Photo: KMazur/WireImage for New York Post
Mother's Day 2022 Playlist: Listen To 15 Songs About Moms
This Mother's Day, consider the vast dimensions and implications of momhood via these often divergent songs from across the decades.
Motherhood — and having a mother — aren't one-dimensional concepts, and anyone born of a woman knows that. Some view their moms through the lens of unconditional love, respect and reverence; others feel oppositely. In between is an entire spectrum of shifting feelings, meanings, from grief to resilience to reconciliation and beyond. And that in-betweenness — which defines everything about life on Earth — is where songs are born.
This Mother's Day, celebrate the innumerable facets of moms and momhood with songs that approach the topic from wildly different perspectives. You've got Sun Kil Moon's luminous song about a deeply loved mother's impermanence, and Tom Brosseau's song about his mom abandoning him in a department store. Also at diametric odds: Danzig's and John Lennon's songs, both titled "Mother." (You'll hear why.)
Check out our Mother's Day 2022 playlist below and on Pandora.
The Official 2022 GRAMMYs Playlist Has Arrived: Get To Know The Nominees With 146 Songs By Lil Nas X, BTS, Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat & More
Photo: Patrick O’Brien Smith
Kassa Overall Breaks The Mold And Embraces Absurdity On New Album 'Animals'
Kassa Overall was put on the map due to a reductive narrative equation: "jazz plus rap plus mental health equals me." On his new album, 'ANIMALS,' the unclassifiable artist simply asks listeners, "What does it sound like to you?"
Kassa Overall holds his phone aloft, and rolls his eyes back in his head.
He's playing the intro to his track "Going Up," featuring Lil B, Shabazz Palaces and Francis and the Lights, which had dropped that day. A cello drone gives way to a strange woodblock part; a chopped-up drum solo jaws at everything — then it's as if Ableton freezes. Flanked by synths and sequencers, Overall seizes in his chair, as if he's being sucked into a black hole.
"You know the part where Neo gets kicked out of the Matrix?" the GRAMMY-nominated rapper, drummer and producer tells GRAMMY.com via Zoom. "It's like that, but when you get spit out, you actually get spit out in the bush in Africa."
That 20-second intro took Overall a long time to get right, but it's one of his favorite moments on his new album, ANIMALS — which arrived May 26 on Overall's new home, Warp Records.
The conversation has turned to the concept of absurdity — a helpful lens through which to view Overall's art. It sure beats the one that hamstrung him in the past, when he did interview after interview after interview about the intersection of jazz and rap — with mental health thrown in for good measure.
"I've talked about this for two albums now," he told GRAMMY.com in 2021 with a hint of exhaustion. "I ran that cycle in my head. I'm not so much trying to prove the point anymore that these things can go together. I just want to make the dopest s—."
The joy of ANIMALS is not in that genre fusion, but Overall's swelling boldness and vividness as an artist — as well as its novel fusion of seemingly disparate collaborators. Try to find another record where you'll find jazz-adjacent pianists Vijay Iyer and Kris Davis next to singular rappers like Danny Brown and Lil B.
"The reason the jazz world feels a little bit dry and s— is because there's not really the space for absurdity," Overall says. "Somebody like Louis Armstrong or Dizzy Gillespie — a third of them was Lil B and Danny Brown energy. That's why it was fire."
On ANIMALS, Overall rose to the energetic occasion. The album is consumed with subjects like his uneasy relationship with ambition, and his relationship with his growing audience. On tracks like lead single "Ready to Ball," the Nick Hakim and Theo Croker-featuring "Make My Way Back Home," and the Vijay Iyer-assisted "The Score Was Made," Overall has bigger fish to fry — than where rap does or doesn't connect with jazz.
Read on for an interview with Overall about his latest career moves, bucking tired narratives and using collaborators as instruments — much like a certain embattled rap innovator.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
I'd like to start by talking about your pandemic-era SHADES trilogy of mixtapes. How was the experience making those mixtapes significant to your creative journey?
I was just thinking about the SHADES series yesterday, actually. I was thinking about the process of making that versus making a solo record, and I realized they're actually a lot more connected than people might think.
When I make my own music, the process of it is still sample chopping — whether I'm chopping up original music, or chopping up some Nirvana, you know what I mean? Oftentimes, my original music includes collaging from other sources.
