Photo: Chris Kleinmeier
Tour Diary: See Parker McCollum's Favorite Photos & Memories From His Biggest Year On The Road Yet
Go backstage with country star Parker McCollum on his sold-out North American tour, which has seen him play the most iconic venues of his career, from the Houston Rodeo to Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
From the beginning of Parker McCollum's career, touring has been ingrained in what he does — down to his very first single, 2013's "Highway," which was inspired by life on the road.
"Lord have mercy on a young man's soul/ There ain't nobody gonna love me livin' on this road," he sings in the first verse. "Gotta keep on moving/ Keep on traveling strong."
Luckily for McCollum, the lonesome tale of "Highway" hasn't become his touring life. Not only has the Texas-born country star found a lifelong partner to join him on the road — his wife, Hallie Ray Light — but he's continued to play bigger and bigger venues. And 2023 has marked his most remarkable touring year so far.
McCollum has headlined arenas and amphitheaters around the United States, played stadiums as direct support for Morgan Wallen, and most recently sold out Colorado's iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Aug. 10.
"Being out on the road this year has been one of the most hectic, challenging and rewarding years of touring I've ever done," the singer tells GRAMMY.com. "My album Never Enough is some of the best work of my career so far, and seeing fans respond to those songs is really special."
WIth three country radio No. 1s in a row — 2020's "Pretty Heart," 2021's "To Be Loved By You" and 2022's "Handle On You" — and his latest single, "Burn It Down," currently climbing, McCollum's unique brand of soulful, rock-influenced country music is clearly resonating. But in his eyes, the fans are the "driving force."
"Night after night they keep blowing me away with their support," McCollum adds. "Playing some of these massive venues with a sea of people singing the songs you worked your butt off on — man, that feeling really can't be put into words."
And McCollum isn't slowing down anytime soon. He has dates plotted all the way through the end of the year, closing out 2023 with a fitting return to Texas for New Year's Eve.
As McCollum continues his massive year, he shared photos and memories from some of his favorite shows. Take a look at the behind-the-scenes pics and hear from the singer/songwriter on why these shows were so special.
All photos by Chris Kleinmeier.
Feb. 28, Houston, Texas: Playing RodeoHouston has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I was blown away being asked to perform in 2022, and having a sold-out crowd that night filled with family and friends was everything I always dreamed it would be. Then, being asked to come back this year for RodeoHouston opening day to kick off the season — man, life really does feel like a movie sometimes.
April 16, New Mexico: Shooting the music video for my current single, "Burn It Down," was a wild experience. Probably my favorite video I've done so far! We decided to head out to the New Mexico desert and blow some stuff up! I even set my feet on fire for this one. The whole day was awesome — my band being there with me, and Hillary Lindsey (background vocals and one of my co-writers) being on set brought it all together.
April 30, Indio, California: My first time playing Stagecoach Festival in Indio, CA earlier this year. It was a hot one that day, but the crowd showed up and was with me from start to finish!
May 12, Austin, Texas: This was a really special day. I was back home in Texas for the release of my album, Never Enough, and stopped by Waterloo Records in Austin for an in-store event with fans. Even got to play a few of my favorites from the record. Thanks for bein' there y'all!
June 3, Wilmington, North Carolina: Being lucky enough to travel the country and meet all the amazing folks who continue to support me and my music is incredible. I wouldn't be able to do this without them, and seeing your faces each night, singing back every word, is something special. Thank y'all! This was a hell of a show.
June 10, Dallas, Texas: Having the opportunity to get on stage night after night doing what I love is something I'll never take for granted. Especially those nights when you're playing a show alongside a country music hero of mine, Gary Allan — makes it even better when it's in Dallas!
June 23, Chicago, Illinois: The most beautiful woman in the world right here! My wife has been supporting me, pushing me and making me the man I've always wanted to be since the day we met. I love you Hallie Ray and thank you for bein' on this crazy ride with me.
July 6, St. Louis, Missouri: As a performer I'm always looking to keep pushing myself and growing. When I get to join tours with incredible artists like Morgan Wallen at this show in St. Louis, I learn so much about what makes them tick and watching them do their thing up there. I'm inspired by just how much they give and see how much that means to the fans.
Aug. 10, Morrison, Colorado: Selling out at Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an incredible feeling. The venue itself is so iconic and makes for a really cool and unique concert experience for both the fans and the performers. Even had a legend on-stage with me that night! Thanks for coming out. Peyton Manning!
