meta-scriptBusta Rhymes On Being In A "Beautiful Space" & Bringing Together Generations Of Hip-Hop Artists On 'Extinction Level Event 2' | GRAMMY.com
Busta Rhymes On Being In A "Beautiful Space" & Bringing Together Generations Of Hip-Hop Artists On 'Extinction Level Event 2'

Busta Rhymes

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Busta Rhymes On Being In A "Beautiful Space" & Bringing Together Generations Of Hip-Hop Artists On 'Extinction Level Event 2'

With 'Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God,' Rhymes' first album in 11 years, the world has finally begun to process what his music has been telling us all along

GRAMMYs/Dec 9, 2020 - 05:11 am

There is really no comparing legendary New York rapper Busta Rhymes. With his dizzying flow, mind-blowing lyrics and commanding voice, he's been shaking up hip-hop culture since 1991 when he stole the show on A Tribe Called Quest's iconic posse cut "Scenario."

With Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God, his ninth solo studio album out now, the global consciousness has finally begun to process what his music has been telling us all along: The system is broken and disaster is imminent. While 2020 has brought overwhelming death and suffering worldwide, it has also come with much needed reevaluation of the way things are. Similarly, the 22-track opus (the Deluxe Edition delivers 30 tracks!) is a hard-hitting cinematic firestorm of destruction; a reflection of our chaotic reality, but not without moments of vulnerability, love and celebration. Rhymes not only showcases his seemingly unlimited creative and vocal power, but that of other greats, including Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and Rick Ross .

The album comes 11 years after 2009's Back On My B.S. partly because it took the rapper a "a long time to figure out the right support system to nurture and nourish the life and the success" of it. Eventually, he found a home for the album at San Francisco's EMPIRE records. But time does not faze Rhymes at all. "You can't put a timeline on greatness," he told GRAMMY.com. 

A few weeks after its critically acclaimed release in October, we caught up with the bad ass New Yorker himself to learn more about the creative process and the long journey behind it as well as the collaborators and the spooky album art. We also asked about his legacy and what he sees as the biggest difference between now and 1998 when he released Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front. Spoiler alert: not a lot has changed.

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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

You unleashed Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God on October 30. What has the response of fans and critics so far felt like for you?

 Can you tell me what you've been hearing?

I've heard good stuff, that it's hard. For me, it's crazy that it's your first album in 11 years. It feels like you haven't missed a minute, you're just right back in.

Thank you so much. I've been hearing the words classic and masterpiece. For the first time, it's resonating so abundantly in such a short period of time, in just two weeks. This is the third week now and it's just an incredible feeling to hear this as the general consensus. There is just no way to really describe how incredible it is. So, I am floating on all of the plane of energy right now.

This year is crazy and the themes of the album—destruction, plague, chaos—feel very real. I'm really curious about the timeline of the album and what was going through your mind as you were working on it. I'm also wondering what was the spark that first got you back in the studio.

I never left the studio, that's the thing. This has been a narrative of mine since my solo career began, which is why my albums have been called The Coming, When Disaster Strikes, Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front (E.L.E.), Anarchy, Genesis and It Ain't Safe No More. This is just another chapter to the same book of E.L.E., so to speak. I went into this album with the intention of it being an Extinction Level Event 2, but I didn't confirm that probably until about four and a half to five years into the recording of the album once I knew I had the pieces that substantiated and warranted it being called that. I'd never done a sequel album in my entire career.

It was going to be the Extinction Level Event 2 way before COVID-19. I bought the album artwork two and a half to three years prior to the COVID shutdown. I include all 10 pieces of art in the album packaging of the CD booklet, and same with the vinyl. I met the young lady, an artist by the name of Chanelle Rose, through Swizz Beatz and the No Commission movement, which is pro-artists—the mantra is "for the artists by the artist." Swizz curated this initiative and always would introduce me to different incredible artists. When he introduced me to Chanelle Rose's work, it was about four years ago. I fell in love with what I was seeing from her immediately, and I bought the 10-piece collection from her. It took her a year to make it; one piece takes two months because she draws it with a ballpoint pen. It's just incredible what she does, I couldn't believe it.

