meta-scriptLiving Legends: John Oates Gets Real About Reinventing Himself, The State Of Hall & Oates And The Male Struggle |
John Oates

Photo: Matt Christine Photography


Living Legends: John Oates Gets Real About Reinventing Himself, The State Of Hall & Oates And The Male Struggle

As Movember approaches, John Oates — its 2022 spokesperson and self-proclaimed "patron saint of facial hair" — discusses men’s health and the real-life inspiration behind his new song, "Pushin' a Rock."

GRAMMYs/Oct 28, 2022 - 02:06 pm

Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music still going strong today. This week, spoke with John Oates, one half of the acclaimed rock-and-soul duo Hall & Oates and a solo artist in his own right.

As paradoxical as it might sound, men are back in the spotlight.

In the wake of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, which were generally centered around the experiences of women, a spate of press coverage, like The New York Times' "The Crisis of Men and Boys," has illuminated the often silent suffering — and deaths of despair — of the other half of the U.S. population.

John Oates, a globally recognized musician who, decades ago, fell on hard times, sold off basically everything, and reinvented himself, is attuned to men's issues — even though, he posits, sometimes men themselves are the source of their afflictions.

"They tend to try to avoid opening up about things like that, because, maybe, it's not manly or macho," Oates, a five-time GRAMMY nominee, tells "If I can lend any credence or open up anyone to pay more attention to the various issues that affect men, then I think that's a good thing."

That's what spurred the singer/songwriter — best known as one half of Hall and Oates — to team up with Movember, a men's health charity, for their annual November campaign where men grow mustaches to raise awareness and funds to counteract men's health issues. These include mental health, suicide prevention, and testicular and prostate cancer.

Yes, Oates' globally recognized stache (and, eventually, goatee) made him a prime candidate for their spokesperson. But far more meaningful is his firsthand understanding of what afflicts men from within — including the simultaneous traumas of a divorce and financial ruin due to association with "less-than-scrupulous money-minders."

And to this end, philanthropy is far from the only thing Oates is involved with right now. On Oct. 28, Oates will unveil "Pushin' a Rock," his new single — a fresh makeover of an older tune co-written with Nathan Chapman, called "Pushing a Rock Uphill."

The timing is no coincidence: "Movember happened, and I realized it was about struggle," Oates says. "It's using the Greek myth of Sisyphus pushing the rock uphill; that's the metaphor or inspiration behind it."

Ahead of the release of "Pushin' a Rock" — and the dawn of Movember — sat down with Oates about men's struggles, his current creative stirrings and the state of the duo that made him famous.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

With the plethora of social causes swirling around us right now, the well-being of men can get lost in the sauce. There are so many threats to and killers of men of all ages out there. Where does your thinking lie on this issue?

Well, I kind of agree with you. In a lot of ways, men are to blame for that situation, because they tend to not be very open, either physically or emotionally, on issues like that. They tend to try to avoid opening up about things like that, because, maybe, it's not manly or macho.

I think men have come a long way. If you look at the women's initiatives that go on — with breast cancer and all those sorts of things — they're well-received and well-supported in the media, and everywhere. Yet, men's-health initiatives — people are aware of them, but I don't think they're promoted the way [they should be].

Maybe women are just better promoters than men! [Laughs] And they're better communicators. Well, we already know that part.

Tell me where "Movember" comes into all of this — how your experiences fold into this initiative.

Well, aside from the obvious — that I'm the patron saint of facial hair — they reached out to me through social media and offered me the position of being their international spokesperson for this year. And I thought, Wow, this is great. You know, if I can lend any credence or open up anyone to pay more attention to the various issues that affect men, then I think that's a good thing.

I don't know how effective I'll be. But I do know that people can look at someone like me, who's been around for quite a while, who's had a lot of different experiences, a lot of success, and still know that I have things I need to overcome. Things that I struggle with. Things that I need to address on a daily basis, really.

It's not something [like], you have a bunch of hit records, you make a bunch of money, and now your life is perfect. Well, far be it from the truth. So, if I can be an example for that alone, maybe that's a good thing.


