meta-scriptInside The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas: "A Mecca For Memories" | GRAMMY.com
Inside The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas
The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas

Photo: Lisa Johnson

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Inside The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas: "A Mecca For Memories"

The newly opened Punk Rock Museum immerses visitors in a hell-raising musical history through ephemera, photos and special guest tour guides.

GRAMMYs/Jun 29, 2023 - 05:05 pm

Prepare to be thrown into a head-spinning circle pit of punk rock memories and madness at the newly opened Punk Rock Museum. Situated in Las Vegas, the museum features endless smatterings of black and white carbon-copied show flyers, rare photo displays, battered instruments, posters, personal items, clothing, and other artifacts that make it feel like a fan’s bedroom, a club, and a learning institution all in one. 

Celebrating the impact and cultural significance of hardcore music genres and their raucous offshoots, the new venue is bursting with evocative ephemera and amazing memorabilia organized by locales and subgenres that tell the story of punk rock. In addition to stuff to look at, read and absorb, there are immersive spaces to jam, hang out, shop, get tattooed, and even get married. The place is as excessive and irreverent as Sin City itself, with a chaotic aesthetic, inside and out (the exterior is black, natch, with a big green-lettered sign).  

It could be argued that a facility like this should be in Los Angeles, New York, D.C. or even the UK, where much of the music was birthed. But Fat Mike — best known for helming L.A. seminal punk group NOFX and the label Fat Wreck Chords — has been touting Las Vegas as "the most punk city in the U.S." since he first announced plans to open the place a couple years ago alongside Warped Tour producer Lisa Brownlee. 

He has a point: Beyond the gargantuan glitz of Vegas casinos and superstar stage shows, Vegas has become a true alternative destination, particularly the downtown area where an arts district has emerged with vintage boutiques, galleries and now the museum. 

Inside The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas

New York-focused memorabilia | Lina Lecaro

A Sunset Strip-like string of bars and clubs has sprouted on Fremont Street too, offering indie DJs and touring bands nightly, not to mention festivals like When We Were Young and Punk Rock Bowling, which sees many artists from its bills celebrated throughout the museum. 

Musicians even serve as "tour guides" for ticketed walk-thrus, telling stories of punk antics and misadventures past. Guest speakers have included L7’s Jennifer Finch, the Germs/45 Grave’s Don Bolles, TSOL’s Jack Grisham, Fishbone’s Angelo Moore and countless more. Coming in July they have the Dwarves’ Blag Dhalia, the Vandals’ Joe Escalante, Circle Jerks/Bad Religion’s Greg Hetson and actor/musician Fred Armisen.   

"Las Vegas has the infrastructure like cheap hotels, public transportation, and is a massive hub of travel and travelers," says Vinnie Fiorello, drummer for Less Than Jake and the museum’s Chief Marketing Officer. "It’s a perfect place for a museum to be, considering how big of a business and vacation destination it is." 

The Vegas Punk Rock Museum is a huge, famous rocker-backed endeavor (investors include Germs/Nirvana/Foo Fighters guitarist Pat Smear, Warped Tour creator Kevin Lyman and skateboarder Tony Hawk), but it is not the first "punk museum." In Los Angeles, scenester and curator Tequila Mockingbird opened a similar, smaller one herself and created an alliance with other spaces celebrating punk in San Francisco and New York. Mockingbird and the LA Punk Museum (which is dormant at the moment)  have been critical of the Vegas edition on social media, stating that it took her idea, but most in the community seem to think there’s room for everyone.

Inside The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas jackets

Personalized leather jackets | Lina Lecaro

Fiorello, downplayed the animosity, stating that there is no controversy "besides sharing the idea of starting a punk museum." He adds that the founders have "only respect and admiration to anyone trying to put a spotlight onto how important punk was, is, and continues to be."

Because so many music people are involved, Fat Mike’s space has the resources to gather an astounding and unrivaled collection. The regional breeding grounds of punk each get their own sections, demonstrating the breadth and diversity of the scene:  Southern California (the Germs, X, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Fear, Adolescents, Social Distortion, Suicidal Tendencies); Northern California (the Dead Kennedys, Rancid, Green Day); NYC (the Ramones, Blondie, New York Dolls, Television, Agnostic Front);  D.C. (Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Dag Nasty) and many more.

Inside The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas  collection 2

Anarchy in the UK, on display | Lina Lecaro

"It is overwhelmingly chocked full of so much history," says revered rock photographer Lisa Johnson, who has several pieces in the building. "And the story is still being written so there's always going to be something new and exciting to see."

Johnson’s involvement with the museum is vast and varied. From contributing to the acquisitions team with loans and donations, to nailing down temporary exhibitions from  noted photographers Angela Boatwright and Rikki Ercoli. She also has an extensive collection of Vans Warped Tour items and photos she shot, which are heavily represented in the upstairs wing of the museum.

