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A Guide To Texas Hip-Hop: Definitive Releases, Artists & Events
Megan Thee Stallion performs in Houston

Photo: Derek White/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery Sports

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A Guide To Texas Hip-Hop: Definitive Releases, Artists & Events

From chopped & screwed to Megan Thee Stallion, Texas has grown from producing local rap celebrities to a state that superstars call home. Read on for a guide to the origins, trailblazers and ever-evolving styles that characterize Texas hip-hop.

GRAMMYs/Aug 24, 2023 - 03:59 pm

A large percentage of the globalization of hip-hop can be traced back to Texas. Nestled between the influential hubs of Los Angeles and New York, Texas has grown from being a state that produces local rap celebrities to one that superstars call home. 

Multiple cities within Texas’ borders have consistently churned out stars over the past few years, making it a unique and crucial player in making hip-hop mainstream. At its core, cities like Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are benefactors of a diverse cultural amalgamation. The rap communities that are prevalent today stand proudly on the work of those who came before. 

Yet one will never experience the same culture twice in any of Texas' cities. Our journey will take us deep into the innovative sounds and attitudes of Houston artists and music entrepreneurs. We'll shine a spotlight on the noteworthy talent that has emerged from Dallas and San Antonio since the early 2000s. Finally, we’ll take a tour of Austin, where the vibrant live music scene acts as a focal point for both local and regional accomplishments.

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, it is only fitting to embark on an exploration of the impact that Texas’ rap scene has made over decades. Walk with us as we delve into its origins, celebrate the trailblazing figures who have contributed to its rise, and immerse ourselves in the ever-evolving themes and styles that have characterized this thriving musical movement.

Listen to the Spotify playlist below or visit Amazon Music, Pandora and Apple Music for an auditory accompaniment to this guide to the best of the Lonestar State.

A Brief History Of Texas Hip-Hop

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Houston was a hotbed for hip-hop talent with artists like Scarface, UGK (Underground Kingz), and Geto Boys gaining local and regional prominence. Their gritty and unapologetic lyrics delved into the harsh realities of life in urban Texas that resonated with audiences far beyond the state's borders.

Most aspiring artists in Houston faced a challenging landscape, though. Deprived of the advantages enjoyed by their counterparts in major music industry hubs like Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York, Texas’ hip-hop community was forced to take on a DIY ethos. Artists, label execs and managers took control of their own promotion, production, and distribution. Labels like James Prince's Rap-A-Lot Records, and OG Ron C and Michael “5000” Watts’ Swishahouse pioneered the path of autonomy long before the term "independent" became a status symbol. 

Texas hip-hop was again thrust onto the main stage again in the mid-2000s when artists such as Mike Jones, Slim Thug, and Paul Wall earned widespread recognition. Mike Jones made a massive impact with standout hits like "Back Then" and "Still Tippin'." These songs not only resonated with regional audiences but also cracked the Billboard Top 100, catapulting Mike Jones to national fame.

Paul Wall's 2005 album The People's Champ solidified his status as a newcomer to be respected. The album boasted four successful singles, including "Sittin' Sidewayz" featuring Big Pokey, "They Don't Know," "Girl," and the collaboration "Drive Slow" with Kanye West and GLC. Both "Sittin' Sidewayz" and "Girl" received RIAA gold certifications, selling over 500,000 copies each. 

Founded in the '90s the Screwed Up Click was a tight-knit collective of rappers, producers, and DJs who were dedicated  to representing Houston's unique rap scene. The group's members included artists like Big Hawk, Big Mello, Big Pokey, E.S.G., Lil' Keke, Fat Pat, Lil' Flip, Z-Ro, and many others. Each brought their own style and personality to the group, contributing to the diverse and rich brand of Texas rap.

The SUC's impact extended far beyond Houston, as DJ Screw's mixtapes began to circulate widely, gaining a loyal fan base across Texas and beyond. 

Tragically, DJ Screw's life was cut short in 2000 due to an accidental drug overdose, leaving a void in the rap community. In the years following DJ Screw's passing, many members of the S.U.C. enjoyed successful careers, both individually and collectively. Artists like Lil' Keke, Z-Ro and Lil' Flip achieved mainstream success while remaining deeply rooted in their Houston origins. The SUC's influence also extended to other cities and regions, with artists from all over the world incorporating chopped and screwed elements into their music.

When Texas Hip-Hop Became Mainstream

UGK has left an indelible mark on rap culture, shaping the genre with their unique style and lyrical prowess. As the pioneers of Texas hip-hop, the duo consisting of Bun B and the late Pimp C brought their distinctive Texas flavor to the forefront of the rap scene. 

A prime example of their impact can be found in their collaboration with Jay-Z on the song "Big Pimpin'." Released in 2000, its bouncy production and memorable verses, specifically Pimp C’s final verse, was a perfect blend of UGK's signature Southern drawl and vivid storytelling. "Big Pimpin'" not only expanded UGK's reach but also solidified Jay-Z's place as a crossover artist, bridging the gap between East and South.

Texas hip-hop was again thrust onto the main stage again in the mid-2000s when artists such as Mike Jones, Slim Thug, and Paul Wall earned widespread recognition. Mike Jones made a massive impact with standout hits like "Back Then" and "Still Tippin'." These songs not only resonated with regional audiences but also cracked the Billboard Top 100, catapulting Mike Jones to national fame. 

Paul Wall's 2005 album The People's Champ solidified his status as a newcomer to be respected. The album boasted four successful singles, including "Sittin' Sidewayz" featuring Big Pokey, "They Don't Know," "Girl," and the collaboration "Drive Slow" with Kanye West and GLC. Both "Sittin' Sidewayz" and "Girl" received RIAA gold certifications, selling over 500,000 copies each. 

