meta-scriptMeet Son Lux, Composers Of 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' | GRAMMY.com
Son Lux Everything Everywhere All At Once
(From left) Ryan Lott, Ian Chang and Rafiq Bhatia of Son Lux, who composed the film "Everything Everywhere All At Once"

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Meet Son Lux, Composers Of 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'

The soundtrack for the genre-bending film 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' sounds jagged, as if the listener is flipping through TV channels. Learn how composer trio Son Lux scored the film's intricate set of universes.

GRAMMYs/May 26, 2022 - 01:29 pm

The acclaimed 2022 film Everything Everywhere All At Once is a knockout across all artistic mediums — from the convergence of a wide range of actors within the industry (Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis), to the Daniels’ (1. Kwan and 2. Scheinert) eclectic, yet grounded writing and directing, to the special effects production, and to its tightly-knitted soundtrack.

Lively in its multi-genre cross-contamination of science fiction, romance, comedy, action and drama, the film focuses on a day in the life of protagonist Evelyn Quan Wang’s (portrayed by Yeoh), where a dragged out IRS trip becomes a journey of saving the multiple universes from its great evil’s destruction. Able to tap into each universe, where Evelyn’s lives unfold, she channels her skills while minimally altering the destiny of the universe she herself occupies. The pressure cooker of her story is that one small or great move can amend her fate.

The multiple-universe nature of this film gestures to a large work’s smaller machinations: the cast, the script, the direction and, of course, the composition. Responsible for the soundtrack behind the film is one credit: Son Lux, a collective of multi-instrumentalist musicians Ian Chang, Rafiq Bhatia and Ryan Lott.

Throughout the first half of the movie, the score sounds jagged. Assigned by the Daniels to feel like different TV channels, Son Lux’s composition keeps the listener on their toes, flip flopping from solemn and orchestral, to an uptempo, almost The Matrix-like feel. As the film further blurs the different universes, the music for its respective TV "channels" blends, mutating from blocky patchwork and into a mosaic.

The complexity of the film, and the important role sound plays in Everything Everywhere's unfurling universe, requires musicians like those of Son Lux. Their score serves as the cinematic pulse of the story — and is present for 79 percent of the film's two hours and 20 minutes.

When speaking with GRAMMY.com, the three members of Son Lux were parked on the side of the road somewhere between San Francisco and Portland, huddled together in the back of their tour van to fit the Skype frame. They answered questions with nearly unsettling ease, given how thoughtful and whip-smart their insights were.

Who Are Son Lux? Introducing An Insightful Trio

Ian Chang is a Hong Kong native who first started his musical journey playing the piano. He describes his upbringing as a typical Chinese household, and says learning the piano was a "means of learning discipline." He switched to drums by age 9, and became serious in high school. He went on to pursue jazz studies at New York University. "That was where I met a lot of the people that I still collaborate with to this day," he tells GRAMMY.com.

Rafiq Bhatia's musicality began in a three-generation home, with his grandfather singing Muslim hymns to him. Bhatia is first-gen, and when his parents and grandparents briefly left to visit India, Bhatia occupied himself with zoology books, where he discovered the art of snake charming with a flute. As immigrant parents tend to be, Bhatia’s parents had planned on bringing back gifts to the U.S., to which he requested for his own personal flute.

Rather than a snake, Bhatia’s flute unveiled a legacy of musicians on his maternal side of the family; an aunt who is an incredible vocalist; a grandfather — whom Bhatia never met — who had been a violinist. "That wasn’t a job he could have ever had. He [played the violin] because he loved it," Bhatia recalls. "And so I decided I wanted to learn the violin."

After the violin came the guitar, specifically ignited by his discovery of Jimi Hendrix, and then a slew of jazz artists like Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, which finally led to his mentors, Billy Hart and Vijay Iyer.

