meta-scriptWomen In The Mix 2021 Recap: How Female Powerhouses Convened To Close The Wage Gap And Amplify Women's Voices Across The Music Industry | GRAMMY.com
HAIM | Women In The Mix

Haim attend Women In The Mix during GRAMMY Week 2021

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Women In The Mix 2021 Recap: How Female Powerhouses Convened To Close The Wage Gap And Amplify Women's Voices Across The Music Industry

Predicated on a platform of supporting and encouraging women in the music industry, the inaugural Women In The Mix event featured moderated panels, performances, high-profile guests and interviews by female leaders in multiple industries

GRAMMYs/Mar 10, 2021 - 08:12 am

What better way to kick off GRAMMY Week 2021 and International Women's Day than yesterday's inaugural Women In The Mix virtual celebration? The two-hour event, hosted by Rocsi Diaz, celebrated women's contributions to the music industry, seeking to amplify their voices. With moderated panels, performances, high-profile guests and interviews, Women In The Mix was informative and celebratory and exemplified the importance of women working with and supporting each other in the music industry.

Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, and Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer of the Recording Academy, introduced the program. Mason jr., who ran for his position "on a platform of change and understanding," said closing the gender gap in the music industry is a top priority for the Recording Academy. Butterfield Jones then announced the Recording Academy's $25,000 donation to charities and organizations that support women’s growth in production and engineering.

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Pumping up the festivities, classical pianist Chloe Flower, who blew everyone away in 2019 when she accompanied Cardi B at her GRAMMY performance that year, gave a stellar delivery of her song "No Limit." Seated at her mirrored piano adorned with vases of colorful flowers, Flower also appeared later in the program, with an exquisite performance of "Flower Through Concrete."

Chloe Flower performs at Women In The Mix during GRAMMY Week 2021 | Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Political activist and author Dr. Angela Davis introduced current GRAMMY-nominated jazz drummer Terry Lyne Carrington, founder of The Berklee Institute for Jazz and Gender Justice, whose motto is "Jazz Without Patriarchy." Carrington expressed gratitude to the Recording Academy for its donation and said she grew up with the desire to be a driving force behind the scenes to help young women reach their musical goals. With racial and gender justice comprising her initiative's guiding principles, Carrington said, "A cultural transformation is needed for the music itself to reach its potential."

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Multi-GRAMMY nominated artist and percussionist Sheila E. had a lively chat with GRAMMY-nominated rapper MC Lyte. Referencing the gender gap in music, Sheila E. said, "I think it's getting better, but I think it should be way better than it is now."

Current three-time GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter Ingrid Andress answered a series of questions about her career, revealing that her Best New Artist nomination is "pretty mindblowing to me because I definitely just started, and some of the people in that category are people I listen to all the time."

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Current GRAMMY-nominated Emily Lazar (mastering engineer and founder of The Lodge) was introduced by current multiple GRAMMY-nominated rock trio HAIM, with whom she's worked on three albums. Lazar discussed "We Are Moving The Needle," the non-profit organization she recently launched to elevate the number of female audio engineers and producers in the music industry. Lazar thanked the Recording Academy for its donation and said, "I'm excited to go beyond just talking about this gender disparity and actually effectuating some real measurable change."

Related: Listen: GRAMMY.com's Women's History Month Playlist Featuring The Nominees From The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show

Maureen Droney (Senior Managing Director, Recording Academy Producers and Engineers wing) led an informative panel comprised of Ebonie Smith (producer, engineer, singer-songwriter and founder of Gender Amplified), Piper Payne (mastering engineer) and EveAnna Manley (President of Manley Laboratories), each of whom passionately discussed their careers.

Elaine Welteroth and Saweetie attend Women In The Mix during GRAMMY Week 2021 | Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

New York Times best-selling author and journalist Elaine Welteroth interviewed rapper and songwriter Saweetie, who said her wishlist for 2021 consists of her desire to collaborate with both Missy Elliott and Rihanna.

Tina Tchen (Time's Up CEO and President) and former Chair of the Recording Academy's Task Force of Diversity and Inclusion expressed gratitude for the Recording Academy's donation to Time's Up, emphasizing the necessity of female engineers and producers in the studio. "It makes a difference who's in the booth, who's in charge of the atmosphere in the studio who will say no when there's unacceptable behavior that's exclusionary or bullying or belittling that happens," she said.

Lanre Gaba (Atlantic Records General Manager/SVP A&R) moderated a fascinating conversation with current three-time GRAMMY-nominated record producer and songwriting duo Nova Wav (Brittany "Chi" Coney and Denisia "Blue June" Andrews) and R&B singer/songwriter IV Jay.

Cyndi Lauper attends Women In The Mix during GRAMMY Week 2021 | Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The queen of girls who want to have fun, two-time GRAMMY-winner Cyndi Lauper talked about what it meant to win her Best New Artist GRAMMY in 1985. "Usually what they used to say that is if you won the best new artist, 'Oh my god, the second album was going to be a problem,' Looking back now, I think it was a blessing because my career spans forty years."

Read More: Cyndi Lauper Is Still The Feminist Pop Star We Need

Current GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Joanie Leeds closed out "Women in the Mix" performing a stunning acoustic rendition of her appropriately titled song "All The Ladies."

Here are five things we learned about making it in the music business as a woman.

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Don't Be Discouraged By Rejection

Sheila E.: "You're going to get a lot of nos, but no doesn't mean you can't do it or you're not able. Maybe this opportunity wasn't for you. However, it opens the door for something else that you probably didn't even imagine you were going to go that way… Don't be discouraged when a door shuts because sometimes that door may be shut as protection. Maybe you're not ready or prepared yet."

MC Lyte: "I'm a firm believer in [the idea that] if a door shuts or doesn't remain open it's just not for you. All it means is go back to home base and practice, rehearse, create, do all of the things you need to do to better your craft, and this way when that next door opens, you're ready… don't get discouraged."

Believe In And Stay True To Yourself

Ingrid Andress: "You need to be your biggest cheerleader. At the end of the day, if you don't believe in what you're doing, nobody else will… We, as women, are programmed to think we have to compare ourselves to one another. Don't do that. Just believe in what you do separate from what everybody else is doing. You have to be the one to show people that what you have to say matters...Keep after it and stay true to yourself."

