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


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

Living Legends: Frankie Valli On The Four Seasons' Biggest Hits, Impressing Bob Dylan And Inspiring Billy Joel & Elton John
Frankie Valli

Photo: Varela Media


Living Legends: Frankie Valli On The Four Seasons' Biggest Hits, Impressing Bob Dylan And Inspiring Billy Joel & Elton John

Between a new box set and a Las Vegas residency, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons aren’t slowing down in 2023. Hear from the falsetto king himself about how hits like “Sherry” and “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night!) came to be — and how they live on.

GRAMMYs/Oct 3, 2023 - 02:53 pm

With one of the most recognizable voices in music, a generation-spanning array of hit songs and a life story that has become stuff of legend, Frankie Valli has staked a claim as one of the music industry's most indelible artists. One of the few acts that steadily navigated from the doo-wop age through the disco era, Valli's improbable trajectory with his group, the Four Seasons, was propeled by a golden ear for hits, aided by the songwriter/producer power duo Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe.

That's not to say the 89-year-old is resting on his laurels. His astounding career is on full, vibrant display in the immense new box set aptly dubbed Working Our Way Back to You — The Ultimate Collection. Consisting of 45 discs of every song Valli and the Four Seasons ever recorded — from beloved hits to deep-cuts, demos and other rarities — the set also includes a biographical book filled to the brim with rare images that track their rise from a fledgling New Jersey singing group to Broadway sensations in the form of Jersey Boys.

In addition, later this month Vailli is heading to Las Vegas for a residency at Westgate Resort and Casino where he and the Four Seasons will be appearing until well into 2024.

Valli spoke to about his astounding run of hits, the artists he's influenced, the modern covers of his tracks and how his big year started off with a bang during GRAMMY weekend.

You were a surprise performer at the Clive Davis GRAMMY Gala earlier this year and, in a very special moment, everyone in the audience, from Cardi B to Joni Mitchell, jumped up and sang along with you to "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You." What was that moment like for you?

Oh, it was incredible. I never expected it. When Clive first invited me, he said "I want to invite you to my GRAMMY party, but I want you to do a song." I said, "With the generation gap, should I really do a song?" But I was in shock when everybody stood up to sing along. 

It was a really a moment I'll never forget. It's a good thing we have people like Clive who really has an insight on what's happening and where it's going. 

That night, the Italian rock band Måneksin covered your song "Beggin'" which was their breakout hit. The band was just the latest in a long line of artists who have covered Four Seasons music, with "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" done by everyone from Lauryn Hill to Shawn Mendes, to name just two examples. What do you think of all of these artists wanting to cover your work?

It's quite complimentary. When you've been around a long time and people find value in what you've done, it just makes you feel good about what you've done.

In your career, you've also covered so many songs from Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" to Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice (It's Alright)." How did you go about choosing which songs to cover, and how would you put your own spin on these classics to make them your own?

It was really more or less music that we listened to and we loved. We tried to pick songs that were very meaningful for us, but the trick was to be able to do them a little differently than they had been done. 

We were quite successful with it, we did it with songs like "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" We did a version of "Book of Love" and so many others.

Your version of "Don't Think Twice (It's Alright)" is probably one of the most unusual songs in your vast discography considering its subject matter, your exaggerated falsetto, and those background harmonies. How did that come about? I also understand you heard from Bob Dylan himself about it.

We did it in a very campy way, and it really was quite by accident. I was in a studio, and the guy at the soundboard asked me to sing a little bit to get a level on me. So I was clowning around singing in a falsetto like that.

The next thing I know, the button clicks and I hear [Crewe and Gaudio's] voices saying, "Do it like that." I said, "Do what like what?" They said, "Sing it just the way you're singing it." I said, "Come on, you're kidding!" 

We did it and that version of it was a take-off on a singer named Rose Murphy, who had several hits. Many years later, I was shopping at Fred Segal in LA and Bob Dylan came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. We shook hands and he said, "I love the version of 'Don't Think Twice' that you guys did."

Speaking of your singular vocal stylings, I'm wondering how you and the group went about plotting how you'd all harmonize. For example, in a song like "Candy Girl," there's your iconic falsetto, and then suddenly we hear in a very low baritone voice the line "Our love is real!" Is something like that written out? How does it come together in the studio?

It just comes naturally. A lot of credit goes to the fact that we were never chased away from a song because we didn't know what to do with it. We toyed with it until we found what we thought was right for it. There were no direct plans; everything was done from within the group. 

