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Cordae Talks Making His Cathartic, Star-Studded Album 'From A Bird's Eye View' — And Why He's Already Looking Ahead
Cordae

Photo: Raven Varona

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Cordae Talks Making His Cathartic, Star-Studded Album 'From A Bird's Eye View' — And Why He's Already Looking Ahead

After two years of loss and change, Cordae delivers 'From A Bird's Eye View,' his most introspective LP yet. Also launching a new business venture in that time, the 24-year-old is preparing to leave a mark beyond his own music.

GRAMMYs/Jan 24, 2022 - 11:13 am

The sky's the limit for Cordae after releasing his sophomore album, From A Bird's Eye View. The Maryland-raised rapper followed up his GRAMMY-nominated 2019 debut, The Lost Boy, with the deeply personal effort, which sees contributions from Lil Wayne, H.E.R., Lil Durk, Stevie Wonder, Gunna and more.

Recent tragedies — including the death of his grandmother and murder of his childhood friend — resulted in reflective tales on From A Bird's Eye View, with the 24-year-old bringing listeners on a journey from his upbringing to current stardom.

Now that he's released the introspective effort, Cordae is looking straight ahead at the ever-growing opportunities that await him. One of those ventures is Hi Level, the record label he launched in 2021 one year after leaving his former hip-hop collective YBN. Cordae got his start with the YBN Nahmir-founded group in 2018 (and initially took the stage name YBN Cordae as a result), but it officially disbanded in 2020.

With Hi Level up and running and the release of From A Bird's Eye View — his first album since leaving the YBN collective, and second on Atlantic Records — Cordae is planning major moves for this new phase of his solo career.  

GRAMMY.com caught up with Cordae about his vision for Hi Level, using songwriting as a form of therapy on his new album, and not getting stuck in an artistic box.

Congratulations on releasing your album! I've been seeing a lot of positive fan reactions online.

Thank you! For sure, I appreciate the support. I don't take it for granted; it's something that doesn't go unnoticed.

On the album track "Super," you mention leaving YBN because you didn't have ownership in the collective. Did wanting to have ownership and control in your career inspire you to then launch Hi Level?

Absolutely. And even more than that, I started Hi Level to open the door for other creatives. Hi Level is a record label, but it's also a way of life — a mantra, if you would.

I always say that everything I do, I must do it at the highest level that I'm capable of. So, when I see Hi Level, it's sort of a reminder of that and what it represents. Allowing creatives — and even non-creatives, just anybody from any walk of life — allowing them to have that mentality or reminding them to have that mentality.

What's your vision for Hi Level? Are you planning on signing some artists this year?

Yeah, absolutely. I'm definitely looking to sign some artists and some producers. We already have, like, an in-house team, as far as videographers, cinematographers, photographers, producers, engineers. We have a bunch of these assets in-house. So, we're just waiting for the right artists, producers and creatives to build with and utilize these resources.

It's so great that ownership has become a big part of the conversation for rappers these days. Nipsey Hussle seemingly had a lot to do with that — you've discussed his impact a lot.

Yeah, he definitely did. For me personally, I wasn't super tapped into Nipsey's music, but [more] his mindset and his frame of mind. I used to watch his interviews — if you didn't know his music, you knew him for being a boss, for ownership.

Obviously people like JAY-Z, too, and even Prince, all these great artists throughout the years have highlighted this idea of ownership, especially when it comes to music. I think it's a cool trend, to want to own some things. Ownership is a dope trend.

You collaborated with Lil Wayne on "Sinister" and you've mentioned how impressive it is that he's managed to stay hungry after over 20 years in the game. Have you picked up any tips from him, or other veterans, about how to have a long, successful career?

Yeah, you've just got to work! That's kind of what they all tell me, to sum it up in layman's terms. Just keep going. You might get overwhelmed with things, or maybe get too much on your schedule, but you've got to just keep going.

The album starts with "Shiloh's Intro" where your brother freestyles over the phone from prison. We also hear more of that phone call in "Shiloh's Interlude." Why was it important for you to feature your brother on the project?

Well for one, that's my brother Shiloh. He's in prison right now serving a 24-year sentence. He used to rap — we used to rap all the time together, and I felt like it was necessary, but also dope from the creative side, to include him on the intro for the album to shed some light on him and his situation.

It also kind of put the pieces [of the album] together because he's really seeing things from a bird's eye view perspective — more so from a caged bird's perspective, if you would. I think it starts [the album] off beautifully.

Read More: 2021 In Review: 8 Trends That Defined Rap

Slim Jxmmi from Rae Sremmurd recently shouted you out on Twitter since you referenced the duo on "Parables (Remix)." They're gearing up to drop an album soon, do you think there's a chance for a collaboration?

Oh dope! I didn't know they were finna drop an album. Mike WiLL [Made-It] is my big homie, so I'm sure there's definitely something that could be worked out.