Saweetie: "You shouldn't try to be like me. You should try to be like you. Hopefully, I can inspire you to be the best version of you because I know what it feels like to be a little girl wanting to be something else. It takes away the focus from the true prize which is yourself, so earn your strengths, perfect your weaknesses and be you because that's the only person you can be."

Self-Care Is Essential

Saweetie: "I really encourage the go-getters who want to be in music to really take care of their body and their health because if your body isn't working, your music's not working. I'm grateful to have time to recharge, breathe, and get my body right."

MC Lyte: "It's resting, it's water, it's working out, it's getting in touch with nature and taking walks for no good reason at all except I want my feet to hit the pavement, or walking in nature to be in the grass… It's understanding that there's more to life than just entertainment or more to life than just what it is that I do."

Sheila E.: "I'm so much older, so what I have to do for self-care is constant just to even maintain what I want to do. Right now, it is just drinking water, nature, taking the time to rest, really eating the right foods, and taking care of myself, so I can do what I love to do."

Read: Designing Women In The Mix: How Music Inspired The Artwork Behind The Debut GRAMMY Week 2021 Event

Don't Let Fear Stop You

Brittany "Chi" Coney: "When I used to be personally fearful, there's something I used to do. I used to go into the bathroom, and you hold up your hands and hold your head up high for two minutes and it raises testosterone levels by twenty percent."

IV Jay: "I started meditating and I did therapy and there's nothing wrong with that. I feel like a lot of women feel ashamed of getting help but I just think it's worth it. If you need it, you need it so I personally feel like that helped me grow. I feel a lot better now."

Lanre Gaba: "I always dealt with it by being as prepared as possible so there's not even a moment of 'I don't belong here' because I've done the work, I've put in the time, I've done my research."

It's A Blessing To Have Female Mentors and Inspiration

Ingrid Andress: "I am fortunate because I met Kara DioGuardi, an iconic songwriter when I was in college… Kara was the first woman I met who really encouraged me to get better at songwriting.  She was a huge inspiration. As a young songwriter, having women like that to look after each other is important because I don't think I would have had the courage or enthusiasm to try and get better at what I did if she hadn't been so encouraging to me."

The Recording Academy Partners With Berklee College Of Music And Arizona State University To Conduct Study On Women's Representation Across The Music Industry

Missy Elliott performs onstage during the Lovers & Friends music festival at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on May 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Missy Elliot

Photo: Aaron J. Thornton

interview

Celebrating Missy Elliott: How The Icon Changed The Sound, Look & Language Of Hip-Hop

In celebration of Missy Elliott's incredible legacy — and very first headlining tour, which kicks off July 4 — GRAMMY.com spoke with Missy's colleagues and collaborators for an insider’s view on what makes the four-time GRAMMY winner unique.

GRAMMYs/Jul 1, 2024 - 03:52 pm

We’re fortunate enough to be living in the middle of a Missy Elliott resurgence — not that she ever went away.

Three decades into her groundbreaking career, Missy is readying her very first headlining tour, which begins July 4 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Out of This World Tour runs through August and features her longtime collaborators Timbaland, Busta Rhymes, and Ciara.

The fact that it is her first headlining tour may be surprising, given that she’s been on the scene since debuting with the group Sista in the mid-1990s, and has been a chart-topping star since becoming a solo artist in 1997.

The hip-hop icon released her last full-length album, The Cookbook, nearly two decades ago but time hasn’t diminished her influence at all. In fact, we’re all still catching up to the futuristic vision that Missy and Timbaland introduced to the world in the late 1990s in their songs and videos.

Missy began her career as a member of Sista, which was a part of the Swing Mob, a musical collective working under Jodeci’s DeVanté Swing. That crew included a number of future world-changers, including Missy, Timbaland, Ginuwine, Tweet, Stevie J., and two legends who have since passed on, Magoo and Static Major. After Sista was dropped from their label, Missy, by all accounts, would have been perfectly happy to settle into a life as a songwriter and producer. But something bigger was beckoning. 

Persuaded by Elektra’s Sylvia Rhone with the promise of her own label, Missy agreed to turn in one album as a solo artist. That album, 1997’s Supa Dupa Fly, made Missy not just a star but an icon, and changed the course of her life. It began a career that, over a quarter-century later, found her inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame — she was the first female rapper ever to be nominated for the latter.

And that’s just the beginning of the accolades. There are the four GRAMMY wins and head-spinning 22 nominations. She was also honored alongside Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne (who has not been shy about calling Missy his favorite rapper), and the woman who gave Missy her first solo record deal, Sylvia Rhone, at 2023’s Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors event. Missy was also a key participant in the GRAMMYs tribute to a half-century of hip-hop that same year.

Throughout it all, Missy has remained humble. When speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2022, she reflected on how she and longtime collaborator Timbaland had no idea of their impact at the time.

"We really just came out with a sound that we had been doing for some time, but we had no clue that it would be game changing, that we would change the cadence — the sound of what was happening at that time," she said. "No clue!"

"Her whole existence is based on moving us and influencing us," says her longtime manager Mona Scott-Young. "She wants to be able to touch people."

And that she has. To celebrate the Missy-aissance, GRAMMY.com spoke with Missy's colleagues and collaborators for an insider’s view on the course of her career and what makes the four-time GRAMMY winner unique. 

The quotes and comments used in this feature were edited for clarity and brevity.

Missy’s Impact Began With Her First Guest Verse 

The first time many people took note of Missy Elliott was her verse on the 1996 remix of Gina Thompson’s "That Thing You Do."  

Gina Thompson (singer): I was in the process of completing my first album, Nobody Does It Better. Actually, it was complete. So what happened was, my A&R at the time, Bruce Carbone at Mercury Records, wanted to have Puffy do the remix.

Puffy was like, "We have this person that's really talented. Her name's Missy, and she used to be with the group Sista, and she's a phenomenal writer. She's working with a lot of other artists, she’s definitely the next big thing in the R&B/hip-hop world." We were like, cool.

I believe we actually heard it over the speaker phone in Bruce’s office. I know that I said that I loved it, and I felt her style was unique and different. It grew on me in a great way. I just felt like it was a smash. She definitely had added a great touch to it. I was super-excited about it.

Merlin Bobb (former Executive Vice President, Elektra Records): I was blown away by the simple fact that I knew she was a great songwriter. But when I heard her rhyming, I thought it was the most unique style that I had heard in some time.