Johnson also shot one of the huge murals upstairs that begs for a selfie: Chuck Comeau from pop-punk group Simple Plan doing a stage dive during the band's set on the Vans Warped Tour in Toronto. "It's a pretty epic stage dive, and it brings back the sense of the energy that their set had at that moment," shares Johnson. "This photo takes me right back into that millisecond. And for the record: the fans caught him, and no one got hurt. 

"The Punk Museum is a mecca for memories," Johnson adds. "It's not a fad. And from these seeds planted decades ago, look at where it has brought us. It's really fascinating on so many levels, and there is so much to take in."

Inside The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas  collection 3

Punk family photos | Lina Lecaro

While the aggressive nature of punk rock is definitely highlighted,  the sense of connection and celebration is even more palpable, especially during the guided tours. There is also an effort to be inclusive in terms of women, people of color and queer contributions to the music. 

This year’s Punk Rock Bowling festival was the first opportunity for many to see the just-opened museum and L.A. punk legend Alice Bag (who is represented in the first room of the experience) gave it kudos for inclusivity in a recent Instagram video. In a longer YouTube video she noted that there is room for improvement in some areas, but appreciated its mindfulness to include all the people of punk– a musical form that’s always been about outsiders, rebels and the disenfranchised fighting to be heard. 

Fiorello says the museum plans to dive deeper into the story of punk as it progresses too.  

"We’ll continue to spotlight current bands and scenes, but also expand our roots into Las Vegas more through community outreach and education," he says. "We are in a unique position to be able to hear about the past from punk rockers who lived it, and the people who created the scenes that continue on. It’s important to hear and capture these stories." 

Inside The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas practice space

Fletcher Dragge's recreation of Pennywise's rehearsal space | Lina Lecaro

Beyond what’s on the walls and what’s imparted during guided tours, the museum’s experiential aspects are truly what make it special. "The jam room is my favorite part," Fiorello says. "[It’s where] you can pick up a guitar of your favorite punk rock musician and play it,  so it makes sense we continue to expand the idea. You can get married, have a drink at our bar, get a tattoo, play the guitar of your favorite punker, and get a tour from a living punk legend."

The Triple Down bar (named in homage to Vegas’s first punk dive, the still-standing Double Down) just opened, and it’s already one of its most popular spaces. Pennywise’s Fletcher Dragge, who is also part of the advising collective and recreated his band’s rehearsal space in the exhibit, inspired the most popular drink here: rum and coke in a Pringles can (the chips are served on the side). 

The Wedding Chapel has already seen several vows exchanged and The SHOP — the museum’s official tattoo studio — has been abuzz non-stop.

Inside The Punk Rock Museum In Las Vegas  tattoo shop

Shaun Kama at work in The SHOP| Lina Lecaro

"There is a natural affiliation and association between punk and tattoos," says The SHOP’s resident artist Shaun Kama. "Marking your body permanently with the bands and music you love and have an affinity for is part of the passion. It’s the perfect amalgamation of art, music and environment and it’s awesome to have a place where you fit in and don’t necessarily stand out." 

Fiorello concurs, "We hope that anyone that comes to the museum can connect with someone in an exhibit, in a photo on the wall and show them that you can pick up a guitar, create a zine, put on shows and become part of the punk scene," he says.  "Inclusion and representation are words that have been involved in our conversation from the start. The important takeaway is that anyone and everyone is welcome in punk music." 

10 Pop-Punk Albums Turning 20 In 2023: Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, The Ataris & More

Watch: "A History Of L.A. Ska" At The GRAMMY Museum
(From Left) Nina Cole, Matt Parker, Scott Klopfenstein, Karina Denike, Paul Hampton, Greg Narvas and Oliver Charles speak with moderator Junor Francis during "A History Of L.A. Ska" part four

Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Watch: "A History Of L.A. Ska" Panel At The GRAMMY Museum With Reel Big Fish, NOFX & More

Featuring musicians, DJs, curators and more, the multi-part series "A History Of L.A. Ska" explores the genre's deep history in Southern California. The latest installment included members of Hepcat, Ocean 11 and others.

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2023 - 04:42 pm

Ska — as any lover of the genre will tell you — is far from dead.

In fact, the genre that burst forth in Jamaica at the time of the nation's independence in the early 1960s (and, crucially, is the musical seed from which reggae grew) is alive and well around the globe. Call it a fourth wave, a revival or a scene of stalwarts, but the horn-heavy, grooving and uptempo music continues to march forward — and the GRAMMY Museum is all-in on the celebration.

For several years, the GRAMMY Museum has hosted "A History Of L.A. Ska" — a discussion and performance series featuring local musicians, DJs, journalists, and others. Panelists reminisce about their early years in ska, working with legends, and the important role Southern  California has played in the development of the culture. The most recent panel was held on Nov. 7 (but more on that later).