The SHADES thing was like me going, Let me actually deal with the sample practice. I missed the idea of taking some s— and flipping it. So, that was really a lot of fun.
I think SHADES 3, the third in the trilogy, was kind of a new direction for me, because I started actually using drum machines. The series started with more of me on the laptop, locked down in COVID, chopping up this and chopping of that. For this one, I had an actual studio behind me.
The lockdown is over, so I'm not so much in the headphones. So, if you listen to SHADES 3, it's more house tracks and s— like that. For me, it was just a good experiment. Although I made beats and used sample sequences, I never really got into step sequences, and those kinds of drum machines.
I'm a novice at that; I'm brand new at that. So, that's been a lot of fun.
The last time I interviewed you, you seemed to be trying to wrestle out of the reductive narrative around your music. You're dealing with more important subjects on ANIMALS. Where are you at in your career, through the lenses of public messaging and your signing to Warp?
Thank you for pointing that out first, because that'll allow me to not have to repeat things I'm tired of repeating.
Just to recap what you're saying, historically, jazz and rap often equals corny. I've never wanted to be corny, and I don't think I've ever been corny. It just happens to be the things that I say — where I come from. It's not so much like, I'm gonna do this.
And then the mental health s— is more like, I've just gotten comfortable talking about my life. Just like with any writer — you could be a writer for years, but it could become years until you become comfortable talking about your perspective and your ideas. If I'm just talking about the things that affect me a lot, that has to be a part of it. You can't not talk about it, but it was more like, I want to get past that.
I think that putting the album out on Warp is a bit of messaging in itself, because I've been making this music that I don't consider to be that weird. My music is not weird compared to Aphex Twin or Squarepusher, you know what I mean?
It's a fresh take on electronics and organics, you know what I mean? It's unique, but it's not that weird. I came up through the industry I came up in. So, I'm trying to get booked in jazz clubs and play jazz festivals, and they're looking at me like, "Not under my banner!"
If you listen to the state of jazz, or different playlists on the various streaming platforms, they sound a lot different than when I first started putting music out. People were like, "Whoa, what is this? Is this your pop product? This is your pop album, right? How's your pop s— going?"
That's what my homies used to say — my jazz friends. "He plays good — like, he's a killing drummer, but he's also got this pop s— he do."
Your work doesn't resemble any pop music I've ever heard.
Nah, nah, But there's a drum machine of sorts. There's a clap that's not organic. There's vocals. [Laughs.] It's pop!
The first time I noticed was when I did a guest mix for BBC, which came through Tom Ravenscroft. He got hip to the album through Bandcamp; he had no idea who I am or what I am.
That's how I started even doing the SHADES stuff — when I got the opportunity to do guest mixes, I would do remixes to kind of double down. It's like a double word score of like, Yo, he's doing some extra-different s—.
So, they were like, "Producer Kassa Overall does a guest mix." And I noticed that it's the way you present something; people are listening to it differently. If I present an album as a jazz drummer, then it's some pop s— where I'm trying to sing or something.
But then when it's presented as a producer thing, people are automatically like, "Oh, word. This is, like, electronic music. It's cool. We know where to put this."
My biggest influences are unique artists — unique people who made things that are kind of their own genre, whether it be Thom Yorke, Radiohead, Björk. Even Kanye; at a point, it was rebranding the whole idea. Like, "I'm a producer — no, I'm a rapper!" "You have a gangster image!" "No, I'm wearing skinny jeans and a pink polo!"
Then, even someone like John Coltrane, somebody like Bob Marley — obviously, these are the biggest artists in their fields, but they're also people [where] whatever they're making, you didn't really know what it was before it kind of popped in.
So, I would rather people hear my music and not think it's a jazz-rap collage. What if you don't relate it to anything else? What does it sound like to you?
The thing about the last album with Brownswood [Recordings, 2020's I THINK I'M GOOD]: I was like, "Bro, so many songs I'm making that y'all are considering to be B-sides would work well next to a Frank Ocean or James Blake record."
Maybe it's a little too poppy for Brownswood's audience, but f— Brownswood's audience, you know what I mean? But there's a million people over here that don't even know what a Nord or a Rhodes is, and they f— with what I'm doing.
