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K-Pop Superstar Baekhyun On His Sweet Solo Single "Candy" & Delightful Second Mini Album

Baekhyun

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K-Pop Superstar Baekhyun On His Sweet Solo Single "Candy" & Delightful Second Mini Album

The multi-talented artist from EXO and SuperM talks about the inspirations and goals behind 'Delight': "I wanted to showcase a variety of different sides that I have to myself"

GRAMMYs/May 29, 2020 - 07:57 pm

A soft humming is heard on the other side of the line while the call stabilizes — of course one of South Korea’s most prominent vocalists would be singing. Baekhyun, who debuted in 2012 as a member of the chart-topping boy group EXO, has just released his second solo album, Delight, and his excitement is palpable through the phone.

Just minutes before this call, he was interacting with fans on a live stream through the app VLive. There, he answered a series of questions while waiting for the album to drop at 6 pm on May 25 (KST). Nicknamed “Genius Idol” for his array of talents, Baekhyun has tried a little bit of everything throughout his career: acting, fashion design (he’s the co-creative director of the brand Privé by BBH), gaming, vlogging, duets, the EXO subunit EXO-CBX, and leading the supergroup SuperM — who was the first Korean act to top the Billboard 200 albums chart with a debut release.

His solo career officially started last year with the release of City Lights. The album sold more than half a million copies and became the best-selling physical album of 2019 by a solo artist in Korea. Delight follows the same footsteps: it amassed 732,297 stock pre-orders, sold over six hundred thousand copies on the first day according to Hanteo (a company that shares real-time sales data in South Korea), and topped the iTunes Album Charts in 68 countries so far.  

Sonically, Delight is a breezy, RnB-infused experience that showcases Baekhyun’s prismatic artistry. “I worked really hard on this album, and I was really happy working on it as well,” he tells the Recording Academy. Like “Candy”, the title track, each song has a different flavor. Deep cut “R U Ridin’” has a honey-dripping bassline, for example, while the bright “Poppin’” feels like chewing on sour candies, and the intense “Ghost” lingers with a coffee caramel aftertaste.

To deepen the discussion around his new album, The Recording Academy caught up with Baekhyun and talked about his inspirations, the development of his multifaceted persona, and, of course, his favorite candy.

This interview was edited for clarity, and an interpreter translated all answers from Baekhyun.

How are you feeling lately?

I’ve been really happy. There’s been a lot of excitement and expectation personally around the Delight release, so I’ve been relishing in all of that these days. 

What were your inspirations for this album?

I wanted to try the RnB genre more, so that’s what I focused on for this album. In terms of the title itself, within EXO my superpower is “light,” so I wanted to emphasize that as much as possible.

[Writer’s note: EXO debuted under a concept where each member has a superpower, and that appears throughout their branding.]

Just the way the word “delight” sounds is pleasurable. What are some of life's delights to you?

Right now, the top ones would be being on stage and performing. Another thing is that I’ve been taking vocal lessons on the side, and that has been a source of delight to me as well.

What's your favorite song in this album? Are there any lyrics you would like people to pay attention to?

I have to pick the title track, “Candy.” If you listen to the lyrics, there is a part where I list candy flavors and ask “what more do you want?” I think it truly expresses confidence and boldness, that I can become whatever you like, just tell me and I’ll do it. That’s the part I want everyone to pay special attention to.

This ability to become whatever is needed at the moment also shows up in the contrasting sweet and sensuous styles you explore in the album. Can you talk more about that?

As you mentioned, that’s exactly what I was trying to do with the concept of “Candy” and of Delight in general. I wanted to showcase a variety of different sides that I have to myself. In the past, fans would always say that they like both my sweet side and the more sensual, performative side, so I wanted to capture both and present them in a bigger package.

Comparing Delight to your first solo album, City Lights, what are the main differences between them?

With City Lights, because it was my first solo album, I wanted to focus more on the vocals and showcase what I felt like I could present the best. If you listen to it, it’s definitely more vocal-focused. In Delight, I wanted to take a step further and show a different side to fans. I wanted to incorporate more performance, which means a lot of choreography and thinking about the visuals on stage. I also tried to make this album a little brighter and fresher than City Lights, so visually and performance-wise it’s different.

When I think of Baekhyun, the word that comes to mind is "balance". You have an impressive talent to blend light and dark, highs and lows, laughter and tears in your performances. Are you aware of this fluency in yourself?

Since I was younger, I always heard that I’m pretty honest with my emotions. People see the bright and happy sides of me, but they see the other sides as well. Because my personality is one that is honest about how I feel, I want to showcase my true self to people. I think that’s why people say that about me as well, of showing the balance between many sides of things. That’s what I want to do because it’s who I am, and also what I want to showcase as an artist.

You have been an idol for almost a decade. What has been your biggest lesson so far?