*Hall and Oates in 1973. Photo: GAB Archive/Redferns via Getty Images*

Can you talk about some of your struggles — physical, mental or otherwise — throughout half a century in the music industry?

If you're going to be in the music business — and the entertainment business in general — you have to develop a pretty thick skin. Because you're going to come up against a lot of adversity; [it could be] professional adversity, turning into personal adversity.

I've learned to harden myself in a lot of ways to deal with that. But at the same time, there have been things I couldn't deal with. Quite frankly, there were things that were out of my control that should have been in my control.

By that, I mean, when you allow outside forces to make critical decisions and have control of your finances or certain career choices — and you don't take care to either make yourself educated enough to understand it, or assert yourself to the point where you can control it — that's when things go wrong.

That certainly happened to me in the late '80s. And, unfortunately for me, some business things like that happened to me at the same time I was getting divorced. It was a combination of the emotional upheaval of being divorced and dealing with a lot of stuff that happened to me professionally — all at the same time.

It happened after the huge commercial success in the '80s. I ended up having to reassess where I was in my life and how to go forward in my life. Meaning, what was the next step?

It was kind of like being on this cliff way up high — you've been elevated to this place, and then making a conscious decision: "Hey, I'm going to step off this cliff, I'm going to jump to another, lower level here, and then I'm going to figure out how to get back." That was a strategy I had to develop in the late '80s and early '90s.

How do you remember getting through those twin traumas back then?

It had to do with therapy — with getting some strategies revealed to me in therapy, which I had never done before. I did it with my ex-wife before we got divorced, in kind of a couple's scenario, but it didn't help, because we were going to get divorced regardless.

But then, afterwards, I ended up going back to therapy, and delving [into] and dealing deeply with a lot of the things I hadn't addressed. That helped me, and then I made a conscious decision.

I was living in New York, I had all the trappings of being a big rock star. All the apartments and houses and airplanes and vintage car collections; all this stuff. And I just needed to change my life. I shaved my mustache; I sold everything I had. I moved to my little condo in Aspen, which is the only thing I didn't sell. 

I left New York, and left a lot of the toxic environment I was involved with — and a lot of toxic people I was involved with. I left them all behind. That wasn't easy.

What was the nature of this toxicity? Was it a drug-fueled environment?

No, actually; it wasn't the drugs. I never had a drug or alcohol problem. 

It was all about business. It was all about being surrounded by dishonesty and a lack of integrity that I didn't understand, because I was too focused on making records and touring. And not paying attention to the other things, which aren't as shiny and sexy, but unfortunately, very critical to having a good career.

I learned a lot during that period of time. I learned never to let that happen again, which is probably the best lesson to learn.

In the press release, you mention "a traumatizing experience that significantly impacted the way you live your life." Is that what you're referring to?

Yeah, that's exactly what I'm referring to. I got to the point where I was told that a lot of money had been… diverted. Let's put it that way. Away from me, into other things, or into the ether somewhere.

What I was left with was a ton of hard assets, luckily for me. Like I said earlier — I'll make a joke. I didn't have a lot of money, but I had a lot of s—. So, I sold all the s— and had a lot of money again.

Then, I decided, OK, I don't know if I'll make another dime. But I'm going to restructure my life so it doesn't matter whether I make another dime again. And I moved to Colorado, lived in the mountains, rode a bicycle for two years — I had no car — and made new friends.

I spent most of the '90s reinventing myself. Remarrying, having a kid, building a house — doing all the things I couldn't do when I was on the road for over 20 years.


*John Oates today. Photo: Jason Lee Denton*

Let's talk about your upcoming single, "Pushin' a Rock." How does that fold into these themes we're talking about?

Well, there was an interesting evolution of that song. Back around 2014, I was making a collaborative album called Good Road to Follow. The idea of the album was: I reached out to a whole bunch of people I really liked and respected. People like Vince Gill, Ryan Tedder — all sorts of people.