Nick Massi had his job doing a lot of the vocal arrangements, and Gaudio did most of them after Nick had left. We worked together until everybody was satisfied with it. Does it fit? Does it work? It's like a puzzle. You don't want to overdo anything, and you don't want to under-do.

So then let's say in a song like "Walk Like A Man" when the harmonies sing that iconic "Oo-Oooo-Oo-Oo-Oo-Oo-Oo-Ooooo." Where does that come from?

It comes from Bob Gaudio, who wrote the song to sound like that. The first three songs we did were more like a chant, and that's what we created to make what everybody knows as our sound. 

We wanted to be very easily identifiable. If you heard something by us on the radio, you knew that it was us. We were constantly looking for new ways and new things while having fun doing it. We weren't following or listening to anybody else on the radio; we weren't a copycat group. 

Billy Joel has gone on to say that a lot of the inspiration he got came from us. "I love you just the way you are" is the last line in "Rag Doll."

He also said that "Uptown Girl" was an homage to you. Musically it sounds like "Big Girls Don't Cry" but lyrically it's the opposite of "Rag Doll." What do you think when you hear a song like that?

First of all, I'm a big Billy Joel fan. There isn't anything he's ever done that I haven't liked. My favorite of everything is "Just The Way You Are." It sounds so honest and lyrically it's so right, it had to be a hit.

What about a song like "Bennie and the Jets"? It's been said that Elton John was directly inspired by you.

I loved it. He's another guy who has done very little wrong musically. He's an amazing writer and performer. 

You and the group have a lot of name songs: "Sherry," "Marlena," "Dawn." Was that conscious effort, or was it just natural?

It was natural. Bob wrote the songs… He and I have been partners now for over 50 years and he never ceases to amaze me. He's so tuned into everything that's going on, it's really amazing.

Is it true that "Sherry" was originally called "Jackie" in honor of Jackie Kennedy?

No, it was originally called "Perry." Before "Sherry," we weren't signed to a label, so this small independent company owned by a millionaire had a daughter named Perry. And that's what he wanted us to call it, but it was written to be "Sherry" and we just felt very strongly about that and kept it.

What did the owner think of that?

We ended up going with a different company. So we never heard much after that.

One of your biggest hits was "December 1963 (Oh What A Night!)." I always wondered if that was a random date, or if you chose it because that period was a unique moment in history: a month after the Kennedy assassination, but two months before the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan. 

It was originally a song with lyrics about the '20s, '30s and '40s. The lyrics were "Flippers flopping on the floor." It was a totally different song. When Bob brought it into the studio, he was disappointed we weren't crazy about it and he wanted to junk the song. We said, "No, you can come up with something better than this," and he rewrote it to fit the time. 

Is there one song that you thought should have been bigger than it was?

The funny thing about records during the days when we recorded, and the record business was as big as it was, to become a hit it was important that the record company do the legwork and get radio stations to play it, or try it for two weeks. I thought there was a lot of what we did that was overlooked because the record company wasn't that crazy about it. 

For example, I put the single "We're All Alone" out, and the record company didn't want to work it. I did mine with the London Symphony Orchestra. Later, Rita Coolidge came out with the same song and it went to No. 1. Sometimes things like that happen.

A song like "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" was in the can for two or three years. We had to force the record company to release it and hire independent promotion people to work the record and get it on the radio. 

"My Eyes Adored You" was recorded for Motown Records and that one was in the can for three years because they weren't too sure about it. Finally, when we left Motown, we asked if we can buy back the track, and they agreed for us to purchase it. We did and we brought it to every record company in the business and they all said no. 

Eventually, we found Larry Uttal with a brand new record company, Private Stock Records, and he said, "That'll be my first No. 1 record for my new company." And it was!  

From when you first started recording in the early '50s to when "Sherry" hit No. 1 was a period of nine years. That's a long time. Why did you stick with it? 

It was always music first. If I had no success at all, I'd probably still be doing music somewhere in New Jersey or New York. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and wanted to be. 

At first, I rejected the fact that I might have to do pop music, but as I started to do it and it became successful, I realized it was a music that people could understand. And what are you doing music for? You're doing it for people. Without an audience you wouldn't have anything. 

My love of music started out for the very first time with me seeing Frank Sinatra as a boy when my mom took me to the Paramount Theater in New York City. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I was so inspired; I made up my mind that that's what I wanted to do. 