Before dropping From A Bird's Eye View, you asked fans to listen to the album from front to back with no interruptions, as it was intended. Other artists have said this, too, with Adele recently getting Spotify to remove its shuffle button for albums. Since album cohesiveness is important to you, do you agree with the change?

I agree and disagree with it at the same time. I agree with it because it makes people more inclined to listen to the album from start to finish and that's how we, as artists, created this music for it to be listened to, from the beginning to the end in that order. That's why I spend so much time with the transitions and making sure the cohesiveness of the album is all in play, and so if somebody presses shuffle, they kind of just s*** on it. [Laughs.]

I do think it's very important, especially for the first time listening. But also, if you want to shuffle, just make a playlist. Pick all your favorite songs from the album and make a playlist and hit shuffle on that. I personally don't ever hit shuffle on an album, especially if it just came out.

You rapped about losing loved ones on From A Bird's Eye View — your grandmother, your friend. Were any of the songs on the album difficult for you to record?

It was hard to listen to them more so than to record them. Writing songs is therapy for me, so it's never really that hard writing it. Recording can get a little tough, but actually listening to it — that can be therapeutic too, but when I re-listen to, like, the end of "Westlake High," I can get a little emotional. "Momma's Hood," I get a little emotional.

Hopefully using music as an outlet for heavy emotions can help your listeners who might be going through similar things, too.

Oh absolutely.

You and H.E.R. linked up again on the album's "Chronicles." You guys have collaborated a few times now [on her songs "Racks," "Trauma" and "Lord Is Coming"]. What is that artistic chemistry like?

The artistic chemistry with H.E.R. is incredible, honestly. She's one of the most talented artists I've ever worked with or that you'll see, in terms of songwriting ability, vocal ability, being able to play different instruments, and producing as well. She's really a top-tier artist as far as creativity, musicality and just the overall package.

She got you in your singing bag, too!

I was trying! [Laughs.] I can harmonize. I can keep a note. You know, I'm always trying to extend the creative pallet — not get stuck in a box. 

30 Must-Hear Albums In 2022: Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Rosalía, Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie & More

30 Must-Hear Albums In 2022: Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Rosalía, Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie & More

(L - R): Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie, Earl Sweatshirt, Rosalía

(Source Photos L - R): Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp; Jason Koerner/Getty Images; Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for iHeartRadio; Marc Grimwade/WireImage; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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30 Must-Hear Albums In 2022: Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Rosalía, Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie & More

2022 has no shortage of new albums to keep your shuffle hard at work. GRAMMY.com compiled a list of 30 upcoming releases — from Kid Cudi, Earl Sweatshirt, Combo Chimbita, Dolly Parton, and Guns N' Roses — to keep you moving in the new year.

GRAMMYs/Jan 8, 2022 - 12:28 am

Editor's Note: This piece has been updated to reflect release dates and album titles announced after publishing. 

While it may feel like there's not much to look forward to during yet another wave of COVID-19, music fans around the world are eagerly waiting to load their playlists with new releases as 2022 gets underway.

And there's certainly plenty to look forward to: Along with The Weeknd, who released his fifth studio album, Dawn FM, on Jan. 7, superstars like Machine Gun KellyCamila CabelloDolly PartonGuns N' Roses, and Rosalía have all announced or teased albums coming this year.

The pandemic may have slowed things down, but there's no stopping artists in 2022. Keep an eye out for these 30 albums from ENHYPEN, Mitski, Saweetie, Bastille, and many more.

The Weeknd, Dawn FM

Release date: Jan. 7

Only a year removed from his incendiary Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, the crowned pop prince of Canada returns with the semi-surprise Dawn FM, a hotly anticipated follow-up to his record-breaking 2020 release, After Hours (you know, the one with "Blinding Lights" and "Save Your Tears" on it).

As The Weeknd's album teasers promised, Dawn FM delivered sinister synthesizers, a vocal appearance from Jim Carrey, and old-man makeup that's arguably only slightly less distressing than his wax-faced After Hours persona.Max Martin is back (on lead single "Take My Breath"), and other guests include Tyler, the Creator and Oneohtrix Point Never.

As for what the three-time GRAMMY winner wants his listeners to take away from his latest work? "Picture the album being like the listener is dead," The Weeknd told Billboard. Capisce? — Brennan Carley

ENHYPEN, DIMENSION : ANSWER 

Release date: January 10

Seven-piece boy group ENHYPEN may still be relatively new to the K-pop scene (the band formed in 2020 on the Korean survival competition show "I-Land"), but they're already making moves to put themselves in the ranks of BTS and EXO. Their latest release, DIMENSION : ANSWER, marks the group's first studio repackage album, expanding on their 2021 debut set, DIMENSION : DILEMMA.

