meta-scriptAdditional Performers Added To "A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop" Live Concert Special: 2 Chainz, T.I., Gunna, Too $hort, Latto, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, GloRilla, Three 6 Mafia & More Confirmed | GRAMMY.com
Graphic promoting the "A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop" TV special, airing Sunday, Dec. 10 and presented by the Recording Academy, Jesse Collins Entertainment and CBS
“A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop” airs Sunday, Dec. 10, at 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network and streams live and on demand on Paramount+

Image courtesy of the Recording Academy

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Additional Performers Added To "A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop" Live Concert Special: 2 Chainz, T.I., Gunna, Too $hort, Latto, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, GloRilla, Three 6 Mafia & More Confirmed

The star-studded tribute will take place Wednesday, Nov. 8, at YouTube Theater at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California. Tickets are on sale now. "A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop" will air on Sunday, Dec. 10, on CBS and Paramount+.

GRAMMYs/Oct 27, 2023 - 01:59 pm

This article was updated Sunday, Dec. 10, to add the full performer lineup.

The massive lineup for the "A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop" live concert special just got bigger and more legendary with the addition of rap icons and next-gen hip-hop superstars: 2 Chainz, T.I., Gunna, Too $hort, Latto, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, GloRilla, Juvenile, Three 6 Mafia, Cypress Hill, Jeezy, DJ Quik, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shanté, Warren G, YG, Digable Planets, Arrested Development, Spinderella, Black Sheep, and Luniz have all been added to the lineup.

They join previously announced performers Black Thought, Bun B, Common, De La Soul, Jermaine Dupri, J.J. Fad, Talib Kweli, The Lady Of Rage, LL COOL J, MC Sha-Rock, Monie Love, The Pharcyde, Queen Latifah, Questlove, Rakim, Remy Ma, Uncle Luke, and Yo-Yo, who will perform at a once-in-a-lifetime live concert special celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, which the Recording Academy is honoring all year long across 2023. See the full performer lineup.

Read More: 50 Artists Who Changed Rap: Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem & More

Airing Sunday, Dec. 10, at 8:30 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+, "A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop" is a two-hour live concert special that will showcase the profound history of hip-hop and celebrate the genre's monumental cultural impact around the world. The special will feature exclusive performances from hip-hop legends and GRAMMY-winning artists and much more.

The live concert comprising the "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" special, which is open to the public, will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at YouTube Theater at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California. Footage from the concert will then air on Sunday, Dec. 10, as a live concert TV special.

Tickets for the "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" live concert are available to the public now.

Explore More Of "A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop"

Full concert details are below:

Concert:
Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023 (tonight)
Doors: 6 p.m. PT
Concert: 7 p.m. PT          

Venue:
YouTube Theater
1011 Stadium Dr.
Inglewood, CA 90305

Full List Of Confirmed Performers For "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop": 

2 Chainz

Akon

Arrested Development

Battlecat

Big Daddy Kane

Black Sheep

Black Thought

Blaqbonez

Boosie Badazz

Bun B

Chance The Rapper

Coi LeRay

Common

Cypress Hill

D-Nice

De La Soul

Digable Planets

DJ Diamond Kuts

DJ Greg Street

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

DJ Quik

DJ Trauma

Doug E. Fresh

E-40

GloRilla

Gunna

J.J. Fad

Jeezy

Jermaine Dupri

Kool DJ Red Alert

The Lady of Rage

Latto

LL Cool J

Luniz

MC Lyte

MC Sha-Rock

Monie Love

Mustard

Nelly

The Pharcyde

Public Enemy

Queen Latifah

Questlove

Rakim

Remy Ma

Rick Ross

Roddy Ricch

Roxanne Shanté

Spinderella

Styles P

T.I.

Talib Kweli

Three 6 Mafia

Too $hort

Tyga

Uncle Luke

Warren G

YG

Yo-Yo

^Names in bold indicate newly added artists.

Purchase tickets here.

Stay tuned to GRAMMY.com for more news and updates about "A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop."

