meta-scriptMeet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Kim Petras On How "Lady Marmalade" Inspired "Unholy" & Why She'll Always "F—ing Love Vulgar Music" | GRAMMY.com
Kim Petras
Kim Petras

Photo: Jason Al-Taan

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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Kim Petras On How "Lady Marmalade" Inspired "Unholy" & Why She'll Always "F—ing Love Vulgar Music"

In the last five years, Kim Petras has made a name for herself as a brash pop princess unafraid to flirt with the profane. But in the wake of her hit single "Unholy," the trans artist is ready to unleash her brand of subversive sass on the world.

GRAMMYs/Jan 20, 2023 - 03:53 pm

When Kim Petras delivered her debut single in 2017, she stomped into the spotlight with a single, bratty demand: "Give me all of your attention." And in the five years since, she has commanded it expertly.

Thanks to the provocative pop pastiche and irrepressible confidence displayed on bubblegum-laced favorites like "Heart to Break," "Hillside Boys" and "Can't Do Better," the German pop princess has cultivated a loyal pack of primarily LGBTQ+ fans — known as Bunheads — and become a fixture of constant fascination in indie pop circles. Then came "Unholy," the Sam Smith collaboration that launched her into the mainstream pop stratosphere. 

With help from a ghastly backing choir and a slinky industrial beat, the song finds the two stars weaving a scintillating tale of deceit and infidelity ("Mummy don't know daddy's getting hot at the body shop," Smith intones on the sing-song refrain).  Not only did the debaucherous collab become a global smash, it notched Petras her very first nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2023 GRAMMY Awards.

As "Unholy" rocketed to the top of the charts around the globe, the song proved to be the embodiment of Petras' potential as a 21st century pop star — one who arrived with a fully formed point of view, a boundary-breaking identity as a proud trans woman and razor-sharp songwriting chops to boot. ("Unholy" also helped Petras and Smith make history, as the pair became the first publicly trans and nonbinary artists, respectively, to clinch a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.)

The mammoth success of "Unholy" capped off a momentous 12 months for Petras that was filled with both highs and lows. Months after releasing fan-favorite and unabashedly hypersexual EP Slut Pop in February 2022, she was forced to scrap her major-label debut — reportedly titled Problématique — after the bulk of the album leaked online. But as "Unholy" continues to display its undeniable staying power (it's holding strong at No. 3 on the Hot 100 nearly four months after its release, as of press time) Petras is looking forward to a bright future — and it starts now. 

Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMY Awards — and the release of her latest single, "brrr" — GRAMMY.com caught up with Petras about her triumphant year, honoring the trans music pioneers who came before her, and her no-holds-barred advice for her doubters and detractors.

What does it mean to you to be a GRAMMY nominee?

I think it's incredible to get recognized from something as prestigious as [the GRAMMYs]. I honestly didn't think that that would ever happen for me because I'm such a bubblegum pop girl, and I don't really feel like that's usually something the GRAMMYs go for, you know? I think it's rare. 

Sam is so incredible. For any other song, I would've been like, "Yeah, Sam's gonna get nominated." But we made a slutty song about cheating [Laughs]. So it's awesome and it's a cherry on top for it being my first kind of mainstream moment. I'm super grateful to Sam for having me on the song and for having that vision.

Did you talk to Sam right after finding out about your nomination?

Yeah! We texted pretty much right away. I think Sam was in London but yeah, it was wild. 

You're now part of a line of trans artists in GRAMMY history, including pioneers like Wendy Carlos and Jackie Shane, as well as SOPHIE and Honey Dijon — who also received her very first nomination this year.

So incredible. Like, so overdue.

What does it mean to you to be part of the legacy?

I'm proud. There's been trans women in music for a long time that I looked up to growing up. I mean, if you go all the way back, there was Amanda Lear in, like, the '70s having giant disco, Euro hits and people didn't even know she was trans. I just feel like they've all kind of been overlooked a lot, and never really got what they deserved regarding their influence. 

I'm so proud to have known and to have worked with SOPHIE, someone who I think is a pioneer in sound. Even "Unholy," you can hear SOPHIE's influence in that. I'm certainly forever influenced by SOPHIE's work. And I know that all kinds of producers are as well, and that SOPHIE always comes up as a reference for so many people. It's cool to be in the same category as those artists that I really look up to.

