meta-scriptOn This Day In Music: Future Bridges Hip-Hop And R&B Like Never Before With His Second Album In A Two-Week Span, ‘HNDRXX’ | GRAMMY.com
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Future

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On This Day In Music: Future Bridges Hip-Hop And R&B Like Never Before With His Second Album In A Two-Week Span, ‘HNDRXX’

Five years ago today, Future followed up his self-titled, No. 1 album with ‘HNDRXX,’ an ultra-rhythmic nod to his alter ego that would go on to make history

GRAMMYs/Feb 24, 2022 - 11:12 pm

Future is a man of many nicknames: Pluto, Super Future, The Wizard, Future Vandross — the list goes on. But no moniker carries more weight for the four-time GRAMMY nominee than Future Hendrix, a brutally honest, R&B-leaning alter ego.

One week after the release of his self-titled fifth studio album, Future was back with his follow-up effort, HNDRXX. The 2017 album displayed Future tapping into his rhythmic side more than at any point during his career, with features from The Weeknd, Rihanna, Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj.

A shock at the time of its release, HNDRXX was a project years in the making, one that would go on to make history and reinvigorate an entire subset of hip-hop.

"I just reflected on it and was thinking about doing this since the end of last summer. I started thinking about how I wanted to put the project out," he told Billboard in 2017. "I didn't know because it was so much music coming out. I wouldn't know the space and timing that I would have for the music."

Well before the full emergence of Future Hendrix, half a decade before HNDRXX came to fruition, Future made his desires to dive into the R&B realm — specifically with a project named after his alter ego — abundantly clear.

“I want to say [Future Hendrix] will be more R&B based, but it's going to be more substance, more passion — just more down with feeling. I know my fans who've been down for me from day one, they understand the growth, and they gonna know when they hear Future Hendrix,” Future explained to HipHopDX in 2012. “They'll know that I'm not selling out…they're gonna understand that I'm doing music that was already happening. But I'ma still have street songs.”

Future changed the title of his second studio album from Future Hendrix to Honest, but songs like “I Won,” “Never Satisfied” and the album’s title track served as the soft launch for what became the world’s grand introduction to Future Hendrix years later.

The fusion of R&B and street rap was a proven success well before HNDRXXJa Rule utilized the formula in the early 2000s to earn four GRAMMY nominations — but what Future did in 2017 was different. Hits such as “Comin Out Strong” with The Weeknd and “Selfish” with Rihanna saw Future incorporate R&B and pop elements to make radio-friendly hits while still maintaining the grittiness of his self-titled album and mixtape campaigns.

Instead of entering the family-friendly world of his pop star features, Future provided an outlet for pop to have a dark side.

“I know she wanna be poppin' all over the 'Gram/ When the cameras come out, wanna hold my hand,” The Weeknd sings, just one year removed from his hit album, Starboy. “Must be out of your mind, do you know who I am?”

Between The Weeknd’s iconic feature and Rihanna’s beautifully sung hook of “let’s be selfish,” Future unveiled a toxic update to the R&B and street rap crossover formula. And as a result, history was made.

With his self-titled album and HNDRXX, Future became the first solo artist to achieve back-to-back No.1 debuts in successive weeks in the history of Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. He also became the first artist to succeed himself at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 at all since 1968. FUTURE and HNDRXX placed the Best Rap Performance winner alongside the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, the Monkees, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, and Peter, Paul & Mary as the only acts to ever achieve the feat.

Five years later  — through acts like Gunna, Lil Durk, Moneybagg Yo, Roddy Ricch, and countless others  — the influence of Future Hendrix remains audible.

5 Things Spotify's ‘The Big Hit Show’ Podcast Has Revealed About Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly,’ From A Prince Cameo To Kanye West's Influence

"American Idol" Season 1 Finale - Kelly Clarkson Performance Show
Kelly Clarkson performs on Season 1 of "American Idol."

Photo: Steve Granitz / GettyImages

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On This Day In Music: "American Idol" Premieres On Fox Network

For decades, "American Idol" has been instrumental in discovering some of music’s biggest names and pioneering the reality TV contest genre. As the show enters its 22nd run, here’s a look at how it has become an iconic household staple across the country.

GRAMMYs/Jun 11, 2024 - 04:23 pm

For countless Americans, "American Idol" is intertwined with core memories as a show that had families eagerly glued to their TVs twice a week. It brought generations together, creating moments of both suspense and excitement that are still remembered today, as the show continues to run in its 22nd season.