Going back to my previous answer, I realized that if you’re honest with yourself and you’re truthful in the way you act, talk, and interact with everyone, then people will know. People will know that you’re being genuine, and over the years I learned to be honest with how I feel when I connect with my fans. As time passes, I think they have been able to recognize that and connect with me on a more genuine level too. That’s the biggest thing I learned.

And what is the achievement you're most proud of?

My debut with EXO. Even though my training period was short when compared to other members, just to be able to work together, come together as a group, and debut together, it’s definitely my proudest achievement to date. And that’s what launched me to be where I am right now.

You were always known for your powerful singing, but during all these years you have developed yourself and are currently recognized as a multi-talented artist and skillful dancer as well. Can you tell us more about that process?

My vocals have always been my main strength, so it’s something I continuously work on and want to improve on. In terms of dancing, I have a friend named Kasper who is a dancer/choreographer, and he teaches me all the trendy dances, gives me advice on how I should do this or that, so that’s a practical way that I have improved my skills. In general, because I have a lot of energy, I felt like just my vocals weren’t enough for the amount of energy that I can showcase, so I always wanted to channel that through dancing, which is a different outlet.

Did Kasper create the choreography for “Candy”? And did you have any input on it?

Yes. Because we’re friends, when he would show me the choreography, I would say “what about we do it this way?” and then we bounced ideas off each other, especially when it came to the formations of the dance overall.

In the current world situation, it's hard to expect things or make plans for this year, but what is one thing you are looking forward to in 2020?

It’s hard to make plans for the rest of the year, but I’m hoping that things get better so I can finally meet my fans in person. That’s the one thing I’m looking forward to the most. Because of the current situation, we had to shift things to digital, but I’m also excited to meet my fans via different platforms as well.

Have the members of EXO listened to your album? What was their reaction?

When they listened, they said that it matches the seasons right now, as we’re going into summer. All of them commented on how it was a new style for me as a solo artist, like showing another side of Baekhyun, another vibe. They also noticed that I put a lot of effort into it, they’re really supportive.

If you could describe yourself as a candy flavor, what would that be?

Strawberry. Because its flavor encapsulates both sweet and sour, and that’s precisely what I want to do — show different sides. With this concept in Delight, you can see a more relaxed, confident side, but you can also see a very sweet and doting side of my character.

To sum it all up, what is your favorite candy flavor?

Green grape! In Korea they sell bags of green grape hard candy, those are my favorites.

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

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DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs

DJ Khaled, Samantha Smith and John Legend

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs

DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle and John Legend take home Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Jan 27, 2020 - 09:05 am

DJ Khaled, featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend, has won Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Higher" at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards. The single was featured on DJ Khaled's 2019 album Father of Asahd and featured Hussle's vocals and Legend on the piano. DJ Khaled predicted the track would win a GRAMMY.

"I even told him, 'We're going to win a GRAMMY.' Because that's how I feel about my album," DJ Khaled told Billboard. "I really feel like not only is this my biggest, this is very special."

After the release of the song and music video -- which was filmed before Hussle's death in March -- DJ Khaled announced all proceeds from "Higher" will go to Hussle's children.

DJ Khaled and co. beat out fellow category nominees Lil Baby & Gunna ("Drip Too Hard"), Lil Nas X ("Panini"), Mustard featuring Roddy Ricch ("Ballin") and Young Thug featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott ("The London"). Hussle earned a second posthumous award at the 62nd GRAMMYs for Best Rap Performance for "Racks In The Middle." 

Along with Legend and DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG paid tribute to Hussle during the telecast, which concluded with "Higher."

Check out the complete 62nd GRAMMY Awards nominees and winners list here.

Poll: From "Dreams" To "The Chain," Which Fleetwood Mac Song Is Your Favorite?

Fleetwood Mac in 1975

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Poll: From "Dreams" To "The Chain," Which Fleetwood Mac Song Is Your Favorite?

"Dreams" experienced a charming viral moment on TikTok after a man posted a video skateboarding to the classic track, and now it's back on the charts, 43 years later

GRAMMYs/Oct 16, 2020 - 04:00 am

In honor of Fleetwood Mac's ethereal '70s rock classic "Dreams," which recently returned to the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to a viral TikTok skateboard video from Nathan Apodaca, we want to know which of the legendary group's songs is your favorite!

Beyond their ubiquitous 1977 No. 1 hit "Dreams," there are so many other gems from the iconic GRAMMY-winning album Rumours, as well as across their entire catalog. There's the oft-covered sentimental ballad "Landslide" from their 1975 self-titled album, the jubilant, sparkling Tango in the Night cut "Everywhere" and Stevie Nicks' triumphant anthem for the people "Gypsy," from 1982's Mirage, among many others.

Vote below in our latest GRAMMY.com poll to let us know which you love most.

Related: Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" Back On Charts Thanks To Viral Skateboard Video On TikTok

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Poll: What's Your Favorite Van Halen Song?