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font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:550; line-height:18px;"> View this post on Instagram</div></div><div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"><div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"></div></div><div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"></div> <div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; 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overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CHqezomnJFR/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none;" target="_blank">A post shared by Busta Rhymes (@bustarhymes)</a></p></div></blockquote><script async src="//www.instagram.com/embed.js"></script>

When I saw these big skeleton figures with these masks on them, obviously, at the time when I purchased the art collection in it, there was no COVID issue. It was speaking to me in a whole 'nother way about what the corrupt politicians should truly look like when you strip the flesh off of them. They're all in masks, and they all have these agendas that have never really benefitted my people. The insensitive evil and wickedness that plays a significant role to the oppression of my people and a lot of other people. That has been the ongoing narrative since the beginning of time, since the United States was born. The masks always deceived the sh*t they're doing to everybody else, that they're protecting themselves from. That's metaphorically what the pictures said to me.

I thought that those were the perfect images for Extinction Level Event 2 and then the irony of it is COVID happened and now everybody's being [told] to wear masks. That felt prophetic. That reassured me all the more to why I needed to really dive into bringing the album home as we were going into the second phase of the recording process. 

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That's really such a journey. When did you first start working on the songs for this, and when did you wrap up?

I started in 2009, and I wrapped up sometime in August 2020.

How do you feel like you shifted during the process of making this project?

I think for the first time in this career of mine, I've gotten to a place of comfort where I've been able to feel good enough about sharing things on a personal level and in a vulnerable way that I've never had prior to this album. It took years for me to get to that place and once you find that it's a very fulfilling thing to be able to share. You help remind people that they're not alone in these realities that a lot of us are never and will never be exempt from going through. It also reminds people that it's okay to talk about it. I think a lot of the times, especially as Black men, we don't get the opportunity to really be allowed to share when we're hurting or when we are afraid or when we are in need of help.

I think even more so now than ever, with everything that everybody is going through, we need to make a conscious effort to show people it's okay to say, "I need somebody to help what I'm going through right now." Or "I just need some support. I'm a little insecure about something. I just need someone to listen." I wanted to share a lot of that. I think that comes with maturity, with growth, with being a man, and understanding what it is to be a man as opposed to thinking you're one. A lot of times people think they're grown men and they still have a lot of learning left to do before they can actually walk in that space. They tell you that you were a man legally when you're 18. That's such a lie. 

I'm just in a really beautiful space, still a work in progress. I think we never completely figure it out. While we're learning as we go along, we still also got to be great listeners and that's where I'm at in my life. I'm always willing to learn, and to teach and share, and that's what I'm trying to give through this music and through this album, Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God. We need to have a good balance of informative content, and we also still need to remember what it is to laugh, live, love and learn and have some fun. We need to recharge because being in the battlefield dealing with this crazy sh*t every day, we need to go back home relaxed and refueled so we can get back in to it with the energy and strength that we need to continue to fight the good fight.

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On the album, you brought in some of the younger rap and R&B greats, like Kendrick Lamar, Rapsody and Anderson .Paak. What was it like working with them and was it an intentional mentorship sort of decision?

I definitely didn't do it because I was mentoring any of them. I did it because I'm a huge fan of all three of them. They would give me sh*t that I felt like I was hugely inspired by. They're such incredible talents. I mean, when Rapsody and I did ["Best I Can"] together [about a troubled relationship between a father and a mother], she gave me the song with the track and the verse all ready. She created the whole creative direction, which was genius because I'm the one with the kids and she doesn't have any. It was just beautiful to see her look at things from a perspective of being on the outside looking in, but being so close to the situation in real life. That she can actually illustrate a perspective about this reality, that is one that has never been illustrated in this way on a record—since the beginning of hip-hop's birth and conceiving, we always hear about how the fathers are deadbeats.

I grew up without my father, but you never hear about how a woman is apologetic for all of the vindictive things she did to a man that's trying to actually be a damn good father. Through all of the humiliation and disrespect, he actually still sticks it out and makes sure that nothing comes between him and his child. That's important and needs to be heard and it's a reality that a lot of fathers needed to hear and a lot of women needed to hear. It creates a dialogue that I think is needed.