A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop is produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment. Jesse Collins, Shawn Gee, Dionne Harmon, Claudine Joseph, LL COOL J, Fatima Robinson, Jeannae Rouzan-Clay, and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson for Two One Five Entertainment serve as executive producers and Marcelo Gama as director of the special.

Hip-Hop Just Rang In 50 Years As A Genre. What Will Its Next 50 Years Look Like?

Rapper Warren G (Warren Griffin III) appears in a portrait taken on June 27, 1995 in Madison Square Park New York City.
Warren G

Photo: Al Pereira

list

Warren G Revisits 'Regulate: The G-Funk Era': How The 1994 Album Paved The Way For West Coast Hip-Hop's Dominance

Long Beach's Warren G has consistently carried the flag of g-funk, from 1994 to present. The GRAMMY nominee revisits his classic album, which offered a different perspective on Southern California life.

GRAMMYs/Jun 7, 2024 - 02:03 pm

In the canon of West Coast hip-hop, Warren G’s debut album, Regulate: The G-Funk Era is considered one of the greatest.

Released on June 7, 1994, the album remains a perfect snapshot of the g-funk era, the popular subgenre of gangsta rap that was all the rage in the early- to mid '90s. "I created the genre, but I was introduced to it by Above the Law," Warren G tells GRAMMY.com. 

Headlining that album is of course, Warren G and Nate Dogg’s iconic track "Regulate," tapping that four-bar sample from Doobie Brother Michael McDonald’s "I Keep on Forgettin’." But the album features a number of other hits including "This D.J." and "So Many Ways," a remix version later appearing on the Bad Boys soundtrack.  

"Regulate" the single first arrived on the star-studded soundtrack for Above the Rim, released via Death Row Records in the spring of 1994, and sold over 2 million domestic copies in the year of its release. Then a few months later, Warren reintroduced "Regulate" on his inaugural album. The 12-track Regulate: The G-Funk Era provided a full vision of The Regulator's uber smooth brand of g-funk which rang out from the 213 all around the world.  

Thanks to pioneers like Above the Law, Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, and Warren G, g-funk (or gangsta funk) became the definitive sound of West Coast hip-hop. Regulate: The G-Funk Era was so impactful that it was even nominated for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group at the 1995 GRAMMYs.

Like Dre's The Chronic, many continue to be drawn to Regulate’s depiction of Southern California life, replete with endless sunshine and maxed-out cars blasting pioneer speakers. Regulate is also the story of Warren G, a personal album which gives love to the community and people he came up with ("I played ball through the halls of CIS / With Snoop Dogg's big brother, call him Dirty Left," he raps on "This D.J.", referencing College Intermediate School in Long Beach ).

With Regulate, self-described "outlaw" Warren G made a platform for himself and some of his disciples. Album features the Twinz, an LBC duo consisting of twin brothers Deon and Dewayne Williams, and the Dove Shack, whose summer anthem "This is the Shack" (later reprised on the group’s own album with the same title a year later),  took the West Coast hip-hop world by storm. Though the great crooner Nate Dogg died more than a decade ago, 213, the Long Beach collective of Warren G, Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg lives on. Warren and Snoop just released the single "Cali 2 Canada," in advance of an upcoming tour. 

Regulate was Warren G's first release after effectively being exiled from Death Row Records, where his halfbrother and mentor Dr. Dre, not to mention Long Beach pals Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg thrived. Warren signed with Def Jam Records in 1994,  and his debut release helped save the label from serious debt: Regulate: The G-Funk Era sold 3 million copies in the U.S. and debuted at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 albums chart.  

As we look back on 30 years since Regulate the G-Funk Era, GRAMMY.com connected with Warren G himself to look back on five ways the album paved the way for west coast hip-hop today.  

It Solidified Long Beach As A Hip-Hop Mecca 

Warren G isn’t the first Long Beach rapper who made waves during this era. There’s Snoop, of course, as well as Missouri-born, Long-Beach raised Domino. But Regulate: The G-Funk  Era feels like a whole album about place, giving love to the LBC on every track with people and places like 21 and Lewis, King’s Park, the Voltron Crew, and Cal State Long Beach as Warren shouts them out on tracks like "Regulate" and "This D.J."