Living Legends: Nancy Sinatra Reflects On Creating "Power And Magic" In Studio, Developing A Legacy Beyond "Boots" & The Pop Stars She Wants To Work With

GRAMMY Museum Announces 'Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit' Programming Schedule

Image courtesy of the Recording Academy

GRAMMY Museum Announces 'Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit' Programming Schedule

Presented by Google Pixel, the exhibit opens Oct. 7 celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop through an expansive and interactive exploration of the global impact of the genre and culture.

GRAMMYs/Oct 3, 2023 - 01:37 pm

The GRAMMY Museum announces its Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit initial programming schedule consisting of in-person and virtual events to supplement the exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.

Opening Oct. 7, the 5,000-square foot installation delves deep into the multifaceted world of hip-hop through expansive exhibits on hip-hop music, dance, graffiti, fashion, business, activism, and history, providing visitors with an immersive experience that explores the profound impact and influence of hip-hop culture.

On display will be an incredible array of artifacts including the Notorious B.I.G.'s iconic red leather pea jacket, LL Cool J's red Kangol bucket hat, and more. Newly announced artifacts include Lil Wayne’s GRAMMY for Best Rap Album, The Carter III, Lil Wayne's handwritten letter from prison to his fans and his family, custom Saweetie acrylic nail sets created by her nail artist Temeka Jackson, plus exclusive interviews with MC Lyte, Cordae and other artists about their creative process.

Additionally, a Sonic Playground features five interactive stations that invite visitors of all ages to unleash their creativity through DJing, rapping and sampling and is made possible thanks to a grant from The Kenneth T. & Eileen L. Norris Foundation.

The exhibit is made possible with the generous support of Google Pixel, and several integrations within the space are powered by Google Pixel's innovative capabilities. This includes the Google Pixel Boombox Throne, an interactive photo experience.

The Rap City Experience, part of the Sonic Playground, is a freestyle interactive featuring Darian "Big Tigger" Morgan, host of BET's "Rap City: Tha Basement." Visitors can freestyle over beats by producers Hit-Boy, PERFXN and Schyler O'Neal, and trade bars with hip-hop artists Reason, Nana and Nilla Allin. As part of the museum's ongoing community and education programming, BET and Mass Appeal will screen the first two installments of their upcoming documentary Welcome to Rap City on Oct. 9. More details below.

Additionally, the GRAMMY Museum is partnering with The Debut Live to present their multi-part event series highlighting iconic hip-hop albums and the artists who created them, including DJ Khaled, Joey Bada$$, Rick Ross, T.I., and more. The intimate conversations are hosted by Billboard's Deputy Director of R&B and Hip-Hop, Carl Lamarre, in partnership with the GRAMMY Museum/Recording Academy + Soho House, and will be available to view beginning Oct. 6 exclusively on the GRAMMY Museum's streaming platform COLLECTION:live.

The exhibit launches on Sat, Oct. 7 and will run through Sept. 4, 2024. A special opening event will take place on Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available to purchase here. Additional programming to be announced at a later date. More information listed below.

Sat, Oct. 7:

EVENT: Careers in Music: The Nelson George Mixtape, Volume 2

WHAT: A conversation and book signing with acclaimed author, producer and director, Nelson George, as we discuss his career chronicling the birth of hip-hop in America and his work in the entertainment industry.

WHEN: 1 p.m.

WHERE: Clive Davis Theater

REGISTER: Click here.

Mon, Oct. 9:

EVENT: Careers in Music: "Welcome to Rap City" Screening

WHAT: In partnership with BET and Mass Appeal, the GRAMMY Museum is proud to host a screening of the first two installments of their new documentary "Welcome to Rap City" followed by a panel discussion featuring Rap City hosts and more.

WHEN: 12 p.m.

WHERE: Clive Davis Theater

REGISTER: Click here.

Thurs, Oct. 26:

EVENT: Backstage Pass: "Road to the Latin GRAMMYs" Mellow Man Ace

WHAT: To celebrate the 24th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, the GRAMMY Museum is thrilled to have Afro-Cuban rapper and Los Angeles native Mellow Man Ace discuss his career and his accomplishments as one of the pioneers of Latin rap, followed by a performance.

WHEN: 11 a.m.

WHERE: Clive Davis Theater

REGISTER: Click here.

Sat, Dec. 2:

EVENT: Love Your Amazing Self

WHAT: An interactive family program featuring hip-hop musician, meditation teacher and author, Ofosu Jones-Quartey, reading from his latest book Love Your Amazing Self followed by a performance. Support for this program was provided through funding from Councilman Curren Price Jr. and the New 9th.