Created by visionary entrepreneur Simon Fuller, "American Idol" premiered on June 11, 2002, as a fresh spin-off of the British program "Pop Idol." It revolutionized how Americans engaged with reality TV through its interactive, viewer-driven voting system, which encouraged audience participation in the success of their favorite contestants. The show also offered viewers a glimpse into contestants' candid backstories and personal journeys, anchoring emotional investment and skyrocketing the show's popularity.

The show's debut season featured a dynamic trio of judges: singer Paula Abdul, TV personality Simon Cowell, and producer Randy Jackson. Their contrasting personalities brewed a chemistry as captivating as the hopeful performances. Abdul’s warmth, Cowell's blunt wit, and Jackson’s humor added extra layers of entertainment, making the twice a week broadcasts a must-watch.

The first season of "American Idol" also unforgettably introduced the country to Kelly Clarkson. Since her debut — with a heart-tugging backstory about being the average girl-next-door with big dreams — Clarkson has gone on to tour the world, host her own TV talk show, and secured her spot as one of music’s most beloved talents. 

"I had dreams since I was a little girl that I wanted to be on the GRAMMYs, or some award show and sing on there," Clarkson mentioned in her pre-audition interview. Flash forward 22 years, the pop singer has accumulated 17 GRAMMY nominations and three wins, propelled by a powerful vocal gift.

Other artists who launched their careers from the show's platform include Jordin Sparks, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson, who each serve as testament to the show’s impact in music.

"American Idol" has not only opened our eyes to some of our favorite musicians, but it also has given us some of our favorite pop culture moments.

A video that frequently resurfaces on social media captures a memorable moment between Katy Perry and contestant Noah Davis, where they bond over the slang term 'wig'

"No, it’s not your language. It’s just for us," Perry joked to her fellow judges, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, when they questioned the term’s meaning.

After two decades on air, "American Idol" has etched a lasting legacy in pop culture. It has paved the way for other reality TV music shows and created lasting memories for music fans along the way.

“The show transcends age, gender, ethnicity, everything,” Underwood told Billboard in 2005. 

How Many "American Idol" Winners Have Won GRAMMYs? A Rundown Of Wins And Nominations For Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood & More

Metro Boomin Performs at Future & Friends' One Big Party Tour in 2023
Metro Boomin performs during Future & Friends' One Big Party Tour in 2023

Photo: Prince Williams/Wireimage 

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Metro Boomin's Essential Songs: 10 Must-Know Tracks, From "Creepin" To "Like That"

The 2024 GRAMMY nominee for Producer Of The Year is one of hip-hop's most in-demand minds. Between his collab albums with Future and some highly debated beefs with rap's biggest stars, it's the perfect time to revisit the Metro-verse.

GRAMMYs/Jun 4, 2024 - 01:38 pm

Metro Boomin has spent more than a decade redefining rap music. The gloomy, 808-induced trap beats that flood radio airwaves and blare from nightclub speakers are a symbol of his influence. But now, the Atlanta-based superproducer is on one of his biggest musical runs to date.  

In April, Metro released the second of two joint albums with Future, hinted at a third release this year, sold out a concert at the Kundalini Grand Pyramids in Egypt, and clinched the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 with "Like That" featuring Kendrick Lamar. He also delivered a first-of-its-kind instrumental diss aimed at Drake called "BBL Drizzy," accusing the Toronto rapper of going under the knife.  

The diss was in response to Drake’s "Push Ups" and subsequent disses toward Kendrick Lamar. "Metro shut your hoe ass up and make some drums" he rapped. The verbal blow inspired Metro to release the hilarious instrumental, which he encouraged fans to rap on for a chance to win a free beat.  

Months before the feud, Metro celebrated two nominations for Best Rap Album and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical at the 66th GRAMMY Awards. While he didn’t take home a coveted golden gramophone, the momentum has elevated his career to new heights.  

Before the St. Louis-bred producer kicks off the We Trust You tour with Future on July 30, revisit 10 of Metro Boomin's biggest releases.  

"Karate Chop" (2013) 

A 19-year-old Metro crafted his first charting single right before making a life-changing move to Atlanta. With piercing synths and bubbly arpeggios, the song was the lead single for Future’s highly anticipated sophomore album, Honest. 

But Metro, a freshman at Morehouse College at the time, wasn’t sold on its success. "I never really like it," Metro told XXL. "Then every time people would come into the studio, he would always play the record and I was like, ‘Why are you so stuck on this s—? We have way harder records.’"  

But after cranking out a new mix on the original track, "Karate Chop" went on to become his first placement on a major label album. The remix with Lil Wayne further elevated the record and, by virtue, Metro’s profile as a musical craftsman.  