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Kendrick Lamar is my favorite MC in the world. Anderson .Paak is one of the most brilliant minds that I've ever met as an MC and as a R&B artist, as a performing artist. All three of them are like super powers to me. I wasn't trying to mentor them because they are so great. If there would be any mentoring that would be needed, it would have to come from them. 

And to have an opportunity to work with them and with my alumni of artists and artists that are elder statesmen to me, like Bell Biv Devoe and Rakim. I wanted to show the world that I got three incredible generations of our culture on one body of work. Look how incredible and amazing we all can sound together, as long as we continue to bridge these gaps. That's what I was trying to do, show the world that we are the timeless greats. You can't put a timeline on greatness.

"You can't put a timeline on greatness."

That's real. What do you see as the biggest differences between 1998 when you dropped Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front and now?

The biggest difference between then and now, to me, is technology. A lot of the sh*t I was talking about then and a lot of the issues that we faced as a people then, none of that has changed now. We're still in the same horrible crisis of a situation as far as Black and brown people are concerned. I think the difference, in a way, now is that it is a little more directly affecting white people in a negative way. Because of this COVID thing and the narrative of it and the shutting down of the entire planet, it has now compromised the comfort level of every nationality and race. 

Unfortunately, the reality is a lot of things that were the same then have probably even gotten worse now. We didn't have social media in 1998. [Now, on social media] you can watch Black people getting killed every two to three days and there's no accountability. The worst part about it is that we didn't have these phones where we could watch this person getting killed on film, on repeat, from an uncensored Instagram post. We only saw it on the news. The kids are seeing this around the clock. It's an unbelievably unfortunate crisis as a result of technology and the systematic f***ery that has been implemented by design, by the powers that be. So again, this never changed, this is what it's been since the beginning. It's just magnified with how it's being put in our faces and how it is completely shifting the conscious and the subconscious thought processes. It has given birth to generations of valueless perspectives on life, as the generations are born into seeing this sh*t as a normalized thing. It's horribly unfortunate.

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What do you hope your legacy will be?

That's a good question because I got so much left to do. [Laughs.] I don't know, because I have huge plans to do so many things outside of music that will contribute in a major way to the legacy I would love to leave. But as far as music is concerned, I want my legacy to be that I am held in a godly regard when it comes to being an artist; A significant contributor to the culture and a true MC and a profound climate shifter of the culture. And one of the best to ever do this sh*t. If I left out anything, I'll let you fill in the blanks. [Laughs.]

Pull Up On The Best Rap Song Nominees | 2021 GRAMMYs

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Baby Keem Celebrate "Family Ties" During Best Rap Performance Win In 2022
Baby Keem (left) at the 2022 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Baby Keem Celebrate "Family Ties" During Best Rap Performance Win In 2022

Revisit the moment budding rapper Baby Keem won his first-ever gramophone for Best Rap Performance at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards for his Kendrick Lamar collab "Family Ties."

GRAMMYs/Feb 23, 2024 - 05:50 pm

For Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar, The Melodic Blue was a family affair. The two cousins collaborated on three tracks from Keem's 2021 debut LP, "Range Brothers," "Vent," and "Family Ties." And in 2022, the latter helped the pair celebrate a GRAMMY victory.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, turn the clock back to the night Baby Keem accepted Best Rap Performance for "Family Ties," marking the first GRAMMY win of his career.

"Wow, nothing could prepare me for this moment," Baby Keem said at the start of his speech.

He began listing praise for his "supporting system," including his family and "the women that raised me and shaped me to become the man I am."

Before heading off the stage, he acknowledged his team, who "helped shape everything we have going on behind the scenes," including Lamar. "Thank you everybody. This is a dream."

Baby Keem received four nominations in total at the 2022 GRAMMYs. He was also up for Best New Artist, Best Rap Song, and Album Of The Year as a featured artist on Kanye West's Donda.