I said, "Hey, let's just make a single. I want to enter your world and make a record with you, however you like to make records." I just thought it would be a cool project.

So, I reached out to a guy named Nathan Chapman, who is a multiple GRAMMY winner responsible for all of Taylor Swift's early success. I met him when he was just a young musician in Nashville, when he was doing demos for, basically, a 13-year-old Taylor Swift.

At the time, I had read a story where Taylor had moved on. She had new producers she was going to work with, and she was no longer going to work with Nathan. I just had a gut instinct to call him. I called him and asked how he was doing, and he said he wasn't sure, because the creative rug had been pulled out from under him, in a sense.

I said, "Man, I'm kind of in the same place — my own version of that. Why don't we try to write a song?" He said, "I would love that."

So, I went over to his house and wrote a song, and it ended up being called "Pushing a Rock Uphill," and I recorded it on that album. It came out great — I thought the lyrics were really good, [but] my production was not that great. But nevertheless, it was OK.

Years have gone by now. During COVID, I was thinking about [how] there have been a lot of struggles in my life, again, in a different way. And I revisited the song, and I took the lyrics and got rid of the music. I said, "I'm going to write a new track. I'm going to do a new musical bed for this, and I'm going to rephrase and restructure the lyrics to fit."

That's what happened, and to differentiate it, I called it "Pushin' a Rock." I called up Nathan and said, "Hey, man. I rewrote the song. I hope you don't mind." I played it for him, and he said, "John, this is how it should have sounded from the beginning." [Laughs]

He loved it, and I liked it. Then, Movember happened, and I realized it was about struggle. It's using the Greek myth of Sisyphus pushing the rock uphill; that's the metaphor or inspiration behind it.

The whole idea is that you have to keep pushing in your life. You have to keep trying and trying and never give up. But at the same time, when you run up against something overwhelming and the rock rolls back down, you've got to step out of the way and do it again, because you can't quit. That's what the song's all about.

When you look back on your long career, what are you most proud of regarding decisions you made — personal or creative? And what would you tell yourself early on, if you could?

Well, here again, I'd go back and tell myself to look out for less-than-scrupulous money-minders. That would be the first thing. I would also tell myself to get a really good lawyer.

And then, I would say the thing I'm most proud of is: I made a move to Nashville in the late '90s, early 2000s. The move, and the musicians and people I surrounded myself with, allowed me to rediscover the musician that I was before I met Daryl Hall. Because I was a blues, folk, rootsy musician, and I tapped back into my earliest influences.

The Nashville music community supported me in that and helped me to rediscover myself. I really couldn't put a value on something like that.


*Hall and Oates performing in 2019. Photo: Peter Van Breukelen/Redferns/Getty Images*

How are things with Daryl today?

I guess he's OK. He's doing his thing. He did a tour with Todd Rundgren, and we still have a couple of Hall and Oates shows to play. We don't really hang out or socialize at all, but our professional relationship is still working.

Once Movember has come and gone, how can we as a society continue to address issues affecting men? What's the path forward?

You know what it is? It's building awareness little by little. Here again — keep pushing that rock uphill. You can't give up. You have to try something; you have to create awareness, and hopefully sustain it, in a way, until next time.

I think the women's movement has been very successful in getting their agendas and their initiatives across in a big, big way. If you look at breast cancer, you've got 300-pound football players wearing pink shoes. They're getting their message across, and sustaining their message.

Men don't really do that. But maybe this is a beginning for that.

What else is creatively percolating for you? What are you thinking about next, regarding your own output?

I'm sliding away from the Americana, roots-music world, although I'll never leave it. But I'm tapped a little more into my pop side.

I'm feeling like the things I'm doing — and when you hear the song, you'll understand what I'm talking about — I feel like I'm tapping into a '70s soul, R&B, rock kind of thing. For some reason, it just feels good to me.

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Bootsy Collins
Bootsy Collins performs at PNC Music Pavilion on July 22, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Photo: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images


10 Must-See Acts At SXSW 2024: The Black Keys, Automatic, Slick Rick, BALTHVS, Vulva Voce & More

As South by Southwest 2024 kicks off, preview some of the most exciting performances, music film screenings, and music-related keynotes that will hit Austin stages.