"Jumpman" (2015) 

 Metro mastered the late-summer anthem in 2015 with "Jumpman." The song was the most notable hit from Drake and Future’s collaborative mixtape, What a Time to Be Alive, and went on to shut down bustling nightclubs and obscure strip joints. And while the record didn’t perform as well as other songs on this list, it secured Future his first Top 20 hit.  

The song — which features Metro’s signature bass and a screeching raven sound effect — also saw a streaming boost after an Apple Music commercial featuring Taylor Swift rapping to the song. According to Adweek, the campaign helped generate a 431 percent increase in global sales 

 What makes "Jumpman" even more special is that a collab between Future, Metro, and Drake may never happen again. Reportedly, the duo is at odds with Drake because the OVO artist decided to link with 21 Savage on Her Loss instead of doing a follow-up project with Future.  

"Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" (2016) 

"Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" is the song that set Kanye West’s album, Life of Pablo, ablaze. Opening with a clip of gospel musician and singer T.L. Barrett’s Father I Stretch My Hands,” Metro’s signature producer tag kicks the record into full gear. The pulsating synthesizers and bouncy percussion match West’s raunchy and sexually explicit lyrics.  

Metro’s production received significant praise, with several publications pointing to his contributions on end-of-year listings. And in the eight years since its release, "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" has been certified six times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, making it one of Ye’s most-sold records of all time. 

"Congratulations" (2016) 

After the success of "White Iverson," a young Post Malone was on the hunt for the hottest producers in the rap game. He managed to land Metro, who worked with fellow producers Frank Dukes and the prolific Louis Bell on the triumphant trap record "Congratulations."  

On a 2022 episode of the podcast "Full Send," Metro revealed that the celebratory song was made after watching the world’s greatest athletes eclipse historic feats of their own. "I remember the Olympics was on TV, and just how the music was sounding, it sounded like some champion s—," he said.  

"Congratulations" marked Post Malone’s second Top 20 hit following his debut, "White Iverson." The song was certified diamond after totaling more than 11 million combined sales. Today, it remains one of Metro’s biggest achievements.

"Bad and Boujee" (2017) 

Fueled by virality and a shoutout from Donald Glover at the 2017 Golden Globes, the Migos and Lil Uzi Vert’s "Bad and Boujee" landed Metro Boomin his first No. 1 Billboard hit as a producer.  

The song has every element Metro fans have grown to love: moody keys, hard-hitting bass, and plenty of room for the artists’ adlibs to pierce through the track.  

Two months before its eventual ascension, the song had a steep hill to climb atop the Billboard charts. But Metro’s production and the chemistry between Quavo, Offset, and Uzi helped the record shoot up to its rightful place. It continues to garner praise In the years since its 2016 release, too. It was ranked No. 451 on Rolling Stone’s "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list 

"Mask Off" (2017) 

When "Mask Off" dropped in 2017, it scorched the Billboard charts. Hip-hop was flirting with flutes (as heard on songs like Drake’s "Portland" and Kodak Black’s "Tunnel Vision" — another Metro-produced beat) — but "Mask Off" stands out as the biggest song of the short-lived era.  

Metro infused jazz-like undertones to perfectly meld the flute lick into the dark and mystic beat. The record led to the remix with Kendrick Lamar, with his verse breathing new life into the already-seismic hit. It’s now certified nine times platinum.  

Years after the song’s release, Future said "Mask Off" initially put radio programmers in disarray. In his East Atlanta rapper’s Apple Music documentary The WIZRD, he revealed that the song dropped before Carlton WIlliams’ "Prison Song" sample was officially cleared. "Out of all the songs, ‘Mask Off’ wasn’t even legit," he said. "The s— was on the radio, they’re thinking it’s not a sample, but it got so big they were like, ‘It’s a sample.’" 

"Heartless" (2019) 

The Weeknd's "Heartless" is a pop and electro-clash classic that fires on all cylinders. The visuals are atmospheric, the lyrics are ultra-stimulating, and the production — partly handled by Metro — makes for a lasting club banger.  

The leading single for The Weeknd’s fourth studio album, After Hours, topped the Billboard charts. It marked the Toronto-born crooner’s fourth No. 1 hit and unveiled the depths of Metro’s musical arsenal.  

Metro produced four tracks on After Hours: "Faith," "Escape from L.A.," "Until I Bleed Out" and "Heartless." On the latter and in his other collaborations with The Weeknd, James Blake, and Solange, Metro’s creative sorcery was tested. He proved, once again, that he could generate a hit outside the confines of trap music.  