DIMENSION : ANSWER will feature three new tracks,: "Polaroid Love," "Outro : Day 2," and lead single "Blessed-Cursed." Fans got a first taste of the three B-sides thanks to an album preview the group released on Jan. 4, which teased a wide array of sounds: punchy pop-sprinkled production on "Polaroid Love," sultry R&B vocals with "Outro : Day 2," and guitar-heavy rock on "Blessed-Cursed." With such vast musical prowess, DIMENSION : ANSWER may just be the group's ticket to K-pop superstardom. — Taylor Weatherby

Read More: 5 Rising Korean Artists To Know Now: STAYC, ENHYPEN, ITZY, TOMORROW X TOGETHER & ATEEZ

Cordae, From a Bird's Eye View

Release date: Jan. 14

Cordae set the bar high with his GRAMMY-nominated debut album The Lost Boy and emerged as one of the most exciting new talents of 2019, making his return to the game with his hotly anticipated second album.

The Maryland-raised rapper held fans over with his Just Until… EP last April before launching into his album rollout with the braggadocious hit, "Super" and a collaboration with Lil Wayne, "Sinister." The 24-year-old wordsmith — known for his reflective, carefully-crafted raps — said From a Bird's Eye View was inspired by "a life-changing trip to Africa, enduring the loss of a friend gone too soon and evolving as an artist and a man." 

The album will also mark Cordae's first full-length effort since the official disbanding of his YBN collective in 2020. — Victoria Moorwood

Animal Collective, Time Skiffs

Release date: Feb. 4

Followers of experimental pop adventurers Animal Collective have waited six years for a new album following 2016's Painting With. At last, the four-piece will release Time Skiffs, an album full of otherworldly harmonies and mind-opening melodies.

Animal Collective has released two singles from the LP so far: the gently psychedelic "Prester John" and the equally trippy "Walker." The latter is a tribute to Scott Walker, the prolific singer-songwriter who died in 2019. Its beautifully intricate music video, directed by band member Dave Portner and his sister Abby, brings the Time Skiffs album cover to life in vivid detail. — Jack Tregoning

Avril Lavigne, Love Sux

Release date: Feb 25 

Like everything Y2K, pop-punk is making a comeback. And nearly 20 years since the release of her seminal pop-punk debut Let GoAvril Lavigne brings back her pop-punk princess persona in all its glory — combat boots and all. In early November, the "Sk8r Boi" singer shared her the angsty anthem "Bite Me," first new single in over two years, featuring Travis Barker.

With the new music, Lavigne also shared she had signed to the drummer extraordinaire's label DTA Records. Her seventh studio album is set to be the artist's first LP since her more traditional pop LP Head Above Water in 2019. — I.K.

Bonobo, Fragments

Release date: Jan. 14

Like everyone else around the world, electronic shapeshifter Simon Green had a very unusual past two years. The British musician and DJ, better known as Bonobo, found himself grounded in his adopted home of Los Angeles, itching for new inspiration to get through the pandemic. His wanderings took him from a tent in the Californian desert to a new appreciation for modular synths back home in lockdown, all with a nervous eye on the precarious state of the world.

This activity fed into a flood of music which we'll soon hear on Bonobo's seventh studio album, Fragments, out on Ninja Tune. Fragments features guests including Jamila Woods, Joji and Kadhja Bonet, while channeling influences from UK bass, Detroit techno and global music through Bonobo's widescreen lens. The producer is already up for two Best Dance/Electronic Recording awards at this year's GRAMMYs, for "Heartbreak," his collaboration with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and "Loom," with Ólafur Arnalds. Bonobo begins a tour of the US in February, giving fans a few precious weeks to soak up the album before its live debut. — J.T.

Earl Sweatshirt, SICK

Release date: Jan. 14

With a decade-plus of acclaimed projects such as 2018's Some Rap SongsEarl Sweatshirt is both an underground hero and a critic's darling. He hasn't achieved the same level of mainstream success as former Odd Future colleagues Tyler, the Creator and Syd – which is fine with him.

Judging from SICK's lead track "2010," where he pays homage to his mother in cryptic terms, the 10-track album promises to be another collection of stylized verses, dusty beats and autobiographical confessions (albeit rendered in a clearer voice than his previous album, 2019's lo-fi affair Feet of Clay). As its title suggests, SICK was inspired by the pandemic. "My whole thing is grading things on the truth, you know what I mean? However expansive or detailed the truth is," he told Rolling Stone. — Mosi Reeves

iann dior, On To Better Things

Release date: January 21

After blasting onto the scene with his 24kgoldn team-up (and runaway smash) "Mood" in 2020, iann dior hasn't slowed down, releasing an EP and countless other collabs. On To Better Things marks dior's first full-length album since 2019, serving up 15 tracks that will help the rapper truly come into his own.

Like the Lil Uzi Vert-assisted "V12" and the racing single "Let You," On To Better Things will see dior further explore his capabilities as a rapper while also tapping into his alt-pop/rock sensibilities. Judging by his previous releases, dior won't be afraid to get raw and real on his latest project as he opens up about love, relationships and loyalty. There may be glimmers of hope on the album, though, as dior captioned a post teasing the album, "life is better now." — T.W.