**You collaborated with SOPHIE on your single "1,2,3 dayz up" in 2019, which was the same year she was GRAMMY nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Album for Oil of Every Pearl Un-Insides. Did she give you any career advice at the time? Do you have a favorite memory of working with her?** 

I definitely learned a lot in the studio from SOPHIE — as in being authentic is the most important thing and the most brave thing you can do. It just came so easy to SOPHIE to want music to be an authentic expression rather than chasing something; chasing mainstream, chasing being relatable, chasing any of these things just never occurred to SOPHIE. 

That's something that inspires me deeply, because I feel like I've spent the beginning of my career just trying to fit in, trying to not stick out in these rooms. I mean, in songwriting sessions, it's mostly guys…I feel like I've spent so much time kind of not wanting to offend anyone and not letting my opinions be that known. And not sticking up for my ideas in the beginning….I always think about SOPHIE and just how dead set she was in [saying], "No. It has to be this lyric, it has to be this way. That's it." That attitude inspires me still.

**And not wanting to stick out or offend anyone, I'm sure, is how you came up with a project like Slut Pop.** 

Oh yeah! That's the thing — I feel like it's so crazy how much the world has kind of changed in what people relate to. I grew up listening to the dirtiest s—. I listened to Ayesha Erotica so much — to Peaches, to, like, Amanda Lepore's quick dip into music. I definitely come from that, and being born and raised in Germany and rave culture and techno music. Slut Pop was just always something I've wanted to do but didn't really have the nerve to do. And I'm so happy I did it.

This year, it's been crazy, because I feel like Slut Pop in the beginning was very dragged by everyone as like, "Agh, she just repeats the words over and over and blah!" But, like, that's rave music, that's dance music. That's what I was inspired by. And I feel like it's gotten this hardcore fan base now that really gets it. 

It appeared on a bunch of lists of best EPs of the last year, and that really surprised me, because I thought that everyone just kind of s— on that record as being vulgar. And I'm fine with that. It is vulgar, you know? That's what it's supposed to be and I'm proud of that. I f—ing love vulgar music, so suck it. [Laughs.]

So getting back to "Unholy" — it's obviously given you so many career firsts: your first entry on the Billboard Hot 100, your first worldwide No. 1, your first platinum record, and now your first GRAMMY nomination...

It's so crazy, man!

What is it about the song that you think has made it connect with people so much and turned it into such a hit?

I just think it's a good song. ILYA absolutely crushed the production. And I just think this kind of dirty Berghain vibe of the song is something that isn't around that much. I think it should be.

I remember hearing "Unholy" for the first time and thinking, "This is giving me the reaction that I had when I first heard 'Lady Marmalade' with Christina Aguilera and P!nk and Mya and Lil' Kim." It gave me that energy, and I remember seeing that video for the first time as a kid and just being like…"I think I want to be a prostitute after listening to this." 

Honestly, that's such a cool reaction to me because, like, your parents don't want you to listen to it and they're like, 'No! It's dirty music!" And you're, like, behind-their-backs listening to it, and that made it so much more special. And we needed that kind of feeling, but with a LGBTQ cast, and I feel like that's what we've kind of done. I can't believe it worked out. I'm just like, "Like, what?"

How did your verse on "Unholy" come together in the studio?

Well, everyone was kind of set on it being the same melody as Sam's verse, being the [sings] "Lucky, lucky girl..." And they had some lyrics prepared and kinda had their idea already of what I was supposed to do. And it honestly just didn't feel like me; it felt like what everyone else would do.

Sam really stood up for me and was like, "No, she has to talk about designer s— and being a sugar baby, and doing her Kim Petras s—. That's why she's here, let's not make her into something she's not." 

And then I remember Max Martin telling me [while we were working on "If Jesus Was A Rockstar"] that the ["Unholy"] verse was exactly what the song needed. That was a huge, huge compliment for me as a writer. So I'm grateful that Sam really stuck up for me — and, you know, likes my slutty bars.

When I first heard it, your verse really felt like "I Don't Want It At All" 2.0 with all the designer name-dropping and other references. Were you thinking of that in the studio?

That's kind of the thing with me — I just turn into a brat on songs [Laughs]. That's just always been like my thing that I love doing. And with "Unholy," I mean, it is about someone cheating. And as a trans girl, I feel like a lot of guys don't necessarily take me seriously. Or want to, like, marry me but they want to f— me and buy me s—. So I like to play with that [idea] and see that as a mirror, like, holding it back into your face — what you think of me and what you think I'm here for. So yeah, that was my intention with it. And it does tie into the "I Don't Want It At All" bratty stage persona that I love and hold very dear.