"Creepin" (2022)

After a solid outing on his first album Not All Heroes Wear Capes, Metro returned with another series of hard-hitting records. His second solo venture, Heroes & Villains, featured John Legend, Don Tolliver, Travis Scott, and other premiere artists. But the biggest song to come out of the star-studded lineup was "Creepin’" featuring 21 Savage and The Weeknd 

The only single to Metro’s second solo album struck sonic gold. The Weeknd’s flowy vocals overlay the silky and harmonic record, which transitions to a more trap-induced beat once 21 Savage’s verse kicks in. The remake of Mario Winans’ "I Don’t Wanna Know" was a notable departure from Metro’s past singles, which heavily lean on his trap roots. But it still managed to connect with his audience – and even beyond it. "Creepin" peaked at No. 3 on Billboard, which was Metro’s highest-charting solo record up until that point.

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023) 

Following the success of "Creepin’" and his other smash singles, Metro extended his creative powers to the film world. He was given the green light to executive produce the soundtrack for Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. 

Metro Boomin told Indie Wire that he crafted songs from rough animations and selected scenes "just to get in the world and the story of Miles [Morales] and what he’s going through," He even exchanged phone calls and texts with the film’s composer Daniel Pemberton to ensure the soundtrack and score were on the same accord.  

From the classical serenade "Am I Dreaming" to the Latin swing of "Silk & Cologne" and the Timbaland-stomping "Nas Morales," the result was an equally transformative musical experience. Each record ranged in musicality and tone while beautifully complementing the vibrant animated superhero flick.

"Like That" (2024) 

"Like That" is easily one of the best beats in Metro’s catalog, and may end up being one of the most memorable. Samples from Rodney O & Joe Cooley’s "Everlasting Bass" and Eazy-E’s 1989 classic "Eazy-Duz-It" shaped the bouncy trap beat, sinister synths, and spine-chilling baseline. But Kendrick Lamar’s verse turned it into a heat-seeking missile.  

With the song’s thunderous bass and rapid hi-hats in the background, Kendrick dissed J. Cole and Drake for their recent claims of rap supremacy, particularly on 2023’s "First Person Shooter." The lyrical nuke sparked the Civil War-style rap feud, which led to a seven-song exchange between Kendrick and Drake.  

The initial musical blow made the genre stand still. It also led to the massive success of the record, which notched Future and Metro another No. 1 hit song. It also helped the pair’s album, We Don’t Trust You, claim the top spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart.  

Inside The Metro-Verse: How Metro Boomin Went From Behind-The-Scenes Mastermind To Rap's Most In-Demand Producer 

Rico Wade
Rico Wade at The Dungeon II Studios in Atlanta, Georgia in 2002.

Photo: Julia Beverly/Getty Images

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Remembering Producer Rico Wade, Helped Define The Sound Of Southern Hip-Hop

Rico Wade, legendary producer and one-third of Organized Noize, who helped forge the sound of Atlanta hip-hop and propelled artists like OutKast, Ludacris, and TLC to fame, has died at 52.

GRAMMYs/Apr 17, 2024 - 08:08 pm

Hip-hop has lost another legend. Rico Wade, an integral part of the bedrock of Southern hip-hop, the godfather of modern Atlanta rap, and one-third of the production crew Organized Noize with Patrick "Sleepy" Brown and Ray Murray, has died. He was 52. 

Wade was a force that helped launch the careers of OutKast, Goodie Mob, Ludacris, and Future, and produced and co-wrote hits for artists including TLC's "Waterfalls," as part of a mid-'90s Southern hip-hop renaissance. The epicenter of this revolution was the Dungeon, his mother's basement in East Point, Georgia. The location built a reputation as a haven for Dungeon Family artists like André "André 3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton among a generation of ATL creatives formulating their own flavor of Southern rap. 

"We're deeply saddened by the passing of Rico Wade, one of Atlanta’s most prolific music producers," said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. "Rico's influential contributions to the Atlanta music scene beginning in the 1990s helped foster the rise of some of hip-hop’s most prominent artists and played a pivotal role in shaping the genre as we know it today. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and all those whose lives he influenced.” 

Wade was nominated for two GRAMMYs during his lifetime including Record Of The Year for TLC's "Waterfalls" and Album Of The Year for OutKast's Stankonia. 

“Rico left an indelible mark on music and culture around the world and for that, the South will always have something to say,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens in an issued statement echoing the famous battle cry of André 3000's 1995 Source Awards Best New Artist acceptance speech

It's been more than 30 years since OutKast dropped their first-ever single "Player's Ball" in 1993 and on that track Wade's voice is the first. He sets the tone for the legendary duo's entire career and Southern hip-hop at the same time with the introduction: "Man, the scene was so thick/ Lowriders, '77 Sevilles, El Dogs/ Nothin' but them 'Lacs/ All the players, all the hustlers/ I'm talkin' 'bout a Black man heaven here/ You know what I'm sayin'?"

