Gold" and their fourth Japanese album, MAP OF THE SOUL: 7 ~The Journey~, in June and July, respectively. Now, with "Dynamite," we get the first taste of the forthcoming new album they've been focused on crafting.
To hear more about "Dynamite," the upcoming project, the ARMY and other BTS 2020 highlights, we checked in with the dynamic septet (consisting of RM, Jin, SUGA, j-hope, Jimin, V and Jung Kook) over email. Read on to hear more from BTS.
What was the inspiration behind your new song, "Dynamite"? What do you hope listeners feel when they hear it?
BTS: It all began from this: even in the midst of hardships, we must focus on what we can do. As for us, we found freedom and happiness in singing and dancing. This song goes to the ones who need encouragement. We hope people feel energized when listening to the song.
"Dynamite" is your first song sung/rapped fully in English--how did you prepare for the recording and who wrote the lyrics?
BTS: It was a new challenge for us as well. The lyrics, which are exactly what we wanted to say to our listeners, were written by David Stewart and Jessica Agombar. At the first try, it sounded fresh and perfect as it is in English, and throughout the whole process of recording, we've strived to get the message delivered flawlessly in English.
Can you tell us more about the new album you've said is coming later this year? What kind of sounds and themes are you exploring on this project?
BTS: We're currently working on a new album and sharing the process with our fans via livestream. Each member's input has been significant for this particular one, so we're kind of doing everything we've wanted to try. It's slated for later this year and more details are coming soon.
In February, Map Of The Soul: 7 became your fourth album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with your highest first-week numbers yet. What does the success of this album mean to you?
BTS: We cannot be thankful enough to our fans. They made this possible.
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You've all released music as solo artists—what does it feel like working on your individual projects versus BTS? What's the biggest thing you've each learned from your solo projects?
RM: It feels like I have two completely different identities. Working as BTS, I have to be considerate of others, but at times it also means I just have to do my part well and the rest will roll. When working individually, I definitely have more freedom but less of the sense of comfort and belonging I can feel when working with the other BTS members.
Jin: I can do whatever I want when I work alone, whereas we all need to be on the same page on concepts, melodies and lyrics for a collective project.
SUGA: [For me,] there's not much of a difference in terms of process. It's just really encouraging to have my team by my side and work together on a BTS album.
j-hope: I get to know about my shortcomings from a solo project. We have many people participating in our team projects, including producers. But a solo project is a direct result of the planning and execution done by myself, which helps me better understand feedback from the public—those are valuable takeaways.
Jimin: I focus more on my personal thoughts when I work alone, whereas working together allows me to contemplate more on the things we experience as a team. I also believe that solo projects are additional activities enabled by BTS.
V: I'm currently working on my own mixtape and I must admit there's a lot of pressure. I think there's more to think about compared to group projects.
Jung Kook: I don't think I can call myself a solo artist yet since I'm short of many things. I really need to improve. I'll keep listening and making music until I'm able to come up with something on my own.
Your virtual BANG BANG CON show was a huge success—what did it feel like to all of you to connect to the ARMY in this way? Do you think you'll plan another one?
BTS: We were so happy to be performing for our fans. Yes, we did miss their loud cheers, but we gave it our all thanks to the love sent by our fans from near and far. We're actually holding another show in October called "BTS MAP OF THE SOUL ON:E" and this time it will be both virtual and offline. We're so excited and thrilled to finally meet our fans in person.
As a group, you've stood in solidarity with Black Lives Matter on Twitter and with a generous donation in partnership with Big Hit. As non-Black allies, why is it important for the group to speak out and join the Black community in solidarity?
BTS: We think our Twitter message speaks for itself. We stand against racial discrimination and condemn violence. We all have the right to be respected. It doesn't matter whether we are non-Black or not.
What's next on the horizon for BTS?
BTS: As we mentioned, we have a show in October and an album coming later this year. And we have lots of things prepared surrounding "Dynamite," so everyone better keep their eyes on the ball!
Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More
The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'
In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.
"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.
Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.
"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."
Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American.
"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.
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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream
Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund
This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.
“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”
Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images
Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West
Following dates in Europe and South America, Swift will land in the U.S. for Lover Fest East and West, where the pop star will open Los Angeles' brand new stadium
Taylor Swift will be spreading the love in support of her hit album Lover.in 2020, but it may or may not be in a city near you. The GRAMMY winner announced plans for her summer 2020 tour in support of her seventh studio album, including two shows each in Foxborough, Mass. and Los Angeles for Lover Fest East and West respectively as the only four U.S. dates announced so far.
The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic. I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West! https://t.co/xw6YMN38WE pic.twitter.com/IhVPQ8DMUG— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) September 17, 2019
The tour kicks off in Belgium on June 20 and hits festivals in seven European countries before heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 18 then heading to U.S. Swift will then present Lover Fest West with back-to-back Los Angeles July 25 and 26 at the newly named SoFi Stadium. The concerts will serve as the grand opening of the much-anticipated NFL venue. The tour will wrap a double header at Gillette Stadiuim in Foxborough July 31 and Aug 1
"The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic," she tweeted. "I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West!"
Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster on Oct. 17.