Although born in Jamaica, ska migrated to the UK in the latter half of the '60s and, the following decade, mixed with burgeoning punk sounds to create the genre's second wave: Two Tone. Bands such as the Specials, Madness and the Selecter struck a chord with local audiences as well as those in Southern California — which saw its first ska band, the Boxboys, debut in 1979. Then by the late ‘80s, California-based bands such as the Untouchables, Fishbone, Hepcat and Let’s Go Bowling were building a distinct scene.

As the ‘90s began, Southern California was the focal point of ska's third wave. Helmed by bands like Reel Big Fish, the Aquabats and, early on, No Doubt, a new generation further enmeshed punk and ska to become faster, catchier and more memeable. While third wave groups of the era came from all corners (see New Jersey's Catch-22, Florida's Less Than Jake and Boston's Mighty Mighty Bosstones), Southern California remained a stronghold for ska music and was buoyed by a strong subculture of mods and non-racist skinheads. 

Today, Los Angeles remains a hotbed for a new generation of ska acts — many of which harken back to the sounds of the '60s. Southern California has also played host to ska legends, including Derrick Morgan (whose song "Forward March" became an independence anthem), Pat Kelly, the Pioneers and more.

"When I was first introduced to ska in Southern California, I was blown away by the level of musicianship and the love that these young talents had for the music that I grew up listening to in Jamaica,” shares Junor Francis, a moderator and veteran radio DJ/emcee who co-curates the "A History Of L.A. Ska" series with Eric Kohler. The two also host a video interview series of the same name. [Editor's note: Author Jessica Lipsky has appeared on this series.] 

"While many fans of American third wave ska were introduced to the sound in the 1990s, more casual listeners may not be aware that ska in Southern California dates back four decades," notes Kohler. "To that end, Junor and I have made it our mission to celebrate and highlight the scene’s rich history, vibrancy and uniqueness."

Part four of the series — and the most recent — featured seven panelists representing a broad swath of L.A. ska history: Hepcat drummer Greg Narvas (Hepcat), singer Karina Denike (Dance Hall Crashers, NOFX), keyboardists Matt Parker (the Donkey Show) and Paul Hampton (the Skeletones), DJ and drummer Nina Cole (the Cover Ups), drummer Oliver Charles (Ocean 11, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Gogol Bordello), and multi-instrumentalist Scott Klopfenstein (Reel Big Fish, the Littlest Man Band). The panel was moderated by Junor Francis.

The four-part series is available to view on the GRAMMY Museum's website, or you can immerse yourself in the "History Of L.A. Ska" panel by panel below:

The History Of L.A. Ska Part One (2017)

Featuring: Greg Lee, Persephone “Queen P” Laird, Joey Altruda, Brian Dixon and Luis Correa

The History Of L.A. Ska Part Two (2019)

Featuring: Angelo Moore, Chris Murray, Darrin Pfeiffer, Kip Wirtzfeld, Tazy Phyllipz

Top Rankin': The O.N. Klub & Birth Of The L.A. Ska Boom (2021)

Featuring: Jerry Miller, Chuck Askerneese, Ivan Wong,  Greg Sowders, Norwood Fishe, Greg Lee, Bill Bentley, Howard Paar, Marc Wasserman, Karena Sundaram Marcum, Laurence Fishburn

If the excitement on display during the "History Of L.A. Ska" panel sessions isn't enough to convince you of the genre's staying power, consummate emcee Junor Francis shares words of affirmation:

“After being baptized into this scene and welcomed with open arms, I realized this was absolutely the right place for me!”

Photographer Kate Simon Details Her Time With Reggae's Greats & How Bob Marley Was "Completely Possessed By The Music"

Graphic featuring photos of (L-R): A Boogie wit da Hoodie, SZA, Jacquees, Metro Boomin, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer
(L-R): A Boogie wit da Hoodie, SZA, Jacquees, Metro Boomin, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer

Photos (L-R): Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic; Prince Williams/Wireimage; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Justin Combs Events; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: SZA, Neil Young, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, NCT Dream & More

Rounding out the year, here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping in December 2022 from Weezer, Metro Boomin, NOFX, Jacquees, Ab-Soul, and many others.

GRAMMYs/Dec 2, 2022 - 07:20 pm

And just like that, 2022 is almost done — but not before we get another round of must-hear albums. December's slate of releases is set to send the year out on a high note, with something for all tastes.

This month heralds much-anticipated returns from R&B innovator SZA, with S.O.S., and rap super-producer Metro Boomin, with the mysterious HEROES & VILLAINS. December's riches also include Bad MFs from West Coast hip-hop supergroup Mount Westmore, indie-rock lifers Weezer dropping SZNZ: Winter and a loaded, possibly final album from punk-rock misfits NOFX. There's also new-generation R&B (RINI’s Ultraviolet EP and Jacquees' Sincerely For You), dark techno (Terence Fixmer's Shifting Signals), soul-baring indie (Sophie Jamieson's Choosing), and much more. 