Less than half a decade later in Dallas, Dorrough made waves with his breakout single "Ice Cream Paint Job," which earned multiple accolades. The song peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart in 2009, cementing Dorrough's place as a rising star nationally. Beyond its chart success, "Ice Cream Paint Job" also became a cultural staple that inspired a slew of spinoff freestyles — the most notable coming from Lil Wayne and his iconic mixtape No Ceilings.  

GRAMMY-winning Artists like Megan Thee Stallion and Travis Scott have kept Texas in the spotlight. In 2019, Megan made a significant impact with her ability to balance empowering lyricism with entertainment. Her hits like “Body” and “Cash S—” took over airwaves around the world, earning her widespread adoration, multiple awards, and a massive global fan base. Moreover, Megan and Beyonce’s “Savage Remix” propelled them to become the first women to win a GRAMMY for Best Rap Song in 2021. 

Originally from Missouri City, Texas, Scott blended various musical genres to create a distinctive sound that has attracted artists like Drake, Future, and more. His albums, including Rodeo, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, and ASTROWORLD received critical acclaim and commercial success. Scott’s elaborate live performances and ability to transcend traditional boundaries earned him a cult-like following and cemented his status as a top-tier artist internationally. 

Dallas-dwelling Nigerian American Tobe Nwigwe has carved an indelible niche within the industry with his extraordinary blend of hip-hop, soul, and gospel influences. His dynamic songs transcend conventional boundaries, fusing socially conscious lyrics with captivating melodies. Not to mention, his music videos are visual feasts characterized by vibrant aesthetics and compelling storytelling. For his efforts, Nwigwe was nominated for BestNew Artist at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Major Promoters, Events & Festivals In Texas Hip-Hop

During the early 2010s, Austin-based concert promoters like ScoreMore Shows took the lead in organizing multi-city tours in Texas that featured then-up-and-coming artists such as J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, and Big Sean. These tours provided budding rap artists with a precious chance to open for more established acts, gaining exposure and experience. 

In addition to ScoreMore, C3 Presents used and continues to use its Austin City Limits Festival to attract hundreds of thousands of attendees from across the country. 2014’s festival saw an unofficial farewell performance from Outkast — a show that many fans had been waiting years to see. In 2017, Jay-Z brought out hits spanning across his 20+ year career, demonstrating why he’s one of the most decorated GRAMMY winners. 

Every March, thousands of artists and fans from around the globe flock to Austin for SXSW, ready to experience a week’s worth of emerging talent. In 2009, Kid Cudi’s profile grew during Kanye West's Fader Fort show, where West shared the stage with his G.O.O.D. Music signees like Common, Consequence, and Erykah Badu. But it was Kudi who stole the spotlight. His vocals had been featured on West’s then-latest album, 808s & Heartbreak. Cudi mesmerized the audience with renditions of "Day 'N' Nite" and "Welcome To Heartbreak."

Odd Future arrived at the week-long festival in 2011 as one of the most talked about artists slated to perform. This momentum was fueled by their recent appearance on a Billboard cover and a performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. The group commenced their Austin journey with a notable showcase at the mtvU Woodies. Odd Future’s popularity grew exponentially following their electrifying performance at the Fader Fort and several other showcases throughout the week. 

Iconic venues like the Mohawk, Antone's, Emos and Empire Control Room in Austin have become bustling centers for nurturing local hip-hop talent. The House of Blues in revered grounds for Houstonians, offering aspiring artists a coveted platform to showcase their talents and break into the music scene. Elsewhere in the city, Warehouse Live held one of Drake’s earliest concerts in 2009; he returned five years later for an intimate performance during Houston Appreciation Week. Dallas takes pride in venues like Trees, which have played a pivotal role in supporting and fostering emerging artists. San Antonio's Paper Tiger (formerly known as White Rabbit) has also been instrumental in providing a nurturing space for the city's up-and-comers. 

Because of Texas' variety of venues and festivals, the next generation of superstars found fertile ground to establish themselves, build fan bases, and keep Texas as a contributor to rap’s globalization.

Rising Artists In Texas Hip-Hop

As the state’s rap legacy thrives, a wave of talented artists emerges, poised and prepared to embrace the heritage bestowed upon them by their predecessors. There are frontrunners believed to be the next big sensation in every town, each of whom sits on the brink of stardom.

Maxo Kream: Hailing from Houston, Maxo Kream gained recognition for his raw and unfiltered portrayal of street life and the harsh realities of his upbringing. With a unique blend of Southern rap and trap influences, Kream often draws from personal experiences, reflecting on his past struggles and triumphs. His breakthrough came with the release of his 2018 mixtape Punken, which garnered critical acclaim. 

Monaleo: Monaleo's 2020 debut epitomized the essence of Texas. The Houston resident's infectious breakout track "Beating Down Yo Block," reverberated with unabashed energy. The song's clever use of samples from Yungstar, a fellow Houstonian, and his song "Knockin' Pictures Off The Wall" added a nostalgic touch. In 2023, she released her debut Where the Flowers Don’t Die

Magna Carda: Led by charismatic vocalist Megz Kelli and masterful producer Dougie Do as the, Austin's Magna Carda’s music transcends state lines. Kelli's vocals and soul-stirring storytelling blend seamlessly with Do's finely honed beats, creating a mesmerizing concoction of jazz, hip-hop, and neo-soul. Their performances are an immersive experience, captivating audiences from all walks of life. Their magnetic presence has earned them a devoted following across the country. 

