Photo: Michael L. Rivera Avilés
EXCLUSIVE: Listen To Myke Towers Address Racism & Police Brutality On "MICHAEL X"
The Afro-Latino rapper expresses his thoughts and outlines his responsibility through his hip-hop track and visual inspired by Malcolm X
Myke Towers recognizes that silence is a problem.
"Soy parte del problema, si estos temas no los sacos," he raps in Spanish on "MICHAEL X." Translation: "I'm a part of the problem if I don't bring these issues up."
Towers, of course, is referring to the conversations stemmed from the police killing of George Floyd. As an Afro-Latino born in Puerto Rico who was deeply influenced by hip-hop culture and Black rappers like Jay-Z, who he named his son after, Towers, born Michael Torres, feels the need to support the struggle against police brutality and racism.
"For me, being a Latin artist who has been heavily influenced by Black culture, it is important to show my support and stand in solidarity with the African American community for what is right, what is humane," he told GRAMMY.com in a statement.
He expresses his thoughts and outlines what he feels is his responsibility as an artist with a platform on his track by channeling one of the most influential Black leaders in history. "MICHAEL X"'s powerful visual opens with Malcolm X's speech adressing police brutality in Los Angeles on May 20, 1962.
Dressed in a black-and-white suit, Towers evokes X (at one point standing in front of a podium like X does in his famous 1962 Los Angeles speech), letting go of his usual lifestyle lyrics and trap/reggaeton beat. Instead, he adopts a more serious tone over a traditional hip-hop sound that takes him back to his roots.
"I wrote this song to really get so much I had inside me, out. I needed to say what you hear. I needed the world to hear my point of view as an Afro-Latino," he said.
And so he does, using lyrics to reference slavery, immigration, 9/11, politics—from police brutality to Puerto Rico's controversial Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced—Black pop culture, including Wakanda, home of Black comic book hero Black Panther, and Kobe Bryant. In one verse, Towers also references Latin pop culture, using witty lyricism to reference fellow Puerto Rican rapper Rene Pérez Joglar, a.k.a Residente.
Beyond sharing his perspective, Towers uses "MICHAEL X" to uplift Black people and share his pride. "I like seeing how the beautiful faces of my Black people cheer up," he raps in a verse.
The powerful song began as just thoughts but quickly became something more. "At first, my intention was really penning down some thoughts and sentiments but then the lyrics just began flowing and before I knew it, it was a full song," he said. "I knew I had to record it. It was an intense and emotional moment you know?"
The rapper feels Floyd's death, who he mentions in the song, is a catalyst for change. "While unfortunate, the death George Floyd woke the world up. It is shaking its core," he said. "I feel in life everything is timed out and aligns how it is meant to be aligned, and us being in quarantine has really made us open our eyes."
Towers feels strongly about being a part of a generation that enacts change.
"The death of George Floyd has impacted the world very deeply," he said. "No man, woman or child should have to worry about being treated unjustly just because of the color of their skin. As a younger generation, it is our responsibility to TAKE part and BE part of the change."
Hear the full song above.
Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour
El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances
Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.
El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.
"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.
Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork.
Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist.
Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.
Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures Exhibit Will Showcase The Surf-Rock Icons' Impact On Pop Culture
The exhibit, opening Dec. 7, will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run" and more
Influential instrumental rock band The Ventures are getting their own exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles that will showcase the band's impact on pop culture since the release of their massive hit "Walk, Don't Run" 60 years ago.
The Rock Hall of Fame inductees and Billboard chart-toppers have become especially iconic in the surf-rock world, known for its reverb-loaded guitar sound, for songs like "Wipeout," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Walk, Don't Run." The Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures exhibit opening Dec. 7 will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run," a Fender Limited Edition Ventures Signature guitars, rare photos and other items from their career spanning six decades and 250 albums.
“It’s such an honor to have an exhibit dedicated to The Ventures at the GRAMMY Museum and be recognized for our impact on music history,” said Don Wilson, a founding member of the band, in a statement. "I like to think that, because we ‘Venturized’ the music we recorded and played, we made it instantly recognizable as being The Ventures. We continue to do that, even today."
Don Wilson, Gerry McGee, Bob Spalding, and Leon Taylor are current band members. On Jan. 9, Taylor's widow and former Fiona Taylor, Ventures associated musician Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and others will be in conversation with GRAMMY Museum Artistic Director Scott Goldman about the band's journey into becoming the most successful instrumental rock band in history at the Clive Davis Theater.
"The Ventures have inspired generations of musicians during their storied six-decade career, motivating many artists to follow in their footsteps and start their own projects," said Michael Sticka, GRAMMY Museum President. "As a music museum, we aim to shine a light on music education, and we applaud the Ventures for earning their honorary title of 'the band that launched a thousand bands.' Many thanks to the Ventures and their families for letting us feature items from this important era in music history."
The exhibit will run Dec. 7–Aug. 3, 2020 at the GRAMMY Museum.
Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images
Alicia Keys Unveils Dates For New Storytelling Series
The artist will take her upcoming 'More Myself: A Journey' biography on a four-city book tour
After performing her powerhouse piano medley at the 62nd Annual GRAMMYs, R&B superstar, GRAMMY-winning artist and former GRAMMY’s host Alicia Keys has revealed that she will set out on a four-stop book tour next month. The storytelling tour will support her forthcoming book More Myself: A Journey, which is slated for a March 31 release via Flatiron Books and is reported to feature stories and music from the book, told and performed by Alicia and her piano, according to a statement.
Part autobiography, part narrative documentary, Keys' title is dubbed in its description as an "intimate, revealing look at one artist’s journey from self-censorship to full expression." You can pre-order the title here.
The book tour will kick off with a March 31 Brooklyn stop at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. From there, Keys will visit Atlanta’s Symphony Hall on April 5 and Chicago’s Thalia Hall with Chicago Ideas the following day, April 6. The short-run will culminate on April 7 in Los Angeles at the Theatre at Ace Hotel.
Pre-sales for the tour are underway and public on-sale will begin on Friday, March 6 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. Tickets for the intimate dates and full release dates and times are available here.
Keys won her first five career awards at the 44th Annual GRAMMYs in 2002. On the night, she received awards in the Best New Artists, Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance categories respectively. She has received a total of 29 nominations and 15 GRAMMYs in her career.
This year, Keys will also embark on a world tour in support of Alicia, the artist’s upcoming seventh studio album and the follow up of 2016’s Here, due out March 20 via RCA Records.
Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images
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.