So I think that's the frustration I've dealt with. I'm just a dude making songs about my life. That's all it is.
Kassa Overall. Photo: Patrick O'Brien Smith
Was it a difficult process to find a post-Brownswood home that was conducive to what you want to do?
No, it was very easy. And shouts to Brownswood; I'm not saying "F— Brownswood." That's the homies. [Label founder] Gilles Peterson is still a big supporter of what I'm doing. I'm just saying moreso my image and branding — if you want to make it seem like I'm this organic Afro-bop type, it's not gonna really sell. My s— is way too sad boy.
Somebody from Warp hit me up after I THINK I'M GOOD came out and asked me to make some beats for Danny Brown. Actually, they asked me if I had some beats. I was like, "Bro, give me two weeks," and I made three beats for Danny Brown; he picked two of them.
And then, that same A&R came back around and was like, "Yo, I think you should touch some other tracks on the album and 'Kass out' the whole album." So, I added all sorts of little drums and vocal throws — different things to give my little texture.
I ended up working on four joints total on Danny's next record — and fully producing one, which is one of the singles, but it sounds like a Kass kind of thing. So, that relationship started, and we chop it up on music stuff regularly.
When I started getting ready to shop for my next record, it was kind of like, "Y'all want to do it?" and [Warp] was like "Hell yeah."
I could have signed somewhere else and gotten more money, but the branding would be the same "What is this?" type of thing. I think Warp has the history of electronic music, and they have artists there now — it tells a story of what I'm doing, in a good way. I fit into the thing.
You came up in the jazz scene, and your relationship with ambition weighs heavily on ANIMALS. What is it about that world that lends itself to a hyper-competitive, rise-and-grind spirit?
I think it's the displacement of a cultural home. I understand what you're talking about — jazz, self-help, motivational. There's so many connector cables there, and I'm guilty of it all.
As a jazz musician, you have to learn how to practice. Like, I'm gonna practice all day, and the gigs are gonna come, and you're damn near doing, like, affirmations, and then you go sit in at Smalls. It's not like a doctor goes to school, and then applies, and it's an actual, visible track, The music thing is very pie-in-the-sky.
If you think about self-help as its own branding and industry, a lot of jazz musicians are susceptible to that kind of rhetoric. Because it's like, this person is huge, this person has nothing, and they're almost equally talented. One of them grinds his ass off; the other one drinks.
The other thing — this might be a little darker, a shadow thing — is one thing that happened with jazz is colleges. Once jazz became this academia thing, that's the student industry. That means you have jazz musicians turning to students as a means of sustainment.
That's not really the culture of the music. The music isn't really rise-and-grind. The culture is not even about success. People like Jimmy Heath expressed this to me: it wasn't popular.
It's popular now, or it looks like it. A Love Supreme is this huge thing, right? But if you listen to Elvin Jones interviews and stuff, he talks about playing in these clubs, and there's, like, six people there. Four of them are waiters, and people were not trying to hear that noise.
The idea is that you're going to choose this music that's not really designed for mass appeal, but the motivation is mass appeal. It's kind of a conflicting direction. That's not to say it can't work; there's a lot of people making it work.
But we're all screwed a little bit. It might not just be a jazz musician thing, and it might not just be a musician thing, but we're all kind of in this place of Work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, and who works the most wins.
I don't want to live like that, and I find myself in that position at times. I'm going like, Something's got to give eventually. It's supposed to be more of a spiritual thing — a practice.
Kassa Overall. Photo: Patrick O'Brien Smith
You mentioned Kanye; I love the way he seemed to use collaborators as instruments on Donda. I get that same feeling from ANIMALS.
It's funny you say this. When I started working on this record — we're talking about 2019, even, some of these joints — I always pick a couple of albums to compete with. That's kind of one of my secrets. The last record was <a href="https://www.grammy.com/artists/calvin-broadus/14274">[Snoop Dogg's] Doggystyle and <a href="https://www.grammy.com/artists/2pac/7233">[2Pac's] All Eyez on Me. And this record was Dark Twisted Fantasy.
I haven't said this much in interviews, because I don't want to be like, "Kassa Overall drops album dedicated to Kanye!" [Laughs hard] But he was a huge influence on my process.