Ryan Lott, whose Southern family upbringing was more conservative, also picked up the piano at a young age as a matter of discipline. "Despite hating it for years upon years, upon years, I actually wound up falling in love with it the moment I realized I didn’t have to just recreate the music that was already made, and do [it] so poorly," he tells GRAMMY.com. At only 11 years old, Lott began studying music at a university, and continued studying European classical music along with composition and piano, for his collegiate degree.

Despite his heavy immersion, Lott credits his musical technicalities to be one half of his story as a musician. The experience of joining bands and learning from his peers who came from a jazz perspective was equally influential.

"[There is] a weird duality between a concert hall and a club. And that was kind of the foundation for Son Lux," Lott says. "When I first began [Son Lux] as a solo project, [I was] trying to reconcile with different kinds of seemingly unrelated or seemingly oppositional musical influences that had shaped me."

Son Lux’s reconciliation of opposing musicalities, even as a solo act in 2008, is now the beating heart of a movie that relies on breaking the rules of seemingly infinite realities. The group's own reality and history are as fluid as the universes in Everything Everywhere: Son Lux released Bones, their first record as a trio, in 2015; "Your Day Will Come" appears on both Bones and the film’s soundtrack. In their recent record trilogy Tomorrows, a song titled "Unbind" is used for the film in a song called "Evelyn All At Once."

How Son Lux Developed The Score For Everything Everywhere All At Once

The script for Everything Everywhere was twice its final length when the Daniels initially solicited Son Lux in the fall of 2019, while the three were away in residency Tomorrows. The final version of the movie is already industrious with intention, and it is no surprise that Ryan Lott assumed that it would never get made. "I just never really see anything approaching this level of audacity from a creative standpoint," he says.

Having scored films previously, Lott's pessimism was rational. It was also something he learned to ease. "As soon as deeply creative ideas move forward to the suits, they usually get shot down," Lott continues. "In the process [of Everything Everywhere All At Once]; I put limitations on what's possible, where I shouldn't. And that was one of my big takeaways from this project: I had assumed too little of this life."

Chang and Bhatia giggle from the sides of the screen, because, of course, they are all just as charming and silly and earnest as everybody else attached to the film.

Read more:  Meet Sherri Chung, The Score Composer Shaking Up The Television Academy

When describing the process of creating Everything Everywhere's astute soundtrack, Bhatia uses the analogy of a weaving loom. Its "vertical threads" stand for each universe, and the "horizontal threads" are the varying people and their relationships to each other throughout each respective universe.

The Daniels made weaving these threads easier for Son Lux, having developed specific ideas of certain universes. For example, the Daniels gave Deirdre Beaubeirdra (the IRS worker played by Jamie Lee Curtis) the theme of Claude Debussy’s "Clair de Lune," and fragments of the tune loom over Deirdre’s presence on screen in the various universes. In another universe, Yeoh’s Evelyn is a hibachi chef who settles her jealousy of her fellow chef by exposing the raccoon that hides under his chef hat, ultimately controlling his cooking skills. A homage to Disney’s Ratatouille, the Raccacoonie universe plays with a Randy Newman, toy-like ambiance.

One of many pie-in-the-sky moments for Son Lux, legend Randy Newman was given an early cut of the film. Newman’s wife hadn’t laughed as much as she did watching the film in all of the pandemic, thus he agreed to be a part of the soundtrack for the Raccacoonie universe. Ryan Lott wrote "Now We’re Cookin’" (in the style of Randy Newman) for Newman himself to sing, but the Daniels were fond of how it organically played as a duet between Lott and Newman and encouraged them to keep it as such.

The "horizontal threads" connecting various universes required simple, melodic themes that were beautiful and memorable enough to underscore a throughline between the different universes. Son Lux composed "fragments of melody that could still be contained and expressed in a relatively short amount of time," Rafiq Bhatia explains, citing the abstract relationship between Evelyn and her daughter Joy Wang (portrayed by Stephanie Hsu), which ebbs throughout the film's multiverse.