WHEN: 11 a.m.

WHERE: Clive Davis Theater

REGISTER: Click here.

October 2023 - June 2024

WHAT: Hip-Hop Education Workshops

WHAT: In Celebration of the 50 years of hip-hop from its origin to where the genre is today. Highlighting the golden age of hip-hop, these lessons will provide students with a deeper understanding of the struggles and triumphs of the genre.

WHEN: 2023-2024 School Year

WHERE: Clive Davis Theater

REGISTER: Click here.

For more information regarding advanced ticket reservations for the exhibit, please visit

Hip-Hop Just Rang In 50 Years As A Genre. What Will Its Next 50 Years Look Like?

12 Actors Who Have Bands: Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, Zoë Kravitz & More
Dogstar feat. Keanu Reeves

Photo: Brian Bowen Smith


12 Actors Who Have Bands: Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, Zoë Kravitz & More

The stage, screen and soundfield have always been intertwined. Just look at the music made by acclaimed actors from Ryan Gosling to Zoë Kravitz and Keanu Reeves.

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2023 - 07:31 pm

Singers in movies? It’s the most natural thing in the world. Elvis Presley did it, time and time again. More than six decades after Love Me Tender, Harry Styles and Jason Isbell have made the move from stage to screen. In between, you have 8 Mile, Crossroads, Crazy Heart… the list rolls on and on.

How about the reverse, though — actors who have bands, as a separate outlet from their work on the silver screen? There’s a rich history there. Ryan Gosling, currently in the spotlight for his witty Barbie performance, has played in the duo Dead Man’s Bones for some 15 years.

Again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Jack Black’s film legacy runs in parallel to Tenacious D, the comedy-rock duo rocking our worlds since 1994. After taking the 2000s and 2010s off, Keanu Reeves’ Dogstar returns with Somewhere Between the Power Lines and the Palm Trees on Oct. 6.

Granted, this list doesn’t include actors who simply play music, like Jeff Bridges and Jeff Goldblum. Nor would it include Fred Armisen, the bandleader for “Late Night With Seth Meyers.” And if an actor was in a band but no longer is, like Jason Schwartzman in Phantom Planet, that would fall outside this metric.

In honor of this cross-media convergence, let’s take a non-chronological, by-no-means-exhaustive trip through the world of actors who have bands.

Keanu Reeves

Since 1991 — the year Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was released — Reeves has rocked out in Dogstar.

They released their debut album, Our Little Visionary, in 1996; four years later, they rang in the new millennium with Happy Ending. Twenty -three years later, Dogstar released the uplifting single “Everything Turns Around,” with the full album on its way.

Jared Leto

Like fellow rockers Dogstar, Thirty Seconds to Mars — featuring Jared Leto and his brother Shannon Leto — have a new album in 2023: It’s the End of the World but It’s a Beautiful Day.

Though they’ve taken long breaks since their 1998 formation, they never fell out of the industry; since their 2002 self-titled debut, they’ve managed a couple of albums per decade.

Michael Cera

Lighthearted indie rockers  the Long Goodbye have not one, but two Hollywood actors in it — Michael Cera of Juno, Superbad and more, as well as Clark Duke, who you may remember from Hot Tub Time Machine. (He was also in bands Mister Heavenly with Honus Honus of Man Man, Nicholas Thorburn of Islands and the Unicorns, and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse and the Shins.)

Zooey Deschanel

The rootsy, twee indie poppers She & Him seemed to typify the mid-2000s upon arrival, and maintained that charm as that milieu gave way to others. These days, the duo of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel is content to cover classic Christmas songs and Brian Wilson.

Zoë Kravitz

The actress, singer and model — who’s recently been in blockbusters like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Batman — sings in the band Lolawolf, along with drummer and producer Jimmy Gianopoulos. (They’ve worked with eight-time GRAMMY winner Jack Antonoff.)

Michael Imperioli

The "Sopranos" star plays in the three-piece New York indie rock band ZOPA; as per Imperioli’s interest in Eastern-inspired transcendence, the band name means “patience” in Tibetan.

Steve Martin

While he may not have a regular band, the Father of the Bride star and banjo picker has made acclaimed work with the Steep Canyon Rangers, including in contexts like the much-missed radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Michael C. Hall

Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum: that’s a mouthful! It’s also the name of “Dexter” and “Six Feet Under” star Michael C. Hall’s band with Blondie’s Matt Katz-Bohen and the Wallflowers’ Pedro Yanowitz.