That Mexican OT: Hailing from Houston, That Mexican OT showcases an impeccable blend of his Mexican heritage and the Southern flair that characterizes his hometown. Notably, he joined forces with the renowned Houston legend Paul Wall for a collaborative 2023 song "Johnny Dang." 

Riders Against the Storm: Composed of husband-and-wife duo Chaka and Qi Dada, Austin-based Riders Against the Storm (RAS) embraces themes of social justice, empowerment, and unity, resonating deeply with their diverse audience. Beyond their artistic contributions, RAS has been dedicated to community engagement and advocacy. They have actively supported various charitable causes, mentoring young artists, and using their platform to uplift marginalized voices.

The Future Of Texas Hip-Hop

No matter how popular its residents become, Texas will forever remain rooted in its humble beginnings. It’s inspiring to think that a community of rappers, DJs, executives, and producers turned a state that lacked immediate connections to major outlets into a global epicenter consistently birthing remarkable talent. 

But somewhere within the state’s lines is the next rap star who has yet to release their first song. Miles away, there’s a living legend who will never call another place home. The state will continue to adopt many and serve as a warm second home for out-of-town talent looking for a community dedicated to achieving notable status in hip-hop. 

Texas will undoubtedly remain revered and referenced in songs for decades to come due to the contributions of the aforementioned artists. While the future of its rap scene remains uncertain, whatever lies ahead will undoubtedly match the enormity of the state itself.

A Guide To Southern Hip-Hop: Definitive Releases, Artists & Subgenres From The Dirty South

Positive Vibes Only: Watch Passion Lift Up "He Who Is To Come" In This Healing Performance
Passion

Photo: Roxy Moure

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Positive Vibes Only: Watch Passion Lift Up "He Who Is To Come" In This Healing Performance

Atlanta-based worship group Passion shares the feel-good promise of God's return in this stripped-down performance of their new single, "He Who Is to Come," led by longtime member Kristian Stanfill.

GRAMMYs/Mar 4, 2024 - 06:08 pm

There are many uncertainties in life, but Atlanta-based worship group Passion knows one thing for sure: Jesus Christ will return — and He'll reveal a painless, sorrow-free world. Until then, they're praying for it with excitement and patience.

"He is surely coming/ Oh, can you feel it, too?/ All this tension growing stronger/ It's just a sign He's getting closer/ He's already on the move," they sing in the fourth verse of their single "He Who Is to Come."

In this episode of Positive Vibes Only, Passion delivers an acoustic version of the track, led by longtime member Kristian Stanfill.

"He Who Is to Come" was first released on December 1, 2023, via Capitol Christian Music Group and Sixstepsrecords, and also saw an appearance from GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Cody Carnes.

On March 1, the group dropped their live album Call on Heaven, including "He Who Is To Come," which they recorded at their sold-out Passion 2024 annual conference at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

"Call on Heaven is the sound of a generation desperate to see Heaven's reality of ceaseless praise become the reality of Earth," Stanfill said in a press statement. "What we experienced at Passion 2024 marked all of us forever. We'll never forget the glimpse of God's holiness, the weight of His glory, or the sound of His people singing."

Press play on the video above to watch Passion's hopeful performance of "He Who Is to Come," and check back to GRAMMY.com every Monday for more new episodes of Positive Vibes Only.

Positive Vibes Only: Watch Cody Carnes Find A "Firm Foundation" Through God In This Acoustic Performance

The Jesus And Mary Chain Is Unbroken: Jim Reid On New Album 'Glasgow Eyes' & Their Tempestuous History
Jim Reid and William Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Photo: Mel Butler

interview

The Jesus And Mary Chain Is Unbroken: Jim Reid On New Album 'Glasgow Eyes' & Their Tempestuous History

"We used to say things that no one ought to say to another human being," says Jim Reid about his brother and musical partner, William. Yet the bond of the Jesus and Mary Chain remains intact — and they're out with a new album, 'Glasgow Eyes,' out March 8.

GRAMMYs/Mar 4, 2024 - 04:46 pm

Aside from an eight-year hiatus, noise-poppers the Jesus and Mary Chain have been together and productive for more than four decades — and stuck to their guns creatively. 

How could a hysterical, screaming, improvised onstage meltdown from the mid-'80s — titled "Jesus F—" — possibly foreshadow this?

"The first six months of the band was the only time that you could get away with doing things like that," Jim Reid, their co-leader with brother William, tells GRAMMY.com. "People have paid next to no money to see you. They're not really your fans, because you don't have fans yet. So, you just went out there and did whatever the f— you want."

This involved any number of onstage provocations, fueled by Dutch courage — swinging at the audience, cursing them, playing with their backs to the audience. Of course, the rest is history: they got their act together, at least enough to make masterpieces like 1985's Psychocandy and 1987's Darklands.

After six albums, the chemicals and resentments came to a head in 1999. The Reids wouldn't fire up the project again until 2007, nor release a new album until 2017. But the Mary Chain have forged on.

Despite their tumultuous history, their new album, Glasgow Eyes, out March 8, bears remarkable artistic consistency; it's like the verbal and physical fisticuffs never happened. On tunes like "jamcod," "The Eagles and the Beatles" and "Hey Lou Reid," the Reid brothers' creative compass remains unswerving: Whatever they started doing in 1983, they're still doing it.

"We started because we didn't like the music that we were hearing coming out of the radio," Reid says, calling the pop hits of the day "diarrhea." And if the mainstream still alienates you in 2024, well — look at it all through Glasgow Eyes.