They also needed a healthy amount of versatility, where short and specific melodies could be "dressed up in the clothing of different universes," Bhatia says. "We tried to establish an immediate sound for as many of the universes as we could, so that just by its sound texture it felt like ‘Okay, now we're reinforcing [the fact] that we're in this universe now’."

In their early team explorations, Ryan Lott fixated on doing piano sketches first.

"I was focusing on the ultimate spirit of the movie, which is one that is tender, kind, full of empathy, and melancholy as well," he says. "Because I knew if things felt right with where we arrived, then we could reverse engineer [the rest of the score]. And I think we got lucky that it worked out, because there was no way to really map it all out — it’s too complex. It’s too much work."

Following A Theme,  Son Lux Composed Everything Everywhere In Reverse

Son Lux commends the Daniels for their purposeful collaboration. Unlike the majority of movies, as Everything Everywhere All At Once progresses as a film, so did its score. There is a mentality of Son Lux’s approach to their composition and scoring: Take a singular chair and build the remainder of the house around it. For Rafiq Bhatia, the spark of a song could come from "the way that it sounded when the compression on one of the floor mics of the drum kit brought out the way Ian dropped his sticks in between the sections of the song. And the squeak of a hi-hat — we were like ‘let’s make a beat out of that!’"

These happy accidents charmingly usher the plot of the movie, where in one action Evelyn triggers a host of new possibilities, and the story builds off of that one drop in the ocean.

Even in works like Everything Everywhere All At Once, where attention to granular detail is imperative, the creative process was undoubtedly fun under the Daniels’ guidance. Lott notes that the trio "never saw them stressed out," despite impending deadlines.

"The deadline for this movie got extended multiple times already," Ian Chang explains. "But when it came down to it, there had to be an end. Especially with movie making, every extension is a larger investment of money. [But yes, this was] the type of movie that everyone could have worked on forever."

Their last musical cue (similar to a "scene") was of Evelyn’s husband Waymond Wang, portrayed by famous 1980s child actor Ke Huy Quan, and the flashbacks of his life. Fitting, per the world’s timing and irony, that a crucial scene towards the end of the movie was just as crucial to Son Lux’s final completion.

"The performances were perfect, the writing was perfect, the editing was perfect. Everything about it was so gripping and emotional," Bhatia says. "[Prior to the music], Daniel Kwan [actually had] found himself tearing up when editing this part, and he had never had that experience before [when] working on something himself. And we all felt the need for that part to speak [musically]."

After putting in their last section into the movie, their Lyfts showed up, and they left for the airport. It’s not often moments under pressure are released in such mundane, ordinary ways, like walking away and taking a cab. Reflecting on Son Lux’s relationship to pressure, time crunches and intimidating assignments, Lott mentions his saxophonist friend, Steve Temme.

"[Pressure] was something he meditated on a lot because it was the pressure [he exerted] with his body through his instrument that created sound and created music. Nothing could happen without pressure. And seeing pressure through a positive lens, it gave birth to new things and new sounds and new life," Lott says. "I very often think about that analogy when I'm under pressure creatively, and I see it as an opportunity to bring something to life that wouldn't otherwise exist."

Next to Lott, Bhatia and Chang nod and mmm in unison.

"And in service of a project like this," Lott continues, "I did find wells within me that I truly didn't anticipate — some more absurd than others." 

There is a scene wherein Son Lux needed to compose five minutes of orchestral music. Although intimidated, Lott wrote the music within 36 hours — which, according to Bhatia, somehow managed to sound scaringly perfect. "That was one moment where I truly was led by the gift of the scene and found the kind of resonance I needed with the pressure of the task, and… it just happened."

"I mean, I had to put in the work," he clarifies. "Just like I had to breathe in deeply and exert my breath through the horn. But I [also] think so many of the things were there [already] ready for [us]...Daniels had led, and the actors, everything, the editor, everything, was there before [us] ready to go."

When the movie first came out, Rafiq Bhatia mentioned that the opportunity for Son Lux to score Everything Everywhere All At Once was both a once in a lifetime opportunity and also one of hopefully many more movies to score. Given the film’s box office knockout, it is no doubt Son Lux will be optioned to score more cinematic projects. 