"Rico Wade brought us to his house studio, where I heard the most interesting music production I'd ever heard from Atlanta," André 3000 told the Recording Academy in a 2019 interview reflecting on his experience working on OutKast's debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. "It was Rico, Ray, and Sleepy's vision to make sure [OutKast would put] Southern lifestyle first. I was just playing my part the best I could."

Outkast's Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik would go on to sell 500,000 records and became certified platinum within a year. "When we were working on the OutKast vibe, even though there were two members in the group, we all considered ourselves OutKast at the time — including all of Organized Noize and the Goodie Mob members who appeared on the album," Murray told the Recording Academy in 2019. 

Read more: OutKast Examine Their Southern Experience On 'Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik'

Organized Noize signed a publishing deal with L.A. Reid and Babyface's label LaFace Records in 1993, setting the foundation for their work on OutKast's seminal "Player's Ball" single. It was a lasting connection that would serve the rest of Wade's career.  

Wade would continue to work with Reid during Reid's tenure as chairman and CEO of Epic Records from 2013 to 2017, building a hub for hip-hop artists at the label including Wade's cousin, Atlanta rapper Future. Future would become the first artist ever on the Billboard charts to debut back-to-back albums at No. 1 with his 2017 release HNDRXX. In March, Future and Metro Boomin jointly released another No.1 album, We Don’t Trust You

Wade nurtured Future's talents through his Dungeon connects. The two didn't meet until Future was well into his teens, but once they did Wade quickly put his cousin's clear drive and talent to use, introducing him to the Dungeon Family and bringing him into the studio to work on in-house production projects including Ludacris' "Blueberry Yum Yum" (Red Light District), which earned Future a songwriting credit in 2004.

“That's how he ended up writing the record for Ludacris, becoming part of a group that could make music, and getting a record deal,” Wade told Complex in 2013. “It showed him that the music industry money is real."

Inspired by his cousin, Future studied the industry through the in-roads made by Wade. “I took everything I learned from him and applied it to my everyday craft from being in the studio,” Future told Complex. "Just knowing how to feel records so I know how to make songs and write for people to keep around and go to the next level.” His devotion to Wade's tutelage and legacy is apparent in the Olde English script tattooed across his arms that matches Wade's own markings — "DUNGEON" appears on the right and "FAMILY" on the left. 

Killer Mike, a constant collaborator who worked with Wade on his latest album Michael which swept the 2024 GRAMMYs rap categories with three wins for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance, announced Wade's passing in an Instagram post on Sunday. "I don't have the words to express my deep and profound sense of loss. I am Praying for your wife and Children. I am praying for the Wade family. I am praying for us all," Killer Mike wrote. "I deeply appreciate your acceptance into The Dungeon Family, mentorship, Friendship and Brotherhood. Idk where I would be without ya'll." 

How 1994 Changed The Game For Hip-Hop

(Clockwise from top left): Metro Boomin, Taylor Swift, Bryson Tiller, Sinkane, St. Vincent, Tori Kelly, Future, TXT
(Clockwise from top left): Metro Boomin, Taylor Swift, Bryson Tiller, Sinkane, St. Vincent, Tori Kelly, Future, TXT

Photos: Taylor Hill/Getty Images; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Chloe Morales-Pazant; Mike Coppola/WireImage; Sasha-Samsonova; Prince Williams/WireImage; Peter White/Getty Images

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15 Must-Hear Albums In April 2024: Taylor Swift, Vampire Weekend, St. Vincent & More

April promises to shower listeners with heavy-hitting hip-hop, pop, country and rock releases. From Metro Boomin and Future's upcoming collab, to TOMORROW x TOGETHER's new minisode, get your April 2024 playlist ready with 15 exciting new releases.

GRAMMYs/Apr 1, 2024 - 01:24 pm

This year, April brings more than just showers to beget May flowers. Instead, there must be something in the stars: In the fourth month of 2024, four artists are releasing their fourth studio albums. These are pop-rock band X Ambassadors’ Townie, R&B singer Bryson Tiller’s Bryson Tiller, rapper PartyNextDoor’s P4, and Irish rockers Picture This’ Parked Car Conversations.