You have these long-ass songs. It's an open-ended beat. And however many minutes [into Dark Twisted Fantasy], Rick Ross comes in. Or you have Paul McCartney working on the melody. That was the inspiration behind this. If you listen close to a lot of the sonics, you'll hear, Oh, this is in conversation with that production process.
A musician like Kris Davis, for example. An absolute weirdo. You sit down and talk with her — so stoic. Who she is in itself is an anomaly. And then the music she makes is so unique.
Somebody like her would never cross paths with Danny Brown, who's equally strange. Even just his voice; he was a weirdo in his world. He was signed to G-Unit. He came up in Detroit, street rap adjacent, but when he popped off by kind of busting out of that and embracing more of the weirdo myths of his art. He's a standout in his own space.
I look at those two artists as people that actually have more in common than you would think. They're similar because they're very different in their own spaces. I think the world that Danny Brown lives in is better with Kris Davis in it. And I think the world that Kris Davis and Vijay Iyer are in is better with Lil B in it.
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Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage
Five Hip-Hop Songs That Sample Steely Dan, In Celebration Of New Book 'Quantum Criminals'
A new book, 'Quantum Criminals,' maps how Steely Dan's cynical, visionary universe resonates in unexpected ways today. Their intrigue extends to the world of hip-hop sampling.
Among serious music fans, it's a common rite of passage to realize there's a lot more to Steely Dan than meets the eye. And a lot of that is biting, sardonic wit.
If you think Donald Fagen and Walter Becker's three-time GRAMMY-winning partnership is just the stuff of smoothed-over yacht rock, you could have a change of heart: Dan bangers from "Deacon Blues" to "Don't Take Me Alive" to "Hey Nineteen" are full of pitch-black character studies, acidic turns of phrase, and one-liners that may singe your eyebrows.
Sure, this component of the group is key to their conceptual essence. But in your dance with the Dan, take the next step: If you took away all the sarcasm, all the seediness, all the salt, Steely Dan would still be one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Because their musical sophistication was second to none.
For decades, connotations of soft-rock yuppiedom have calcified around Steely Dan; The Onion once summed it up with an article headlined "Donald Fagen Defends Steely Dan To Friends." But not only do they barely resemble yacht rock on any level; their compositions and playing were of a stunning level of sophistication. It's no accident that unquestionable musical godheads Wayne Shorter, Bernard Purdie and the Brecker brothers played with them.
Steely Dan is a tangled web indeed, and a new book illuminates every nook and cranny of their legend. Journalist Alex Pappademas and visual artist Joan LeMay's Quantum Criminals, arrived in May and pulls apart the Steely Dan myth like Russian nesting dolls.
"We're all looking out at the world with a Donald and Walter-ish kind of dismay. So they make a lot more sense now," Pappademas recently told Rolling Stone. What seemed cold and remote and jerky about them back in the day — now, that's just the way people talk. They're also also writing apocalyptically about their time, and our time now seems so unavoidably apocalyptic.
In the same interview, Pappademas cited the final album of their original run, 1980's Gaucho. "Gaucho is the ultimate one because it's the slickest," he said, mentioning an ultra-complex drum machine they built to remove any vestige of humanity. "Eventually, the solution is, 'We're going to invent sampling so that we can reduce the amount of human error.'"
Of course, Steely Dan didn't literally invent sampling. But the comment at least tacitly bridges two worlds few know are bridged: Steely Dan and hip-hop. As Pappademas put it in the book — albeit in the context of a contentious royalties agreement — “Even if nothing about Steely Dan was hip-hop, everything about them was hip-hop… they were about that cash.”
According to WhoSampled, the Dan have been sampled 152 times; in a number of cases, those samples were in rap songs. Pappademas acknowledges this component of the Dan's legacy in the chapter "Peter/Tariq/Daniel" in Quantum Criminals.
In tandem with Quantum Criminals, let the following list of Dan-sampling rap songs elucidate this misunderstood band for neophytes: they were not only gritty lyrically, but conducive to musical grit.
De La Soul - "Eye Know" (1989)
Smack in the middle of De La Soul's debut album, 1989's 3 Feet High and Rising, is "Eye Know," which samples the Mad Lads' "Make This Young Lady Mine," Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay," and Lee Dorsey's "Get Out of My Life, Woman."