(Top) Jim Dyson/Getty Images, Astrida Valigorsky/WireImage, Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic (Center) Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Frank Hoensch/Redferns, Munachi Osegbu, Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT, Dave Benett/Getty Images (Bottom) Dave Benett/Getty Images for Givenchy Beauty, Jim Dyson/Getty Images, Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
15 Must-Hear Albums Out In May: Jonas Brothers, Summer Walker, Paul Simon & More
From Sparks' offbeat 'The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte' to the heartfelt storytelling on Lewis Capaldi's 'Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent,' and growth set to R&B from Lola Young and Arlo Parks, check out 15 albums dropping this May.
Spring is in full bloom, and with it comes a slew of inspiring records and unmissable tours. May brings upon us the return of giants and some promising newcomers, and whether you like the country music of Parker McCollum or the Mexican pop of AQUIHAYAQUIHAY, this month's releases offer something to please every taste.
This month, the Jonas Brothers finally make their awaited return with The Album, while Ed Sheeran completes his math symbols series with Subtract. Paul Simon will turn dreams into reality with Seven Psalms, and Tuareg collective Tinariwen will continue their desert blues exploration on Amatssou. Early aughts pop-punk outfit the Exploding Hearts will get a remastered, expanded reissue, and dance music maven LP Giobbi will make her studio album debut with Light Places.
Below is a guide with 15 must-hear albums dropping May 2023. Read on for known names that might reignite your passion, and budding acts who will make your curiosity flourish.
Ed Sheeran - Subtract
Release date: May 5
Completing Ed Sheeran’s series of albums titled after mathematical symbols, Subtract (stylized as -), will feature 14 cuts that deal with the singer’s "fear, depression, and anxiety" throughout the hardships that shaped his past year, according to an Instagram post.
Sheeran added that his wife’s tumor diagnosis while pregnant, the death of his best friend Jamal Edwards, and a 2022 plagiarism trial "changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art," prompting him to scrap "a decade’s worth of work with my deepest, darkest thoughts."
Produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner, Subtract is billed as an acoustic album, ranging from "pared back, folk-leaning textures to bolder, full-band/orchestral arrangements," which can be seen through pre-release "Boat" and lead single "Eyes Closed."
Jonas Brothers - The Album
Release date: May 12
The Jonas Brothers’ sixth studio album has been teased since 2020, but after several delays (including the COVID-19 pandemic), the The Album will be unleashed into the world. The trio told Variety that the follow-up to 2019’s Happiness Begins "features elements of classic ’70s pop and Americana with a modern edge," and was inspired by another sibling trio — the Bee Gees — as well as rock bands the Doobie Brothers and America.
Produced by Jon Bellion (who is also the album’s only featured artist), most of its tracks were performed at the Jonas Brothers’ fifth and final Broadway show on March 18, 2023. However, expectations remain high as the album release will be accompanied by a yet-to-be-announced tour.
Kaytraminé - Kaytraminé
Release date: May 12
Fusing the talents of top-rated producer/DJ Kaytranada and rapper Aminé might have been one of the most ambitious efforts of 2023.
Although they have been frequent collaborators since 2013, including Kaytranada producing three songs out of Aminé's 2015 mixtape Calling Brio, this is the first time they unite forces for a whole record as Kaytraminé.
Parker McCollum - Never Enough
Release date: May 12
2021’s Gold Chain Cowboy set Parker McCollum on the path to becoming a country music star. The major label debut followed two self-released albums — 2015’s The Limestone Kid and 2017’s Probably Wrong, and ended up winning New Male Artist of the Year at the American Country Music Awards — as well as a double-platinum single, "Pretty Heart," and a gold-certified single, "To Be Loved by You."
McCollum continues to look forward with Never Enough. Among its 15 tracks, there is the first time he ever said "beer" in a song, as well as singles "Handle on You," "Stoned," "I Ain’t Going Nowhere," and "Speed." The singer is also extending his tour through the summer, with the participation of fellow country artists like Larry Fleet, Randy Rogers Band, and Flatland Cavalry on some dates.
LP Giobbi - Light Places
Release date: May 12
Boundary-bender musician, producer and entrepreneur LP Giobbi believes in "letting yourself get lost and finding out it’s exactly where you were supposed to be."