Dive Deep: 9 Revolutionary Rap Albums To Know: From Kendrick Lamar, Black Star, EarthGang & More

Combo Chimbita, IRÉ

Release date: Jan. 28

The melding of cumbia beats and psychedelic vibes was embraced during the '70s by many pioneering outfits in Peru and Colombia. Since the release of their 2017 debut, New York quartet Combo Chimbita has built on that foundation, amping up the mystical tinge of its material through the soulful chanting of extraordinary vocalist Carolina Oliveros. 

Always ready to speak up on social and political issues, Chimbita uses cumbia as a starting point, adding swashes of funk and soul, Afro guitar lines and atmospheric samples. The band's new album expands its palette, enhancing lead single "Oya" with a video shot at the ruins of Puerto Rico's abandoned Intercontinental Hotel. A tour with the awesomeLido Pimienta will follow soon. — Ernesto Lechner

Aaliyah, Unstoppable

Release date: January 2022

Anticipation surrounding Aaliyah's fourth album has been building since 2012, when Blackground Records released "Don't Think They Know," which paired the late singer's vocals with Chris Brown, and a Drake collaboration, "Enough Said." The long-awaited arrival of her back catalog to streaming last fall added fresh fuel for a project that has been controversial, with some diehard fans questioning whether it honors Aaliyah's legacy.

Unstoppable includes guests like Snoop Dogg, Future and Ne-Yo. The first single, a woozy ballad titled "Poison," features The Weeknd as well as lyrics originally written by the late Static Major. "Some of the people Aaliyah liked are on the album. She loved Snoop Dogg," Blackground CEO and Aaliyah's uncle Jomo Hankerson told Billboard. "Everything I do at Blackground is always with her in my heart and my mind." — M.R.

Read More: For The Record: How Aaliyah Redefined Her Sound And Herself On One In A Million

Bastille, Give Me the Future

Release date: Feb. 4

If the pandemic had even a glimmer of a bright side, it comes courtesy of musicians like Bastille pivoting and positioning their art to address the present, as Give Me the Future promises to do.

Bandleader Dan Smith had already begun work on the English pop-rock group's fourth album before COVID-19 threw a wrench in his plans, but the pandemic made the album's probing themes seem that much more prescient. Glistening songs like "Thelma + Louise" and the vocoded "Distorted Light Beam" dig more deeply into Bastille's exploration of escapism when the troubles of the world are thundering outside our windowsall with the help of new collaborators Rami Yacoub and One Republic's Ryan Tedder. We promise it's way more fun than it sounds. — B.C.

Mitski, Laurel Hell

Release date: Feb. 4

Mitski almost pressed pause on her music career which, according to a Rolling Stone interview, was "shaving away my soul little by little." After a final performance, "I would quit and find another life."  Fortunately, though, Mitski has stuck with it.

Three years since the release of her fifth studio album Be the Cowboy, the indie singer-songwriter is set to share her forthcoming project Laurel Hell. While the majority of the LP was penned in 2018, it wasn't mixed until 2021, making it the longest the singer has spent on one of her records. What listeners can expect is a transformative set of songs that pair Mitski's signature vulnerability with uptempo dance beats and, ultimately, catharsis. — Ilana Kaplan

Guns N' Roses, Hard Skool EP

Release date: Feb. 25 

In 2021, 36 years after the band first formed in the hard rock hotbed of Los Angeles, Guns N' Roses returned with two new singles. This productive streak was remarkable enough in itself given the group's notoriously haphazard release schedule. The singles "ABSUЯD" and "Hard Skool" are doubly remarkable, though, because they usher in a new EP that brings beloved members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan together again after 28 years.

Reinterpreted from the band's Chinese Democracy sessions, "ABSUЯD" features a raw, punk-tinged sound that surprised some fans before rewarding repeat listens. "Hard Skool," meanwhile, harkens back to the classic sound that Guns N' Roses perfected in the late 1980s. The Hard Skool EP will feature the two 2021 singles alongside live renditions of GNR favorites "Don't Cry" and "You're Crazy." To mark this new era, the band is touring arenas throughout 2022, reuniting Axl, Slash and Duff as a powerhouse onstage trio. — J.T.

Take a Look Back: Guns N' Roses' 'Appetite For Destruction' | For The Record

Charli XCX, CRASH

Release date: March 18

Pop polymorph Charli XCX has been promising fans her sellout era for months now ("tip for new artists: sell your soul for money and fame," she tweeted last July), ushered in with last summer's "Good Ones" and buoyed into the holidays with "New Shapes," a powerhouse team-up with Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens.

CRASH is the fifth and final album she owes Atlantic Records — a benchmark not lost on fans or Charli herself. For it, Charli promises edge-of-your-seat appearances from Rina Sawayama, frequent collaborator A. G. Cook, and frequent Weeknd cohort Oneohtrix Point Never. Come for the bloody album artwork, stay for the cheeky, self-aware pop concoctions contained within. — B.C.