Press play on the video above to watch Baby Keem's complete acceptance speech for Best Rap Performance at the 2022 GRAMMYs, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

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4 Reasons Why Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP' Is One Of The Most Influential Rap Records
Eminem

Photo: Sal Idriss/Redferns/GettyImages

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4 Reasons Why Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP' Is One Of The Most Influential Rap Records

Eminem’s major label debut, 'The Slim Shady LP,' turns 25 on Feb. 23. The album left an indelible imprint on hip-hop, and introduced the man who would go on to be the biggest-selling artist of any genre in the ensuing decade.

GRAMMYs/Feb 23, 2024 - 03:44 pm

A quarter century has passed since the mainstream music world was first introduced to a bottle-blonde enfant terrible virtuoso who grabbed everyone’s attention and wouldn’t let go

But enough about Christina Aguilera.

Just kidding. Another artist also exploded into stardom in 1999 — one who would become a big enough pop star, despite not singing a note, that he would soon be feuding with Xtina. Eminem’s biting major label debut The Slim Shady LP turns 25 on Feb. 23. While it was Eminem's second release, the album was the first taste most rap fans got of the man who would go on to be the biggest-selling artist in any genre during the ensuing decade. It also left an indelible imprint on hip-hop.

The Slim Shady LP is a record of a rapper who was white (still a comparative novelty back in 1999), working class and thus seemingly from a different universe than many mainstream rappers in the "shiny suit era." And where many of those contemporaries were braggadocious, Eminem was the loser in his rhymes more often than he was the winner. In fact, he talked so much about his real-life childhood bully on the album that the bully ended up suing him.  

It was also a record that played with truth and identity in ways that would become much more difficult once Em became world famous. Did he mean the outrageous things he was saying? Where were the knowing winks, and where were they absent? The guessing games that the album forced listeners to play were thrilling — and made all the more intense by his use of three personas (Marshall Mathers the person; Eminem the battle rapper; and Slim Shady the unhinged alter ego) that bled into each other.

And, of course, there was the rhyming. Eminem created a dizzying array of complicated compound rhymes and assonances, even finding time to rhyme "orange" — twice. (If you’re playing at home, he paired "foreign tools" with "orange juice" and "ignoring skill" with "orange bill.")

While the above are reason enough to revisit this classic album, pinpointing The Slim Shady LP's influence is a more complicated task. Other records from that year — releases from Jay-Z, Nas, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, and even the Ruff Ryders compilation Ryde or Die Vol. 1 — have a more direct throughline to the state of mainstream rap music today. So much of SSLP, on the other hand, is tied into Eminem’s particular personality and position. This makes Slim Shady inimitable; there aren’t many mainstream rappers complaining about their precarious minimum wage job, as Em does on "If I Had." (By the time of his next LP, Em had gone triple-platinum and couldn’t complain about that again himself.)

But there are aspects of SSLP that went on to have a major impact. Here are a few of the most important ones.

It Made Space For Different Narratives In Hip-Hop

Before Kanye rapped about working at The Gap, Eminem rapped about working at a burger joint. The Slim Shady LP opened up space for different narratives in mainstream rap music. 

The Slim Shady LP didn't feature typical rags-to-riches stories, tales of living the high life or stories from the street. Instead, there were bizarre trailer-park narratives (in fact, Eminem was living in a trailer months after the record was released), admissions of suicidal ideation ("That’s why I write songs where I die at the end," he explained on "Cum on Everybody"), memories of a neglectful mother, and even a disturbing story-song about dumping the corpse of his baby’s mother, rapped to his actual child (who cameos on the song). 

Marshall Mathers’ life experience was specific, of course, but every rapper has a story of their own. The fact that this one found such a wide audience demonstrated that audiences would accept tales with unique perspectives. Soon enough, popular rappers would be everything from middle-class college dropouts to theater kids and teen drama TV stars.

The Album Explored The Double-Edged Sword Of The White Rapper

Even as late in the game as 1999, being a white rapper was still a comparative novelty. There’s a reason that Em felt compelled to diss pretty much every white rapper he could think of on "Just Don’t Give a F—," and threatened to rip out Vanilla Ice’s dreadlocks on "Role Model": he didn’t want to be thought of like those guys. 