Warren acknowledges that there were the realities of the streets, but also plenty of fun to be had growing up, too, including listening to old records for hours together with his father. "Coming up in Long Beach was fun. We had a lot of sports. Lot of neighborhood activities as far as King’s Park," Warren G tells GRAMMY.com. "It was fun. It was dangerous. It was cool. It was my home."

Voltron Crew is Warren’s group of friends he used to sell candy with while having rap battles. Warren impressed the crew by rapping the lyrics to some of Dre's yet-to-be-released material, including "Cabbage Patch." "'Damn Warren, you’re harder than a motherf—a,'" he recalled his friends saying with a laugh.

And then there’s Warren’s beloved VIP Records on Pacific Coast Highway which Warren calls an LBC "landmark." He and his friends would walk down there after school to listen to music as one DJ after another queued up inside of the institution to spin. "It was just fun for us to be able to see that and listen to good music at the same time," Warren adds.

It Made Nate Dogg A Star 

The late great Nate Dogg was already on the rise on the West Coast with early vocals on Dre’s "Deeez Nuuuts," Mista Grimm ft. Warren G’s "Indo Smoke," and Snoop’s "Ain’t No Fun." But the titular track "Regulate" made him soar. While Nate is given a featured credit, he’s lockstep with Warren during the entire song, matching Warren’s lyricism with his own hybrid style of singing and rapping that had never been seen in hip-hop before and hasn’t been seen since. 

Back in those days, hip-hop often didn’t really promote its hookmen and women — much less feature them prominently in their music videos. (Consider Nate’s Bay Area contemporary Mike Marshall, who sings the hook on Luniz’s classic "I Got 5 On It," but unfortunately isn’t remembered beyond West Coast hip-hop diehards.) But Nate made himself seen and heard on "Regulate."

It’s no coincidence he went on to become the go-to hook singer in California and beyond, working with everyone from Tupac and Ludacris, to French hip-hop group Psy 4 de la Rime. Nate Dogg passed away in 2011 at age 41.

It Presented A Different Version Of West Coast Gangsta Rap 

When compared to some of his contemporaries, Regulate: The G-Funk Era focused less on hardcore themes in favor of keeping things light and smooth. Even "Regulate" itself — which is about Nate and Warren dealing with a carjacking on a cool and clear California night — the Mississippi-born crooner who grew up in a Gospel choir always had a way of keeping things mellow. 

Regulate: The G-Funk Era also speaks to the turbulent climate of ‘90s inner-city Los Angeles. While Dre’s The Chronic might be more overt about it, Warren goes there too on songs like on the album’s third single, "Do You See,"  whose beat mashes up Mtume’s "Juicy Fruit" and Junior’s "Mama Used to Say." Much of that song, Warren G says, is personal.

"I just talked about everything I was going through, ya know, Snoop being in jail," he recounts. "Mista Grimm is my dog. But he was doing things that just wasn’t cool…But I forgave him for all of that still. Even though I talked about it in the song. I forgave him 'cause that was my dog. He’s still my dog."  

"Do You See" speaks about realities beyond the LBC, too. It opens with a sample from Gil Scott-Heron’s 1976 fiery spoken word piece  "Bicentennial Blues": "The blues has always been totally American… as American as apple pie… the question is why?...Well, America provided the atmosphere."

"I had listened to that particular [song] and everything he said was what I was going through. It blew me away," Warren says. 

It Introduced Us The Dove Shack, Twinz & Jah Skillz 

After not being able to get footing in Death Row, Warren G struck out on his own. He built his own roster of lesser-known talent on G-Funk Music, under the parent label Def Jam Recordings, and brought in Dove Shack (C-Knight, Bo-Roc and 2Scoops), the Twinz, and Jah Skillz, part of the larger female group Da 5 Footaz —who all got the G-Child cosign. Each artist debuted on Regulate: The g-funk Era, with summertime anthem "This is The Shack," an album standout.

Many of Warren G's guest features went on to have their own careers. Dove Shack member C-Knight recently passed away and Bo-Roc, a crooner in his own right, went on to work with other West Coast legends like Richie Rich, Daz Dillinger, and Foesum. Twinz, meanwhile, turned bass-heavy feature "Recognize" into the full-fledged Conversation in 1995, a g-funk album that gave us one of Warren G’s greatest beats, "Journey Wit Me," featuring Bo-Roc. 