Dolly Parton, Run, Rose, Run

Release date: March 2022

The beloved, multi-GRAMMY Award-winning singer-songwriter Dolly Parton has built a career as a trailblazer, so it stands to reason that her next musical effort would carry on that grand tradition. Run, Rose, Run is an album of original tunes taking its energetic moniker from a companion novel that Parton co-authored with the acclaimed writer James Patterson.

According to Parton, the accompanying album consists of "all new songs written based on the characters and situations in the book" and centers on a tale about a girl who treks to Nashville to pursue her dreams. Adds Patterson, "the mind-blowing thing about this project is that reading the novel is enhanced by listening to the album and vice versa." Both projects are dropping in tandemIt's a unique undertaking that celebrates a smoldering passion for music; but if you've been following the legend's career, would you expect anything less? — Rob LeDonne

Maren Morris, Humble Quest

Release date: March 25

GRAMMY-winning singer Maren Morris has conquered modern country music with her soulful solo material and even forayed into pop (just mentioning "The Middle" will glue its sticky chorus to your every waking moment for the next week). So whatever magic Morris might make with her highly anticipated third album, Humble Quest, is cause enough for celebration.

Morris kicked off her next LP with "Circles Around This Town," an expansive, freewheeling single that blends the echoing production of her 2016 debut HERO and super-personal lyrics of 2019's GIRL. The album will be Morris' first since the untimely 2019 passing of her longtime creative partner busbee, but her partnership with pop hitmaker Greg Kurstin (who produced "Circles Around This Town" as well as four GIRL tracks) hints that this next project is going to be a timeless trip and an emotional walloping. — B.C.

Thomas Rhett, Where We Started Country Again: Side B

Release date: April 1 / Fall 2022

Though country music has always been the core of what Thomas Rhett has done since his debut album (2013's It Goes Like This), the star's 2021 set, Country Again: Side A, was more traditional than his past projects. Clearly his roots (along with the unexpected pandemic-induced downtime) sparked a bout of inspiration, as Rhett announced in November that he'll be releasing Side B as well as another LP, titled Where We Started, in 2022.

Surprisingly, Side B won't be coming first. But it will create one cohesive Country Again narrative once it arrives, as Rhett promised in an interview with Rolling Stone last year — though he did hint that Side B will feature production that's "a smidge more experimental" than Side A. His latest single, the wistful "Slow Down Summer" hints that Where We Started will also bring back more of the pop-leaning production he's incorporated in his previous albums.

Still, that doesn't mean he'll lose sight of the country boy that has been unleashed: In writing all of this music, Rhett told his producers (per Rolling Stone), "This is the direction I'm headed in, and I think I'm gonna be here for a long time." — T.W.

Read More: Saddle Up With The Best Country Song Nominations | 2022 GRAMMYs

Jack White, Fear of the Dawn / Entering Heaven Alive

Release date: April 8 / July 22 

Epic ambition fuels the very essence of rock 'n' roll and Jack White has embodied the genre's weakness for glamour, dissonance and excess since his days with The White Stripes. The reckless propulsion of "Over and Over and Over" — off 2018's Boarding House Reach — proved that he has kept the bravado in his songwriting very much alive. 

2022 will find the multi-GRAMMY Award winning singer/guitarist releasing two full-length albums: Fear of the Dawn, led by the wonderfully bombastic single "Taking Me Back," will also include a collaboration with rapper Q-Tip. No details are available on July's Entering Heaven Alive, but the appearance of two albums in the same year is the kind of grandiloquent gesture that rock is in need of more than ever before.  — E.L.

Swedish House Mafia, Paradise Again

Release date: TBA, ships April 15

When GRAMMY-nominated Swedish House Mafia announced they were getting back together (and this time for good), fans were cautiously optimistic. The trio of DJ-producers — Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell —  promised a host of new music to mark their return, and so far they've kept to their word. The comeback began with the dark, guest-free "It Gets Better," which deviated from the big-room EDM sound championed by the Swedes up to their split in 2013.

From there, the trio delivered "Lifetime," featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 070 Shake, and "Moth to a Flame," featuring The Weeknd, which became their first major hit of the new era. This flurry of activity sets the stage for Swedish House Mafia's first full album, Paradise Again. As Ingrosso told NME, the album will combine their trademark "Scandinavian melodies with dark production and hard sounds." Starting July 2022, the DJs embark on their first tour in a decade, playing 44 dates throughout the US, UK and Europe. — J.T.

Jason Aldean, Georgia 

Release date: April 22

Jumping on country music's 2021 double album trendJason Aldean issued Macon, the first half of his own two-disc set, Macon, Georgia, in November. The title is an homage to his hometown, which he refers to as a "melting pot" that shaped his music, according to Country Now. Yet, the 30-song project expands on Aldean's signature country-rock sound without steering too far away from what fans have grown to love, as evidenced with both Macon and Georgia's crooning lead single, "Whiskey Me Away."