Underpinning it all is the clavinet from key Steely Dan hit "Peg," a single from their 1977 masterpiece, Aja.
"Hip-hop love this is and don't mind when I quiz your involvements before the sun," Pos raps over the burbling chords. "But clear your court 'cause this is a one-man sport." Between verses, a sampled Fagen bleats, "I know I'll love you better!"
Ice Cube - "Don't Trust 'Em" (1992)
Get past the… er, interesting cover art, and 1976's The Royal Scam is a jewel in Steely Dan's crown — a revisitation of their rock roots as they hurtled into ironic smoothness.
"Green Earrings," about a remorseless jewel thief, is a highlight, and Ice Cube incorporated a sped-up sample of its keyboard part in "Don't Trust 'Em," from his 1992 album The Predator.
The crystalline-toned hook is woven into brutal storytelling, as the former N.W.A. MC details how a sexual encounter can get you hogtied in a trunk: "You can't trust a big butt and a smile," Cube sagely warns.
Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz - "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" (1997)
Aja's opener, "Black Cow," remains of one Steely Dan's all-time funkiest cuts, and it provides the engine for East Coast rap duo Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz's debut single, "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)".
As Pappademas lays out in Quantum Criminals, Fagen and Becker would only clear the sample if they received 100 percent of the royalties. "People are under the impression that we put the record out and got sued," Gunz said, according to the book. "We didn't get sued. We got stuck up." "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" turned out to be Tarique and Gunz's one and only hit song, from their one and only album.
MF DOOM - "Gas Drawls" (1999)
Other MCs clearly got the memo on "Black Cow": it shows up early on the late MF DOOM's "Gas Drawls," from his 1999 debut album Operation: Doomsday, and pops up repeatedly throughout the song.
"You were very high!" Fagen crows just before Dumile punches in, in media res: "By the way, I re-up on bad dreams, bag up screams in 50s/ Be up on mad schemes that heat shop like jiffy."
Kanye West - "Champion" (2007)
Like Ye's cartoon-bear mascot on the cover of 2007's Graduation, "Champion," a cut from that album, blasts into the air — buoyed by a vocal sample from Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne."
"Did you realize/ That you were a champion in their eyes?" Fagen croons as the song's chorus, giving "Champion" its thrust as well as its title. At first, Fagen and Becker were reluctant to clear the sample; they relented after West sent Fagen a heartfelt, handwritten letter.
Today, the verse resonates in the rapper now called Ye's legacy — not only for this particular song, but because it seems to sum up his rise and fall. Clearly, Pappademas was right: Steely Dan has nothing to do with hip-hop. Steely Dan is hip-hop.
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9 Essential Jack Harlow Collaborations: Drake, Lil Wayne, Saweetie, Lil Nas X & More
As Jack Harlow releases his third album, 'Jackman,' revisit some of the most epic — and star-studded — collabs he's delivered in the past several years, from Eminem to Justin Timberlake.
Long before Jack Harlow was one of rap's buzziest stars, he was making music for his middle-school classmates. Even at just age 12, he knew the art of collaboration, teaming up with a friend to create his first album, and later creating a rap collective with other pals. Fast forward 13 years later, and he's teaming up with some of the biggest stars in the industry.
Harlow has counted several superstars as collaborators since signing with Atlantic Records in 2018; just the track list of his second album, 2022's Come Home the Kids Miss You, featured the likes of Drake, Lil Wayne, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell Williams. So when Harlow surprised fans with the announcement of his third studio album, Jackman, just days before its April 28 release, it was easy to assume he'd deliver more star-studded tracks.
But upon the album's arrival, there was not a collaboration to be found. Based on Harlow opting to use his birth name as the title of his latest release, it's not all that surprising that he opted to take the no-features route this time around — and even without collaborators, he sounds more confident than ever.
Although Jackman didn't add to Harlow's reputable lineup of guest stars, he has quite the roster already, whether from his own projects or featuring on another artist's track. To celebrate Harlow's new music, GRAMMY.com revisits some of his most memorable collaborations so far.