The statement, and title of her debut studio album Light Places, follows lyrics from the Grateful Dead’s "Scarlet Begonias": "Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places / if you look at it right." Giobbi, who is also a confessed Deadhead, said that the lyrics are one of her father’s favorites, "and almost a philosophy for the way he lives and taught my brother and me to live."
Produced almost entirely during flights while she toured the world with her "one-woman jam band" DJ sets, Light Places expands Giobbi’s classical jazz training into buoyant dance rhythms, and features collaborations with DJ Tennis, SOFI TUKKER, Caroline Byrne, and more. As a preview, she recently released singles "Can’t Let You Go (feat. Little Jet)" and "All I Need."
AQUIHAYAQUIHAY - NO ME BUSQUES DONDE MISMO
Release date: May 12
The forerunners of M-pop (Mexican pop) and a self-professed "anti-boyband," AQUIHAYAQUIHAY are known for blending traditional Latin genres with R&B and hip-hop. The 20-something quintet are set to release a new album, NO ME BUSQUES DONDE MISMO.
Formed in 2016, AQUIHAYAQUIHAY released their debut album, DROPOUT in 2019 and signed with DJ/producer Steve Aoki’s Latin underground label, Dim Mak en Fuego. The group dropped two EPs in 2021, titled :) and :(.
Summer Walker - Clear 2: Soft Life
Release date: May 19
"Y’all ready for some new music?" Summer Walker asked the crowd during her set at April’s Dreamville Festival. The question was preceded by the announcement of her upcoming EP, Clear 2: Soft Life.
Clear 2 is a sequel to Walker’s first EP, 2019’s Clear, which was released just nine months before her breakout debut studio album, Over It. Debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, the LP earned the biggest streaming week ever for an R&B album by a woman, and set the singer as a force to watch. Her 202 sophomore album, Still Over It, surpassed its predecessor and debuted at No. 1 on the same chart.
"This one — I want it to be a lot longer so I can really get that sound out," Walker recently told Billboard about her upcoming EP. "I make what I got to make for the radio, but I’m very excited for [Clear 2]. Hopefully, my budget will be permitted."
Lewis Capaldi - Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent
Release date: May 19
"If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it" seems to be a saying that Lewis Capaldi currently lives by. The Scottish sensation said in a press release that he doesn’t want to "create a new sound for myself, or reinvent myself," and therefore his much-awaited second studio album, Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent, will follow his usual emotionally-driven delivery.
The album was recorded with a minimal set-up, consisting of only a "small interface, laptop, speakers, and a Shure SM7B vocal mic," as well as the same team who worked on his first album, 2019’s best-seller Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent: TMS, Phil Plested, Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway.
Preceded by singles "How I'm Feeling Now," "Forget Me," "Pointless," and "Wish You the Best" — of which the last three topped the UK Singles Chart — it looks like Capaldi’s right to bet on his tried and true formula, with enough skills to spark curiosity from the audience, over and over again.
Paul Simon - Seven Psalms
Release date: May 19
Seven Psalms is Paul Simon’s fifteenth album, and his first of new material since 2016’s Stranger to Stranger. According to the six-decade-spanning singer, the project came to him in a dream and was inspired by the Book of Psalms.
Including seven acoustic tracks that are meant to be listened to as one uninterrupted piece, the album also features British vocal group VOCES8 and a participation by Simon’s wife, singer/songwriter Edie Brickell.
Seven Psalms is said to be a departure from any of his previous work, which encompasses the illustrious Simon & Garfunkel albums Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sounds of Silence, and more. An accompanying documentary, In Restless Dreams, is also set for release.
Juanes - Vida Cotidiana
Release date: May 19
While Juanes found immense success in 2021 with his cover album Origen, winning Best Pop/Rock Album at the Latin Grammy Awards and Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album at the GRAMMY Awards, his latest original work dates back to 2019, with the LP Más futuro que pasado.
Considering the events the world went through, 2019 feels more like a century ago. Therefore, Vida Cotidiana (or "daily life," in Spanish) arrives as a testament to the Colombian star’s reflections and changes during this turbulent time.
The 11-track collection also marks Juanes’ return to rock and Latin American folk foundations, while examining "love, marriage, family, and his country," according to a press release. So far, he released three lovelorn advance singles off the album: "Amores Prohibidos," "Gris" and "Ojalá."