Digital Black (former member of Playa, part of the Swing Mob): A lot of people only knew her as a writer or an R&B artist, but when she came on that Gina Thompson record with that rap, it changed everything. It allowed her to be even more herself.

Mona Scott-Young (manager): Oh my God, have you heard that song? It’s her ability to use expression and evoke emotion without even using words. She said, "He he he haw," and we all found a new way to bounce. There was something fun and magical and different that spoke to what we would come to know was this incredibly vivid imagination that would take us places sonically and visually that we didn’t even know we needed to be. 

Read more: 50 Artists Who Changed Rap: Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem & More 

She Changed The Sound Of Hip-Hop With Her Debut LP 

Missy’s first solo album, Supa Dupa Fly, came out the following year. It gave new energy to a hip-hop scene that was still reeling from the deaths of 2Pac and Biggie.

Anne Kristoff (former Vice President of PR, Elektra): She 100 percent did not want to be an artist. She's like, "I'm not an artist. I want to be Diane Warren. I'm going to write the songs. I'm going to be behind the scenes."

Merlin Bobb: I started talking to her regarding being an artist. She was totally against it. "No, I want to be a songwriter." And also, just to be honest, [Sista] had been dropped from Elektra prior to my conversations with her, so she wasn't too eager, I think, to jump back aboard.

It took about six or seven months of us discussing ways to do this. I spoke to Sylvia [Rhone, then-head of Elektra], and I said, "She's an incredible songwriter. Let's offer her a production deal or a label deal where she can not only just look at herself as an artist, but at the same time develop and nurture artists under her own banner." Sylvia thought it was a great idea. 

We both talked to Missy about it, and she said, "Okay, I'll do one album." I was ecstatic because she was writing some great songs, but she also gave us her first album, which was, needless to say, a classic.

Kathy Iandoli (author, "God Save the Queens: The Essential History of Women in Hip-Hop and Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah"): In God Save the Queens, I referred to her as the Andy Warhol of hip-hop, in the sense that she took the art and the cultural aspect of it, and she just put this spin and interpretation of the art that no one had ever really done prior.

With Missy’s arrival around ‘97, we were at a point in time where hip-hop was in a complete state of confusion. We did not know where it was going to go. Missy made high art hip-hop that was commercially accessible. And for that, she changed the entire game. 

Gina Thompson: When she had her first project with the whole vision — not only her sound, but her songwriting style, the look — everyone was like, "This girl went out on edge. I'm gonna do a little bit of the same thing and not be so worried if I don't sound so average, what people are going to think. Because she's out on the edge doing it." And I promise you, ever since she came out, that you started hearing a lot more of female rappers tweaking their voices.

Lenny Holmes (guitarist): In hip-hop, everybody would think that it's a whole bunch of computer generated stuff. Missy Elliott does not approach it like that. She loves live instrumentation, but she likes to take bits and pieces of it. She simplifies it, and it is placed uniquely in the track at certain points. That's what makes up the structure of the song.   

Mona Scott-Young: Everything from the way she looked to what she was talking about to the way she delivered that music and what she represented in terms of being nonconforming, not looking like the other female rappers of the day — I think all of those elements were the perfect lightning in a bottle. The way she rode that beat, both lyrically and with her delivery, was very, very different from everything else that we were hearing. 

Read more: Revisiting 'Supa Dupa Fly' At 25: Missy Elliott Is Still Inspired By Her Debut Record 

She Reinvented The Music Video 

You can’t think of Missy Elliott without picturing her iconic music videos, many done in collaboration with director Hype Williams. 

Brian Greenspoon (former International Publicist, Elektra): I mean, she came out of the gate wearing a garbage bag, and made it the coolest thing anyone had ever seen. 

Merlin Bobb: She said, if I put out this album — initially we were talking about a single deal, but we went into an album — there’s two things very important to me: the dance aspect and the visual aspect.

Kathy Iandoli: The thing that I really loved about Missy's music videos, she was a big budget music video person. She got the men's music video budget.

Anne Kristoff: When you think about the "Rain" video — I'm just guessing, I don't want to put words in her mouth — but I think when she saw that the vision in her head could become real out in the world, that anything she could think of could happen, that maybe it made it a little more fun for her to be an artist. I hope.

Digital Black: Missy is one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet. People maybe don't know. She loves joking. So that was just her being her. 

Gina Thompson: You started seeing a lot of people doing certain robotic-type images or moves in their videos to almost mimic her "Supa Dupa Fly." She’s the creator of that.

Earl Baskerville (manager/producer): Missy would get with the director, and she would sit there and go over the whole treatment. A lot of the visuals came from her. She was very hands on. Today, you can shoot a video in four or five hours. But Missy’s video shoots was so long, I used to hate it. We would be there fifteen hours for a three minute video!

She Was Avant-Garde But Still Pop 

Missy’s musical and visual style was like nothing anyone had ever seen. Yet she still became a star. How did she manage to be both innovative and accessible? 

Kathy Iandoli: You can't make something that the general public can't access, or speak over their heads.

Digital Black: Even if you said it sounded weird, it still had some soulfulness to it. I think that was what allowed her to touch so many different people. 

Merlin Bobb: When you have an artist that stands out, but it doesn't go over your head musically, artistically, lyrically, then it works. People, when they heard and experienced something new and fresh that was easy to digest, but it was unique, they gravitated to it. 

Brian Greenspoon: How was it sold to a mass audience? I mean, the sound was breakthrough. What Timbaland was doing with drum sounds, and the way they were building these very sparse rhythms and sound beds, they were breaking ground. But the thing that worked is that they had these incredible songs that Missy was writing and that she had these incredible featured artists on. 

Gina Thompson: To try to figure out what her brain is doing, I’ve been gave that up.

Earl Baskerville: Nobody could figure out what we were doing, because they couldn’t understand the sound.

Lenny Holmes: Her rhythmic style of how she would do the vocals was just unheard of. Like, doubling up accents. The things that she started doing — you would hear a deejay do a scratch on a record. You would not hear a singer do it. I was like, What in the world?

Anne Kristoff: She was doing these really creative things that no one else was doing visually. And the sound was different than whatever everyone else was doing. So it wasn't a hard sell for the press.

She Was A Master At Working With Other Artists 

Missy was far more than just a solo star. All throughout her career, she continued her first love: writing and producing for other artists — including Ciara, Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, and Whitney Houston. 