You mentioned Max Martin. Since "Unholy," you've also released "If Jesus Was A Rockstar," which was your first time working with him. What did you learn from that experience?

I learned that I'm, as a writer, good enough to be in the room with anyone. And be in the room with my biggest heroes. I think that just made me feel really validated. And it was cool that even as big as Max Martin is, he just loves to collaborate with people and see what you want to do and what you want to offer. 

I think there's often this kind of fake narrative that you go in with big producers and they just give you a song. And I wish it was that way — like, that'd be fire, you know? And maybe for some people it is like that. I've been a writer for other people, and I definitely know that there are artists out there who don't write s—. And, like, that's cool, it's awesome, you have other talents like dancing and being hot. But I love writing and singing, and no matter who I work with, I still write my s—. I collaborate with people, but at the end of the day, I'm a writer and I'm proud of that…But it was cool, I really got to be a fan and Max even did some background vocals.

So in the spirit of "Unholy," who would you say were your holy trinity of pop divas growing up? 

Cher. Diana Ross, love Diana Ross. And Madonna. Yeah, and honestly [they will] remain my holy trinity.

What about those three informed the way you approached pop and becoming an artist?

Their ability to be more than a gender, or a person, or a skin color, or a box. They're larger than life, all of them. And they are these kind of escapist figures. Like, maybe you can live your life however you want to and that's OK. You can be glamorous or hypersexual or Cher on a boat with eight half-naked sailors. You can be whatever you want! And I think that's such a powerful thing about them. 

What's next for you? Does "If Jesus Was a Rockstar" point to the direction fans can expect from your new music?

No. It's really the only song that sounds like this on the [new] album. It's like a misleading little thing.

I would say that [with] the album, every song is its own world sonically, and that fits in with the conceptual context of the album pretty well. I just said "conceptual context" and I feel so smart now, for no reason. 

I don't want to give away too much, because I've done this before — I've spoken about an album so much and then it leaked and then it got scrapped. I'm scared of that. So, not gonna happen this time. We're protected. [Laughs]. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. 

I miss my fans. I miss giving my fans full projects that aren't just songs. And most of all, I miss touring and performing. It's time for Miss Album.

The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 140 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & More

Nxdia, Shamir, girli, King Princess, Zolita, Laura Les, Towa Bird in collage
(From left) Nxdia, Shamir, girli, King Princess, Zolita, Laura Les, Towa Bird

Photos: Dave Benett/Getty Images for Depop; Matthew James-Wilson; Claryn Chong; Burak Cingi/Redferns; Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Boston Calling; Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage; Courtesy Interscope Records

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Listen To GRAMMY.com's 2024 Pride Month Playlist Of Rising LGBTQIA+ Artists

From Laura Les and Nxdia to Alice Longyu Gao and Bambi Thug, a new class of LGBTQIA+ artists is commanding you to live out loud.

GRAMMYs/Jun 3, 2024 - 01:37 pm

LGBTQ+ artists have long shaped the music industry and culture at large, offering audiences a glimpse into their unique lives, shared experiences and so much more.

Queer artists are foundational to American music; Released in 1935, Lucille Bogan’s “B.D. Woman’s Blues” was one of the first lesbian blues songs — and wouldn’t be the last. Fellow blues singers Gladys Bently, Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith also sang about same-sex love (thinly veiled or otherwise). On opposite ends of the 1970s musical spectrum, disco (itself a queer artform) and punk musicians explored gender identity in song and performance —  defying conventional gender norms at the time. Gender fluidity became part of the culture during the '80s, with genre-bending artists such as David Bowie and Boy George leading the charge. 

In the decades since,  a spectrum of LGBTQIA+ artists is opening up —  and creating work about — their sexual and gender identities. Queer artists are also being recognized for their contributions to global culture. In 1999, six-time GRAMMY winner Elton John became the first gay man to receive the GRAMMY Legend Award. 