Reid spoke with GRAMMY.com about the past, present and future of the Jesus and Mary Chain.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

In the Glasgow Eyes press release, you said something succinct yet kind of holistic and profound: "Our creative approach is remarkably the same as it was in 1984, just hit the studio and see what happens." Can you expand on that at all?

Well, that's just the way it works. To be honest, when we go into the studio very often we don't have a clue what the record's going to sound like. We've got songs. We don't write in the studio. So, there are a collection of songs, but they could go in any direction.

Generally, we deliberately try not to plan what the record's going to end up [as]. But the only thing that we did see with this record, is we wanted to get out the synths and drum machines. We used things like that in the past, but never quite so upfront. 

Did that come from what you were listening to at the time? Darker, older stuff?

We've always listened to that kind of music, but I guess people might not have actually realized that. We love all of that krautrock stuff — Kraftwerk and D.A.F. and Can and all of that. All of those kinds of bands are massively important to us.

It feels like on the earliest Jesus and Mary Chain material, the outré stuff was the yin to pop's yang.

Well, yeah, that's kind of it with us, really. It's the whole package: it's psycho and it's candy.

Regarding that great '80s-ish dark music, what have you been listening to lately?

I'm terrible because I don't listen to much new music. I'm pretty satisfied with my old record collection, and I play kind of a mystery jukebox. Every record I've ever bought since I was 12 is on this computer here, and I just sit with the computer on random play.

I'll just trawl through the records I've had for a long time and I'll dig something out that way. I heard something the other day — it's not a new band, but I can't remember how I heard it. Somebody played it, maybe. A band called Crocodiles. I quite like them. It sounded really good.

When it comes to releasing new music, is the landscape of 2024 destabilizing for you?

Yeah, the musical landscape has always confused us, to be honest with you. Mary Chain never really belonged. We never fit in. We didn't fit in 1984 when we started, and that was why we started.

We started because we didn't like the music that we were hearing coming out of the radio. We thought the radio was ill; we thought it was sick. It was spewing out all of this diarrhea, and we thought, well, it's got to be some better music that can come out of that thing than what we're hearing now.

I'm sorry, but just Kid Creole and the Coconuts — and Spandau Ballet — did not float our boats in 1984 or '85. So it was rubbish then in a kind of way that that's always been the driving force for the Mary Chain. We just think that everybody else's music just isn't good enough. So we will kind of do it to our satisfaction and that's it.

Did you ever meet Mark E. Smith from the Fall back in the day?

I never met Mark E. Smith. He was kind of terrifying from what I can understand. I would've been scared to meet Mark, but loved his band.

I ask because Hex Enduction Hour is one of my favorite albums of all time, and Smith consciously crafted it as a reaction to "bland bastards like… Spandau Ballet."

Oh, God, yeah. That was the dark side of the '80s. Those were the bands that came along and hijacked music and destroyed its soul, I suppose. Take the 1960s and the 1970s. You turned on the radio, and you heard the Rolling Stones singing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction," and everything was good in the world. Same in the '70s, to a certain degree. It was starting to become less so in the '70s, but you could turn on the radio and you could hear Roxy Music or the Sex Pistols or David Bowie.

We got to the '80s and it was like, What the f—? What's going wrong? So, me and William used to sit there and think, Why did we get the '80s? It's not fair. This is our time, and it's the f—ing '80s.

But there were great bands. There were bands like the Fall, the Cocteau Twins, and the Birthday Party, but they were made to take the crumbs that were left over from the main event, if you know what I mean.

One thing I really admire about Glasgow Eyes is that it sounds like you guys. I feel like many bands from certain eras — I won't name any names — slowly bland down and start to sound like each other. Not the Mary Chain.

Well, that's it. That's all we ever try to do: make a Mary Chain record.

A lot of bands… make a record for their audience. And to us, that's the wrong way around. What you do is you make a record for yourself, and if it's any good, you'll get an audience. But as soon as you start making music for other people, you've had it; you're lost. It's the cart before the horse.

I'm sure you've seen that over and over and over, in your decades in the industry.

Yeah, I see it all the time. Everybody thinks, The last record didn't sell as much as we hoped it would. So, what should we do? Who's selling loads of records right now? Oh, U2; let's make a record for the U2 crowd then. In the 1980s, almost every other band sounded like they were trying to be U2.

How did you guys negotiate that territory? I'm sure 30 years ago, the brass was throwing hot new producers at you, or trying to get you on trend bandwagons.

That was it. Our record label were forever trying to run producers down in our throat. Because we produced more or less all of our own music. [2017's] Damage and Joy was the first time we've ever actually brought a producer into the studio, and that was Youth.

We met Daniel Lanois in the late '80s. And I can't remember what album it was, but at the record company's insistence, we met Daniel Lanois and we had this meeting. And he was saying things like, "Yeah, what we'll do is, we won't get a recording studio. We'll get maybe an old church and we'll get all of the gear in there and we'll just get stoned."

We were like, "I'm not sure about this, Daniel." And he was like, "What are you listening to at the moment?" And we said, "Well, we're listening to a lot of hip-hop actually." And he was like, "Hip-hop, are you kidding me?" You could see him looking for the exit thinking, I want to get out.

That's hilarious.

The drugs that I was into at that time, I certainly wasn't interested in sitting getting stoned with Daniel in a church with U2's music playing in the background. I was more into getting off my tits on cocaine listening to stuff like Run-DMC at that time.

I enjoy imagining this.

It was never going to happen. And then we went back to Warner Brothers — it was Rob Dickens running Warner's at that time… and the guy was shouting at us, "You guys are losers. "Yeah, we're losers. But we're losers that are making pretty good records, Rob, so f— off.