Lenny Holmes: Missy had a great relationship with singers and rappers, because she could do both. A lot of people don’t know, but Missy can sing. So when we worked with groups that had singing parts on them, a lot of times she would go ahead and lay down the guide track for the actual artist to sing.

Kathy Iandoli: Missy just really understood the artists that she worked with. She saw their strengths, and she helped them utilize them to the best of their capabilities. 

Angelique Miles (former music publishing executive): She was able to relate to the artist and express that artist. She was able to customize and express that artist's story. Whatever she wrote for 702 didn’t sound like what she wrote for Whitney Houston. 

Digital Black: She was good at listening to the artist, seeing what they do, and then, how can you enhance what they do well? Those are the best records. She was great at tailor-making records for people, just from her doing her due diligence on learning who the artist is. Not just going in, "I’m Missy, I can write whatever." I'm gonna write something specifically for you that enhances what you’ve already done.

Merlin Bobb: She would have made an incredible A&R person. I would have hired her back then. She was able to come up with lyrics and melodies and songs and chords and production that to me stood out. She worked with both male and female artists. She really knew how to get an artist not only to sing a great song, but to sing very uniquely and in their own way, because she was a great vocal production coach.

Mona Scott-Young: She's always listening beyond what we hear. Even if there's a song an artist has [that she’s not involved with], she'll say, "Yeah, I would have done this thing differently with this artist. Because if you listen to what she did on this one part of the song, you can hear that there's more range there. But for some reason they didn't push her to go there." That to me is just one of the things that makes her such a great producer and star finder, because she always is looking for what more they can do and how they can challenge themselves to be better.

Earl Baskerville: She had signed an artist that I used to manage named Mocha. And she told Mocha to go in there and just rap. I think Mocha might have did 30-something bars, 60 bars. know. Missy listened to all of the stuff she did, took it, and dissected it. She went in there and took eight bars, not from the beginning of the track — I don’t know where she found it, in the middle or something — and put it on the Nicole Wray record "Make It Hot." When Mocha comes in, that’s actually the middle of the verse somewhere! That was crazy to me.  

Her First Love Was Always Songwriting 

Through it all, Missy’s strength remained (and remains) her songwriting. But what makes her songs stand out, and stand the test of time? 

Earl Baskerville: Missy didn’t want to be an artist. She just wanted to be a songwriter. 

Merlin Bobb: Her songwriting was very soulful, but it also had great melodic edge to it. They’re very realistic lyrics to a young scene that was happening in R&B and hip-hop at the time. So it was somewhat of a fusion of R&B and hip-hop lyrically, and she just had a very strong sense of melody and great hook lines.

Mona Scott-Young: She wasn't talking about the same thing that we were hearing from a lot of the other females in the genre at the time — overt sexuality and material possessions and that kind of stuff. She was engaging, having a good time lyrically, and holding her own with her male counterparts. 

She was giving us music that was great, and it didn't matter that it was coming from a female. She was kind of this androgynous being that was delivering great music. You listen to the song, you just want to party.

Read more: Missy Elliott Makes History As First Female Rapper Nominated For Songwriters Hall Of Fame 

She Changed The Artists Who Came After Her 

As with all major innovations, it didn’t take long after Missy broke big for her influence to be felt. 

Kathy Iandoli: The special relationship between Aaliyah, Missy, and Timbaland was the fact that together they all created a new sound that would set the standard of hip-hop and what we now define as alt-R&B. They invented a new subgenre. It was something that Missy was able to continue along and then create a sound on her own terms. 

Gina Thompson: Many people were trying to emulate her whole different style.

Lenny Holmes: [Were people copying her?] Most definitely. But there's only one Missy. And I got to say, there’s only one Timbaland too. You hear that trademark voice or the trademark lick, and you just know that's them. 

Brian Greenspoon: I think she influenced just about everybody that came after her. The sound of hip-hop changed after her and Timbaland dropped that music. The way the people produced their drum sounds and their beats, the use of hi hats, it all changed based on Missy and Timbaland.

Merlin Bobb: Most hip-hop/R&B collaborations at that time were hip-hop records with vocal hooks from R&B artists. She kind of flipped it, where she worked from the R&B side and made the vocals and the production more hip-hop friendly.

Mona Scott-Young: Her whole existence is based on moving us and influencing us. She wants to be able to touch people. So when we see artists who you can hear or see the influence, then you know that she's done her job.

There's so many artists — Flyana Boss, a little bit Cardi, a little bit Nicki. They all, I think, have been influenced by Missy, her look, her sound, in one way, shape or form. And that is the greatest compliment, to inspire a generation and see them take what you've done to another level. But then she's constantly also evolving and keeping everyone on their toes.

Learn more: 8 Ways Aaliyah Empowered A Generation Of Female R&B Stars

Considering Missy And Her Legacy 

Everyone interviewed for this piece had so much love for Missy. Here’s a small sample.

Brian Greenspoon: Missy is one of the most professional, talented, creative artists I've ever had the luck to work with. I'm happy to see that she is being recognized for being the icon that we all saw that she was becoming back then. 

Lenny Holmes: Even today, in whatever we're doing, we use what we've learned from Missy Elliott. It’s mixed in whatever we do. It’s amazing what she has done for herself, but she has definitely helped people along the way, and we will forever be grateful to her.

Digital Black: She's a one-of-one, God-given talent. She earned every award, every accolade, accomplishment. Her work ethic was phenomenal, and nothing was given. Big sis earned everything, and I just want to say I love her, and it's been a pleasure and an honor to be a part of her career.

Kathy Iandoli: There’s so much of the art that we have right now that we have to thank her for.

Mona Scott-Young: This has been an incredible journey. I always talk about being incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to play a role when you have somebody like her who has touched so many people globally and whose music and entire presence hold this special place in fans’ hearts. 

Every day it's just about, how do we continue to push forth, break boundaries, challenge ourselves to do things bigger and better than we did it the last go round.  

Explore The Artists Who Changed Hip-Hop

LISA from BLACKPINK

Photo: The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From LISA From Blackpink, Lil Nas X, Kelsea Ballerini, MC Lyte & More

Hot summer days require even hotter tunes. Here are some fresh-out-the-oven songs and albums by Hiatus Kaiyote, Lucky Daye, Headie One, Kaitlin Butts, and more.