"People don't have a problem with white rappers now because Eminem ended up being the greatest artist," Kanye West said in 2015. You can take the "greatest artist" designation however you like, but it’s very true that Eminem’s success meant a categorical change in the status of white rappers in the mainstream.

This turned out to be a mixed blessing. While the genre has not, as some feared, turned into a mostly-white phenomenon, America’s racial disparities are often played out in the way white rappers are treated. Sales aside, they have more room to maneuver artistically — playing with different genres while insulting rap a la Post Malone,  or even changing styles completely like Machine Gun Kelly — to commercial approbation. Black artists who attempt similar moves are frequently met with skepticism or disinterest (see André 3000’s New Blue Sun rollout, which was largely spent explaining why the album features no rapping). 

Sales are worth speaking about, too. As Eminem has repeatedly said in song, no small amount of his popularity comes from his race — from the fact that white audiences could finally buy music from a rapper who looked like them. This was, as he has also bemusedly noted, the exact opposite of how his whiteness worked for him before his fame, when it was a barrier to being taken seriously as a rapper. 

For better, worse, or somewhere in between, the sheer volume of white rappers who are currently in the mainstream is largely traceable to the world-beating success of The Slim Shady LP.

It Was Headed Towards An Odd Future

SSLP laid groundwork for the next generation of unconventional rappers, including Tyler, the Creator.

Tyler is a huge Eminem fan. He’s said that listening to Em’s SSLP follow-up The Marshall Mathers LP was "how I learned to rap." And he’s noted that Em’s Relapse was "one of the greatest albums to me." 

"I just wanted to rap like Eminem on my first two albums," he once told GQ. More than flow, the idea of shocking people, being alternately angry and vulnerable, and playing with audience reaction is reflected heavily on Tyler’s first two albums, Goblin and Wolf. That is the template The Slim Shady LP set up. While Tyler may have graduated out of that world and moved on to more mature things, it was following Em’s template that first gained him wide notice. 

Eminem Brought Heat To Cold Detroit

The only guest artist to spit a verse on The Slim Shady LP is Royce da 5’9". This set the template for the next few years of Eminem’s career: Detroit, and especially his pre-fame crew from that city, would be his focus. There was his duo with Royce, Bad Meets Evil, whose pre-SSLP single of "Nuttin’ to Do"/"Scary Movies" would get renewed attention once those same two rappers had a duet, smartly titled "Bad Meets Evil," appear on a triple-platinum album. And of course there was the group D12, five Detroit rappers including his best friend Proof, with whom Eminem would release a whole album at the height of his fame.

This was not the only mainstream rap attention Detroit received in the late 1990s. For one thing, legendary producer James "J Dilla" Yancey, was a native of the city. But Eminem’s explosion helped make way for rappers in the city, even ones he didn’t know personally, to get attention. 

The after-effects of the Eminem tsunami can still be seen. Just look at the rise of so-called "scam rap" over the past few years. Or the success of artists like Babyface Ray, Kash Doll, 42 Dugg, and Veeze. They may owe little to Em artistically, but they admit that he’s done great things for the city — even if they may wish he was a little less reclusive these days

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Here's What Happened At The Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors 2024 GRAMMY Event Celebrating Mariah Carey & Lenny Kravitz
Mariah Carey accepts the Global Impact Award during the Recording Academy Honors presented by the Black Music Collective

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

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Here's What Happened At The Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors 2024 GRAMMY Event Celebrating Mariah Carey & Lenny Kravitz

The power of staying true to yourself was at the center of the 2024 GRAMMY Week event. Honorees Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz were lauded by colleagues and performers, including Stevie Wonder, Quavo, Babyface and Andra Day.

GRAMMYs/Feb 3, 2024 - 08:34 pm

On a wet but buzzing Thursday evening ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, leading lights in the music industry gathered for the third annual Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective. Along the event's black carpet, stars and industry insiders were showing out — taking photos, reconnecting with friends and collaborators, and chatting with the press. 