As for Jah Skillz, she’s front and center for the entirety of "Super Soul Sis," and wastes not a single word. Da 5 Footaz went on to appear on the Jason’s Lyric and Set It Off soundtracks. 

It Gave G-funk Its Timeless Credo 

A few people are credited for launching g-funk, but Warren G’s timeless credo: "g-funk, where rhythm is life and life is rhythm," in the waning moments of "Regulate" and "And Ya Don’t Stop"  remains a classic to this day.

On his 1997 sophomore album Take a Look Over Your Shoulder and 1999's I Want It All, Warren G always shouted out gangsta funk. He also stayed true to the sound that spread west coast hip-hop worldwide: By 2001, a couple of years after the g-funk era fully ended, Warren defiantly proclaimed that "g-funk is Here to Stay" on Return of the Regulator.  

In 2015, he even put out an EP, Regulate... G-Funk Era, Part II, featuring unreleased music with his longtime partner Nate. From 1994 through 2024, Warren has consistently carried the flag of g-funk, the original west coast sound that he helped cement with Regulate The g-funk Era, 30 years ago.

A Guide To Southern California Hip-Hop: Definitive Releases, Artists & Subgenres From L.A. & Beyond 

Gunna in Rome, Italy in April 2024
Gunna in Rome, Italy in April 2024.

Photo: Ernesto Ruscio/WireImage

list

Gunna Is Defiantly 'One Of Wun': 5 Takeaways From The New Album

Amid legal drama and rap feuds, Gunna dropped his fifth studio album — and showed that none of the negativity is going to drag him down.

GRAMMYs/May 10, 2024 - 08:38 pm

A new album from Gunna is bound to be notable and controversial. Many in the rap world had strong feelings about how the racketeering case against many members and affiliates of his label YSL Records — including, most notably, him and Young Thug — worked out for the Atlanta star. After Gunna took a plea deal in December 2022, the word "snitch" was thrown around not infrequently; he was rumored to have tensions with rappers including his close collaborator Lil Baby and, unsurprisingly, Young Thug.

Gunna's 2023 album, a Gift & a Curse, released about six months after his plea, seemed to be his attempt to move past all of that. In some ways, it worked. The album was a success, containing his highest-charting solo hit to date with "fukumean." 

But still, the negative image followed him around. Despite his chart success — along with a few notable Afrobeats songs that brought attention from a whole new market — Gunna's controversial past was brought to light yet again when he was referenced in Kendrick Lamar's recent Drake diss track, "Euphoria," in a less-than-flattering way.

Now, Gunna has made his latest big statement with his fifth album, One of Wun, where he addresses both his feelings about the public response to his plea, and what his life has been like since it occurred. The new LP finds Gunna unbowed, positive and defiant. It's a fascinating project, with themes that anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the rapper's career to date will find timely and relevant. 

As you dig into One of Wun, take a look at five major takeaways from Gunna's new album.

Gunna Remembers What His Haters Said

One of Wun features many references to people who hated on or didn't believe in Gunna. Rarely is this explicitly tied to blowback from the YSL case, but it doesn't need to be: "I swear I don't want no apology," he says on "whatsapp (wassam)." But it's not that he doesn't feel he deserves one.

Throughout the album, Gunna makes it very clear that he is aware of all the criticism. "Heard all about how they want me to lose, but I'm W, here for a win," he spits on the title track; the first verse of "on one tonight" echoes that sentiment, "They hope I fall off, ain't no way." Gunna knows, as he says on the nautically themed "neck on a yacht," that his haters want him to sink like the Titanic, but he'll never give them the satisfaction.

The most explicit reference to the YSL situation is on "prada dem," where he disposes of any controversy with a simple pun: "I'm not a rat — still getting cheddar."