Tinariwen - Amatssou
Release date: May 19
Amatssou means "beyond the fear" in Tamashek, the native language of the Tuareg collective Tinariwen — which, in turn, means "deserts." Known for their sociopolitical resistance and commitment to portraying the struggles of Mali, Amatssou stands as a fitting title for the band's ninth studio album.
Recorded inside a makeshift studio tent in Algeria, the record was produced in L.A. by GRAMMY winner Daniel Lanois) and features country musicians Wes Corbett and Fats Kaplin, furthering the collective’s link to the musical style. In a press release, Tinariwen are said to "have always been a country band, albeit a North African take on that most North American of genres."
Tinariwen will embark on a U.S. and Europe tour starting on May 27 in Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. They will also perform at festivals including Glastonbury and Roskilde.
Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine
Release date: May 26
Contrasting with her delicate voice, British singer/songwriter Arlo Parks said in a statement that her sophomore album, My Soft Machine, is all about "the mid-20s anxiety, the substance abuse of friends around me, the viscera of being in love for the first time, navigating PTSD and grief and self-sabotage and joy." In summary, it’s a record about "what it’s like to be trapped in this particular body."
With an exceptional talent to transcribe raw emotions into contemplative, spacious music, Parks has given a taste of what to expect from this release through the singles "Blades," "Impurities," and "Weightless." She will also celebrate this moment by touring Europe and Asia in the following months, including performances at Spain and Portugal editions of Primavera Sound Festival
Lola Young - My Mind Wanders and Sometimes Leaves Completely
Release date: May 26
"And I like to think that I'm growing up and that I'm learnin'/But I've no idea what's underneath," reflects the south Londoner Lola Young on "Stream of Consciousness," the lead single for her upcoming album, My Mind Wanders and Sometimes Leaves Completely.
Following up on her 2021 EP After Midnight, the release is said to reflect Young’s "journey towards being a woman and figuring out who I am." Through her poignant lyrics, the 21-year-old gives a glimpse into the joys and pains of love in the 2020s. "I swear it don't hurt / You're looking at her / I'm looking at you," she muses in "Annabel’s House (From The Train)."
Nominated for the Rising Star Award at the 2022 BRIT Awards, she also revealed in an interview for NME that the album will be "slightly different" from her previous work, featuring more retro, alt-rock, and indie influences with a "raw edge."
The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic (Expanded & Remastered)
Release date: May 26
The short-lived but still impactful Exploding Hearts will get a brand new chance of reaching more fans this spring. Their 2003 album of power-pop classics, Guitar Romantic, is being reissued to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Soon after the album release in 2003, three members of the band tragically passed away in a van accident while returning home from a gig in San Francisco. Surviving members King Louie Bankston (who passed away last year) and bassist Terry Six maintained their legacy through the duo Terry & Louie. Now, Six partnered with the band’s original producer, Pat Kearns, for the album reissue, and plans to play tribute shows in the upcoming months.
Guitar Romantic (Expanded & Remastered) will feature unreleased material, like conversations from the members, a King Louie Mix of "I’m A Pretender," and an unheard version of "So Bored."
Sparks - The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte
Release date: May 26
"So many people are crying in their latte" is the kind of musing about the contemporary world that only outlandish duo Sparks could have transformed into an engaging, nifty track. The lyrics come right off "The Girl is Crying In Her Latte," a preview single from their upcoming studio album of the same name.
Starring Cate Blanchett and her dandy dance moves in the music video, the track is proof that Sparks still have their finger on the pulse of culture, even after five decades of activity. "Veronica Lake," the second single off the project, keeps that same vein, bringing a modern spin to the narrative of actress Veronica Lake changing her hairstyle in order to protect factory workers during World War II.
The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte arrives after 2020’s A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip, and will be their first release under Island Records in 47 years. The pop rock pair is also scheduled to tour multiple cities in the U.S., Europe, and Japan in the summer.
New Music Friday: Listen To New Music From Jungkook & Jack Harlow, PinkPantheress, *NSYNC And More
As September comes to a close, listen to these new songs, albums and collaborations from Ed Sheeran, Lil Wayne and more.
As we close out the month, this New Music Friday has loads of fresh beginnings and highly anticipated reunions.