GRAMMYs/Jun 28, 2024 - 05:09 pm

We’ve been feeling the heat for a minute now, but summer is finally, officially, upon us.

What do you have on deck to soundtrack it? Perhaps you’re checking out Camila Cabello’s fourth offering, C,XOXO. Or Jxdn’s expectations-bucking new album, When the Music Stops. And there are so many other worthy candidates for your playlist — from Lupe Fiasco’s Samurai to Omar Apollo’s God Said No.

No matter where your stylistic compass points, this Friday release day has got something for you. As you gather your sunscreen and shades, let’s breeze through a cross-section of what’s out there.

LISA — "Rockstar"

K-pop loves its solo releases, showcasing how the various members of a group can shine individually while combining with ecstatic chemistry. Enter LISA, one-fourth of Korean titans BLACKPINK, who's already turned heads with her 2021 debut album, Lalisa.

"Rockstar" is another swing outside her main gig, featuring serrated chiptune production and LISA's commanding rap flow. The gritty, urban, futuristic video is a visual treat, and the chorus's boast of "Lisa, can you teach me Japanese?" is a multilingual flex — as well as a maddeningly unshakeable earworm.

Kelsea Ballerini & Noah Kahan — "Cowboys Cry Too"

The "Peter Pan" heavyweight and four-time GRAMMY nominee Kelsea Ballerini has called 2024 "a new chapter of music." Her collaboration with folk/pop singer/songwriter Noah Kahan, "Cowboys Cry Too,"  is the tip of the spear.

More than a month after the pair performed together at the 2024 Academy of Country Music Awards, their first recorded team-up is an aching, yearning ballad about breaking down a gruff exterior and revealing true emotions.

"Cowboys cry too/ They may not let 'em fall down in their hometown thinkin' they still got s*** to prove," Ballerini sings in the chorus. "That well runs deep/ But when he's showin' his skin, lettin' mе in, that's when he's toughest to mе."

Lil Nas X — "Here We Go!" (from the Netflix film 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F')

"So excited to release the best song of all time this friday!," Lil Nas X proclaimed on Instagram. (And on a Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, no less!)

"Here We Go!" comes at an inflection point for the "J Christ" singer: "sorry I've been so scared with my art lately," he added in the same post. "I'm coming around to myself again. I will make you guys very proud."

This pro forma banger certainly inspires pride: tenacious lines like "I'm livin' and livin' I wanna die/ They tryna get even/ I'm beatin' the odds" will get under your skin. As for Beverly Hill Cop: Axel F, the Eddie Murphy joint will whiz to your screen July 3 via Netflix.

Lucky Daye — 'Algorithm'

Lucky Daye picked up a win for Best Progressive Album at the 2022 GRAMMYs, for Table for Two. After a slew of nominations for work with Beyoncé and Mary J. Blige, he's investigating the Algorithm.

The single "HERicane" was just a teaser, with songs like "Blame," featuring Teddy Swims; "Paralyzed," featuring RAYE;" and "Diamonds in Teal" expanding on and honing his soul-funk-R&B vision.

"Don't know pickin' sides/ 'Cause I'm rollin' in desire," he dreamily sings in the gently roiling "Diamonds in Teal." "I don't know which lie's true/ Or maybe I do, or maybe I'm you." It's a suitable mission statement wrapped in a stealthily seductive package.

Hiatus Kaiyote — 'Love Heart Cheat Code'

A jazzy, soulful, psychedelic band of Aussies, Hiatus Kaiyote has been wowing audiences for more than a decade. Whether through sampling or features, they've crossed paths with Drake, Anderson .Paak, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Love Heart Cheat Code builds brilliantly on their last three albums: their 2012 debut Tawk Tomahawk, 2015's Choose Your Weapon, and 2021's Mood Valiant. Tracks like "Telescope," "Everything's Beautiful," and "Make Friends" are burbling brooks of atmosphere, groove and vibe.

Boulevards — 'Carolina Funk: Barn Burner on Tobacco Road'

Any fans of deep, pungent funk grooves should investigate Boulevards immediately. The project of mastermind Jamil Rashad, their new album Carolina Funk: Barn Burner on Tobacco Road tips its hat to yesterday's funk with a contemporary twist, bringing a refreshing spin on the well-trod template of syncopated basslines and stabbing horns.

Across highlights like "Do It Like a Maniac Part 1&2" and "Run & Move," Boulevards shows — once again — that few can nail this gritty sound quite like Rashad and crew.

Headie One — 'The Last One'

British drill-inflected MC Headie One first made a splash overseas with his 2023 debut album, Strength to Strength. Less than a year later, he's returning with The Last One.

Back in 2022, he hinted at the existence of his sophomore album in his non-album track "50s" — "The fans calling for 'Martin's Sofa'/ It might be the first single from my second," he rapped. 

Helmed by that single, The Last One features Potter Payper, Stormzy, Fridayy, Skrillex, and more. The album is a leap forward in terms of production, scale and exploration.

Katlin Butts — 'Roadrunner!'

Any theater kid worth their salt knows at least a few bars from the musical "Oklahoma!"; country sensation Kaitlyn Butts has just unfolded it into an entire album.

"It's a love story but there's also a murder and a little bit of an acid-trippy feel to it at times; it's set in the same place where I come from," she said in a statement, noting she saw "Oklahoma!" with her parents every summer during childhood. "Once I got the idea for this album," she continued, "I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before, and it turned into something that completely encompasses who I am and what I love." 

A laugh riot as well as a colorful, openhearted statement, Roadrunner! does the old Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut good.

Read more: 5 Female Artists Creating The Future Of Country Music: Jaime Wyatt, Miko Marks & More

Amaarae — 'roses are red, tears are blue — Fountain Baby Extended Play'

Futurist Afropopper Amaarae made a gigantic splash with her second album, 2023's Fountain Baby — even Pitchfork gave it their coveted Best New Music designation.

That lush, enveloping album just got an expansion pack: roses are red, tears are blue — A Fountain Baby Extended Play is a continuation of its predecessor with six new songs. The oceanic "wanted," featuring Naomi Sharon, is a highlight, as is a remix of "Disguise" with 6LACK.

"Ooh, I'll be wanted/ I've been wanted," a pitch-shifted Sharon sings near the end, as if turning over the phrase. "Wanted" is one way to describe Amaraae's position in the music landscape.