The official 2024 GRAMMY Week event was held Feb. 1 — the first day of Black History Month — at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles and was sponsored by Amazon Music and City National Bank. Each year, BMC presents its Global Impact Award to legendary musicians advancing the culture, and 2024’s honorees Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey, loomed over the entire evening before they'd even arrived.

Flava Flav, sporting his patented clock necklace, was also hyped about the evening. "It means everything to be at the GRAMMYs tonight. This is big," Flav told GRAMMY.com. The rapper then spoke about the two transcendent stars being honored. "I feel real big about the honorees. Mariah Carey, always been proud of her and I love her songs…Lenny Kravitz is my dude. That’s my man. So congratulations Lenny!" 

The significance of the event was felt from the first foot set on the black carpet. Afrobeats star Fireboy DML weighed in on the importance of the night. "I’m honored. It feels good. It’s always important to be in spaces like this," Fireboy told GRAMMY.com, adding that he's excited about his upcoming fourth album. "It’s important for the culture." 

As attendees inside the jam-packed ballroom room eagerly awaited the main guests of the night, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. spoke about the momentum being built through Black Music Collective. 

"[Last year] I spoke how great it was to be holding the second annual BMC event. To me it meant we established a new tradition. And now the tradition proudly continues," Mason Jr. told the audience, emphasizing how the influence of Black culture can be found in all corners of the world and across musical genres. 

A performance by Nigerian superstar Davido, a first-time GRAMMY nominee, spoke to the power of musical diversity in the Academy and BMC. Although the crowd had sat down with their appetizers, many stood up to vibe out as Davido performed his nominated song, "Unavailable."

By the time Andra Day, adorned in a bright red leather coat, got to the end of her rendition of "Strange Fruit" with support from trumpeter Keyon Harrold, everyone in the ballroom was on their feet. It was a great moment for Day, whose cover of Billie Holiday’s 1939 cry for justice hammered home the connection between Black artists across different genres and across time.

Gabby Samone garnered the second standing ovation of the night for her take on Nina Simone’s "Four Women." Simone has had a number of major cosigns as her star has grown brighter, and her fans include Jennifer Hudson and none other than Mariah Carey. Samone's performance was followed by a powerful song from Erica Campbell, whose I Love You is nominated for Best Gospel Album this year.

A set from DJ Mannie Fresh, Kravitz took the stage to receive the first BMC Global Impact Award of the night. Introduced by mentee H.E.R, she talked about "American Woman’s" genre-bending influence on her own career and Kravitz's own influence from childhood. "The fashion, the confidence, the badass walk, and the killer vocals made me at six years old say to my dad ‘I wanna play guitar.’ ‘I wanna be a rockstar.’ ‘I wanna be like Lenny Kravitz,’" H.E.R. said. 

She then listed off some of Kravitz’s other accomplishments including working on "Rustin," the new Netflix film about critical civil rights architect Bayard Rustin, as well as Kravitz’s work in philanthropy through his Let Love Rule Foundation. 

Once the din died down, Kravitz took a trip back to childhood, too. He shared how, when he went to go see the Jackson 5 with his family, and was so hooked that he dreamed of becoming part of the storied troupe. "I fantasized that I was their long lost brother and turned the Jackson 5 into the Jackson 6," he said.

Kravitz also spoke the various genres of music that helped mold him, drawn from many different corners. From his "grandfather’s block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn," where he "witnessed the birth of hip-hop," to being shaped by legends like Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye and Nina Simone. He also shouted out his godmother, the late great actress Cicely Tyson. 

In a particularly cool mashup of genre and generation, Quavo provided vocals to "Fly Away," flanked by P-funk all star George Clinton, Earth, Wind & Fire bassist Verdine White, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. At the end of the performance, Kravitz went over to each performer and hugged them.

After a brief intermission, record producer and BMC Chair Rico Love shouted out leadership, including the Recording Academy board of trustees and Ryan Butler, Vice President of DEI. Love spoke about Black Music Collective as a space where everyone can feel at home. "The life of a creator is so hard. And lonely. That’s why it’s valuable to build community," he emphasized. 