Like its predecessor, Georgia will include 10 new songs and five live recordings of his biggest hits, essentially creating Aldean's first-ever live album.With the aptly titled track "Rock and Roll Cowboy" to boot, Georgia helps make Macon, Georgia a career highlight for Aldean. — T.W.

Machine Gun Kelly, Born with Horns

Release date: TBD 

The upcoming sixth studio album from enigmatic rocker Machine Gun Kelly, ominously titled Born with Horns, was rumored to drop on New Year's Eve 2021, but it seems Kelly had a change of heart tweeting "See you in 2022." While the release date continues to be murky, there is some solid information about the highly anticipated fresh slate of music from the multi-hyphenate rockstar.

For one, the album is produced by fellow rock luminary Travis Barker and includes the decidedly dark single "Papercuts." "It feels more guitar-heavy for sure, lyrically it definitely goes deeper, but I never like to do anything the same," Kelly said of Born with Horns in an interview with Sunday TODAY, noting it'll also mark a personal evolution. "I'm not scared anymore, there's nothing holding me back from being my true self — and my true self can't be silenced, can't be restrained." — R.L.

Watch Now: Up Close & Personal: Machine Gun Kelly On Working With Travis Barker & Influencing The Next Decade Of Music

Camila Cabello, Familia

Release date: TBD

There's perhaps never been a better advertisement for an album than Camila Cabello's edition of NPR's Tiny Desk. Released last fall, the session begins with three old songs and ends with two Familia cuts strong enough to bowl you over. In just 20 minutes, the former Fifth Harmony singer genuflects at the altar of pop's past while steering its ship into the future.

"Don't Go Yet" brims with the promise of comfort as it opens with a warm flamenco guitar. "La Buena Vida" is a Mariachi-based explosion of emotion and evocation, anchored by Cabello's arresting vocals. Whereas her prior albums sought to cement the 24-year-old amidst her contemporaries, the uber-personal Familia seems likely to propel her into a whole new pedigree of artistry. — B.C.

Rosalía, MOTOMAMI

Release date: TBD 

In 2018, Rosalía's cinematic El Mal Querer signified a before-and-after for the music of Spain and Latin America. A visionary blend of flamenco, hip-hop and confessional torch song, the album introduced her to the world as an intellectual, musicologist and pop diva wrapped up into one slick sonic package. Subsequent singles (2019's "Haute Couture" was a gorgeous slice of electro-pop) demonstrated that Rosalía's path to global domination relies on a voracious curiosity for disparate styles and high-profile collaborators such as Billie Eilish and Bad Bunny. 

Titled MOTOMAMI, Rosalía's much anticipated release includes "LA FAMA," a deliciously distorted bachata duet with The Weeknd. We can only imagine what other wonders Rosalía's remarkable imagination has dreamed up for this, her first full-length album since becoming a cultural icon. — E.L.

Saweetie, Pretty Bitch Music

Release date: TBD

Saweetie is set to finally release her debut album, Pretty Bitch Music, this year. After first announcing the project in 2020, the Bay Area native's star power has exploded, reaching new heights last year with major endorsements, her first GRAMMY nominations and a "Saturday Night Live" debut. Pretty Bitch Music was initially slated to arrive in 2021, but Saweetie postponed the effort for some additional fine-tuning.

"I'm just living with it to ensure it's perfect," she told Hollywood Life in August. "I'm really challenging myself and I just want to ensure that I put out a body of work that [will] symbolize art."

Pretty Bitch Music is expected to include Saweetie's 2x Platinum-certified collaboration with Doja Cat, "Best Friend" and her single "Tap In" with production by TimbalandLil Jon and Murda Beatz, among other heavy-hitters. — V.M.

Kid Cudi, Entergalactic

Release date: TBD

Three years after it was announced, Kid Cudi's animated music adventure for Netflix is set to arrive this summer, as the rapper declared during his set at Rolling Loud California in December. "I got some tasty surprises," he told fans before offering a snippet of unreleased music that may be on the soundtrack. 

Not much else is known about the project, which takes its title from a song on Cudi's 2009 debut Man on the Moon: The End of Day, and which co-creator Kenya Barris referred to as "the most ambitious thing" in a 2019 interview with Complex.

Entergalactic might not be where Kid Cudi stops in 2022, either: Amid his Rolling Loud teases, he said, "I want to drop another album before [Entergalactic]... I really am excited about all this new s***, this new music to give to you guys. So that's why I'm teasing this s*** now, 'cause it's comin' out soon." — M.R.

Beach House, Once Twice Melody

Release date: throughout 2022

Nearly four years since the release of their seventh studio album aptly titled 7, Beach House is slowly unveiling their latest record Once Twice Melody. But instead of dropping all 18 tracks at once, the dreamy indie duo has been giving fans a taste of their new sound in four chapters.