DaBaby, Tory Lanez, and Lil Wayne — "Whats Poppin" (Remix)
Harlow released six mixtapes and two EPs in the many years leading up to his breakthrough hit "Whats Poppin," the lead single off his debut studio album, 2020's Thats What They All Say. Though "Whats Poppin" certainly isn't the only of Harlow's raps to reflect on the joys of being rich and famous, his hard-hitting delivery on the new remix verse is a standout among the rest.
And with the help of DaBaby and Tory Lanez on the remix as well, the song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 — an impressive feat for his first-ever entry on the chart. Not only did the song's commercial success put him on the map, but it nabbed Harlow his first GRAMMY nomination in 2021, for Best Rap Performance.
Drake — "Churchill Downs"
Named after Louisville's iconic racetrack, "Churchill Downs" is a heartfelt ode to Harlow's hometown; the music video was even filmed at the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Backed by a flute-driven beat, the standout track off Harlow's sophomore album, Come Home the Kids Miss You, is a perfect embodiment of his humble beginnings: "All that time in the kitchen finally panned out/ I put some flavor in a pot and took the bland out/ I know my grandpa would have a heart attack if I pulled a hunnid grand out," he raps.
Meanwhile, Drake's guest verse — which calls out the pitfalls of fame — is considered one of his best in recent years, likely due to the level of vulnerability the Canadian rapper is showing nearly two decades into his career.
The rags-to-riches tale resonated with fans and critics alike: "Churchill Downs" cracked the top 10 of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and earned the pair a GRAMMY nomination for Best Rap Song in 2022.
Lil Nas X — "Industry Baby"
Lil Nas X recruited Harlow for his multi-platinum single "Industry Baby," a pulsing track laden with triumphant horns and braggadocious lyrics. Accompanied by a provocative music video where both rappers break out of prison while donning bright pink jumpsuits, the song strategically followed Lil Nas X's legal battle with Nike. But the Kentucky rapper's verse arguably steals the show with brow-raising bars, including "I sent her back to her boyfriend with my handprint on her a— cheek."
The boisterous tune helped Harlow earn his first of two No. 1s on the Hot 100; his second came in 2022 with his solo track "First Class."
Saweetie — "Tap In" (Remix)
Harlow was one of three rap stars Saweetie recruited for the remix of her Too Short-sampling single "Tap In," which also featured Post Malone and DaBaby.
While the SoCal rapper isn't shy about flaunting her physical attributes ("Lil' waist, fat a—") and being able to "bag a eight-figure n—," Harlow just seems happy to be there. "I just crossed over to Top 40/ I can't even say 'Whats poppin?' now 'cause it got corny," he spits before telling listeners that his verse for Saweetie got him "horny."
Big Sean — "Way Out"
A solid single choice following "Whats Poppin" and "Tyler Herro," Harlow and Big Sean's "Way Out" is as straightforward and braggadocious as it is club-ready. Just under three minutes in length, Sean's guest verse does not disappoint — it's packed with punchlines, such as "I'm anointed, I'm the boss/ I done came out of pocket so much/ You thought that I was disjointed."
Lil Wayne — "Poison"
Lil Wayne was no stranger to AutoTune before teaming up with Harlow, but some critics disapproved of his use of it on "Poison," a track from Come Home the Kids Miss You. Even so, his rhyme about stealing someone's girl is pretty iconic: "I might have to jack your b— 'cause I be on my Harlow sh—."
Despite what critics have to say, clearly Wayne enjoys working with Harlow — "Poison" marked their third collab, following the "Whats Poppin" remix and 2020 single "P— Talk" alongside City Girls and Quavo.
Pharrell Williams — "Movie Star"
On "Movie Star," Harlow ditches his humble persona to rap about enjoying the perks of his then-newfound superstardom: money, women, and designer clothes. "Can't imagine being you, ooh, I'd hate to be it / I'm done fakin' humble, actin' like I ain't conceited / 'Cause, b—, I am conceited," he declares on the track produced by the legendary Pharrell Williams, a true indicator that an artist has made it in the music industry.
After Williams adds some of his flair to the chorus, both stars trade off rhymes in the song's final verse. "But do it jiggle though?" Williams asks. Harlow's response? "I feel like the whole damn city know."