GRAMMYs/Mar 11, 2024 - 01:41 pm

South By Southwest lures more than 250,000 people to Austin each year to learn about a range of topics, including education, the cannabis industry, technology, film, and video gaming, but music is the heart and driving force of SXSW. The festival kicks off March 8, and a dizzying array of musical performances brings the festival to life from March 11 to 16.

The festival has grown exponentially since its inception in 1987 as a showcase for mostly unknown alternative acts. Roughly 2,000 musical artists will perform on more than 100 stages spread out across Austin and the possibilities for discovery feel endless.

SXSW can generate much buzz and help launch careers: Odd Future, the hip-hop/R&B collective that provided the springboard for Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean, played just a few short sets there in 2011, and Diddy declared them the future of rap music. HAIM, Janelle Monáe, John Mayer, M.I.A., and countless others have had significant early-career moments at SXSW. And legacy artists like New Order and RZA also come to the festival each year to share their wisdom in interviews and perform new material.

As the 2024 festival kicks off, check out some of the emerging and legacy artists appearing at SXSW, including a multiple GRAMMY-winning garage duo, an all-female post-punk group from Los Angeles that embraces "nihilism and loneliness," a modern Texas cumbia collective, an '80s light rock icon, a funk pioneer, modern funk innovators, Glasgow '90s post-rock, and more.

The Black Keys

The Black Keys helped usher in the garage rock revival of the early 2000s on just two instruments: drums and guitar. Their stripped-down sound, originally just made up of "old blues rip-offs and words made up on the spot" in Akron, Ohio, eventually grew to become a well-crafted, major-label rock sound that landed them in arenas and earned more than two dozen award nominations and multiple GRAMMY wins. They’ve released 11 studio albums.

The duo will perform at the 2024 festival in support of a new documentary, This Is A Film About The Black Keys, that traces their trajectory from jamming in basements to major-label rock band. Rolling Stone Senior Writer Angie Martoccio will interview members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney in a keynote event.


Since the release of their 2019 debut album, Signal, the gloomy post-punk band Automatic has toured the U.S. and abroad, composed the soundtrack for Hedi Slimane’s 2020 Paris Fashion Week show for Céline, and opened for legendary post-punks Bauhaus ( drummer Lola Dompé is a daughter of the English goth rock band’s drummer Kevin Haskins).

The band’s three members — Dompé, Izzy Glaudini, and Halle Saxon-Gaines — draw inspiration from krautrock, dub reggae, and the off-kilter, moody atmosphere of films by auteurs like David Lynch. Their live performances are uptempo and melancholy at the same time, and have shared stages with Parquet Courts, Tame Impala, and Thee Osees. Automatic  once described their music as "fixated on the intersection between ’70s underground culture and the ’80s mainstream, ‘That fleeting moment when what was once cool quickly turned and became mainstream, all for the sake of consumerism.’"


When the Glasgow-based rock band released their first single in 1996, they were anxious to replace the '90s Britpop of well-known UK bands like Oasis and Blur with something a bit more emotional and dark: lengthy guitar-based instrumental pieces full of distortion and heavy effects that offered dynamic contrast and melodic bass guitar lines. 

They’ve since gone on to embrace electronica and instrumental music, and over the years has provided music for multiple film soundtracks. Their basic song formula typically begins with something low-key that grows into something gentle and melodic, and then pushes toward louder, layered driving rock. 

"Calling it ‘art’ would be a pretentious step too far, but it’s certainly something that feels exciting and different to most other pop," one British newspaper wrote. A new documentary from Antony Crook, If The Stars Had A Sound, which follows the independent Scottish band’s trajectory, will premiere at SXSW 2024. 

El Combo Oscuro

Modern-day interpretations of cumbia — a percussion-heavy genre of Latin American music originated in Colombia — have become more widespread in recent years, with some calling cumbia "the new punk" for a young generation of rockers who are politically engaged but want to have a good time.