Black Music Collective’s scholarship program, in collaboration with Amazon Music, Love said, will once again support HBCU students who aspire to be in the next generation of music industry power players. In 2023, scholarships were awarded to students at Florida A&M University, Texas Southern University, Norfolk State University, among others. Love recalls the mentors he had when he was coming up and is glad BMC is also paying it forward. 

Last night’s program found one of the few people on the planet that even Mariah Carey might be star struck by. Before the pop legend received her Global Impact Award, Stevie Wonder appeared and sat down over a keyboard. 

"Very excited to be here to celebrate someone that has been a friend and I’ve been a fan of since the very beginning of hearing her voice," he said, before serenading Carey with "I Just Called to Say I Love You," ending the rendition with "I love you, I love you, you are my hero."

Mariah Carey was seemingly surprised and star-struck herself. Once she overcame the awe, Carey detailed the pressure she faced early in her career to avoid leaning into Black music. "When I first started in the music business, I was often told to ‘conform’ to certain expectations. I was not encouraged to focus on my love for Black music," she told the crowd.

Later, some of Carey’s other friends and collaborators performed, including Babyface, who once sang backing vocals on Carey’s "Melt Away." (Carey then returned the favor by singing on "Every Time I Close My Eyes.") Another Carey collaborator, Busta Rhymes, performed crowd favorite "I Know What You Want" and offered sincere thanks to Carey for her boldness and desire to "run with the wolves." Tori Kelly also sang "Vision of Love" during this segment and earlier in the night, gospel legend Yolanda Adams performed "Make It Happen." The third annual Recording Academy Honors/BMC event certainly did make it happen, as attendees flooded out of the ballroom and into the streets pumped with pride.

2024 GRAMMYs: See The Full Nominees And Winners List

Head to live.GRAMMY.com all year long to watch all the GRAMMY performances, acceptance speeches, the GRAMMY Live From The Red Carpet livestream special, the full Premiere Ceremony livestream, and even more exclusive, never-before-seen content from the 2024 GRAMMYs.

Mariah Carey To Receive Global Impact Award At Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective
Mariah Carey

Photo courtesy of Mariah Carey

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Mariah Carey To Receive Global Impact Award At Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective

The third annual GRAMMY Week event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, at the Fairmount Century Plaza.

GRAMMYs/Jan 31, 2024 - 08:00 pm

Mariah Carey might be a winner of five golden gramophones, and a nominee for 34 — but her recognition by the Recording Academy doesn't stop there.

The global pop icon has been announced as one of this year's Recording Academy Global Impact Award Honorees. Carey will be honored with the Recording Academy Global Impact Award, a CEO Merit Award that recognizes Black music creators whose dedication to the art form has greatly influenced the industry and whose legacy of service inspires countless individuals worldwide, celebrating those who, through leadership and passion, empower others to embrace their authentic selves and contribute to positive change.

Carey is the second of three Recording Academy Global Impact Award Honorees to be announced. Just yesterday, four-time GRAMMY Award winner Lenny Kravitz was unveiled as the first 2024 Recording Academy Global Impact Award Honoree; one more honoree will be announced on Thurs, Feb. 1, 2024.

Music executive and renowned photographer Lenny S will curate the Icons Gallery at the event, a captivating art activation paying tribute to generations of influential Black music icons. 

Adam Blackstone will return for the third consecutive year as music supervisor of the Black Music Collective event. MVD Inc will also return for the third consecutive year to produce the event.

The third annual Recording Academy Honors, sponsored by Amazon Music and City National Bank, will take place just days before Music's Biggest Night, with Amazon Music returning as a sponsor for a third consecutive year.

Live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles and hosted by Trevor Noah, Music's Biggest Night will be broadcast live on Sun, Feb. 4, 2024, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

Prior to the Telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will be broadcast live from the Peacock Theater at 12:30 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on live.GRAMMY.com.

The 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be produced by Fulwell 73 Productions for the Recording Academy for the fourth consecutive year. Ben Winston, Raj Kapoor and Jesse Collins are executive producers.

Keep checking this space for all things Mariah Carey and the 2024 GRAMMYs!

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List