Below, check out a guide to the 15 essential albums dropping just in time for the festive season. — Jack Tregoning

Contributed reporting by Ashlee Mitchell

SZA - S.O.S.

Release date: TBD

Five years after her GRAMMY-nominated debut album, Ctrl, it's about to be SZA season all over again. While details are still pending, the alternative R&B star is expected to drop her second album, S.O.S., this month, following the single "Shirt" and its teaser follow-up, "PSA".

In a revealing Billboard cover story, SZA spoke frankly about the pressure she feels to release the album while navigating the music industry and her fans' expectations. As always with SZA, the music itself speaks volumes, and the darkly seductive "Shirt" (accompanied by a music video co-starring SZA and Academy Award nominee LaKeith Stanfield in a riff on Bonnie and Clyde) suggests S.O.S. will be something to savor. — J.T.

Related: Ari Lennox's Age/Sex/Location Explores Online Dating, Never Settling & Old School Romance

Metro Boomin - HEROES & VILLAINS

Release date: December 2

To prepare fans for his new album, HEROES & VILLAINS, sought-after rap producer Metro Boomin went all-out on a short film starring his collaborators Young Thug and Gunna alongside celebrated actors Morgan Freeman and LaKeith Stanfield. Following that flex, the artist's first solo LP in four years is set to feature a who's who of rap, with an exact tracklist still to be announced.

Metro Boomin's previous album, 2018's Not All Heroes Wear Capes, featured the likes of Travis Scott, 21 Savage and Gucci Mane rapping over the producer's dark, trap-centric beats. This time around, he's keeping his cards close to his chest, slyly sharing a video of the studio sessions on his Instagram with the caption, "When the sequel is even better than the first." All will be revealed on Dec. 2. — J.T.

Related: For The Record: Kendrick Lamar's 'Good Kid, M.A.A.d City' Launched A New Era In Storytelling & West Coast Rap

Neil Young - Harvest (50th Anniversary Edition)

Release date: December 2

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Young's seminal folk-rock album Harvest, released to great acclaim in 1972. Featuring indelible songs like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and "The Needle and The Damage Done," Harvest was the best-selling album of that year in the US.

To celebrate the milestone, Young is releasing a special anniversary edition, available in either CD or vinyl box-set. Extras include a new two-hour documentary called Harvest Time, an official release of Young's BBC In Concert performance , and a hardcover book featuring never-before-seen photos and notes by legendary rock photographer Joel Bernstein. Consider this the festive gift for the Neil Young completist in your life. — J.T.

After breaking out with his 2021 debut album, Constellations, RINI returns this month with the seven-track EP, Ultraviolet. The Filipino-Australian R&B talent, who now calls Los Angeles home, pairs his indelible voice with slinky, late-night production that pulls the listener close.

Ahead of Ultraviolet, RINI has released the singles "Haunt Me" and "Selfish," featuring GRAMMY-winning rapper BEAM, which pair his themes of love and longing with gauzy, head-nodding beats. "I want to be able to show the world and myself that I'm growing, not just in music, but as a person," RINI told Uproxx in May. On Ultraviolet, which also features the slick bedroom jams "Something to Feel" and "Your Eyes," that evolution is evident. — J.T.

Related: R&B Isn't Dead: Listen To 51 Songs By Summer Walker, Josh Levi & More Artists Who Are Pushing The Genre Forward

NOFX - Double Album

Release date: December 2

SoCal punk veterans NOFX have always kept up a prolific output, and this month the band returns with their 15th LP, Double Album. Following last year's Single Album, the conveniently titled Double Album features 10 new songs with perfectly NOFX titles like "Punk Rock Cliché" and "Is It Too Soon if Time Is Relative?" Lead single "Darby Crashing Your Party" showcases the band at their hard-riffing, rowdy best, with frontman Fat Mike clearly relishing lyrical volleys like, "A middle-class clown waging lower class war/A Beverly Hillbilly peeled off the floor."

In a statement announcing the new album, Fat Mike revealed the songs were recorded at the same time as Single Album, then finished off later. "I think it's a very enjoyable album, and maybe our funniest," he added. It could also be NOFX's parting gift — responding to a fan’s Instagram comment, Fat Mike announced that 2023 will be the band's "last year" after an "amazing run." — J.T.

Related: 5 Women Essential To Punk: Exene Cervenka, Poly Styrene, Alice Bag, Kathleen Hanna & The Linda Lindas

Terence Fixmer - Shifting Signals

Release date: December 2

French producer Terence Fixmer has been one of the most intriguing figures in the electronic music scene for well over a decade. Over six past solo albums, numerous EPs and standalone releases, Fixmer has perfected a dark, gritty sound that melds techno with the looser industrial spirit of electronic body music (EBM).