Once Twice Melody is a significant shift as it's the first album produced in full by the band. Beach House also thought about its structure completely differently than they had in the past. "It didn't just feel like a regular, like another album of ours, it felt like a larger, newer kind of way of looking at our music," singer Victoria Legrand told Apple Music. Instead, they view it as "cinematic" and "literary." What fans can expect, they say, is "a lot of love" and "a sacredness of nature." — I.K.

Kendrick Lamar, TBA

Release date: TBD

One of our most celebrated artists of his generation may make his triumphant return this year.  Although it's been nearly five years since Kendrick Lamar released his GRAMMY- and Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN, Lamar has remained busy. In 2018, Lamar  curated the Black Panther soundtrack and he's also made guest appearances on tracks by artists as varied as Nipsey Hussle, Anderson .Paak, U2 and his cousin, Baby Keem. 

But Lamar has been mostly mum about his own music, save for an August blog post titled "nu thoughts." "Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family," he wrote, adding that his next album will be his last with Top Dawg Entertainment. It's the sort of thoughtful, precise announcement (and perhaps a hint to his album's content) that fans have come to expect from the notoriously private rapper. Lamar will thankfully make an appearance at this year's Super Bowl in February. — Britt Julious

Read More: Black Sounds Beautiful: How Kendrick Lamar Became A Rap Icon

Cardi B, TBA

Release date: TBD

Despite the slow-burning success of her single "Bodak Yellow," few could have predicted the popularity of Cardi B'sdebut album, Invasion of Privacy. A critical and commercial success, "Invasion of Privacy" won Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards, making Cardi the first woman to win in the category. That's why anticipation for her sophomore record is so high.

Cardi's brand of hip-hop is provocative and fun, and her two singles (possibly from the record) seem to confirm that same mood is still present in her music. In 2020, she dropped "WAP," a cultural reset of a collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, and in 2021, she released "Up," which later inspired a viral TikTok dance challenge. As with many artists, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the release of Cardi's new album. But late last year on Instagram Live, Cardi said she has "lots of jobs now" and one of them is to "put out this album next year." Hopefully fans won't have to wait too long. — B.J.

Koffee, TBA

Release date: TBD  

If Koffee's latest single is any indication, the youngest GRAMMY Award winner for Best Reggae Album is planning a glorious homecoming in 2022. Sung with a wide smile you can nearly hear, "West Indies" is a dancehall love letter to the islands and an upbeat promise for what the singer has in store on her first full-length.   

"I want to speak of a solution and of a way that we can come together and get along, even when things are going wrong," Koffee told Rolling Stone.

Although the pandemic halted her album recording and nixed her first Coachella performance, Koffee defies the dour attitude of much of the past two years. On "West Indies," Koffee assures that she's partying and having the time of her life — her as-yet-untitled album will likely soundtrack yours while you do the same. — Jessica Lipsky

Read More: The Women Essential To Reggae And Dancehall

Girl Ultra, TBA

Release date: TBD 

Few musical experiences are as uplifting as listening to a singer/songwriter's follow-up to a brilliant debut, where they enhance the scope of their craft with new influences and sounds. Nuevos Aires, Girl Ultra's first full-length album, was just that – a breath of fresh air for Latin R&B, anchored on the purity of her voice and collaborations with Ximena Sariñana and Cuco (for the languid hit "DameLove.") 

Following that 2019 release, the artist also known as Mariana de Miguel returns with a new EP. Lead single "Amores de Droga" evokes the sophistication of Everything But The Girl, combining smoldering vocalizing with cool electro grooves. A study in contrasts, it finds the Mexico City chanteuse reaching a pinnacle of inspiration. — E.L.

The Pandemic Robbed Music Of Its Rapport. These Immersive Experiences Are Restoring It In Mind-Blowing Ways.

"Black Music Saved The World": How The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Celebrated Positive Change For The Culture & Community
Ledisi and John Legend

Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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"Black Music Saved The World": How The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Celebrated Positive Change For The Culture & Community

The Black Music Collective's inaugural event celebrated the past, present and future achievements of Black music and embodied the Recording Academy's ongoing work to celebrate and advance Black music and its creators and professionals across the industry.

GRAMMYs/Apr 15, 2022 - 02:16 pm

When it comes to music and culture, constant evolutions and unique developments from Black artists have challenged and pushed conventionality into a place of many groundbreaking firsts.

From Megan Thee Stallion, the first woman rapper to perform at the Oscars, to Cardi B, the first solo female rapper to win the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album, to Mickey Guyton, the first Black female solo artist to be nominated for a GRAMMY in the Best Country Solo Performance category — a host of impactful changes has been slowly yet surely bubbling up to the surface.

These cultural progressions run in parallel to the work being done by the Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals dedicated to amplifying Black voices within the Recording Academy and the wider music community, while also serving as the strong currents driving this sea change.