Composition specificities aside, Son Lux views the magic of cinema to be a singular art form, where their presence is more felt rather than poured focus into. It might be against the spirit of the movie’s various disciplines and moving parts, but for Son Lux, to see the "big picture" is already to see its composites.

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Alex Ritchie, Emily Vu, Myra Molloy, Alex Aiono, Brooke Alexx in collage
(From left) Alex Ritchie, Emily Vu, Myra Molloy, Alex Aiono, Brooke Alexx

Photos: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images; Robin L Marshall/Getty Images; Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images; Disney/PictureGroup; Sam Morris/Getty Images

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10 Exciting AAPI Artists To Know In 2024: Audrey English, Emily Vu, Zhu & Others

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, get to know 10 up-and-coming AAPI artists — including Alex Ritchie, Curtis Waters and others — whose music spans geography and genre.

GRAMMYs/May 13, 2024 - 01:16 pm

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have made strides in the music industry for many years. Every year, more AAPIs enter executive roles in the industry, increasing their visibility and impact.

Artists in the Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora — including Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak), Olivia Rodrigo, and H.E.R. — have graced the stage and won golden gramophones at Music's Biggest Night. During 2024 GRAMMY Week, the Recording Academy collaborated with Gold House and Pacific Bridge Arts Foundation to create the Gold Music Alliance, a program designed to foster meaningful connections and elevate the impact of Pan-Asian members and allies within the Academy and wider music industry. 

Yet, AAPI groups are significantly underrepresented in the music industry. Pacific Islanders are often forgotten when it comes to lists and industry due to their smaller percentage in the population.

Despite the lack of representation, social media and streaming platforms have introduced fans to new and rising artists such as Chinese American pop singer Amber Liu, Japanese American singer/songwriter Mitski, and Hawaiian native Iam Tongi. Others are showcasing their sound on the festival circuit, as San Francisco-based indie rocker Tanukichan and Korean American guitarist NoSo did at last year's Outside Lands festival. With AAPI-led music festivals, such as 88 Rising’s Head in the Clouds and Pacific Feats Festival, artists in this community are given opportunities to exhibit their talent and, often, their heritage. 

For many emerging artists, a like, reshare, or subscribe can help them gain the attention of mainstream studios and bolster tour attendance. So, in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, check out these 10 up-and-coming AAPI artists performing everything from pop to soulful R&B and EDM. 

Alex Aiono

Maori-Samoan American singer Alex Aiono moved to Los Angeles from Phoenix at 14 to pursue a music career. After going viral for his mashup of Drake's "One Dance" and Nicky Jam’s "Hasta el Amanecer," Aiono now has over 5.73 million YouTube subscribers. He was then cast in several popular films and television series, including Netflix’s Finding Ohana, Disney Channel’s "Doogie Kameāloha, M.D.," and "Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin."

But, for the 28-year-old R&B/pop singer, music has always been his calling. Aiono released several singles and, in 2020, a full-length album, The Gospel at 23. Inspired by his experience in Hollywood and his relationship with his religion (as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), The Gospel at 23 plays on the simplicity of a piano, drums, tambourine, and a choir, beautifully fusing modern soul with the old-fashioned gospel. Since then, the artist has released tender medleys – with his most recent heartbreaking single "Best of Me."

"I view this as a very, very lucky life that I get to express myself and that's my job," he told AZ Central. "My quote-unquote job."

Alex Ritchie

L.A.-based singer/songwriter Alex Ritchie has been honest about her journey as a queer mixed-Asian woman in the industry. The Filipino-Japanese-Spanish artist said she was constantly overlooked or told she wouldn’t be commercial enough in the American music industry.