Fixmer's seventh album, Shifting Signals, continues in that vein while allowing for new textures to creep in. "On each album I aim for something different but I retain the core sound, which is always there and often dark and melancholic," the producer wrote in a statement. "Sometimes the balance tips slightly and on this album, I'm striving to be freer and open myself up more to melody."

That openness to different modes is showcased on the atmospheric, piano-led "Synthetic Minds," which evokes a John Carpenter film score, while fellow singles "Corne de Brume" and "No Latitude for Errors" are built for heady techno dance floors. — J.T.

Related: Going Underground: House DJ Claude VonStroke On Making Soul Decisions & Keeping Electronic Music Grimy

Sophie Jamieson - Choosing

Release date: December 2

On her debut album, Choosing, London-based singer-songwriter Sophie Jamieson doesn't shy from difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Lead single, "Sink" lays bare her push-pull relationship with alcohol over a lulling bed of piano and drums. That theme of emotional vulnerability carries through the LP's 11 songs, which foreground Jamieson's enchanting voice and plain-spoken lyrics.

"The title of this album is so important," Jamieson wrote in a statement. "Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it's about hope, and finding strength. It's about finding the light at the end of the tunnel and crawling towards it." Choosing arrives via Bella Union, the tastemaking label led by Simon Raymonde, formerly of Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins. — J.T.

Related: Hear The 2022 Nominees For Best Alternative Music Performance At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

White Lung - Premonition

Release date: December 2

Canadian punk rockers White Lung weren't expecting to take six years to follow up 2016's celebrated Paradise. As the story goes, the band got together in their hometown of Vancouver in 2017, expecting to rip out their final album before parting ways. In the studio, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way discovered she was pregnant with her first child — which, along with a global pandemic and another child, put the album plans on ice.

Fast forward to 2022, and White Lung's fifth and final album, Premonition, is finally here. With all that extra time to marinate, Premonition is a thrilling return from the trio, mining deeper themes with the same raucous, kick-down-the-door energy that fans expect. The album opens furiously with "Hysteric", and also features the singles "Date Night" and "Tomorrow," which match Barber-Way's impassioned vocals with muscular punk-rock riffing.

"We felt like this record was the right endpoint and we are happy the songs will finally be released," the band wrote in a statement. — J.T. 

Related: Like Turnstile And Code Orange? 10 More Bands Expanding The Boundaries Of Hardcore

A Boogie Wit da Hoodie - Me vs. Myself

Release date: December 9

New York's A Boogie wit da Hoodie has been steadily hyping the release of his fourth album, Me Vs Myself, throughout 2022. Originally scheduled for November, the album will drop this month, right in time for A Boogie's hometown album launch at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Me Vs Myself was preceded by a pair of singles, "Take Shots," featuring Tory Lanez, and "Ballin," which both showcase the rapper's supremely confident flow and wavy beats. While the full tracklist is not yet confirmed, A Boogie's previous album, ARTIST 2.0, covered the R&B and rap spectrum with guests like Summer Walker, Khalid, Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, without pulling focus from the main star. The rapper has already lined up dates for the Me Vs Myself tour stretching into 2023, so it's a great time to bet on A Boogie. — J.T.

Related: Meet The 2022 Nominees For Best Rap Album At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

Mount Westmore - Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort

Release date: December 9

When living legends Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too Short and Ice Cube formed the supergroup Mount Westmore, West Coast rap heads took notice. After several hints that a collaborative album was coming, Mount Westmore made the surprise decision to release their debut, Bad MFs, exclusively as an NFT via the blockchain-based platform Gala Music.

The album arrives on streaming services this month under a new title, Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort, featuring additional songs not included on the NFT version. A spirit of loose fun and ride-or-die friendship carries through all the singles released so far, including the swaggering "Bad MFs" and the bass-heavy, light-hearted "Big Subwoofer." As Snoop put it to HotNewHipHop, "You bring the legends of the West Coast together, something great will always happen." — J.T.

Related: Take The Power Back: How Rage Against The Machine's Debut LP Created Rap-Rock With A Message

Leland Whitty - Anyhow

Release date: December 9

Best known as a member of Toronto-based jazz ensemble BADBADNOTGOOD, Leland Whitty is a true multi-instrumentalist. On his seven-track solo release, Anyhow, Whitty oversaw all production and composition, moving deftly between guitar, synthesizer, woodwinds and strings.

Following his scores for indie films Disappearance at Clifton Hill and Learn to Swim, Whitty was inspired to combine cinematic composition with rock and jazz instrumentation in his own project. Lead single "Awake" perfectly strikes that balance with twinkling keys, mournful strings and an insistent drum beat, while follow-up "Glass Moon" conjures a similarly beguiling mood. Members of BADBADNOTGOOD and Whitty's musician brother also joined the studio sessions, making Anyhow a family affair. — J.T.