On Saturday, April 2, the night before the 2022 GRAMMYs, at Resorts World Las Vegas, the BMC hosted the Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective, an official GRAMMY Week 2022 event and the inaugural Black Music Collective in-person event. The newly minted, must-attend gala — sponsored by Binance, IBM, Mastercard, Hilton, GREY GOOSE Vodka, and Amazon Music — honored legendary artists like Jimmy Jam, MC Lyte, D-Nice, and the founders of the Black-founded, health-focused record label Love Renaissance (LVRN). The event also featured performances from Chlöe Bailey, Jimmie Allen, Cordae, Muni Long, and Summer Walker, who each took the house on an emotional roller-coaster ride of body-moving grooves; Adam Blackstone served as the event's musical director.

This powerful celebration of Black music and entertainment also welcomed industry execs like LVRN Records executive vice president/general manager and LVRN Management partner Amber Grimes; 300 Entertainment co-founder and CEO Kevin Liles; Universal Music Group senior director of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging and former Co-Founder & Executive Sponsor of the BMC Jeriel Johnson; and Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr.

Celebrating the past, present and future achievements within Black music and culture, the BMC gala honored 12-time GRAMMY-winning artist John Legend with the first-ever Recording Academy Global Impact Award for his personal and professional achievements in the music industry. The historic night amplified the critical role of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in pushing the music industry forward to the hundreds of artists, GRAMMY nominees and winners, Recording Academy members, and influential music executives in attendance.

"It's been a long time coming, and I don't feel great saying that," Mason Jr. said at the event, referencing how long it took for this gathering to arrive. "But now we're finally here, so let's celebrate."

As stars walked the Black carpet, they were welcomed by a small gallery of iconic images curated by photographer-turned-entrepreneur Johnny Nunez. Following opening remarks from GRAMMY-winning superproducer and event presenter Jimmy Jam about the future of the GRAMMYs, the night shifted to highlight the many ways the Recording Academy plans to combat negativity using passion and music.

And the event would live up to that statement: A wide range of Black music and artists — from the genre-redefining edge of country singer Jimmie Allen to the progressive efforts of LVRN — all embodied the moments and movements happening across studios, stages and boardrooms alike in the business.

"The playing ground has not been level," honoree MC Lyte said during her acceptance speech. "But I'm proud of the progress we've made." "Despite the continued injustice and inequality in our industry and society at large," Lyte continued, "there's no better time to be a Black creator than now."

Founded in 2020 and developed by Riggs Morales and former Co-Founder Jeriel Johnson, along with Recording Academy executives like CEO Mason jr., Co-President Valeisha Butterfield Jones and Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ryan Butler, the Black Music Collective has become a hub for creative geniuses and business leaders to set unified goals, align on a shared agenda, and build community. Butterfield Jones made that agenda crystal clear through gratitude and gravitas.

"Life is short, and this assignment is purpose-driven. We are advancing this mission, and the assignment is bigger than me and any of us individually," Butterfield Jones said at the event. "It's about independent music creators, emerging artists, music people — all music people — and driving real and meaningful change we can all feel from the inside out."

Club Quarantine architect D-Nice spoke from the heart about how the world gravitated toward his virtual DJ sets during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and underlined the great role John Legend played in spreading the word to millions of people. Club Quarantine truly became a communal therapeutic experience around the world.

"Club Quarantine is not really about D-Nice, the DJ," he said. "It's about a community. People come together and they share conversations in the chats. I'm just in the background trying to create a space to feel comfortable to get together. I say this like I've said before, 'Black music saved the world.'"

And he's right.

For decades, Black music has made topics trend and barriers end. It has empowered generations to change their family legacies while giving a voice to the voiceless. "American music is Black music," Bruno Mars, who recently swept the 2022 GRAMMYs, said back in 2017. Today, there isn't a place, genre or sound that hasn't been influenced by Black music and culture.

From Muni Long wowing the crowd with her show-stopping remake of Boyz II Men's "End of the Road," titled "Boys II Men," to Saweetie saluting the importance of women throughout hip-hop's 50-year history to Chlöe Bailey proving to be a cultural phenomenon coming into her own, the Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective proved that Black people will power the next wave of creativity for years to come.

Accepting the inaugural Recording Academy Global Impact Award, John Legend, a "GETO" winner and the honoree of the night, summed up the power and influence of Black music in his speech. "Black music is and has been the rhythm, the root, the inspiration, the innovation behind so much of the world's popular music. It doesn't exist without us," he said.

"Our art and music can help movements find their footing and voice," Legend continued. "Our art and music can help activists, the people closest to injustice, and lead the way forward to equality and opportunity."

A new slew of firsts to never forget.

Beyond the glitz and glamor of the night, it's undeniably clear that the Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective was more than a who's who of the entertainment industry: It was a flag-planting occasion that embodied the Recording Academy's ongoing work to celebrate and advance Black music and its creators and professionals across the industry.

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