On organ, guitars, bass, drums, and conga drums, El Combo Oscuro sounds modern and retro at the same time, by weaving together an "impenetrable wall of psychedelic Cumbia and Latin sounds" that "throws neon Tex-Mex tribalism," according to the Austin Chronicle

Almost immediately after forming in 2020 in Austin, El Combo Oscuro were nominated for an Austin Music Awards’ Best Latin Act, and their debut EP, Que Sonido Tan Rico, was No. 15 on the Austin Chronicle’s Top 100 Records of 2021. A second EP, 2022's Cumbia Capital, further showcased the sound of Texas. Their 2024 SXSW performance will also feature songs from their latest release, a 2023 debut full-length titled La Danza de las Sirenas.

Bootsy Collins

In addition to showcasing thousands of emerging acts, SXSW each year also honors legacy artists who continue to write, produce, and perform music. Bassist Bootsy Collins — who played with James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic throughout the late '60s and '70s and, in recent years, has collaborated with Kali Uchis and Tyler, the Creator — will perform with the group Zapp. 

The performance is part of Bootsy's own anti-violence initiative, "Funk Not Fight," which includes a Cleveland-based (Collins is from Ohio) anti-violence hub designed to offer music recording and mentorship to local youth. During a free performance on March 15, Collins will release a new song and album of the same name. 

Collins’ previous album was 2021’s Nobody’s Perfect Experience. The GRAMMY-winning bassist was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. Collins played on some of James Brown’s best-known and most political records – "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine" and "Superbad" – and also had a hand in pop hits like Deee-Lite’s "Groove Is in the Heart" and Fatboy Slim’s "Weapon of Choice."

At 72 years old, Collins shows no signs of giving up the funk. "Funk just brings people together, from the ground up," he told the Guardian. "It doesn’t have nothing to do with color. It has nothing to do with status. It just brings you to ‘the one’, and the one thing that we all have in common is that we all just want to live. That’s what it’s really all about. It’s making something from nothing, like me." 

John Oates

John Oats is one half of five-time GRAMMY-nominated pop-soul duo Hall & Oates. Twenty-nine of their 33 singles charted on Billboard’s Hot 100 between 1974 and 1991, and six of those songs — like "I Can’t Go For That" and "Private Eyes" — peaked at No. 1 . The two were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 and their music has been sampled by artists like 2 Chainz.

Oates, 75, has released five studio albums as a solo artist and published a memoir in 2017 titled Change of Seasons.

"I made a move to Nashville in the late '90s, early 2000s. The move, and the musicians and people I surrounded myself with, allowed me to rediscover the musician that I was before I met Daryl Hall," Oates told "Because I was a blues, folk, rootsy musician, and I tapped back into my earliest influences.

At SXSW 2024, Oates will discuss fame, fortune, and managing a hit music career. His talk will be moderated by Alex Heiche, CEO & Founder of Sound Royalties. Coincidentally, Oates has been in the middle of a legal battle with his former songwriting partner. 

Slick Rick

When asked about hip-hop icon Slick Rick, Roots drummer and Tonight Show bandleader Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson told Rolling Stone, "Slick Rick's voice was the most beautiful thing to happen to hip-hop culture. Rick is full of punchlines, wit, melody, cool cadence, confidence and style. He is the blueprint." 

Slick Rick "The Ruler" — largely considered the most sampled hip-hop artist in history — launched his career performing with Doug E. Fresh’s Get Fresh Crew in the mid-80s, and his 1988 breakout solo album reached number one on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Slick Rick has recently collaborated with Soul Rebels Brass Band. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 GRAMMYs, to honor his legacy as a masterful storyteller and pioneering melodic rapper who raps in a British accent with a leisurely cadence and an unforgettably nasal voice that sometimes swerves into cartoony vocal tones. 

In recent years, Slick Rick has collaborated with Missy Elliott, Mos Def, and the Black Eyed Peas. He performed a duet with Mariah Carey at Radio City Music Hall in 2019, and was signed to actor Idris Alba’s record label. He will perform an all-ages showcase performance — badge-required — at The Mohawk on March 12.  