"I’m the only musician in my family, and I came from a family of humble means; so even though I had conviction in what I wanted from a young age, it wasn’t realistic," Ritchie told GRAMMY.com in 2019. said. "Pursuing something like entertainment was so risky. I couldn’t afford to fail. We couldn’t afford to dream like that. BUT I had unrealistic dreams anyway, and after my first gig at the Whisky I knew that was it."

Ritchie has been thriving in the industry, becoming the youngest sitting committee member in the history of the Recording Academy’s Los Angeles Chapter, advocating for LGBTQ+ and Asian American representation in music. After her experience with GRAMMYU in 2019, the alternative rock singer released 404 EP and several sultry singles, including a melodious and fervent love song, "Blueprint," released this January. Ritchie plans on releasing more music and on her terms. 

"Time and people have finally caught up with the vision that I always had for myself, even if they didn’t see it before," Ritchie tells the Recording Academy. "One of the things I’m most proudest of is that I never really changed. I’ve stayed exactly who I am to the core. I think when you do that and when you realize there’s no one else like you, you become the most powerful person in the room."

Audrey English

**You may not have heard of Audrey English, but you have heard her music on "America’s Got Talent," "American Idol," and Netflix’s "Love Is Blind." Her songs are featured on the shows during the most prominent moments of the contestants’ lives on screen: In "AGT" and "American Idol," English’s rendition of "Lean On Me" played during golden buzzer moments and emotional arcs; er song "Mama Said" went viral after being played during Ad and Clay’s wedding scene in season 6 of "Love Is  Blind."

Inspired by Etta James, Nina Simone, and Amy Winehouse, the Samoan American artist swoons audiences with her soulful, powerful tone with songs that focus on relationships, empowerment, and love. English also showcases her culture in her videos; in the music video for her harrowing ballad "Happy," English featured the beauty of Samoa alongside a Samoan romantic love interest. She hopes one day to write a Samoan song. 

In her latest single "Unapologetic," released on April 25, English wrote the song as an anthem for others to live without shame. "In a world where we are so influenced by others, social media, and being our own worst critics - sometimes we need to take a step back to realize it all doesn’t really matter," English wrote on Instagram. "Regardless of your beliefs, background, and passions, this is a call to be authentically you, however, you define that!"

Brooke Alexx

**Brooke Alexx’s bubblegum pop personality is infectious, and her catchy hooks, including her latest pop-rock single, "Hot Like You," are fit for everyone’s summer playlist.

Alexx has never shied away from revealing intimate parts of her life. The Japanese American artist writes her music from her experiences as the oldest child, being best friends with her exes’ moms, and her connection to her Asian roots. 

In her 2022 gentle ballad, "I’m Sorry, Tokyo," Alexx reveals the shame she once felt for not wanting to learn about her Japanese heritage, as well as the guilt she feels for never learning the language and culture. "There’s so much about the culture that I don’t know and missed out on that would be so cool to be a part of my life now," Alexx told Mixed Asian Media. "So, I’m trying to return to those roots a little bit these days."

She is now making up for lost time. Alexx embraces her Japanese heritage and will visit the country with a select group of fans

Curtis Waters

Curtis Waters doesn’t care for commercial success. Despite going viral on TikTok in 2020 for his raunchy, satirical, catchy song "Stunnin," the Nepalese Canadian-American alt-pop artist was unhappy with his career trajectory.

"I made some songs that I don’t fully love, hoping they would catch the same success as 'Stunnin’," Waters told Atwood Magazine. "But doing that made me depressed, so I had to stop and remind myself why I started making music in the first place."

Water's new album, Bad Son, was released on March 27. His press release says it is "a true immigrant story, a reflection on a young, brown creative being thrown into the mainstream overnight while navigating deep issues of self-doubt and cultural identity along the way."  

Waters didn’t intend to share his immigrant story but struck inspiration as a way to cope emotionally and be honest with himself. Filled with high-energy beats, elements of indie rock, and experimental hip-hop, Waters reveals an ardent part of himself through his breathy vocals and introspective tracks.