Two nostalgic releases arrived as well, with Lil Wayne's new album Tha Fix Before Tha Vi continuing his "Tha Carter" series, while *NSYNC fans were treated to the boy band's first new song in 20 years with "Better Place."
Dive into these seven new releases that blend the old generation with the new.
Jungkook ft. Jack Harlow — "3D"
BTS singer Jungkook takes us through a nostalgic journey with "3D," a song reminiscent of an early 2000s boy band hit. The hypnotizing lyrics illustrate his close connection to someone he can't reach, so he'll watch them in 3D.
"So if you're ready (So if you're ready)/ And if you'll let me (And if you'll let me)/ I wanna see it in motion/ In 3D (Uh-uh)," he sings in the chorus.
Jack Harlow pops in, dropping a few verses boasting about his global attraction with women. "Mr. First Class" claims he can "fly you from Korea to Kentucky," as he closes out the song.
Rolling Stones & Lady Gaga ft. Stevie Wonder — "Sweet Sounds of Heaven"
The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder blended their talents, to create a harmonic symphony of a song that lives up to its heavenly title. Seven minutes of gospel- and blues-inspired rhythms, enriched by Gaga and Mick Jagger's distinct riffs, make this collaboration an immersive experience. Stevie Wonder grounds the track with his command of piano and melodic tempo.
The track is the second peek of the Rolling Stones' upcoming album, Hackney Diamonds, their first LP release in 18 years; their first release, "Angry," arrived Sept. 6. With production from GRAMMY-winning Andrew Watt, the soulful essence makes "Sweet Sounds of Heaven" an exciting taste of the long-overdue album.
*NSYNC — "Better Place"
Yes, you read correctly. After two decades and a recent reunion at the 2023 MTV Video Music awards, <em>NSYNC is back with a new single, "Better Place," appearing in the new animated Trolls* movie (due Nov. 17). With a nostalgic dance-pop beat, familiar production and breezy lyrics, this single is a remarkable comeback.
"Just let me take you to a better place/ I'm gonna make you kiss the sky tonight," they sing in the chorus.
The reunion was first teased Sept. 14, through a video of the group's emotional studio session, as Justin Timberlake shared on Instagram. "When the stars align… got my brothers back together in the studio to work on something fun and the energy was special," he wrote in the post.
PinkPantheress — "Mosquito"
Dive into this musical daydream as PinkPantheress serenades us on her new single, "Mosquito," a dreamy, lucid song reminiscent of old-school R&B. After recently hopping on the energetic remix of Troye Sivan's "Rush" and teaming up with Destroy Lonely on "Turn Your Phone Off," PinkPantheress is transporting us through a new era, full of charm and surprises.
"Cause I just had a dream I was dead/ And I only cared 'cause I was taken from you/ You're the only thing that I own/ I hear my bell ring, I'd only answer for you," she sings in the chorus.
Co-crafted by GRAMMY-winning producer Greg Kurstin, this song is a transcending, surreal experience. This single isn't about romance, instead she takes us through her entanglements with treasures and money. That's further portrayed in the lavish video, which features a European shopping spree starring "Bridgerton" stars Charithra Chandran, India Amarteifio and "Grown-ish" star Yara Shahidi.
Ed Sheeran — Autumn Variations
The era of mathematical-themed albums seems to be over, as Ed Sheeran has entered a new chapter with Autumn Variations, his second project this year. Sheeran is singing from his heart, sharing soulful tales from emotional events in his life including the death of his dearest friend Jamal Edwards and his wife's health challenges during pregnancy — an extension of the stories he told with May's Subtract.
Autumn Variations is very raw, stripped down and authentic as he takes us through his personal journey. Amidst this, Sheeran still brings in some buzzing tracks including catchy songs like "American Town," "Paper Bag" and "Amazing."
Lil Wayne — Tha Fix Before Tha Vi
Lil Wayne celebrated his 41st birthday with a special present to his fans: the release of a new album two days later. The alluring 10-track project,"Tha Fix Before Tha Vi" dives into past vibes with songs like "Tity Boi," a reference to 2 Chainz's initial stage name, which may be a reference to the upcoming joint album between the two. Each song has a different feel including "Tuxedo," which features a more punk-rock melody and "Chanel No.5 ft. Foushee," which features a sensational beat.