Learn more: Meet The Latest Wave Of Rising Afrobeats Stars: AMAARAE, BNXN, Oladapo & More

MC Lyte — "King King" (feat. Queen Latifah)

The 50th anniversary of hip-hop may have come and gone, but hip-hop is forever. Today, legendary hip-hop pioneers MC Lyte and Queen Latifah continue to bear the flame of the genre as an elevating force with "King King," a conscious, uplifting offering.

"This is dedicated to all the kings and all the soon to be kings/ We're counting on you/ We love  you/ This is for you, you and you and you," MC Lyte begins, while Latifah holds it down on the chorus with "This your crown hold it/ Even if it all falls down show it/ You know the world is watching now I know you get tired from keepin' it all together/ We need you."

During Women's History Month in March, MC Lyte released "Woman," the first single from her upcoming album, featuring hip-hop icons Salt (of Salt 'N Pepa), Big Daddy Kane, and R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn. MC Lyte's first new album in nearly a decade drops this summer; keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Learn more: 9 Teen Girls Who Built Hip-Hop: Roxanne Shante, J.J. Fadd, Angie Martinez & More

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Peso Plum press photo
Peso Pluma

Photo: Arenovski

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Peso Pluma's Road To 'ÉXODO': The GRAMMY Winner Navigates The Consequences Of Global Stardom On New Album

"Fans really get to see the other side of the coin; there are two sides to me. It's darker, rawer," Peso Pluma says of his latest album 'ÉXODO'

GRAMMYs/Jun 21, 2024 - 01:13 pm

Peso Pluma marked his musical destiny with a Tupac tribute tattoo in the center of his clavicle: "All Eyez On Me." 

The Mexican artist, born Hassan Emilio Kabande Laija, doesn't remember exactly what year he inked his chest. He knows it was well before his debut in music. Those four words reflected Peso's irrefutable confidence that the world's eyes would eventually be on him. 

The world's eyes are indeed on Peso Pluma. In less than two years, the singer achieved global fame by singing corridos tumbados, traversing a path never before trodden by a música Mexicana artist. 

At 25, Peso Pluma is at the forefront of a new generation of música Mexicana artists that have successfully modernized traditional Mexican rhythms, such as corridos, by infusing them with elements from urban music and a hip-hop aesthetic. The weight of representing an entire genre and a country could be great for some. But pressure doesn't affect Peso Pluma; on the contrary, it motivates him to keep working to exalt his roots. 

"We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. And that doesn't mean we have to slow down; it doesn't mean everything is over. This is the beginning of everything," Peso Pluma said in a TikTok video before a performance at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, Canada, a little over a year ago. 

Out June 20, Peso's extensive new album ÉXODO seeks to cement his global star status further. Over 24 tracks, the singer continues to explore corridos tumbados and digs into his urban side via much-awaited collaborations with reggaeton and hip-hop icons. Among those big names is Peso's teenage idol, the American rapper and producer Quavo, as well as further afield collaborations with Cardi B.  

"ÉXODO is a project I've been working on for over a year before we even won the GRAMMY. GÉNESIS was an incredibly special project, and I knew we couldn't make the same diamond twice," the singer tells GRAMMY.com in a written interview. 

Peso Pluma's path to the global stage has been lightning-fast. While he started releasing songs in 2020, Peso will remember March 2023 as the month that propelled him into global mega-stardom. His collaboration with Eslabón Armado on "Ella Baila Sola" led him to become a household name outside his native Mexico.  

The hit resonated with an audience eager for new sounds, accompanying social media videos and surpassing a billion streams on Spotify. "Ella Baila Sola" became the first Mexican music track to top the platform's global chart. On Billboard, it conquered No. 1 on the magazine's Global 200 chart for six weeks and reached the coveted No. 4 spot on the Hot 100 chart. The mega-hit took Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado to make their Latin GRAMMY stage debut in November with an electrifying performance.  

Another collaboration, "La Bebe (Remix)" with Mexican reggaeton artist Yng Lvcas, released a day after "Ella Baila Sola," also contributed to Peso Pluma's virality in a completely different genre, but one in which he feels comfortable: urban music. 

Learn more: Peso Pluma's 10 Biggest Collabs: From "Bzrp Sessions" To "Ella Baila Sola" &"Igual Que Un Ángel" 

As Peso Pluma gained traction with a global audience, his February 2022 single with Raúl Vega, put him, for better or worse, on the map in Mexico. The warlike content of "El Belicón" lyrics and video clip attracted attention for the way it allegedly promoted narcoculture. 

Despite growing criticism, Peso Pluma remained tight-lipped regarding references to high-profile members of the Mexican drug trade, as well as drug use and trafficking. In a rare admission to GQ magazine, the singer explained this is a "delicate subject to talk about, but you have to touch on it with transparency — because it's the reality of things." 

"In hip-hop, in rap, just like in corridos, and other urban music like reggaeton, it talks about reality. We're not promoting delinquency at all. We're only talking about things that happen in real life," the singer explained.

With the success of "El Belicón" and "Ella Baila Sola" under his belt, Peso Pluma released GÉNESIS in June 2023. Despite being his third album, Peso considers it his true debut in music. 

"I didn't want to delete my previous albums [Efectos Secundario and Ah Y Que?] because they represent my beginnings," Peso told Billboard in a cover story published a few weeks after the release of GÉNESIS. In the same conversation, the singer said he saw himself winning his first GRAMMY and breaking more records. 

Read more: 5 Takeaways From Peso Pluma's New Album 'GÉNESIS' 

In February 2024, Peso Pluma did just that. He took home the golden gramophone for Best Música Mexicana Album (Including Tejano) his first GRAMMY Award. This victory didn't weigh on him as he approached his next production. "It pushed me to want to create something different that the fans haven't heard from me before," Peso Pluma tells GRAMMY.com. 

While GÉNESIS and ÉXODO may differ in substance, they share similarities beyond music. That both records pull from the Bible for their names is not a random occurrence; the opening book of the Hebrew and Christian Bible delves into the genesis of creation, while the Book of Exodus explores the themes of liberation, redemption, and Moses' role in leading the Israelites through the uncharted waters of the Red Sea. 

"ÉXODO is the continuation of GÉNESIS, which was the beginning," Peso Pluma explains to GRAMMY.com. "ÉXODO means new beginnings, a new era for me. We are preparing for the next chapter, and that's what we are doing for Mexican music, paving the way, laying the groundwork for what's next because it doesn't stop here."  