Emily Vu 

Vietnamese American pop singer Emily Vu has accomplished much in her 22 years: She amassed over 1.2 million followers on TikTok, her song "Changes" was featured in the 2023 Netflix film A Tourist’s Guide to Love, and is part of the Mastercard Artist Accelerator program. Her catchy pop tunes, including the recently released single "Heartsick," are inspired by personal moments in her life.

Vu has always been open and sure about her identity as a queer Asian woman. She came out in her 2020 music video for "Just Wait," which featured numerous women symbolizing her previous relationships. "The music video reflects how my past relationships are still burdens to me and how I still carry those experiences with me wherever I am," Vu told Stanford Daily, "I see myself being really happy with my life in a few years. I want to be happy with all that I’ve been doing and all the people I’m around."

Four years later, Vu still releases music and captivating fans on TikTok with her earthy vocals and angelic covers. Vu tells her followers on TikTok, "I just want to let you all know that I’m back. I’m going to be annoying you all every single day until I get bored."

Etu

Fijian American artist Etu is ready for the new era of the island industry, which is expanding far beyond island reggae and into different genres. "We got artists who do pop, R&B, and country. We’re going to embrace the things we bring into this," the island pop singer told Island Mongul.

Inspired by artists like Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, and Fiji, etu's hypnotic and haunting vocals fuse beautifully with traditional island music. The dreamy track "Au Domoni Iko" ("I love you" in Fijian), from his 2022 EP Spring Break, lays smooth harmonies over Fijian beats. The EP itself is filled with memorable melodies, upbeat pop styles, and uplifting lyrics. 

Etu has released singles for the past two years, including island renditions of Cyndi Lauper’s "True Colors" and Rihanna’s "Lift Me Up" in February. He’s set to release his debut album, SZN I,this summer. 

Etu believes Pacific Islanders are on the cusp of greatness in the music industry. "This is our moment right now," he continued to Island Mogul. "We’re moving into this era, in this season, where we get to make history… Come join this part of history or they're gonna tell it for us."

Myra Molloy

Thai American singer and actress Myra Molloy was merely 13 years old when she won "Thailand's Got Talent." She continued working in Thailand on Broadway productions and landed in the Top 6 of ABC’s Rising Star. As she pursued a music degree from Berklee College of Music, she found her love for music production and songwriting.

In 2021, Molloy dropped the sweet acoustic "stay." During the pandemic, she decided to apply the skills she acquired from college to her EP, unrequited. Released in November 2023, the album blends Molloy's soulful vocals with organic and electronic dance beats. It also marks her producing debut. 

"The hardest part for me was overcoming this impostor syndrome that I couldn’t be a producer (who was taken seriously, haha)," Molloy told Melodic Magazine. "Or that I wasn’t good enough to put out music I self-produced. I always give myself a hard time. But I feel like once I got into this "flow state," things just kind of came to me very quickly and naturally, and I would come out of a producing trance. Top ten best feelings."

As an AAPI advocate, Molloy has long called for more inclusion in television, film, and music. "I just want to see more. We are coming along slowly, but I want that to be faster. It should be more. I just want to see people taking more initiative." 

Shreea Kaul 

R&B singer Shreea Kaul embraces her Indian heritage by fusing her silky falsetto and soulful pitch with South Asian and Bollywood sounds. Her "Tere Bina" and its accompanying music video are heavily influenced by her cultural upbringing.

Kaul wanted to be a crossover artist for Western and Indian audiences but found the lack of foundation for South Asian music challenging. 

"There's so much power in community, especially in the South Asian community. We stick together. We support one another. The talent is undeniable. It's only a matter of time before people are going to catch on," she said on the "DOST" podcast. "What a lot of platforms are doing right now by bringing South Asian talent to the map is exactly what we need. So I've been trying to get myself into these spaces or just be around the community more because that's what it's going to take."

On her 2021 single "Ladke" (Hindi for "boys"), Kaul contacted fellow South Asian singer REHMA to collaborate on the song. The harmonious R&B track smoothly fuses Western elements with South Asian languages. Kaul received an overwhelmingly positive response for the song, which motivated her to keep going.