Numerology aside, April will also contemplate exciting new works from pop masters Taylor Swift, whose The Tortured Poets Department drops mid-month, and St. Vincent’s All Born Screaming, country star ERNEST’s Nashville, Tennessee, jazz master Kenny Garrett and electronic producer Svoy’s What Killed AI?, and — allegedly — the second part of Future and Metro Boomin’s first joint-effort, We Don’t Trust You.

There’s music for all tastes ready to fill your playlists for the rest of the year. Read on for 15 of the most exciting albums dropping in April 2024.

TOMORROW X TOGETHER - minisode 3: TOMORROW 

Release date: April 1

Luckily, fans of the K-pop quintet TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT) rarely have to wait for new music. Six months after releasing their third studio album, The Name Chapter: Freefall, the group is gearing up to release minisode 3: TOMORROW.

The seven-song EP is fronted by upcoming lead single "Deja Vu," which is said to mix trap, rage, and emo rock into their signature emotional intensity, as per a press release. The other tracks continue to expand the group’s versatility, experimenting with pop rock, house, and acoustic guitars. 

As usual, the concept of the album is connected to TXT’s overarching lore, and features several references to their past works — track "- --- -- --- ·-· ·-· --- ·–," for example, evokes their debut era where Morse Code was used in teasers and in the single "Crown."

TXT will embark on their Act: Promise World Tour starting May 3-5 in Seoul, South Korea, and then head to the U.S. for 11 shows across the country, including two dates at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Conan Gray - Found Heaven

Release date: April 5

Gen Z popstar Conan Gray has Found Heaven. After 2022’s Superache, his upcoming third album was co-produced by legendaries Max Martin, Greg Kurstin, and Shawn Everett, among others.

Gray had been teasing the 13-track record since last year with a slew of buoyant, '80s-tinged singles ("Never Ending Song," "Killing Me" and "Lonely Dancers") and poignant, Elton John-esque ballads ("Winner," "Alley Rose"). "When I was making the album, I was really obsessively listening to music of that era," he explained to NME. "I think also, because it was a deeply emotional time, I was almost hiding from reality. I didn’t listen to a song from the 2020s during the making of this album."

To celebrate this new, holy era, Gray will be touring Australia in July, North America in September and October, and Europe and the UK in November. "I want people to know that I was having fun and goofing around, and I want you to smile and I want you to feel like you can just be yourself," he added. "I just want the album to be a reminder to people that you can be so many things all at once."

Sinkane - We Belong 

Release date: April 5

Ahmed Gallab, the Sudanese American multi-instrumentalist behind Sinkane, has built his discography resisting musical genres. We Belong, his upcoming eighth studio album, is no different: it combines pop, funk, electronic, afrobeats, disco, and more into "a love letter to Black music," per a press release.

Sinkane’s first album since 2019’s Dépaysé, We Belong features 10 tracks and participations by Bilal, Money Mark, STOUT, and others. Each song tells the story of a different era in Black music and history, laced with love and hope for the future: the disco groove of "Come Together," the gospel choirs of "Everything Is Everything," the funky bassline of "How Sweet is Your Love."

Along with live band the Message, Sinkane has announced a select 10-city tour in the U.S., starting May 3 in New York City and wrapping up on June 9 in Pioneertown, California.

X Ambassadors - Townie

Release date: April 5

**Pop rock trio X Ambassadors dive deep into nostalgia for Townie, their fourth studio album. The record was inspired by their experience of growing up in the small city of Ithaca, New York, and how it shaped who they are.**

"As a grown man, I’ve fallen back in love with upstate NY, and I oddly feel blessed to have had something to rally so hard against/fight to escape from as a kid," vocalist Sam Harris said in a statement. "No Strings," the first single off the project, is an anthem for that restless feeling, and anchors their concept in a haunting, propulsive melody. "Your Town" and "Half-Life" continue the journey, although taking more melancholy tones.

X Ambassadors first set off their Townie tour in Europe and the UK during February and March. On the day of the release, they will begin the North American leg of the tour in Vancouver, Canada.

Vampire Weekend - Only God Was Above Us 

Release date: April 5

Five years after releasing their latest record, 2019’s Father of the Bride, indie band Vampire Weekend will drop their fifth studio album, Only God Was Above Us.

According to a press release, frontman Ezra Koenig wrote most of the songs in 2019-2020, and spent the last five years refining them with bandmates Chris Baio and Chris Tomson. The result is a collection of 10 "direct yet complex" tracks, "showing the band at once at its grittiest, and also at its most beautiful and melodic," as seen in singles "CAprilicorn," "Gen-X Cops," and "Classical."

In addition to a sold out performance in Austin, Texas that will coincide with the total eclipse on April 8 and a headline show at Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona, Vampire Weekend has announced an extensive North American tour throughout summer and fall.