His "sophomore" album is divided into two discs: the first is corridos, and the second is urban. It also continues the line of collaborations, with twenty tracks where Peso Pluma shares the limelight. 

"Some of my fans were craving música Mexicana, and some were craving urbano, and I wanted to give them everything while still staying true to myself and choosing songs and lyrics that spoke to me," he continues.  

ÉXODO's disc one starts with "LA DURANGO," the album's fourth single, featuring Eslabon Armando and Junior H. In the record, he also invites collaborators such as Natanael Cano and Gabito Ballesteros for "VINO TINTO" and Mexican rising star Ivan Cornejo on the melancholic "RELOJ," among others. 

For Side B, Peso enlisted heavyweights from the urban genre in the Anglo and Latin markets: Anitta in the steamy "BELLAKEO," Rich The Kid in the bilingual "GIMME A SECOND," and Quavo in the existential trap "PA NO PENSAR." Cardi B, Arcángel, Ryan Castro, Kenia OS, and DJ Snake complete ÉXODO's genre crossover. 

In ÉXODO, luxury, drugs, alcohol, and women continue to take center stage in the lyrics, accompanied by fast-paced guitar-driven melodies and reverb-dense vocals. However, the production sheds light on the vulnerable side of Peso and explores the unexpected consequences of becoming globally famous. 

"Fans really get to see the other side of the coin; there are two sides to me. It's darker, rawer," Peso says about the record. 

In the songs "HOLLYWOOD" and "LA PATRULLA," for example, Peso details how this musical path keeps him up at night, as well as his aspirations, and how he remains the same despite his success. 

Perhaps one of the deepest and rawest songs on the album is "14:14," a track inspired by the Bible verse 14:14 from the Book of Exodus, which, the singer explains, was fundamental amidst the turbulence he faced on the way to global stardom. 

"[The] verse 14:14 says 'The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.' This verse couldn't be truer," Peso Pluma says. "Over time, I learned to really trust in this and believe that some things are not up to me and I should trust the process."  

In the song — one of the few on the album without a collaboration — Peso references the challenges of his profession and how his faith has kept him afloat amid the vicissitudes. "Things from the job that no one understands/I hide the rosary under my shirt so I don't poison myself, so I don't feel guilty/because whatever happens, the Boss will forgive me," he sings.

In "BRUCE WAYNE," Peso Pluma croons about the passionate feelings his career arouses: "First they love you, and then they hate you/wishing the worst, envy and death," the song says. 

The singer resorts to comparing himself to a superhero figure again. In an unusual twist, Peso crosses comic universes, moving from his now traditional reference to Spider-Man to one from the DC Comics world: Bruce Wayne, Batman's secret identity. A wealthy man, part of Gotham's high society, Bruce Wayne is known for transforming his darkness into power while remaining reserved and isolated.  

"Everyone has two sides of them, even me," Peso tells GRAMMY.com. "Peso Pluma on stage is a high-energy person, someone who is powerful and dominates a show and isn't afraid of anything. And then there is Hassan, who's chill and more relaxed and who deals with all the realities of life." 

During the year and a half it took him to complete ÉXODO, Peso Pluma had to deal with the diverse nuances of a global star's life, including a widely publicized breakup from Argentine rapper/singer Nicki Nicole, the cancellation of one of his shows in October 2023 after a Mexico drug cartel issued a death threat against him, and a media frenzy over his alleged admission to a rehabilitation clinic, the latest a rumor he laid to rest during a March interview with Rolling Stone for his Future of Music cover story. 

"The reality is, all these days, I've been in the studio working on ÉXODO," the artist explained to Rolling Stone. 

Most of 2023 was a successful balancing act for Peso Pluma, who combined touring, an album release, rare media engagements, two Coachella appearances, all the while developing another record. According to the singer, ÉXODO was created in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Mexico. "We go to the studio everywhere!" Peso says. "It doesn't really matter where we are; I love to get into the studio and work when we have free time." 

Like GÉNESIS, ÉXODO will be released via Peso Pluma's Double P Records, of which he is the CEO and A&R. Much of the talent the Mexican singer has signed to his label took part in the album's production, and songwriting process. 

"For the Mexican music side, I had the whole [touring] band with me; I like to have them involved in the process so that we can all give our input on how it sounds, discuss what we think needs to be changed, create new ideas," he explains. 

Peso Pluma knows that echoing the success of 2023 is no easy task. He was the most streamed artist in the U.S. on YouTube, surpassing Taylor Swift and Bad Bunny, and was the second most-listened to Latin artist in the country, amassing an impressive 1.9 billion streams, according to Luminate. 

Música Mexicana emerged as one of the most successful genres in 2023, witnessing a remarkable 60 percent surge in streaming numbers, adds Luminate's annual report, crediting Peso Pluma along Eslabon Armado, Junior H, and Fuerza Regida as part of this success. 

Collaborations on and off the mic have undoubtedly played a significant role in the rise of Música Mexicana on the global stage. Peso knows that the key to continuing onward is teaming up with renowned artists inside and outside his genre. 

"All of us coming together is what pushed música Mexicana to go global," the singer affirms. "We showed the world what Mexico has to offer, and now no one can deny the power and talent we have in our country."  

Shakira's Road To 'Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran': How Overcoming A Breakup Opened A New Chapter In Her Artistry 

Zayn
Zayn Malik attends the Valentino Menswear Fall/Winter 2024-2025 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 20, 2024 in Paris, France

Photo: Marc Piasecki/WireImage via Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To Songs & Albums From Zayn, The Avett Brothers, Bebe Rexha & More

As Billie Eilish fans rejoice over the release of her latest album, they're not the only fandom jamming new tunes on May 17. Check out new music from Maria Becerra, Saweetie, Galantis, and more.

GRAMMYs/May 17, 2024 - 04:12 pm

As music fans know, Friday is the official weekday of new releases — but this week began with a bang.

On Monday, May 13, Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, released Atavista, a "finished" version of his 2020 album, 3.15.20. Back then, he released a nascent version of said album on his website, before pulling it down and uploading it to streaming services the following week, with guest appearances by Ariana Grande, 21 Savage and more.

Happily, the finished product retains those inspired guest appearances, over polished and honed versions of the original tunes. With the release of Atavista, Glover released a music video for "Little Foot Big Foot," featuring Young Nudy. He also promised special vinyl with visuals for each song, as well as an all-new Childish Gambino album due this summer.

