Photo: Jeff Vespa/WireImage
Black Sounds Beautiful: Tracing Miguel's Journey From Sleeper Success To Mastering His Own Brand Of R&B
GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter Miguel has carved out his own, genre-bending lane in R&B. In this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, revisit the storied career that brought him to where he is today.
Miguel Jontel Pimentel — aka Miguel — put out his full-length studio debut, All I Want is You, in 2010, but his relationship with R&B actually dates back much further.
The singer-songwriter first fell in love with music as a child growing up in San Pedro, California, thanks in part to his parents' eclectic tastes.
From his mother, Miguel heard classic R&B; his dad introduced him to styles like hip-hop, jazz and classic rock. All those influences would inform his rapidly formulating musical identity, which he began to pursue as a young teen.
Miguel didn't find immediate success after he put out All I Want is You. In fact, the album made only a modest impression when it first came out, but it proved to have staying power. Although it fell off the Billboard chart for three weeks, it crept back up onto the chart to become a sleeper hit, thanks in part to the vivid, omnivorous musical range and identity Miguel established on singles like "Sure Thing," "Quickie" and "Girls Like You."
All I Want is You established Miguel's gripping presence in the industry; by the time he was making its follow-up, Kaleidoscope Dream, two years later, the singer had a crisper perception of his role in the R&B sphere.
"Somewhere along the way… the genre became a stereotype, and I've never been one for stereotypes," Miguel told Billboard at the time, pointing out that his father is Mexican and his mother is Black.
"I've been in the middle my entire life, having to make decisions as to who and what I am. It was really important for me to stand out," he continued. "I wanted the music to stand out that way."
Miguel not only stood out — he also thrived as an R&B act operating at the top of the format, but also creating his own lane. In 2013, he won his first GRAMMY for Best R&B Song, for "Adorn." (To date, it’s his only GRAMMY win — though he’s earned 12 nominations.)
Press play on the video above for a deeper look into Miguel's boundary-breaking career, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Black Sounds Beautiful.
Photo: Kelly Samson, Gallery Photography
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
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."
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.
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."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage
Black Sounds Beautiful: How Lil Nas X Turned The Industry On Its Head With "Old Town Road" And Beyond
In this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, relive Lil Nas X's massive debut, "Old Town Road," and learn how he's since been an advocate for Black and LGBTQIA+ communities through his music and his platform.
Lil Nas X became a global sensation practically overnight, but it wasn't an accident.
The American singer and rapper — born Montero Lamar Hill — became fluent in music and pop culture at an early age, becoming a meme aficionado. His love for internet culture cultivated the perfect recipe for his debut single, "Old Town Road," to become one of the most viral hits in music history; the song also prompted a necessary conversation about the bounds of genre.
"Old Town Road" rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and still holds the record for most time spent at No. 1 at 19 weeks. The single later helped Lil Nas X snag two GRAMMY Awards for Best Pop/Duo Group Performance and Best Music Video. (To date, he's won 2 GRAMMYs and has received 11 nominations overall.)
Aside from his immense musical talent, Lil Nas X — who came out as gay on social media during his Hot 100 reign — has been a fierce champion for LGBTQIA+ and Black communities.
At just 24 years old, Lil Nas X has plenty more history-making and game-changing moves in store. As he revealed during his March 2023 campaign with Coach, "My next big chapter is coming."
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Black Sounds Beautiful: How Megan Thee Stallion Turned Viral Fame Into A GRAMMY-Winning Rap Career
In this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, revisit Megan Thee Stallion's rapid rise to fame — from viral hits "Hot Girl Summer," "Savage," and "WAP" to winning a GRAMMY with Beyoncé.
Born Megan Pete, the Houston native was introduced to music at an early age because her mother — an underground hip-hop artist who went by the name Holly-Wood — brought her to recording sessions. Megan began regularly writing lyrics and freestyling, which led to a clip of a rap battle going viral, jump-starting her career.
By 2020, Megan earned her first two Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers, "Savage" and "WAP" featuring Cardi B. The former caught the attention of fellow Houston-bred diva Beyoncé, who later hopped on the track for a remix, and snagged Megan two GRAMMY wins in a full-circle moment — during her acceptance speech, Megan revealed her dream was to become "the rap Beyoncé."
Beyond Megan's massive musical achievements, the rap princess has also been a champion of Black women internationally.
"It's ridiculous that some people think the simple phrase 'Protect Black women' is controversial," she wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. "We deserve to be protected as human beings. And we are entitled to our anger about a laundry list of mistreatment and neglect that we suffer."