Read more: The Evolution Of The Queer Anthem: From Judy Garland To Lady Gaga & Lil Nas X

The GRAMMY Awards have become more inclusive of the queer community. In 2012, the Music's Biggest Night became the first major awards show to remove gendered categories. In 2014, Queen Latifah officiated a mass wedding of straight and gay couples during Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” performance, which included gay icon Madonna performing her “Open Your Heart.” In 2022, Brazilian singer/songwriter Liniker became the first trans artist to win a Latin GRAMMY. Just three months later, Sam Smith and Kim Petras became the first nonbinary and trans artists, respectively, to win a GRAMMY Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performances for their collaboration, “Unholy.” The 2024 GRAMMYs marked a record high for queer women winning major awards: Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Victoria Monét, and boygenuis all took home golden gramophones in the Big Six Categories. 

As queer artists continue to command attention across genres and get their flowers on the global stage, a new class of LGBTQIA+ artists is emerging into the scene. These artists are both following in the steps of established acts by sharing their experiences through their music, and creating work that is unique to their lives and time. 

In celebration of Pride Month 2024, GRAMMY.com has put together a playlist of rising artists across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, whose sound commands you to live out loud. 

PRIDE & Black Music Month: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ & Black Voices

Beyonce 2023 GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Beyoncé at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Beyoncé's Heartfelt Speech For Her Record-Breaking Win In 2023

Relive the night Beyoncé received a gramophone for Best Dance/Electronic Album for 'RENAISSANCE' at the 2023 GRAMMYS — the award that made her the most decorated musician in GRAMMY history.

GRAMMYs/Feb 2, 2024 - 05:12 pm

Six years after her last solo studio album, Beyoncé returned to the music industry with a bang thanks to RENAISSANCE. In homage to her late Uncle Johnny, she created a work of art inspired by the sounds of disco and house that wasn't just culturally impactful — it was history-making.

At the 2023 GRAMMYs, RENAISSANCE won Best Dance/Electronic Album. Marking Beyoncé's 32nd golden gramophone, the win gave the superstar the record for most gramophones won by an individual act.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the historic moment Queen Bey took the stage to accept her record-breaking GRAMMY at the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

"Thank you so much. I'm trying not to be too emotional," Beyoncé said at the start of her acceptance speech. "I'm just trying to receive this night."

With a deep breath, she began to list her praises that included God, her family, and the Recording Academy for their continued support throughout her career. 

"I'd like to thank my Uncle Johnny, who is not here, but he's here in spirit," Beyoncé proclaimed. "I'd like to thank the queer community for your love and inventing this genre."

Watch the video above for Beyoncé's full speech for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind. 

Tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

A Timeline Of Beyoncé's GRAMMY Moments, From Her First Win With Destiny's Child to Making History With 'Renaissance'

Coi Leray

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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Coi Leray On Why Breakthrough "Players" Was Just The "Icing On The Cake" For Her Multifaceted Career

With two GRAMMY nominations in two different Categories at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Coi Leray is already proving to be a versatile artist. But as she promises, she's building a brand much bigger than her music.

GRAMMYs/Jan 24, 2024 - 03:00 pm

Even after a flight and an hours-long photo shoot, Coi Leray exudes brightness and warmth as she discusses her monumental year. She carries a vibrant energy that matches her music — all of which is reminiscent of hip-hop's beginnings and bright future

Leray brought that vitality to "A GRAMMY to 50 Years of Hip Hop," where she held her own among genre legends with a dynamic performance of her smash hit, "Players." Exactly one month prior to the Dec. 10 event, Leray added another milestone to her booming career: her first GRAMMY nominations.

"Players" earned Leray a nod for Best Rap Performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs, where she's also nominated in the new Best Pop Dance Recording Category, for her collaboration with David Guetta and Anne-Marie, "Baby Don't Hurt Me."

"One of the biggest things and accomplishments for me as a artist is for people to know me and admire my versatility," Coi told the Recording Academy. "To be nominated for two of my voices — my melodic, my rap, my singing — it's a dream come true. I wouldn't want it no other way." 

Her versatility expands outside of her music, too. From her signature braided hairstyle to launching her own beauty and haircare products, the New Jersey-raised rapper is also building a name for herself in the fashion and beauty industries. What's more, Leray has entered the philanthropic space as well, with plans to launch her mental-health-focused Camp Courage World Foundation later this year. 

Even just a few years into her career, Leray is steadfast in leaving a multi-faceted legacy for herself — one that takes inspiration from icons like Beyoncé and J.Lo, but feels uniquely hers. And while she sees herself in every business venture, the rapper vows for one thing to remain true: she'll always be having fun. 

Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, Leray sat down with GRAMMY.com to discuss what she learned in 2023 — and how her breakthrough year was the perfect setup for a long career. 