His first album since 2020, Tha Fix Before Tha Vi features rather unexpected collaborators, including Jon Batiste, Fousheé and euro. With different sounds and features than past projects, we could possibly be entering a new Weezy era.
Thomas Rhett & Morgan Wallen — "Mamaw's House"
Country superstars Morgan Wallen and Thomas Rhett unite for "Mamaw's House," a country-folk track relishing the memories of their grandparents' home and cozy fireplace tales.
"It's where I spent my summers and she put me to work/ Shellin' peas and shuckin' corn until my fingers hurt/ No tellin' who I'da been without Mamaw's house," Rhett sings in the second verse.
Rhett said the duo decided to write about their small-town culture — Rhett is from Valdosta, Georgia, while Wallen hails from Sneedville, Tennessee — and the significant presence of grandparents brought to their upbringings.
"This song just kind of brings up how our mamaws used to act when we were little kids," Rhett told Audacy.. "It's an ode to all the grandmas out there."
Photo: Renato Rimach
Positive Vibes Only: AMEN Music Offers Up A Spiritual Home In A Joyful Performance Of "Holy Ghost"
Dante Bowe-led worship collective AMEN Music preaches about the power of the holy spirit on their new song "Holy Ghost."
AMEN Music are ready to worship on their new song "Holy Ghost." Against a backdrop of hundreds of lit candles, the contemporary Christian act leads a crowd in singing the praises of the holy spirit in this special performance for Positive Vibes Only.
"Our teacher, my keeper, my all and all/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost/ Sticks closer than a brother and he won't let go/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost/ Completes us and fills us to overflow/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost/ He endows us with power, now the world will know/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost," founder Dante Bowe preaches as he encourages the audience to raise their hands in the air and sing along.
Led by Bowe, the worship collective recently released their debut album, In the Light, featuring 13 rapturous live performances including "Hero," "Come As You Are," "Beautiful (Spontaneous)" and "Jesus We Love You" in addition to "Holy Ghost."
Prior to founding AMEN Music, Bowe snagged six GRAMMY nominations at the 2022 ceremony, including three separate nods in the Best Gospel Song/Performance category. (His own songs "Voice of God" featuring Steffany Gretzinger and Chandler Moore and "Joyful" earned the singer his first two nods, while co-writing Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music's "Wait on You" scored him a third.)
Ultimately, he won his first GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album as a writer on Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music's collaborative record Old Church Basement. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a seventh time — this time for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song as a guest artist and co-writer on Crowder's "God Really Loves Us."
Press play on the video above to watch AMEN Music's jubilant performance of "Holy Ghost" and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Positive Vibes only.
Photo: Russell Einhorn/Liaison
GRAMMY Rewind: Coolio Calls For A United "Hip-Hop Nation" After "Gangsta's Paradise" Wins In 1996
The East Coast rapper took home the GRAMMY for Best Rap Solo Performance for his No. 1 hit "Gangsta's Paradise."
Coolio was living in the "Gangsta's Paradise" of his own creation when the 1996 GRAMMY Awards rolled around. The year before, the ode to hip-hop culture had not only become a global No. 1 hit for the rapper, but also the best-selling song of 1995 in the U.S. And that February night in Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, the track won Coolio his first GRAMMY, for Best Rap Solo Performance.
Receiving the trophy from Salt-N-Pepa and Mary J. Blige (clad in head-to-toe leopard print), the rapper emerged from backstage with his overjoyed entourage in tow, and started out his acceptance speech by claiming his GRAMMY "for the whole hip-hop nation."
"West Coast, East Coast, worldwide — united we stand, divided we fall. Recognize," he continued before going on to thank God, his then-fiancée Josefa Salinas and his kids, as well as Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, his collaborator L.V., Michelle Pfeiffer (who starred in the song's music video) and others.
Coolio then ended his remarks on a serious note, acknowledging, "We've had a lil' problem lately in high schools and I only got one ting to say to all my Black and Latino brothers out there fightin': Ain't no gangsters living in paradise."
During the telecast, Coolio also took to the stage to perform "Gangsta's Paradise," which had earned a second nomination for Record of the Year. (That major award ultimately went to Seal's "Kiss From a Rose," along with Song of the Year.)
Sadly, the gangsta rap pioneer died in September 2022 at age 59 after suffering an accidental overdose laced with fentanyl. Press play on the video above to revisit Coolio's GRAMMYs win and check GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.