There were a few other comedy meetings with producers. I won't go into it, but it was the same deal every time. They would just come along and say all of the opposite of what we had imagined for the record in question — and so it would just never work out.

**The fruitage of this is that you can make whatever kind of music you want in 2024. Take us through the early stages of making Glasgow Eyes, when you had dumped all your toys on the table, as it were, and began trying to make sense of them.**

William's a bit better, but the thing about me is I'm not very technical at all. I love the idea that this technology is out there to be used, but if it was left to me to actually figure out how to use it, it would never get done. But thankfully, that's what studio engineers are for.

We recorded at Mogwai Studio in Glasgow; it's called Castle of Doom. And Tony Doogan's the house engineer there. With Tony, it was like his record collection was probably the same as ours. So, it was going to work.

And then the way it works is you can just say, "That little sort of slightly detuned synth riff that's on 'Der Mussolini' by D.A.F.," And he would go, "Yeah." I don't know how many times in the past when you [reference these things] and [engineers] just go, "Uh, what?"

So it was really good that we had someone in the studio that could speak our language. And he made all of that technology accessible to us. It would be a few sentences to describe what you were looking for — and then, a couple of presses of buttons and twiddles of knobs later, and you'd be hearing what you just described.

Sounds like you had a lot of old-school reference points.

It's weird when you get to my age, yeah, they were old school. But you're thinking old school is probably the noughties. To me, old-school is like the f—ing 1920s. I'm old, man.

So it was things that I considered to be quite modern. I think of Kraftwerk as a futuristic band — because they are. They made records in the early '70s, but to me, it still sounds like new music. I can imagine people in 50 years would listen to Kraftwerk records and think that it had been made then.

The best music is timeless, and they were just way ahead of the game. Way ahead of the game.

At what point did Glasgow Eyes really start to take shape?

Well, that doesn't happen right away. It's the same every time: you start making the record and at some point you think you're losing it. It's not happening. You're thinking, This is going to be embarrassing

It's almost like you will the record into shape. It goes from this unrecognizable beast into this recognizably Mary Chain [work], and then better and better and better. And then almost like within a couple of days you start to think, F—, this sounds pretty good. And then you start to feel really quite smug about it.

And by the end of it you're like, woohoo, we've done it again. So there's some sort of black magic. It's slightly mystical, but it kind of starts to take shape by itself. But it only happens after some trauma and some sort of serious nervous breakdowns in the middle. And then it just seems to come together. I don't know; it's alchemy.

I can't name too many other bands from your scene who are still grinding it out like this, and staying creative.

There's not many of us left, but Primal Scream are still doing it, man. They're as good as they've ever been. [Singer] Bobby [Gillespie]'s our old drummer and he's rocking it out. And I went to see them a few weeks ago and it's great. He's still great. He's still going.

Growing up with the Mary Chain, I remember reading stories about how you guys had a… tempestuous relationship with your audience. Which included a lot of provocation from the stage. Is that true?

Well, it is, but a lot of it was insecurity on our part.

Well, it was a couple of things. One, we'd never been in any other bands before. Lou Reed did a [1980] album called Growing Up in Public; well, that was us. We made all of our mistakes in front of an audience, and often in front of cameras, and often on TV shows.

But we were very, very insecure, and I was incredibly shy. And the only way that I could get the nerve to get on stage was to get wasted. I used to swig down bottles of whiskey before I went onstage — then, I'd be up there, swinging at people and stuff like that. Or telling the audience to go f— themselves.

But it was all based on my own insecurity and that was it. I was unable to deal with the situation that I found myself in. And we quickly learned that you couldn't continue doing that. So we found a way to make it work.

Did you guys really play with your backs to the audience?

Yeah. We were literally so embarrassed and so awkward on stage that we would turn around and every now and again, glimpse over our shoulders at the audience, like, He's still here. Oh, God.

I'll leave you with this: how has your creative relationship with William been over the past several decades?

Well, at the beginning, we were so in tune with each other. It was like we totally, totally agreed with everything about what direction the band ought to be taking.

The band broke up in 1998 for a while, and that was because we just totally lost touch with each other. We used to argue about creative decisions. By 1998, we were arguing about anything.

We couldn't stand being in the same room as each other. And it was a very messy breakup. In 1998, we were trying to f—ing eradicate each other. And then for a couple of years, we couldn't talk. The band broke up, we didn't speak to each other.

[In 2007], the band got back together. Our relationship healed a bit. It's better now than I think it's been for years.

We argue. We always will. We always have. But it's more productive and it's less nasty. And towards 1998, we used to say things that no one ought to say to another human being. And once you've said those kind of things, they can never be taken back.

And I know there are things that he said to me and I've said to him — that even though the wounds have healed, I'm still kind of thinking, But f— you, man. I remember when you said that night.

So now when it's getting that bad, you think, Oh, we're approaching that line, step back. So it works much better now than it used to. We're OK.

Lou Reed's Berlin Is One Of Rock's Darkest Albums. So Why Does It Sound Like So Much Fun?

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Doja Cat & SZA Tearfully Accept Their First GRAMMYs For "Kiss Me More"
(L-R) Doja Cat and SZA at the 2022 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Doja Cat & SZA Tearfully Accept Their First GRAMMYs For "Kiss Me More"

Relive the moment the pair's hit "Kiss Me More" took home Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, which marked the first GRAMMY win of their careers.

GRAMMYs/Mar 1, 2024 - 06:11 pm

As Doja Cat put it herself, the 2022 GRAMMYs were a "big deal" for her and SZA.