Congratulations on a wonderful year — from receiving your first GRAMMY nominations for "Players" and "Baby Don't Hurt Me" to opening up for Beyoncé at the Renaissance World Tour in Los Angeles. How would you describe 2023 for you?

This year was the icing on the cake to what my future entails. You know with "Players" being nonstop on the radio, getting nominated to all these big award shows, performing on Beyoncé's stage, and getting a written letter from Beyoncé. 

She told me that she's been watching me grow. It shows how hard I have been working. Most importantly, it shows them what to look forward to in the future. I feel like I'm one of those artists that is going to be here for a very, very long time.

As you described, "Players" has maintained a chart-topping position since its release. The single has a sweeter meaning to it because you are paying homage to the rappers, such as The Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, who have come before you.  The group has even publicly thanked you for re-introducing them to the younger generation. 

I wanted to ask about your decision to pay homage to them, because we exist in an era where a majority of songs have samples, but few artists go out of their way to pay respect to the pioneering artists.

I feel like it is my job to educate the youth as much as possible.

I'll be 27 in May. As I get older, I remember when I was 16, 13, 10, 18, 21. Everything that you hear now is inspired by so many great artists, such as Busta Rhymes and The Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five; those icons in hip-hop made a huge statement. What's derived from Busta's creativity, his flows, his music videos and everything — a lot of kids have to understand the music they hear today and the videos they see are inspired by him and that's where it came from.

I remember the moment where I sat down and listened to Sade. She has one of the most beautiful tones in the music industry, and one of my biggest inspirations. When I go to the studio, I try to master my tone, my melodies, and my voice.  Sade helped me grow, and [I] realize how big she is to hip-hop, the industry, and music in general.

All the icons study music. The way in which you spoke about developing your melodies and voice speaks to that, and shows your dedication to the craft. Another icon that you have spoken of in high regard and worked with is Pharrell Williams. 

He's not only an icon in music, but fashion as well. You sat front row at his debut collection for Louis Vuittion and have become a regular attendee for other notable luxury fashion houses. Are you carving out your own path as an entertainer who has one foot in music and the other in fashion?

I have always been into fashion. I have been building my brand. To me, it's bigger than being an artist. It helps me build my brand. 

I've been building my relationship with YSL. When I landed my Fendi by Marc Jacobs campaign, I was on the frontpage of Fendi's website, alongside Kendall Jenner. I have done Fashion weeks and been dressed by amazing designers, like Jeremy Scott at Moschino, Alexander Wang, AREA, Diesel, and more.

As I continue to elevate and and my music continues to grow, "TWINNEM" ended up on the charts, the success of "Players" and to land with Pharrell, then sit front row at Louis Vuitton; it just shows how much I have been progressing. 

It's also a reminder that through all the hate and negativity that I am going through, even my personal tribulations, it's those moments that make me realize, "Yo! You are a star!" and this is happening in real life. Whether it's next week, next month, you're elevating.

The weekend where I sat front row at Louis Vuitton, I was in the studio with Pharrell. We made four records. I learned so much in my 24 hours with him. I built the most amazing relationship. Pharrell is a mastermind not only when it comes to not only fashion, but when it comes to music. 

2024 GRAMMYs: Meet The Nominees

In previous interviews, you referred to yourself as a "walking brand." As of late, you have garnered partnerships with brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Tommy Hilfiger, Ray-Ban, and more. In your interview with Angie Martinez, you mentioned the possibility of a haircare line. I would like to hear more about the business components of your brand and how you are building an empire, adjacent to the music industry?

I have always had braids since I was a kid. When I did my first song, "Huddy," and throughout the beginning of my career, I always wore braids. I always had my baby hairs out.

It was important to me when I signed my deal to make sure that I'm good in the long run. So I sat down and thought about, what is going to help me be a better person? 

Create longevity. Create an asset. 

As much as I did my baby hairs, I ended up inventing a baby hair brush. I'm just getting my first mold. It's been a process because I want this brush to be perfect, and it's crazy because once it's complete, I want to go add something else. It's a learning process, and it feels so good to be able to financially invest into myself, grow my brand, continue to learn, have errors, make mistakes at this age and in my career.

I got my first top 10, but I never got a top five. I'm aiming bigger and everything is on God's timing. With my branding, my music and my YouTube series, "Cooking with Coi Leray," my skincare products, and my nail line products that's coming, it's all going to come in perfect timing because everything's on God's timing.