Related: Robert Glasper & Terrace Martin On Removing Their Egos And Creating Their GRAMMY-Nominated Collaboration Dinner Party: Dessert

Jacquees - Sincerely For You

Release date: December 16

On "Say Yea", the sultry bedroom anthem he dropped back in May, Jacquees croons, "Girl, you overdue for some romantic s—." That simple line is something of a mission statement for the R&B casanova, whose third album, Sincerely For You, drops this month.

The LP features "Say Yea" alongside 16 more R&B jams, including singles "Tipsy," which captures the singer's blurry plea to a lover, and the smoothly boastful "Still That." Elsewhere, Sincerely For You offers up guest turns from Future (who also executive produced the album), 21 Savage and Tory Lanez, plus the R&B dream team of 6lack and Summer Walker on "Tell Me It's Over." On his socials, Jacquees dedicated the album to "everybody who been there for me along the way" and promised to deliver only "real R&B." — J.T.

Related: Durand Bernarr's 'Wanderlust': The R&B Singer Explains Why He's "Constantly In A State Of Arriving"

Ab-Soul - Herbert

Release date: December 16

Six hard-won years after his last album, the divisive, conspiracy theory-heavy Do What Thou Wilt., Ab-Soul has found his drive again. The rapper from Carson, California returns this month with a deeply personal album that shares his birth name, Herbert.

Ab-Soul's new outlook was previewed in lead single "Do Better," which reckons with the scars of his past and looks to the future with powerful clarity. The next single, "Gang'Nem," featuring Houston rapper FRE$H and produced by fellow Top Dawg Entertainment mainstay Sounwave, also revisits his upbringing and pays respect to L.A. street culture over a woozy, hard-hitting beat.

For fans of Ab-Soul's dense lyrical style and gravelly flow, Herbert is an eagerly-anticipated return to the rap limelight. — J.T.

Related: From "Rap Sh!t" To "Pistol" And "Treme": 8 Must-See TV Series For Music Lovers

NCT DREAM - Candy

Release date: December 19

NCT Dream, the youngest sub-group of Neo Culture Technology (NCT), has seen exponential growth since they rebranded as a fixed unit in 2020. The septet is set to release a winter special EP called Candy on Dec. 19. The mini-album's six tracks, include lead single "Candy," which was originally performed by H.O.T. in 1996. The album will be the first holiday release for any NCT sub-group, following a slew of successful releases from NCT Dream this year.

The group released their second studio album, Glitch, in March 2022, followed by their repackaged Beatbox in May. Their first feature film, NCT Dream The Movie: In a Dream, released worldwide on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 and documents the opening days of their tour in Seoul. The group will finish their tour in Japan by February 2023. — Ashlee Mitchell

Related: K-Pop Icon B.I Isn't Afraid To Explore Growth And Freedom On 'Love Or Loved Pt. 1'

Weezer - SZNZ: Winter

Release date: December 21

This has been a remarkably good year to be a Weezer fan. Always pleasingly prolific, in 2022 the band decided to release a four-EP series under the name SZNZ, each timed to coincide with a new season.

Following Spring, Summer and Autumn editions, SZNZ: Winter arrives just in time for peak coziness. While the complete tracklist is not yet known, Weezer performed the EP in full for an intimate crowd at the Troubadour in Los Angeles (using their favored alias Goat Punishment), with new highlights including "I Want A Dog" and "The One That Got Away."

While frontman Rivers Cuomo has described SZNZ: Winter as having a sad vibe that suits snowed-in days, you can always count on Weezer to cut the melancholy with some power-pop verve. — J.T.

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Fat Mike of NoFX, 2016

Fat Mike of NoFX

Photo: Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images

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NoFX, Rancid, Pennywise Set To Headline Camp Punk In Drublic Festival

Fat Mike of NoFX plans to see if punk rockers know how to camp this summer

GRAMMYs/Mar 27, 2018 - 05:34 am

Fat Mike of NoFX is debuting a new campout festival this summer, bringing together the ever-constant companions that are punk rock music and large amounts of delicious beer.

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Fat Mike's Camp Punk In Drublic, named of course after NoFX's 1994 LP Punk In Drublic, a classic cut of '90s skater punk's most irreverent pre-pop days, will constitute a three-day concert series in Thornville, Ohio, and will cap off NoFX's 2018 spring tour of the same name.

Tapped to play the festival alongside NoFX are fellow '90s punk mainstays Rancid and Pennywise, with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Goldfinger, Sick of It All, Lagwagon, Strung Out, the Bouncing Souls, Face to Face, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine, Mad Caddies, Street Dogs, the Interrupters, Guttermouth, and Bad Cop Bad Cop.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Camp Punk In Drublic is happening in June! Grab weekend passes for $50+fees this Friday: <a href="https://t.co/zmZnPJvIFW">https://t.co/zmZnPJvIFW</a> <a href="https://t.co/Kmid3Ggnol">pic.twitter.com/Kmid3Ggnol</a></p>&mdash; NOFX (@NOFXband) <a href="https://twitter.com/NOFXband/status/978335241289920512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 26, 2018</a></blockquote>

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While both the NoFX tour (alongside Bad Religion) and the music festival will share the same central theme – that being live music and craft beer tastings – the campout will expand on the tour's offerings with, carnival games, a dodgeball arena, "Fatty's Midnite Matinee" late-night movie screenings, and "campfire stories from punk legends Fat Mike, Keith Morris, Jello Biafra, Eric Melvin, El Hefe, Erik Sandin, and more!"