Funk music in recent years has taken on a more global sound, incorporating elements of Asian and Middle Eastern music, surf rock, reggae, and cumbia, thanks to bands like Khruangbin and BALTHVS, a Colombian psychedelic funk trio that has toured the world and released three full-length albums since forming in 2019. The band aims to make "cosmic music" that can combat anger and anxiety.

Band members Balthazar Aguirre (guitar), Johanna Mercuriana (bass), and Santiago Lizcano (drums) produce, mix, and master all of their music and design all of their artwork. Their most recently release, Third Vibration, incorporates funk, disco, dream pop, vaporwave, soul, and R&B into their songs.

Aguirre hypes those genres and more on his Cubensis Records YouTube page, where subscribers can better understand the BALTHVS universe by exploring a vast library of eclectic music, like the mystical 1968 Gabor Szabo album "Dreams," or Stefano Torossi’s 1974 Italian jazz fusion album "Feelings." For super fans, it’s a giant rabbit hole of discovery that helps illustrate the band’s musical recipe.


Brainstory is another modern funk outfit with an eclectic musical blueprint: the three members of Brainstory grew up in the Inland Empire area outside Los Angeles, and by the mid-2010s, they were developing a version of California retro soul music that combines jazz and funk with psychedelic rock and 70s R&B. 

"That's what we were all into at the time—jazz," says guitarist and singer Kevin Martin, who happens to be a big Bob Dylan fan. "And that's what we wanted to do with our first EP in 2014—take our songs and expand them, improvise, weld jazz onto them. We wanted to trick people into listening to jazz, basically." 

The band, made up of Kevin, his brother Tony Martin, and Eric Hagstrom, has released one full-length album, an instrumental album, and an EP. Their new record, Sounds Good, produced for Big Crown Records by Leon Michels — who recently collaborated with Black Thought of the Roots — drops on April 19. The band is touring this spring. Previously they’ve performed with soul singer Lady Wray, and singer Claire "Clairo" Cottrill has a guest feature on the new album.

Vulva Voce

SXSW is more associated with rock music than classical, but the UK-based, all-female string quartet Vulva Voce has applied a rock attitude to their ensemble. Formed during Covid lockdown, they compose much of their own music — which combines elements of folk, jazz, contemporary, and experimental music.

"In terms of our identity — and especially in terms of our business model — we treat ourselves like a band rather than a classical string quartet," violist Nadia Eskandari said

Vulva Voce also employ a bit of a punk attitude, performing outside classical concert halls, at open mic nights and pop-up performances. They also play a wide range of music written by female composers.

"We want all the music we play to feel accessible to anyone, because when you are playing music by women, it is even more important that anyone can connect to it, not just classical audiences,"  Eskandari adds.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Newport Folk 2023

Photo: Douglas Mason / Contributor via Getty Images


Watch Backstage Interviews At Newport Folk 2023: Turnpike Troubadours, Nickel Creek, M. Ward, Thee Sacred Souls & More

Another Newport Folk is in the books; its 2023 iteration was one of the great ones — featuring Aimee Mann, Lana Del Rey, Jason Isbell and more. Watch backstage interviews with some of its radiant artists below.

GRAMMYs/Aug 1, 2023 - 09:50 pm

Another summer, another Newport Folk. The storied bastion of American roots music flourished once again, with three days of plucks, strums, harmonies and good cheer.

Lana Del Rey enjoyed her Newport debut, James Taylor made a surprise appearance (calling it "emergency folk music") and the Black Opry made waves — and was on the grounds for all of the excitement.

Backstage, a number of artists chatted about their experiences onstage, their love of the American roots community and more.

Watch all of the interviews below — and we'll see you at Newport Folk 2024!

Turnpike Troubadours

Nickel Creek

John Oates

Abraham Alexander

Bella White

Gregory Alan Isakov

Indigo de Souza

M. Ward

Thee Sacred Souls

Rob Grant

Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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