It brings me joy to hear a young woman artist, especially a Black woman, discuss their plans on building their legacy and ensuring longevity for the duration of their career. I saw this in your decision to have Trendsetter Studios, your creative agency, direct the music video for "Players." Could you walk me through the decision making process to start your agency?

I started Trendsetter Studios because I have always been into content. I've always been the creator behind everything I do. They say that I'm big on TikTok and a lot of these platforms, which I am, and I take pride in it because I'm good at what I do.

I'm great at making content. I'm great in front of the camera. I love the camera. When I signed my deal, I invested in a lot of equipment because I knew this is something. When I want to do a video, I want to be able to just grab the camera whenever I want to. Be able to create my own thing.

There's so many music videos up that Trendsetter Studios produced. I'm very grateful for my team. We're still learning. We're still growing. 

It's still in development. The goal and the key is longevity, having access and being able to build, do what you want, when you want, and how you want it.

**When you look at the projects you have worked on in 2023, such as "Self-Love" on  Spiderman: Across The Spider-Verse soundtrack and your sophomore album, Coi. What are some lessons that you've learned from those projects that you're going to apply in 2024?**

I learned to have fun. This [past] year, I kind of got wrapped up in it. It's hard to not get wrapped up in the political stuff or the numbers or the fans. I don't pay attention to the negative comments and stuff like that. But, it was at a point where I was paying attention to what someone else wanted versus myself.

I realized, in 2024, I'm only catering to what I want to do. I'm going to live in my truth. I'm going to keep growing as a young lady, as a young woman. Do what I want to do, and keep making great music, and just have fun, not get too wrapped up in the other stuff.

I want to have fun. Life is about having fun, and I'm at an age where I need to have fun. In 2024, we're having fun, and I feel like everybody's gonna feel that in my music, in my videos, in my vlogs, and whatever it is I'm doing, they're gonna feel that energy, and I'm gonna make sure of that, because that's the goal.

It seems to be a trend that icons release self-titled albums. 2023 was the 10-year anniversary of Beyoncé's self-titled album. When you look back at Coi, an album that will always be synonymous with you, where do you place that album in your legacy as an artist? 

It's gonna be here forever. It's gonna be one of those records where people are gonna go back and they're going to be like "Yo, what the hell?!"and I know that because it's such an amazing body of work. 

I write through experience, so as I go through new experiences, as I learn new things in the studio or work with more amazing creatives — creatives in all aspects, whether they're producers, engineers, songwriters, videographers, directors, creative directors, labels. As I'm working with all those people. I'm learning and every single time I just end up scoring better.

My next body of work is always my best body of work, but that doesn't mean take away the greatness from that work. It just means that I've been elevating in every single way. Coi is one of those projects where I elevated it, it has amazing music just like Trendsetter.

The more I create and the bigger I get, the more people will go back, listen, and really appreciate the body of work for what it is.  

You have not only achieved success domestically, but internationally with high placements on the Global and K-Pop charts, as well as participating in Paris and Milan fashion weeks. You have crossed over to being a well-known performer across the world. You're a girl from Jersey who has received global recognition. How does that feel for you? 

Recognition is dope. When you go over to places like Australia and Paris, they treat you like a major star. The love over there is immaculate. I get really inspired overseas. There's so many great things.

For example, Paris has so many great music video directors. Their music videos are insane. I had to go out there to really understand that.

It made me want to be the voice that when I come to America, "I'm like, I want to use more videographers so people can see how amazing they are too." It's a blessing to be able to travel.

You mentioned a desire to work with music video directors in Paris and abroad. You have already worked with international talents such as David Guetta and TOMORROW X TOGETHER. It seems you are pivoting yourself as an entertainer who uses music to bridge the gap between these cultures. 

Well, David Guetta is an incredible artist.

He is a mastermind when it comes to the studio, and I want to continue to work with David. We have an incredible relationship, and amazing chemistry in the studio. He's one of the first DJs to bring hip-hop and EDM together. That's another life experience for me that I'm going to remember forever.

You know, being a young Black queen in the music industry and being able to have so much versatility, it allows me to collaborate with so many great artists. David Guetta, he's a mastermind. That's another way to educate the young kids on David Guetta too. I know he's already a major, but they don't know the history.

Some people might not know the history, and I feel like it's important. David Guetta getting nominated with me — I'm getting nominated with my rap song and the pop electronic recording record. It's just a dream come true, I'm telling you. 