Justin Timberlake — "Parent Trap"
The dark side of fame theme resurfaces in "Parent Trap," a collaboration with Justin Timberlake, who lends his signature southern drawl to the chorus. "Every sky can't be blue/ It's hard to see when you're walkin' in the grey/ So many flights, look at how the time flew," he sings.
Though it may not quite measure up to Harlow's top-tier duet with Drake on "Churchill Downs," which tackles similar subject matter, the collab is a fitting one — Harlow referenced NSYNC in "Tyler Herro" just two years prior.
Eminem and Cordae — "Killer" (Remix)
In late 2020, Harlow told GQ that he "grew up listening to Eminem" and idolized him, so it must have been surreal and full-circle when he got to join forces with the 15-time GRAMMY-winning rapper a mere six months later.
Rising to the challenge, Harlow holds his own alongside Em and then-fellow newcomer Cordae, demonstrating strong lyrical wordplay — particularly with lines like "I'm eatin' pizza in Little Italy, damn, I used to hit Caesars."
Even alongside his biggest heroes, Harlow has proven his natural ability to command attention — and though it's just him on the mic on Jackman, he seems poised and ready to see who's next.
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5 Things We Learned From GRAMMY Museum's New The Power Of Song Exhibit, A Celebration Of Songwriters From Tom Petty To Taylor Swift
Nile Rodgers, Jimmy Jam, Smokey Robinson and more provide deep insights into their hit collaborations and creative process at GRAMMY Museum's The Power of Song: A Songwriters Hall of Fame Exhibit, open from April 26 through Sept. 4.
Since its founding in 1969, the Songwriters Hall of Fame has been celebrating the great songwriters and composers of our time. In 2010, it found a physical home at Downtown Los Angeles' GRAMMY Museum.
Now, the GRAMMY Museum is adding to that legacy with a special expanded exhibit, which dives deep into the history of songwriting and recorded music in the United States — as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame and its inductees' role in it. Whether you're a songwriter or musician who loves the creative process, a history nerd, or simply a music lover, this exhibit is for you.
When you enter The Power Of Song, you'll hear the voices of legendary Songwriter Hall of Fame inductees and GRAMMY winners — including Nile Rodgers, Carole King, Diane Warren, Smokey Robinson and Jimmy Jam — discussing their creative process and some of the biggest songs they've written. Take a seat on the couch to absorb all their wisdom in the deeply informative and inspiring original short film.
Turn to the right, and you'll find a timeline across the entire wall, explaining the origins and key points around songwriting and recorded music in the U.S. On the other wall, pop on the headphones provided to enjoy a video of memorable Hall of Fame ceremony performances. One interactive video interface near the entrance allows you to hear "song highlights," and another allows you to explore the entire Songwriters Hall of Fame database.
The exhibit is filled with a treasure trove of handwritten song lyrics from Taylor Swift, Cyndi Lauper, Tom Petty and many more, as well as iconic artifacts, including Daft Punk's helmets, a classy Nile Rodgers GRAMMY look, and guitars from Bill Withers, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp and Toby Keith.
Below, take a look at five things we learned from The Power Of Song: A Songwriters Hall Of Fame Exhibit, which will be at the GRAMMY Museum from April 26 through Sept. 4.
Daft Punk Rerecorded "Get Lucky" To Fit Nile Rodgers' Funky Guitar
Legendary funk pioneer and superproducer Nile Rodgers is the current Chairman of the SHOF and has an active presence at the exhibit. One case features the disco-esque lime green Dior tuxedo Rodgers wore to the 2023 GRAMMY Awards, along with the shiny metallic helmets of French dance duo Daft Punk, who collaborated with Rodgers on their GRAMMY-winning 2013 album, Random Access Memories.
Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk and Rodgers had forged a friendship and been wanting to collab for years prior to 2013's Record Of The Year-winning smash "Get Lucky." When they finally connected and Bangalter and de Homem-Christo played the CHIC founder the demo for "Get Lucky," he asked to hear it again with everything muted except the drum track, so he could create the perfect guitar lick for it.
Bangalter and de Homem-Christo decided to essentially re-record the whole song to fit Rodgers' guitar, which joyously drives the track — and carried it to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Daft Punk's first Top 5 hit.