He Loves Women A Lot, But Not Deeply

It's not all just clapbacks on One of Wun; there is a lot of rapping about women and sex, too. The aforementioned "neck on a yacht," for example, is about exactly what the title might lead you to think it to be. So is "treesh," named after New York slang for a person with lots of partners. Even "clear my rain," musically one of the most adventurous tracks on the project with its Afrobeats-esque feel, is lyrically in this vein as well.

However, it's clear this album wasn't inspired by romance. Gunna never gets personal, and "Body right, she a ten in the face/ F— her all night and all through the day" is about as specific as he ever gets. This is not out of line in Gunna's catalog, and this consistency provides proof that his lyrics about standing his ground are accurate both inside the recording booth as well as the world outside. 

Emotion And Vulnerability Ultimately Make The Album Memorable

Gunna may not be in his feelings about women, but he certainly is in other ways. The times where he moves past his triumphing-over-the-haters stance and lets his guard down are the most effective moments of the whole album.

Exceptional in this regard is the track "conscience," in which he admits that the people who betray him are making him "feel low." "I'm fed up with this nonsense," he says. "Lotta s—, and it's weighing on my conscience." 

That bit of vulnerability adds a tremendous amount of context to his talk of his determination — and the spiritual and material victories that come because of it — throughout the rest of the record. The very album title tells you of Gunna's uniqueness, and the record's glimpse at his vulnerabilities make the case for that even more than his boasts. 

There are musically exceptional moments as well — a kind of aural equivalent to his lyrical openness. Much of the album is mid-tempo and trap-inflected, but it ends with an ambitious six-and-a-half minute, two-part epic called "time reveals, be careful what you wish for." It would be wonderful to see more songs with this scope in the future.

He's Back To Collaborating

a Gift & a Curse had no guest appearances at all, marking the first time Gunna had ever gone completely solo on any of his five albums. Whatever the reason for Gunna's decision for no features on his previous project — whether it was an artistic choice, the swirling talk around his guilty plea, or something else — he's back to collaborating on One of Wun. The rap star recruits Normani ("$$$") and Leon Bridges ("clear my rain"), as well as two fellow rappers, Offset ("prada dem") and Roddy Ricch ('let it breathe").

That said, Gunna has never been one for a ton of guest features, particularly in comparison to most big-name rap releases. And with regular standbys Lil Baby and Young Thug off the table (the latter was in jail), the return of Gunna's "Cooler Than a Bitch" collaborator Roddy Ricch seems to indicate that at least some of his rap pals are willing to work with him again.

He's Placing Emphasis On Being A Musical Rapper

With 20 songs on the track list, One of Wun gives Gunna plenty of time to experiment — to try different vocal approaches, melodies and rhythms. While there is plenty of rap's tried-and-true triplet rhythm across the album, he goes far beyond it as well.

He adjusts his rapping approach not only to fit the music of the song, but also the subject matter. He's straightforward, repetitive and aggressive when the subject matter calls for it, like on the defiant "whatsapp (wassam)"; elsewhere, he tries different musical ideas on songs like the more introspective "conscience." This makes the album feel like a true body of work, one where his defiance comes to life not only in his words, but in sound as well.

Gunna released One of Wun into a climate with a lot of questions. The record succeeds in not only talking about his recent worries and conflicts, but dramatizing them in lyrics and music. He's using the raw material of his life — and the media narratives around it — to sculpt a coherent narrative, where every aspect of the album has a part to play in telling his story. He delves deep into his defiance, and his worries, and converts them into a real artistic statement. 

"Independence weighing on my conscience hard," he raps on "conscience." Gunna makes sure not only that he says that theme in words, but expresses it in every aspect of this record. That vision and ability makes him truly one of one.

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Rapper Anycia On 'Princess Pop That'
Anycia

Photo: Apex Visions

interview

On 'Princess Pop That,' Rapper Anycia Wants You To Feel Like "The Baddest Bitch"

"It's a no judgment zone," Anycia says of her new album. The Atlanta rapper discusses the importance of maintaining individuality, and using her music for healing.

GRAMMYs/Apr 29, 2024 - 01:25 pm

Twenty-six-year-old rapper Anycia truly lives in the present. The Atlanta-born artist describes her most viral hits as if they were everyday experiences — she's simply going out of town on "BRB" and mad at a partner in "Back Outside" featuring Latto

Despite her calm demeanor and cadence, Anycia is a self-proclaimed "firecracker" and credits her success to her long-held confidence. 