And before Friday even hit, two country superstars also delivered exciting new tracks. Also on May 13, Lainey Wilson unleashed "Hang Tight Honey," the first single from her forthcoming third album, Whirlwind, out August 23. Three days later, Luke Combs released "Ain't No Love In Oklahoma," the lead track from TWISTERS: THE ALBUM. (Arriving July 19, the soundtrack will feature a number of other country greats, from Miranda Lambert to Shania Twain to Jelly Roll.) 

Today, there are plenty of other musical delicacies to savor. One of the most prominent is Billie Eilish's hotly anticipated third album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT. Also, Puerto Rican rap star Álvaro Díaz's SAYONARA; American singer/songwriter Sasha Alex Sloan's Me Again; and 1D star Zayn's ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS have been unveiled. Even renowned actress Kate Hudson has also joined the musical ranks, releasing her debut album, Glorious.

Veterans, too, are stepping out with fresh offerings. Psych-tinged retro rockers Cage the Elephant are back with their first album in five years, Neon Pill. Slash released Orgy of the Damned, an album of mostly blues covers featuring guests from Gary Clark Jr. to Iggy Pop to Demi Lovato. On the opposite side of the coin, boy band pioneers New Kids on the Block return with Still Kids, their first album in 11 years, featuring guests DJ Jazzy Jeff and Taylor Dayne.

Still, that doesn't even begin to cover the trove of new songs delivered on May 17. Omar Apollo, Peggy Gou and HARDY released tracks from upcoming albums, and Russ (feat. 6LACK), Charlotte Cardin and T-Pain released inspired singles. What other treasures have this Friday wrought? Check the below list for albums and tunes to add to your weekend playlist!

The Avett Brothers — The Avett Brothers

With their previous album, back in 2019, Americana favorites the Avett Brothers declared they were Closer Than Together. Now, they're back with a self-titled album, and a return to their original label, Ramseur Records.

But that's just one way they're circling back to their roots; the Rick Rubin-produced The Avett Brothers returns to burning-rubber vocals; sturdy, folkloric melodies; and lovelorn lyrics. If those are your bag, don't miss tracks like "Love of a Girl," "Orion's Belt" and "Same Broken Bones."

Bebe Rexha, "Chase It (Mmm Da Da Da)"

Bebe Rexha's last album was 2023's Bebe, but this phenom of a pop singer/songwriter is already back with new music. Get warmed up for the impending summer sun with "Chase It (Mmm Da Da Da)," complete with a rip-roaring video.

The four-time GRAMMY nominee debuted her latest banger in the desert sands of Coachella 2024; if you're ready for the swooping, thumping official version, chase it down today. 

Meaningfully, "Chase It (Mmm Da Da Da)" marks Rexha's first solo dance track after numerous collaborations with electronic acts; she even earned back-to-back GRAMMY nods in 2023 and 2024 for jams concocted with David Guetta, and her only other release of 2024 so far was a collab with Brazilian DJ Alok.

Galantis, Rx

We haven't gotten a new album from the beloved Swedish EDM duo Galantis in a hot minute; that just changed. Though they has released two albums since 2015's Pharmacy — 2017's The Aviary and 2020's Church — Galantis' latest album is a direct successor to their game-changing debut. Behold, the aptly titled Rx.

Running the gamut from ethereal textures to electrifying, pulsing rhythms, Rx directly reckons with Galantis's now-sole member Christian Karlsson's ADHD, and how medication was a game-changer in his life and work.

"Pharmacy was when I knew I was neurodivergent and I knew the studio was like a pharmacy for me," Karlsson stated in a press release. "I was the patient. Rx is when I found medication. For me, it was key, but of course, everyone walks their own path."

Saweetie — "NANi"

Before Saweetie officially released "NANi," she had been teasing the track all week long. On May 11, at the 2024 Gold Gala, an annual gathering of top Asian Pacific and multicultural leaders, the rapper (who has Filipino and Chinese roots) told Billboard, "NANi' is that girl. 'NANi' is main character energy." And on Instagram, as part of the cover art reveal for the single, she declared, "We gon' fkkk up the Summer."

She certainly will. The poolside-partying, Smirnoff-plugging video lives up to a YouTube commenter's adroit description: "It's giving Barbie and Bratz royalty!" Will it be part of Pretty Bitch Music, the album she's been teasing (and honing) for years? Time will tell.

Warren Zeiders — "Betrayal"

Warren Zeiders staked his claim with his 2021 debut single, "Ride the Lightning"; now, he's got a stormcloud overhead. The uber-moody "Betrayal" makes no bones about its subject: "This isn't how I pictured you and I/ Smile in my face while you twist the knife/ Shame on me if you fool me twice/ You fooled me twice."

As unremittingly bleak as the lyrics are, though, the budding country star's melody lets the light in. What an alchemy: the more Zeiders bemoans being chapfallen and frustrated, the lap steel-laced music evermore swoops and sparkles.

María Becerra — "IMAN (Two of Us)"

Once a YouTuber, and now an urbano sensation, bubbly Argentine singer María Becerra is back with a four-on-the-floor stomper. The somewhat Dua Lipa-tinted "IMAN (Two of Us)" is a delight, as is its candy-coated video, where Becerra cavorts and romances through a surreal art exhibit.

Her new album, MB3*, is expected sometime in 2024; it should also include tunes like "Slow it Down," "Do You (feat. 24kGoldn)" and "Agora." Let the earworm "IMAN" slake your thirst in the meantime.

Zayn — ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS

Boy band acolytes will always long for the return of One Direction, who have been on hiatus since 2016. But in the meantime, their solo work just keeps getting sweeter. Following a three-year intermission, Zayn released ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS; for him, this music cuts to the quick of who he is.

"I think the intention behind this album fully is ​​for the listener to get more insight on me personally as a human being," Zayn explained in an Instagram post. "My ambitions, my fears, and for them to have a connection with that and that's why it's so raw. It's just me."

Taking six years to get right, and marking a return to Mercury Records, ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS is an unmistakable sonic and thematic evolution for the One Direction star. As with the other selections on this list, it's right on time for spring — let the songs of the season help you flourish, too.

New Music Friday: Listen To Songs From Megan Thee Stallion, Camila Cabello & Lil Nas X, BTS' RM & More