Doja Cat walked in with eight nominations, while SZA entered the ceremony with five. Three of those respective nods were for their 2021 smash "Kiss Me More," which ultimately helped the superstars win their first GRAMMYs.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the night SZA and Doja Cat accepted the golden gramophone for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance — a milestone moment that Doja Cat almost missed.

"Listen. I have never taken such a fast piss in my whole life," Doja Cat quipped after beelining to the stage. "Thank you to everybody — my family, my team. I wouldn't be here without you, and I wouldn't be here without my fans."

Before passing the mic to SZA, Doja also gave a message of appreciation to the "Kill Bill" singer: "You are everything to me. You are incredible. You are the epitome of talent. You're a lyricist. You're everything."

SZA began listing her praises for her mother, God, her supporters, and, of course, Doja Cat. "I love you! Thank you, Doja. I'm glad you made it back in time!" she teased.

"I like to downplay a lot of s— but this is a big deal," Doja tearfully concluded. "Thank you, everybody."

Press play on the video above to hear Doja Cat and SZA's complete acceptance speech for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

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Listen: Miley Cyrus & Pharrell Reunite For New Song "Doctor (Work It Out)"
Miley Cyrus performs at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Listen: Miley Cyrus & Pharrell Reunite For New Song "Doctor (Work It Out)"

Ten years after their first funky single, Miley Cyrus and Pharrell Williams strike again with "Doctor (Work It Out)," which arrived on March 1. Hear the new track and watch the spirited music video here.

GRAMMYs/Mar 1, 2024 - 04:31 pm

On the heels of her first GRAMMY wins, Miley Cyrus is feeling good — and she's ready to be your cure.

The pop superstar unveiled her new single, a lustful, funky dance track titled "Doctor (Work It Out)," on March 1. The track is her latest collaboration with Pharrell, and their first in 10 years.

Over a pulsating bass guitar-driven beat, Cyrus opens with the punchy chorus (“I could be your doctor/ And I could be your nurse/ I think I see the problem/ It's only gon' get worse/ A midnight medication/ Just show me where it hurts," she sings) before erupting into a dance break as she declares, "Let me work it out… Imma work it out…”

So far, 2024 is feelin' fine for Cyrus. At the 2024 GRAMMYs, her 2023 smash, "Flowers," took home two awards, for Best Pop Solo Performance and Record Of The Year. Following her first win, she delivered a knockout performance featuring the unforgettable ad lib, "I started to cry and then I remembered I… just won my first GRAMMY!" 

Less than a month later, "Doctor (Work It Out)" serves as another groovy celebration of Cyrus' achievements in life and music so far.

The song's music video is reminiscent of her 2024 GRAMMYs performance, too. Not only is she wearing a similar shimmery fringe dress, but the entire video is a jubilant, blissful solo dance party.

Though Cyrus first teased "Doctor (Work It Out)" just a few days before the song's arrival, Pharrell first gave a sneak peek in January, at his American Western themed Fall/Winter 2024 Louis Vuitton Men's fashion show in Paris. It was Pharrell's third collection for the luxury house, and the bouncy single served as a fitting soundtrack. 

The song marks Cyrus' first release in 2024, and her first collab with Pharrell since 2014's "Come Get It Bae" from his album G I R L'; Pharrell also co-wrote and produced four tracks on the deluxe version of Cyrus' 2013 album, Bangerz.

Watch the "Doctor (Work It Out)" video above, and stay tuned to GRAMMY.com for more Miley Cyrus news.

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11 Women Pushing Amapiano To Global Heights: Uncle Waffles, Nkosazana Daughter, & More
(Clockwise) Khanyisa, Boohle, Kamo Mphela, Uncle Waffles, DBN GOGO, Pabi Cooper

Photos: Fundokwakhe Majozi, Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images via Getty Images; Courtesy of the artist; Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for UnitedMasters; Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images via Getty Images; Leon Bennett/WireImage

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11 Women Pushing Amapiano To Global Heights: Uncle Waffles, Nkosazana Daughter, & More

While Tyla may have brought amapiano to 2024 GRAMMYs stage, a vast network of women are responsible for bringing the South African sound to the world. Get to know 11 of the artists at the forefront of amapiano music.

GRAMMYs/Mar 1, 2024 - 04:15 pm

After South African singer Tyla won the inaugural golden gramophone for Best African Music Performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs award show, many likely wondered why her international breakout single "Water" garnered such global appeal. 

Beyond the R&B sensibilities that made its sound approachable to Western audiences, what really drew crowds to "Water" was the vitality of South African dance and elements of amapiano — a subgenre of house and a child of kwaito, South Africa’s post-Apartheid freedom sound. Punctuated by amapiano’s log drums and insistent shakers, brought to life through the frantic backside movements of bacardi  and Tyla’s aquatic theater, "Water" used genre fusion to carry South African sound across global airwaves.

What’s more, Tyla is part of a vast network of women propelling amapiano to the world. Zimbabwean singer Sha Sha’s breakout in 2019 created a monumental shift in a genre that was largely the terrain of boys and men, and since then the amapiano scene has seen many other women follow in her wake. The likes of Mawhoo, Ami Faku, Bontle Smith, and Nobantu Vilakazi consistently emphasize the genre's soulful heart through dreamlike vocal work, grounding the very hits that have made amapiano the widespread phenomenon that it is today.

Everything from the skillful improvisations of dancing schoolgirls, to lively performances from women DJs and vocalists has allowed amapiano’s essence to be communicated clearly to the world. A vast web of women are pushing the genre both within and beyond South African borders; read on for a list of 11 influential women who are key in elevating amapiano to global heights.