**In your music video for "Wasted" with Taylor Hill from Blue Moon, you showed a side of you that is different from your previous works. The video displayed a tender and vulnerable side of you. Can we expect to see more of that from you in 2024?** 

I can admit that I haven't done my best at showing that side. I was under my rock a little bit, but I promised to myself that in 2024 I am going to show more of my process, bring people into my world, my fans, and I think I owe it to my fans 1000%. I think that they want to know Coi Leray outside of Instagram, The Shade Room, social media, and blogs.

I want them to also understand who I am as a woman, as a person. Music is important, but relationships are important. Just as much to me, and I admire that.

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Icons not only inspire us through music, but the way they invest in their community. In 2023, you organized a Thanksgiving Giveback in your hometown. What led you to start doing philanthropy efforts? I think people will always want to root for the girl who made it big and paid it forward.

That's why I started my Camp Courage World Foundation. I'm super excited to launch that at the top of 2024.

It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. I finally thought of an amazing name for it and I'm excited. We're focusing on mental health because I feel like that's something that I've dealt with my entire life, my childhood, growing up and now, and there's so many things that I do that I'm pretty sure that these girls would want to know and learn.

For example, just reading books and waking up every day, praying, finding my spirituality and sticking through it, staying consistent, going to church, even if they're not physical, online every Sunday, speaking to my pastors, my life coach, getting therapists, whatever it is that's going to make me better, that doesn't have me relate to anything that can self harm myself mentally, physically, financially, emotionally.

I'm excited for that launch because that's also going to be the next step in a big part of my career that I feel is one of the most important things. 

Having major records is cute. That's fire. Everybody wants a number one record, but with that number one record, you want to be able to give back and inspire because, at that point, what are you doing it for?

Since your debut, conversations about your body, your image, and your contributions to hip-hop have been a point of contention in the cultural zeitgeist. It seems you have decided to take control of the narrative in the media and the press. Whether it is through the development of your brands or the creation of your talent agency, do you feel as if you are on a path of reclamation? 

I'm taking control of it. I should be able to tell it. It's my life.  

I was sitting down talking to my people. I had told them. I said, "Yo. 2024. The future is so bright that the only thing that can stop me is me."

A lot of people don't know what I go through outside of this stuff. I go through a lot, you know what I mean? But going through what I went through, it taught me a lot about myself. 

I realized this year was all about self-awareness, and it prepped me for 2024. Like I said, I'm the only one that can get in my way. 

It's about just staying focused, staying level-headed, staying consistent. And staying prayed up. 

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Lizzo GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Lizzo at the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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GRAMMY Rewind: Lizzo Thanks Prince For His Influence After "About Damn Time" Wins Record Of The Year In 2023

Watch Lizzo describe how Prince’s empowering sound led her to “dedicate my life to positive music” during her Record Of The Year acceptance speech for “About Damn Time” at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Jan 19, 2024 - 06:00 pm

Since the start of her career, four-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo has been making music that radiates positive energy. Her Record Of The Year win for "About Damn Time" at the 2023 GRAMMYs proved that being true to yourself and kind to one another always wins.

Travel back to revisit the moment Lizzo won her award in the coveted category in this episode of GRAMMY Rewind. 

"Um, huh?" Lizzo exclaimed at the start of her acceptance speech. "Let me tell you something. Me and Adele are having a good time, just enjoying ourselves and rooting for our friends. So, this is an amazing night. This is so unexpected."

Lizzo kicked off her GRAMMY acceptance speech by acknowledging Prince's influence on her sound. "When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music," she said. "This was at a time when positive music and feel-good music wasn't mainstream at that point and I felt very misunderstood. I felt on the outside looking in. But I stayed true to myself because I wanted to make the world a better place so I had to be that change."

As tracks like "Good as Hell" and "Truth Hurts" scaled the charts, she noticed more body positivity and self-love anthems from other artists. "I'm just so proud to be a part of it," she cheered.

Most importantly, Lizzo credited staying true to herself despite the pushback for her win. "I promise that you will attract people in your life who believe in you and support you," she said in front of a tearful audience that included Beyoncé and Taylor Swift in standing ovation, before giving a shout-out to her team, family, partner and producers on the record, Blake Slatkin and Ricky Reed

Watch the video above for Lizzo's complete acceptance speech for Record Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

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