Penn Badgley

The "Gossip Girl" and "You" star is the lead singer of Mothxr — which also includes the aforementioned Gianopoulos. While they haven’t released an album since their 2016 debut, “We'll all be making music for the rest of our lives,” Badgley has said.

Hugh Laurie

Dr. House himself hasmade blues music for years, and plays in the all-actor group Band From TV for charity. (Among its ranks: Greg Gunberg of “Alias” fame and James Denton from “Desperate Housewives.”)

Johnny Depp

Back in the 1970s, Alice Cooper formed the “Hollywood Vampires” drinking club, which included two Beatles and Harry Nilsson. He picked up the mantle once again with his band of the same name, which features Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Johnny Depp.

Kevin Bacon

The Apollo 13 and Footloose star — as in “six degrees of…” — plays in the Bacon Brothers with his brother Michael; their latest album, The Way We Love, arrived in 2020.

Clearly, the conceit of a music-making screen star remains fresh — whether you’re a Bacon, Laurie or Depp enjoyer, or any other kind of pop culture disciple under the sun.

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Positive Vibes Only: Chris Llewellyn Bares His Soul In This Stripped-Down Performance Of "Honest"
Chris Llewellyn

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Llewellyn


Positive Vibes Only: Chris Llewellyn Bares His Soul In This Stripped-Down Performance Of "Honest"

Rend Collective singer Chris Llewellyn branches out on his own by performing "Honest," the title track to his debut solo album.

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2023 - 05:00 pm

Chris Llewellyn is sharing his truth. On his new solo single "Honest," the Rend Collective co-founder gets vulnerable by approaching God in song with all his imperfections and doubts in full display.

"If you don't mind broken things, then you can have my heart/ No filter, just the way it is/ It's far from perfect, God/ But it's real and it's what I've got/ No varnish and no hiding place," the Irish singer intones in the opening verse.

Fans may be used to hearing Llewellyn with the rest of his long-running worship group, but for this episode of Positive Vibes Only, he strips down his solo song to just his voice and acoustic guitar. (The singer also sends a message of solidarity in the clip by wearing a cap that reads "Support Live Music Hire Live Musicians.")

The emotive track kicks off Llewellyn's debut solo album, also titled Honest, which dropped Sept. 1 via Sparrow Records and Capitol Christian Music Group and contains songs like "Gamble On Your Goodness," "Still Believe In The Magic" and "New Wine (Is My Bible a Barricade?)."

"Will God love you if you're honest? Is He faithful when you're faithless?" Llewellyn asks in a press statement, explaining, "These are the questions I was asking when I was writing this album…This is the soundtrack to wrestling faith."

Press play on the video above to watch Llewellyn's acoustic performance of "Honest" and check back to for more new episodes of Positive Vibes only. 

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It Goes To 11: Meet Charlotte Cardin's Trusty Wurlitzer That Has "Sparked" All Of Her Best Songs
Charlotte Cardin

Photo: Aliocha Schneider


It Goes To 11: Meet Charlotte Cardin's Trusty Wurlitzer That Has "Sparked" All Of Her Best Songs

After years of searching for the perfect keyboard Charlotte Cardin finally found her beloved vintage Wurlitzer — and the instrument transformed the Canadian singer's sound.

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2023 - 04:34 pm

Charlotte Cardin spent years searching for the perfect keyboard. And when it comes to her vintage Wurlitzer, the wait was well worth it.

"This piece of gear is very important to me because most of my songs that I've ever written were sparked at this exact keyboard," she says while seated in front of the instrument, which she bought in near-perfect condition from a man who lived just 30 minutes from her Quebec hometown.

"It just feels like a beautiful thing to me that instruments have connections with humans and they're passed on to different people," the Canadian songstress continued. "I feel like when I got this instrument, I started writing songs that had a bit of the essence of [it]. To me, a Wurlitzer sounds very, like, nostalgic. It has a bit of a sexy sound but it's also light in a lot of ways."

Indeed, the Wurlitzer helped give birth to the 12 tracks that make up 99 Nights, Cardin's sophomore album released earlier this summer, as well as her latest one-off single "Feel Good."

"I'm never getting rid of it," she vows of the hand-me-down keyboard. "At one point, I wanted to potentially bring it on tour with me! Maybe I'll buy another one that's a little more beat up…but I feel like this one belongs in my home, always."

Press play on the video above to learn more about Cardin's musical journey with her trusty Wurlitzer, and check back to for more new episodes of It Goes To 11.

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