"There’s a spot in the market for artists like myself—for South Asian artists, in general," says Kaul. "Whatever degree of South Asian you want to be and incorporate into your music, there’s space for it."

ZHU

Chinese American experimental EDM music producer ZHU recorded his fourth studio album inside the historic Grace Cathedral. Released in March and fittingly titled Grace, it blends trap, gospel, dance, rock, and pop with synths, organs, and strings to create a sinister, sensual tone that perfectly complements his signature sultry vocals.

Grace pays homage to the legacy of the Bay Area and its impact on his life. "The recording of this project, as well as the whole purpose and design and visuals, has a lot of tribute to [San Francisco] thematically. I think a lot of people don’t even know that I grew up there," ZHU told EDM Identity.  

At the end of the recording, ZHU and his team donned black cloaks and held a concert in the cathedral, sharing the new album with thousands of lucky fans who could attend. Like the symbolism of the cathedral, ZHU’s album represented the themes of religion and his connection to home.

"I’ve never really shared a part of the city, but I think it’s time to pay some tribute to some of the great influences that have come through the area," says ZHU

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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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 GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Man With A Mission Global Spin Hero
MAN WITH A MISSION

Photo: Michito Goto

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Global Spin: Japanese Rock Band MAN WITH A MISSION Tear Up The Stage With An Electric Performance Of "Fly Again"

The half-man, half-wolf Japanese metal band MAN WITH A MISSION throw down on stage in this live performance of "Fly Again," a track from their 2011 self-titled album.

GRAMMYs/May 30, 2023 - 05:00 pm

Japanese rockers MAN WITH A MISSION don't reveal their aesthetic in dribs and drabs; within mere seconds, you know what they're all about. And that's getting hyped — in the wolfiest of ways.*

Donning their signature canine headgear, the heavy Japanese collective gets throngs of disciples turnt up as they absolutely lay into a rendition of "Fly Again." The feeling is so new/ Believe in what you do," goes one verse. "Don't you ever be afraid in losing/ That's the clue." A wolf's creed indeed!

In this episode of Global Spin, raise a glass to AAPI month with this hair-raising live performance by a group at the vanguard of Japanese heaviness. And if you'd like to join the thrilled masses in this video, MAN WITH A MISSION are in the midst of a North American tour.

Enjoy MAN WITH A MISSION's electrifying performance of "Fly Again" above, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Global Spin.

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5 Bollywood Stars to Discover
(From left) Asees Kaur, Neha Kakkar, Badshah, Arijit Singh, Shreya Ghoshal

pHOTOS: RYAN LIMAFP via Getty Images,David Talukdar/NurPhoto via Getty Images, Prabhas Roy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images, Satish Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images, SUJIT JAISWALAFP via Getty Images

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5 Bollywood Stars To Discover: Shreya Ghoshal, Badshah & Others

A new generation of Bollywood singers and composers are bringing a fresh approach to the music, embedding their creations with influences from hip-hop and electronica, and fusing Indian folk and classical traditions with the pop mainstream.

GRAMMYs/May 30, 2023 - 02:19 pm

For many decades, the lush soundscapes of Indian film music were dominated by a select group of singing legends: from Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle to Hemant Kumar, Mukesh and Mohammed Rafi. A change of the guard was inevitable, and it began during the last years of the 20th century. 

As the film industry in India became more globalized and diversified, and reality shows opened up doors for young performers, it was only natural that talented playback singers — the actual performers recording vocals that are later mimed by the actors — would appear in all corners of the vast country.

The Bollywood standards that captivated the imagination of millions from the ‘50s to the ‘90s are still timeless. But a new generation of singers and composers are bringing a fresh approach to the music known as filmi embedding their creations with influences from hip-hop and electronica, and fusing Indian folk and classical traditions with the pop mainstream. 

Here are five young stars of Bollywood music who are ready to be discovered by the rest of the world.