Bryson Tiller - Bryson Tiller

Release date: April 5

Grab your tickets to Bryson Tiller’s upcoming tour while you can: he might go on a hiatus right after. That’s what the R&B singer and rapper told Complex, alleging that his number one passion is actually video games. "I've been designing a game for the past three years; been looking into internships for different companies. That's what I want to prioritize after this album comes out."

The album Tiller refers to is his eponymous fourth LP, a 19-track collection that includes a feature by Victoria Monét, and is described as "seamlessly blending R&B, dancehall, pop, drill, trapsoul, neo-soul, and hip hop" in a press release. "Bryson Tiller is not just an album; it's a declaration of artistic independence and a tribute to the relentless pursuit of greatness."

The project’s three alluring singles ("Outside," "Whatever She Wants," and "CALYPSO") exemplify how Tiller pushed the boundaries of R&B even more, and solidified his identity as one of music’s most singular artists. "My No. 1 goal with this album is just for everybody on Earth to hear it one time," Tiller also told Complex. "My guarantee is that they'll love [at least] one song."

Tori Kelly - TORI.

Release date: April 5

"You think you know who Tori Kelly is, but this album will prove that maybe you didn’t," said the YouTube-star-turned-singer in a NME interview about her fifth studio album, TORI. "I feel like I’m stepping into my power and owning my craft."

Her first LP since 2020’s A Tori Kelly Christmas, TORI. took inspiration from '90s and early aughts R&B and pop, as heard on singles "Missin U" and "Cut." "I was trying to create this world of nostalgia, but also there’s that balance with [TORI.] feeling fresh and new," she said. Comprising 15 tracks, it also includes participations by Ayra Starr in "Unbelievable," LE SSERAFIM’s Kim Chae-won on "Spruce," and Jon Bellion — who co-wrote and produced the album — on "Young Gun."

During the creation process, Kelly told Bellion that her guidelines were to be able to "belt out [songs] in the car" and "dance" to them, like one can do in the powerful "High Water." As far as it goes, it looks like they accomplished their mission.

Kelly will kick off her Purple Skies North American tour on April 12 in Ventura, California, and conclude it on May 3 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Future & Metro Boomin - TBA / We Still Don’t Trust You 

Release date: April 12

Rap titans Future and Metro Boomin have been personal friends and work peers for over a decade, but their first collaborative album is only coming out now. We Don’t Trust You, the first installment of a double album, dropped on March 22, while the second part — titled yet to be announced — is slated to release on April 12.

In We Don’t Trust You, the duo showcased their flawless chemistry with grandiose tracks, haunting trap beats, and star-studded features, such as "Like That" with Kendrick Lamar, "Young Metro" with The Weeknd, and "Type S—" with Travis Scott and Playboi Carti. As Metro defined in an interview with Complex, "it’s the classic Future and Metro, but just updated."

So far, no further details have been shared about the second album, but expectations remain high for the duo to outdo the first effort.

girl in red - I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!

Release date: April 12

"I wanted to sincerely apologize for the events that happened directly after the release of my second album, I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!" prefaced Norwegian singer girl in red — real name Marie Ulven — on a solemn social media video last month. But while viewers caught their breaths, she revealed it was all a witty joke: the album will only come out on Aprilil 12.

"This is a big year for me. 2024 is, like, my year," she added in the video. I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY! follows Ulven’s 2021 debut If I Could Make It Go Quiet, but feels "more fun and more playful, and a little bit more confident," as she told Billboard. Lead track "Too Much" brings that novelty heads on, while singles "Doing It Again Baby" and "You Need Me Now?" with Sabrina Carpenter prove that Ulven’s powerful pop is only getting better.

Ulven will kick off her Doing It Again tour from April 16-June 2 in North America, and from Aug.27-Oct. 5 in Europe.

Kenny Garrett & Svoy - Who Killed AI?  

Release date: April 12

For his first electronic foray, NEA Jazz Master and GRAMMY-winning saxophonist Kenny Garrett enlisted the acclaimed producer-musician Svoy. The result is Who Killed AI?, a seven-track daring exploration of jazz and pop culture.

"The first two songs are really reminiscent of Miles [Davis]," Garrett shared in a statement. "The way I’m stretching the melody — that’s how I played with Miles." The opener and lead single "Ascendence" is a strong preview of what’s to come: distorted synths and drum and bass beats fused with Garrett’s fun and brilliant lines, a compelling portrait of what the future of music can be.