DBN Gogo 

It’s not that controversial: everybody loves Gogo. Born in the city from which she derived her name, Durban, DBN Gogo has steadily become one of amapiano’s most sought-after acts. From her 2021 smash hit "Khuza Gogo" featuring amapiano stars such as the late Mpura, to later hits like "Possible," "Bambelela," and "Bells," Gogo has made a name for herself as a highly-dependable hitmaker and an equally compelling performer. It was her, of course, who created the viral dakiwe dance challenge, inspiring countless dance variations and solidifying her position as amapiano’s queen of cool.

Even while she has offered the genre mass mainstream appeal, DBN Gogo's personal projects reveal her lasting dedication to preserving amapiano’s authenticity. Her 2022 debut album, What’s Real, is a warm, rich body of work, while her newest EP Click Bait is a genre-diverse wonder that transcends the boundaries of ‘piano itself. 

Since her breakout years ago, she has not even remotely backed down, taking over multiple AfroNation stages yearly, performing at Coachella in 2022, and featuring twice on the GRAMMY-nominated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack. Dropping the Shakes & Les-assisted "Funk 55" in 2023, a track that is still dominating South African nightlife as we speak, Gogo is on an unending mission to take the world by storm.

Nkosazana Daughter

With a spiritual sound and an angelic voice to match, it’s safe to say that Nkosazana Daughter is amapiano’s sweetheart. Breaking out via an Instagram Live with DJ Maphorisa and Mpura during lockdown, the 23-year-old has proved that her ethereal vocals can impart a distinct sense of purity to any song she features on. 

She has since voiced dreamy hit singles like "Dali Nguwe" and "Sofa Silahlane" with frequent collaborator Master KG, and worked with continental artists including Tanzania’s Harmonize and Nigerian Afropop stars Mr. Eazi, Omah Lay, and Young Jonn. Last year, she asserted herself in a big way, releasing her debut album Uthingo Le Nkosazana

"Uthingo," meaning "rainbow" in Zulu, communicated to the world the vast color and love she had to bring to the scene. Nkosazana Daughter called amapiano’s greats to her world, working with the likes of Kabza de Small, Maphorisa, and Sir Trill throughout the project as well as Master KG on the lead single, "Amaphutha." She has already started the year with a bang via her successful hit "Keneilwe," proving her determination to come into 2024 with an unrelenting force.

TXC

Tarynn Reid and Clair Hefke are the dj duo that have proved the importance of intentional performance while pushing ‘piano. The pair are known for mixing amapiano party hits while clad in matching sets; Clair often holds down the fort while Tarynn drives crowds wild with impassioned dance moves. 

The duo has become a symbol of amapiano’s global appeal, ruling the Piano People stage at AfroNation in Miami, closing Boiler Room’s Soulection stage in London, and taking on Qatar’s 2022 Fifa World Cup stage alongside acts like Lil Baby. What’s more, they have consistently shown dedication to growth, expanding their title from DJ duo to production duo, including producing their debut EP.

That release, 2022's A Fierce Piano is a rich collection of tracks featuring assists from some of the genre's smoothest vocalists: Daliwonga and Murumba Pitch. Following up with "Vuka Mawulele" and their latest single "Turn Off the Lights," TXC have shown that their future as creatives in amapiano is limitless. 

Babalwa M

While the amapiano scene is fraught with disagreements surrounding origins, dates, and pioneers, all unanimously agree that Babalwa M is the queen of private school amapiano. Known for its deeply jazzy, soulful approach to amapiano, "private school" is a distinct subgenre that Babalwa’s vocals have refined throughout the years alongside its king, producer Kelvin Momo.

Listening to the transcendental vocals laced through tracks like "Aluta Continua" from her debut album of the same name, it should come as no surprise that Soweto’s own Babalwa M found her voice through the church choir.

Babalwa M's most infamous contributions to the private school archive come in the form of collaborations with the aforementioned Momo. Her near-spiritual vocals on tracks like "Feza," "Sukakude" and, most recently, "Amalobolo" from his newest project, have made even the most surface level consumers invested in the beauty of private school. Coming off of the heels of her most recent track "Maye Maye," Babalwa M is determined to continue sharing the sublimity of private school with the world. 

Uncle Waffles

Nobody quite epitomizes amapiano’s globalization in the way that Uncle Waffles does. 

It all boils down to one fateful day: a DJ booked for a 2021 club night in Soweto was unable to make their set, so Uncle Waffles was called in. She played Young Stunna’s "Adiwele," gyrating with incomparable cool as she responded to the crowd’s impassioned cries. A video of her dancing at this set went viral, generating a dance challenge that can still be seen at club nights today and converting her into an overnight sensation. Suddenly, Swaziland’s own Uncle Waffles was juggling bookings from all over the world. 

Since then, the cosmos has become the limit  — she has shut down Coachella, sold out US and UK headlines shows, and received cosigns from Drake, Kelly Rowland, and Ciara. Waffles' hit single "Tanzania" was even featured in an amapiano-influenced set during multiple stops of Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour. What’s more, she has proved that her talents transcend the stage with three projects in her catalog: Red Dragon, and 2023’s Asylum and Solace. 

With global hit singles "Yahyuppiyah" and "Peacock Revisit" from 2023, and her constant re-definition as a style icon, dancer, and creative director, Uncle Waffles continues to show the world that she cannot be confined to any one creative medium.

Chley

Slick-tongued Chley is widely understood as a secret weapon for any producer looking to cook up an amapiano anthem. Taking on music as recently as 2021, she’d already collaborated with prominent amapiano producers Mellow & Sleazy, Konke, and Musa Keys a year into her music career - voicing hits like "Kancane" and "M’nike." Chley was catapulted to a new level of fame once featured on Uncle Waffles’ "Yahyuppiyah," offering a rapid-fire verse that netizens all over the world fought hard to replicate.