Arijit Singh

One listen to “Kesariya,” the lilting ballad from the 2022 fantasy blockbuster Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva is enough to understand why 36-year-old singer and composer Arijit Singh has been the most streamed Indian artist on Spotify for the past three consecutive years. Singh’s velvety inflections demonstrate the influence of mainstream pop, while remaining faithful to the film masters that he grew up listening to particularly golden era maestro Kishore Kumar. 

Born in West Bengal, Singh was raised in a musical family. Everybody sang around him in childhood, and he was also exposed to both Western and Bengali classical music. Singh has been criticized for lending his voice to too many Bollywood productions, but a prolific output has defined playback singers since the very beginning of India’s movie industry. His association with composer Pritam is already legendary. This year, the team delivered an instant classic: the atmospheric “O Bedardeya,” from the romantic comedy Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar.

Neha Kakkar

This 34-year-old vocalist from the northern city of Rishikesh (also where the Beatles studied meditation with the Maharishi in 1967) wasn’t alone on her path to Bollywood stardom. Neha is the youngest sister of playback singers Tony and Sonu Kakkar, and the entire family initially moved to Delhi in order to further their musical careers. At 16, Neha was a contestant in the second season of the reality show "Indian Idol," but was eliminated early she would return to the show as judge, and gain notoriety for her empathetic reactions to the performances of aspiring stars. 

In 2014, she collaborated with famed music director Amir Trivedi on the rambunctious “London Thumkada,” which accompanies an unforgettable wedding scene in the award-winning film Queen, about a young woman’s path to personal freedom. Since then, the self-taught Kakkar has recorded a number of soulful duets for Bollywood productions. In 2020, the groovy “Dil Ko Karaar Aaya” became one of her biggest hits.

Badshah

It makes sense that the integration of hip-hop into the Indian music mainstream would generate some controversy, and the wild success of rapper and film producer Banshah has polarized critics

Born in Delhi, Badshah studied civil engineering before turning into music full time. In 2020, his smash duet “Genda Phool” (Marigold Flower) with playback singer Payal Dev was met with hostility by the Indian press because it openly lifted lines from a classic Bengali folk tune. Badshah’s musical ambition, knack for bouncy beats and clever rhymes has transcended his critics. He continues to enrich filmi music with rap and novel ideas: Check out the darkly hued, sinuous melodic lines of “Bad Boy,” which he contributed to Saaho, the second highest grossing Bollywood film of 2019.

Asees Kaur

Growing up in Panipat, a city north of Delhi, Asees Kaur obsessively studied cassette tapes of Gurbani the compositions of Sikh Gurus. It is not surprising that the 34-year-old playback singer’s best Bollywood moments are infused with a subtle spiritual vibe, a benign tranquility. 

Her first big hit was “Bolna,” a duet from the 2016 family drama Kapoor & Sons. She recorded her vocals separately, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the finished product also involved the voice of Anijit Singh. Kaur’s popularity skyrocketed in 2021 with “Raaraan Lambiyan,” the moving opening track to the Shershaah soundtrack a stirring war biopic.  

Shreya Ghoshal

At 39, Shreya Ghoshal is already a legend among contemporary playback singers her prodigious output and notorious versatility providing a link to the golden era of Indian cinema. Tonally, Ghoshal also evokes the spell of singing icon Lata Mangeshkar, one of her greatest influences. 

Classically trained in Hindustani music, Ghoshal was a teenager when she won the reality show "Sa Re Ga Ma," attracting the attention of the film industry. Her auspicious debut as playback singer happened on the 2002 romantic drama Devdas, one of the quintessential Indian films of the past three decades. Mimed by actress Aishwarya Rai, the song “Silsila Ye Chahat Ka” made for a spectacular dancing sequence with lavish wardrobe and sets. Ghoshal's honeyed soprano has served her well, with a gallery of hits that includes recent tracks such as the gorgeous “Pal,” a duet with Arijit Singh from the 2018 film Jalebi.

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