Later in the year, Garrett plans to take the album on a live tour. "I think my fans will find this interesting," Garrett shared in a statement. "Some people forget that my teacher was Miles Davis. So for me, it’s not that I have to do something different. It is just something that I do. All you have to do is present the music and let them take the journey." 

ERNEST - Nashville, Tennessee 

Release date: April 12

Early in March, singer/songwriter ERNEST announced on social media that he would be running for mayor in order to "legalize country music." Of course, fans started to get their hopes up for new music — and they were right. The plot was just part of his promotion for the newly announced Nashville, Tennessee, out April 12.

A tour de force with 26 tracks, the record features a bevy of guest stars: from Jelly Roll ("I Went To College, I Went To Jail"), to Lainey Wilson ("Would If I Could"), and ERNEST's two-year-old son, Ryman Saint. It also includes a bluegrass cover of Radiohead’s "Creep" with HARDY, and a cover of John Mayer’s "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room."

In addition to "I Went To College, I Went To Jail," four other advance tracks have been shared: "Why Dallas" with Lukas Nelson, "Ain’t As Easy," "Ain’t Too Late," and "How’d We Get Here."

Taylor Swift - The Tortured Poets Department 

Release date: April 19

On the same night that she won her  lucky 13th GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album with 2022’s Midnights, Taylor Swift also announced her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department. Coming out April 19, the record will feature 16 tracks and collaborations by Florence + the Machine on "Florida!!!" and Post Malone on "Fortnight."

"I needed to make it, it was really a lifeline for me, it sort of reminded me why songwriting gets me through life," Swift said during her The Eras Tour show in Melbourne. "I've never had an album where I needed songwriting more than I needed it on Tortured Poets."

Along with the statement, Swift also shared an alternate cover for the physical album, titled after and including bonus track "The Bolter." Later on, three other versions named "The Manuscript," "The Albatross," and "The Black Dog" — all including an eponymous bonus track —  were also made available for purchase.

For the rest of the year, Swift will be touring through Europe and North America. As usual with the singer, more surprises are likely to come soon.

PartyNextDoor - PartyNextDoor 4 (P4)

Release date: April 26

**Canadian hitmaker and singer PartyNextDoor will make his long-awaited return this month. PartyNextDoor 4, also dubbed P4, is his first full-length work since 2020’s Partymobile, and continues his eponymous albums series after 2016’s P3.**

"This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on an album. This is the proudest I’ve felt," Party told Billboard for his March cover story. "I’m excited to grind even more for the next [one]. I’m in love with how hard you should work for it." 

He also explained that love is the reason why he takes so long to release new stuff. "I get into relationships and then music becomes second," he said. "I think I’m going to take a break from relationships, a long break, and just get back to making music."

In support of the release, Party shared moody, intimate singles "Resentment" and "Real Woman" — inspired by the same relationships that kept him off stage.

St. Vincent - All Born Screaming

Release date: April 26

In an interview with Mojo, St. Vincent — also known as Annie Clark — defined her upcoming seventh album, All Born Screaming, as "post-plague pop." Since its creation started right after the release of 2021’s Daddy’s Home, the years of seclusion and adjustment due to the COVID pandemic were a prominent influence in her new work.

"That kind of isolation breeds paranoia and loneliness, and loneliness can breed violence," she said. "It’s been a time of loss collectively and personally. [But] loss and death are very clarifying things, they make everything that doesn’t f—ng matter go away."

Comprising 10 tracks and features from Dave Grohl, Cate Le Bon, and Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, All Born Screaming is St. Vincent’s first entirely self-produced set, and an attempt at showcasing what does matter. "This record is darker and harder and more close to the bone. I’d say it’s my least funny record yet. There’s nothing cute about it," she added.

Clark released two singles off the album, "Broken Man" and "Flea," and is gearing up for a North American tour starting May 22.

Picture This - Parked Car Conversations

Release date: April 26

"Parked Car Conversations is by far the most personal album we have ever created," said vocalist and lyricist Ryan Hennessy in a press release about Picture This’s upcoming album. "It is an album about everything involved with being human. Love and loss and hurt and euphoria and all of those other complex emotions that flutter in between."

The album consists of 15 songs, but a third of it can be previewed through bittersweet, soaring singles "Get On My Love," "Song To Myself," "Leftover Love," "Call It Love," and "Act Of Innocence." Overall, Parked Car Conversations is a soundtrack "not to a movie, but to life," and aims to convey "the ups and downs of living" through ballads and anthems alike, according to Hennessy. 

Coming almost three years since the Irish band’s last release, 2021’s Life in Colour, the new record will be celebrated in high spirits with an Europe and U.K. tour, starting April 21 in München, Germany.

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