In a statement announcing the festival, Fat Mike laid out his vision for the event with his trademark levity, "The thing about camping is that really nothing can go wrong, because everything is already wrong …Punk rockers don't really know how to camp. They know how to wear hoodies, drink, and lean on each other. The good thing is that we got a lot of generators and an unlimited supply of kegs (some are even full of beer). …But there will be 17 great bands, 2 mediocre bands, and 5,000 kegs of beer. What could possibly go wrong?"

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Camp Punk In Drublic will be getting drunk and disorderly June 1 – 3 at Ohio's Legend Valley outdoor venue. A limited run of advance tickets will go on sale from between 10 a.m. – midnight on Friday, March 30. Additional ticketing information and prices can be found on the festival website.

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Normani in 2023
Normani attends Elle's Women In Hollywood event in 2023.

Photo: MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images

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Breaking Down Normani's Journey To 'Dopamine': How Her Debut Album Showcases Resilience & Star Power

The wait for Normani's first album, 'Dopamine,' is officially over. Upon the album's arrival, reflect on all of the major moments that have happened in the six years since she made her solo debut.

GRAMMYs/Jun 14, 2024 - 09:39 pm

All eyes are on Normani as her long-awaited debut album, Dopamine, arrives to eager fans and critics alike on June 14. It arrives more than six years after Normani made her solo debut post-Fifth Harmony — and though she has released a number of singles since, even her most loyal listeners were bewildered by the delay of her debut project. But the 28-year-old has been strategic in building something timeless.

"I took the time to learn and develop my sound. I wanted to be different and create a body of work that's unique but still fresh and exciting," Normani tells GRAMMY.com. "There were many days of trial and error trying to perfect something that embodies who I am and the type of artist I wanted to be. I always knew that I had to trust myself even when others doubted me and questioned my hunger."

On the highly anticipated Dopamine, Normani's womanhood and artistic breadth effortlessly glides across its 13 tracks. She makes no apologies for her sexier image and music after years of "feeling safe with being seen, but not too seen," as she told Teen Vogue in 2020. That newfound confidence translates into a musical paradise that's a far cry from her Fifth Harmony days. Up until now, the world has only received Normani's talent in snippets here and there; Dopamine finally gives us the full dose.

As you dig into Dopamine, take a look at a complete breakdown of every major moment that's led to Normani's long-awaited debut project.

2018: She Re-Introduced Herself As An R&B Star

A mere month prior to Fifth Harmony's hiatus announcement, a then 21-year-old Normani teamed up with Khalid for her first-ever single as a solo act, "Love Lies." Penned for the Love, Simon soundtrack, the sultry R&B number foreshadowed Normani's imminent success outside of Fifth Harmony; not only did it crack the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it hit No. 1 on both Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 and Radio Songs charts.

At the tail end of 2018, Normani delivered another R&B jam, the hazy, slow-burning duet with 6lack, "Waves," which found success on multiple R&B charts. Though somewhat forgotten compared to "Motivation" and "Wild Side" (more on those later), "Waves" shows off Normani's vocal range as she laments over an on-again, off-again relationship.

2019: She Celebrated A Global Smash & Massive Opening Act Slot

Normani struck gold again in 2019 when she teamed up with Sam Smith for "Dancing With a Stranger," which became the most-played radio song in the world that year, according to Forbes. Sonically speaking, the disco-tinged oasis marked new territory for Normani — and it paid off in a big way as it boasts over a billion Spotify streams and remains her biggest single to date.

The singer's star continued shining bright into that summer, when she served as the opener for the North American leg of Ariana Grande's Sweetener Tour. The arena trek marked her first opportunity to show off her performing skills, and further prove her prowess as a solo act.

On the heels of the international success of "Dancing With a Stranger" and touring with Grande, Normani released her first fully solo single, "Motivation." The bubbly track presented a poppier side and offered a fun moment with its Y2K-inspired video, even igniting a viral dance challenge. But it seemingly wasn't indicative of the direction she was headed; at the time, Normani admitted to The Cut that she "didn't feel like it represented" her as an artist.

Still, "Motivation" served as a pivotal moment for Normani. It became a top 20 hit on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart, and she delivered a showstopping performance of the song at the MTV Video Music Awards — which even earned the title of 2019's best performance from Harper's Bazaar.