Since then, she has featured on bangers such as "Vuma" with Felo Le Tee and Mellow & Sleazy, "Shu!" with Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz, Gogo’s "Funk 55," and Ggoldie’s "Asambe." With a discography bound to make even the most conservative of listeners get up and dance, Chley is certainly one to watch in the midst of amapiano’s ever-evolving scene.

Kamo Mphela

Kamo Mphela burst onto the scene after one too many videos of her dancing went viral — an expected outcome for a girl who consistently danced and MCed at block parties on the streets of Joburg. Her rise to fame fatefully coincided with amapiano’s nationwide popularization, allowing the multi-talented dancer to latch on to the township sound and never let it go. 

She soon jumped on tracks like "Sandton" alongside Kabza and Maphorisa in 2019 and "Amanikiniki" with Major League DJz in 2021, then released her own tracks "Percy Tau" and "Nkulunkulu" on her debut EP the same year. She’s since released smash hits, featured on the Wakanda Forever soundtrack, and offered a thrilling performance ahead of Davido at London’s O2 arena.

Throughout her career, Kamo Mphela has redefined the role of the dancer in amapiano’s landscape, not confining herself to the sidelines but instead positioning dance as a central component of any amapiano performance worth its salt. This radical ethic has allowed her to become widely regarded as one of amapino’s most notable performers, and she consistently ensures that her music embodies this weighty title. Her 2023 singles "HANNAH MONTANA" and "Dalie" came with expert dances — the latter with a viral dance challenge that has kept the song at a steady position on South African charts. 

Boohle

Hailing from the Vosloorus township of Johannesburg, Buhle Manyathi is all about soul. Kicking off her career as part of a gospel troupe in 2016, she later transitioned to Afro house and amapiano, releasing a multi-genre debut album, Izibongo, in 2020 and EP Sfikile in 2021. It was only a matter of time before she became the vocalist behind some of ‘piano’s biggest hits, voicing "Mama" with Josiah de Disciple (and its gorgeous Afro house remix from De Capo), "Siyathandana" alongside rapper Cassper Nyovest, and the glorious "Ngixolele," produced by Busta 929. 

Several top charting positions and awards later, she came out with arguably her most global single, "Hamba Wena" alongside Deep London. Igniting a global dance challenge created by South African steppers Hope Ramafalo and Hlongi Mash, "Hamba Wena" captivated the globe  and reasserted Boohle’s seemingly endless ability to produce ‘piano anthems.

Lady Du

Music was always in the cards for Lady Du, but it was amapiano in particular that changed the scope of her career. Reared in a family of influential DJs and producers, she kicked off her career as a Hip-Hop DJ before pivoting completely into ‘piano. 

Dropping both "Catalia" and "Woza" in 2021 — both with production from ‘piano pioneer Mr JazziQ — Lady Du suddenly had 2 gigantic hits under her belt, the latter becoming one of the biggest songs in the early days of amapiano’s globalization.

She has since offered roaring vocals on Busta and Mpura’s "Umsebenzi Wethu," hard-hitting rap on 9numba and TOSS’ "uMlando," and Mzansi flare on international features such as "I Did It" with Nigeria’s Niniola. 

Lady Du reaffirmed her centrality in the scene in 2023, dropping her debut album Song is Queen and later, the Megadrumz-produced single "Tjina." The percussion-heavy tune quickly turned global club nights upside down, secured high positions on South Africa’s streaming charts, and emphasized Lady Du’s centrality in amapiano’s sprawling ecosystem.

Pabi Cooper

or Pritori princess Pabi Cooper, winning is easy. Hailing from South Africa’s administrative capital Pretoria, Pabi broke out as a 21-year-old with the party-starting "Isphithiphithi," a hit produced by Busta 929 in 2021.

2022's "Banyana Ke Bafana" was a widely popular hit, propelled by irresistible verses from the Pritori trifecta of Pabi, vocalist Ch’cco, and rapper Focalistic. Her debut EP, Cooperville, introduced audiences to a vast world of her making, with soulful numbers like "MAMA," alongside more street-centric jams like "Waga Bietjie" and "Angeke." 

Today, Cooper has solidified herself as a symbol of youth power, mesmerizing South African crowds through her concert series Cooper FC and snagging a BET nomination in 2023 for Best New International Act. She also carries her hometown on her back wherever she goes; last year saw her release "Jukulyn" alongside Pretoria’s Jelly Babie, a track dedicated to a township of the same name and rooted in the city’s bouncy, infectious sound bacardi. 

Khanyisa

Khanyisa may have started off her career as a social media influencer, but she has seamlessly evolved into an amapiano star. Performing covers and skits to the millions of followers she amassed on TikTok, Khanyisa wielded relatability and humor as her social media superpowers. 

It wasn’t until her irresistible breakout "Bheka Mina Ngedwa" with Lady Du and her official debut "Ungangi Bambi" in 2021, both delivered with the same vitality that offered her acclaim online, that Khanyisa formally secured popularity within the amapiano space.

Since, Khanyisa has featured on popular tracks such as "Vuka Mawulele" with TxC and the  danceable "Zula Zula" with Villosoul. In 2023, she proved her role as an undeniable hitmaker, releasing the log drum heavy "SUKA" and "NGIMOJA" with producer of the year Tyler ICU. With her successful pivot to musical fame, it is clear that Khanyisa’s future as a player in amapiano is incredibly bright. 

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