Photo: Rebecca Sapp
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Set Up Their Studio The "Wrong" Way Because Of Prince
In the exhibit film, Jimmy Jam tells several stories about working with — and learning from — Prince. He recalls how he and Terry Lewis watched Prince work and record everything "in the red," so they set up their Minneapolis studio to follow his lead. A sound engineer told them it was too loud, but that ended up being the sound that artists like Janet Jackson and Usher came to them for. It was a "happy mistake," as Jam put it, that helped their legendary careers as a powerhouse production duo take off.
Prince's dogmatic, tireless work ethic also rubbed off on the powerhouse pair. One rehearsal, the Purple One kept pressing Jam to do more, which resulted in him playing two instruments, singing and hitting the choreography from behind his keyboard. "He saw that I could do more than I thought I could; he saw me better than I saw myself," he reflected.
"God Bless America" Composer Irving Berlin Didn't Read Music
In his 50 year-career, Irving Berlin wrote over 1000 songs, many of which defined American popular music for the better part of the 20th century. Along with penning "God Bless America," "White Christmas," "Puttin' on the Ritz," and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (among many other classics), he wrote 17 full Broadway musical scores and contributed songs to six more plays.
Berlin also wrote scores for early Hollywood musicals starring the likes of Ginger Rodgers, Fred Astaire, Marilyn Monroe, and Bing Crosby. He made a lasting, indelible mark on music, theater, film and American culture writ large.
Rather astonishingly, the widely celebrated American Tin Pan Alley-era composer was self-taught and didn't read sheet music. His family immigrated to New York from Imperial Russia when he was 5 years old, and when he was just 13, his father died, so he busked on the streets and worked as a singing waiter to help his family out.
In 1907, at 19, he had his first song published, and just four years later penned his first international hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band." Berlin had a natural musicality and played music by ear in the key of F-sharp, with the help of his trusted upright transposing piano, a rare instrument that had a mechanism allowing him to shift into different keys. His "trick piano," as he called it, where many of his unforgettable songs first came to life, is on display at the exhibit.
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Smokey Robinson Didn't Expect "My Girl" To Become A Timeless Hit
Smokey Robinson was an important part of Motown's hit-making factory as a singer, songwriter and producer. In the exhibit film, he discusses "My Girl," one of his classic tunes, which he wrote and produced for the Temptations in 1965.
"I had no idea it would become what it would become," he said.
He says that people often ask him why he didn't record the unforgettable song with his group the Miracles instead of "giving it away" to the Temptations, but he never regretted his decision. Instead, he's honored to have created music that stands the test of time and means so much to so many people.
Robinson joked that the Temptations' then-lead singer David Ruffin's gruff voice scared girls into going out with him. Really, he loved Ruffin's voice, and thought he'd sound great singing a sweet love song like "My Girl." Safe to say he was right.
After World War II, Pop Music Changed Forever
Prior to World War II, American music operated as a singular mainstream market, and New York's Tin Pan Alley songwriters competed to make the next pop or Broadway hit. In a post-World War II America, especially when the early Baby Boomer generation became teenagers and young adults in the '60s and '70s, tastes changed and new styles of pop and pop songwriting emerged. As rock shook up popular culture, Tin Pan Alley gave way to a new era of young songwriters, many who worked out of just two buildings in midtown Manhattan, 1619 Broadway (the Brill Building) and 1650 Broadway.
In this richly creative and collaborative environment, powerhouse songwriting duos began to emerge and reshape pop music, challenging and balancing each other — and creating a ton of hits in the process. The hit-making duos of this diversified pop era included Burt Bacharach and Hal David (Dionne Warrick's "That's What Friends Are For"), Carole King and Gerry Goffin (Little Eva's "The Loco-Motion"), Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'") and Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and the Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me," both in collaboration with Phil Spector). In fact, there are far too many classics penned by these four prolific songwriter duos to list here.
While there are still songwriters that pen big hit after hit for pop stars (Max Martin is still at it, as is his protege Oscar Görres), the dynamics in the industry have continued to shift with singers taking on more creative power themselves. Today's pop stars — including Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift — have found success co-writing with their own trusted teams of songwriters and producers. But as this new exhibit shows, it doesn't matter who is behind the pen — the power of song is mighty.
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