2020 & 2021: She Teamed Up With Two Of Rap's Biggest Female Stars

The next couple of years saw Normani continue linking up with several of her peers. She first joined forces with Megan Thee Stallion for the anthemic "Diamonds" — which brilliantly samples Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" — off the Birds of Prey soundtrack. Soon after, she teamed up with Megan again — this time, for a jaw-dropping cameo in the video for the chart-topping smash "WAP" with Cardi B.

"WAP" drew criticism for its sexually explicit lyrics (and equally racy video), but the message aligned perfectly with Normani's mission to champion and represent Black women in and outside of the music industry. 

"The 'WAP' video I was really, really excited to be a part of, just because I feel like we're in a time in music where women — and Black women — are really on top, which is something I feel like we haven't seen in a very, very long time," she told Teen Vogue. "Where I come from, we were all about female empowerment. The fact that I could be a part of such a special moment embracing our sexuality, in which I definitely think there's a double standard, [was exciting] to be a part of it."

In 2021, Normani took her turn with Cardi B on another fiery track, "Wild Side," which saw her return to her R&B foundation while also continuing her artistic evolution. From sampling Aaliyah's "One in a Million" to executing the intricate choreography seen in the Tanu Muino-directed video, the '90s-inspired slow jam — which closes out Dopamine — whet fans' appetite and established Normani as a force to be reckoned with in R&B and beyond.

2022: She Traversed Several Different Musical Worlds

Keeping fans on their toes, Normani veered away slightly from her signature R&B sound by incorporating synth-pop into the one-off single "Fair." The mid-tempo track put the spotlight on her vulnerability; the lyrics deal with watching a past lover move on as if you never existed.

"This one is really unique and different for me. Probably not what everyone is expecting," she said in an Instagram story ahead of the release.

A few months later, Normani dove deeper into the dance genre by lending her light and airy vocals to Calvin Harris' "New to You," a collaboration that also featured Tinashe and Offset. But she never strayed too far from her R&B stylings, as she also teamed up with childhood friend Josh Levi for a remix of his song "Don't They" that summer.

2023: She Ushered In A New Era

Though 2023 didn't see any new music from Normani, she made some business moves that indicated she was ready for a reset. That May, Normani parted ways with S10 Entertainment and Brandon Silverstein after signing a new management deal with Brandon Creed and Lydia Asrat — signifying a new chapter and much-needed change in direction. 

"The transition signified a new beginning, filled with hopes of  moving forward and getting things done that were important to me," Normani tells GRAMMY.com. "I was faced with many obstacles over the years, some that you would not believe. But through it all, my faith in God kept me aligned with what I felt was right for me."

A couple months later, Normani launched a partnership with Bose that saw her give a first preview of the assertive Dopamine track "Candy Paint." She also offered some insight to the album delays, which partially stemmed from her parents' health struggles.

"It was hard feeling misunderstood because of the lack of knowledge people had for my circumstances in real-time. I don't even know if I had the energy to explain — my emotional, spiritual and mental endurance was really tested," she explained to Dazed. "When my parents got sick, I didn't have the mental capacity to even try to be creative, but I pushed myself anyway. If it weren't for them, I probably wouldn't have, but I know it's what got them through such a tough time — they needed to see me persevere and push through and continue to move forward."

As she shared with Bose, crafting Dopamine ended up being a creative outlet for Normani and offered a sign of hope for her and her parents during their respective treatments.

"(When my mom was going through chemo) the thing that really kept her going was getting on FaceTime and being like, 'How are the sessions going?' She's always so eager to hear the new records we've been working on," she said. "And then a year later, when my dad ended up being diagnosed, he would say mid treatment, 'I'm ready for you to take over the world.'"

2024: She Completed A Hard-Fought Journey

By the beginning of 2024, even Normani couldn't help but acknowledge how long fans had been waiting for her debut LP. She facetiously launched a website called wheresthedamnalbum.com — but it actually served as the official kickoff to the album campaign.

Two months after she shared the album's title and stunning cover art on the site, Normani delivered the guitar-driven lead single "1:59" arrived, as well as a release date for Dopamine.

Despite a series of false starts and personal challenges, Dopamine is proof that Normani is as resilient as they come — and this project was well worth the wait. Opening tracks "Big Boy" and "Still" flex her swag, whereas Janet Jackson-coded tunes like "All Yours" and "Lights On" (co-written with Victoria Monét) ooze sensual vibes. While the album mostly caters to her R&B foundation, she touches on her dance music dabblings with the house-leaning"Take My Time." 

Dopamine even offered a full-circle moment for Normani, who has cited Brandy as one of her biggest musical inspirations. The R&B trailblazer lends background vocals to "Insomnia," which also features hypnotic production from Stargate

As Normani embraces her close-up, she's keenly aware that the stakes are high, but it's a moment she's been ready for all along.

"I hope [fans] see the passion and the hard work that I have put into creating something so special," she tells GRAMMY.com. "I love my fans and how they have been patiently waiting and supporting me over the years. I hope the wait was worth it for them and they are proud of what we have accomplished together."

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