"I [command] any room I walk in, I like to introduce myself first — you never have to worry about me walking into the room and not speaking," Anycia tells GRAMMY.com. "I speak, I yell, I twerk, I do the whole nine," adding, "I see tweets all the time [saying] ‘I like Anycia because she doesn’t rap about her private parts’... are y’all not listening?" 

With authenticity as her cornerstone, Anycia's genuine nature and versatile sound appeal broadly. On her recently released sophomore LP, Princess Pop That, Anycia's playful personality, unique vocal style and skillful flow are on full display. Over 14 tracks, Anycia keeps her usual relaxed delivery while experimenting with different beats from New Orleans, New York, California, and of course, Georgia. 

"I'm learning to be myself in different elements. I'm starting to take my sound and make it adapt to other beats and genres," she says. "But this whole album is definitely a little showing of me dibbling and dabbling.

The rising hip-hop star gained traction in June 2023 with her sultry single, "So What," which samples the song of the same name by Georgia natives Field Mob and Ciara. When Anycia dropped the snippet on her Instagram, she only had a "GoPro and a dream." Today, she has millions of views on her music videos, collaborations with artists like Flo Milli, and a critically acclaimed EP, Extra. On April 26, she'll release her debut album, Princess Pop That, featuring Cash Cobain, Luh Tyler, Kenny Beats, Karrahbooo and others. 

Ahead of the release of Princess Pop That, Anycia spoke with GRAMMY.com about her influences, maintaining individuality, working with female rappers, and using her music as a therapeutic outlet.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Where did the title Princess Pop That come from?

Princess Pop That is my little alter ego, and my Twitter and finsta name. It's kind of like a Sasha Fierce/Beyoncé type of situation. 

The cover of your album gives early 2000 vibes. Is that where you draw most of your inspiration from?

Yeah. My everyday playlist is literally early 2000s music. I even still listen to [music] from the '70s – I just like old music! 

My mom is a big influence on a lot of the music that I like. She had me when she was like 19, 20. She's a Cali girl and has great taste in music. I grew up on everything and I feel like a lot of the stuff that I'm doing, you can kind of see that influence.

I grew up on Usher, Cherish, 112, Jagged Edge, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Teena Marie, Luther Vandross and Sam Cooke. Usher was my first concert, ever and actually my last concert — I went to his residency in Vegas with my mom. That's like our thing.

I know you had your hand in many different professions — including barbering and working at a daycare — how did you get into rapping?

I always liked music, but [thought] girl, we need some money right now. Rapping and music is cool, but I always had one foot in and one foot out. When I was [working] my jobs, it was more this is what I need to be doing right now — but I wasn't happy. 

It got to a point where I noticed that I was doing all these things, and it worked but it wasn't working for me. I didn't want to get caught up; I didn't want to be stuck doing something just because it works. I wanted to do something that I actually love to do. I decided to quit both jobs because I was literally making me miserable. 

I feel like that's what happened with a lot of our parents — they lose focus of their actual goals or what they actually wanted to do, and they get so caught up in what works in the moment. One thing about me, if I don't like something I'm done. I don't care how much money I put into it, if I'm not happy and it doesn’t feed me spiritually and mentally I'm not doing it. Right after [I quit] I was in the studio back-to-back making music. It eventually paid off.

Walk us through your music making process. 

A blunt, a little Don Julio Reposado, a space heater because I’m anemic. Eating some tacos and chicken wings or whatever I’m feeling at the moment. It’s not that deep to me, I like to be surrounded by good energy in the studio. 

People like to say female rappers aren’t welcoming or don’t like to work with each other. You’re clearly debunking this myth with songs like "Back Outside" featuring Latto and "Splash Brothers'' featuring Karrahbooo. What was it like working with them and how did these collaborations come about? 

Karrahbooo and I were already friends before we started rapping. It was harder for people to get us to do music because when we were around each other we weren't like, "Oh we need to do a song together." We had a friendship. 

Working with Latto, we didn't collab on that song in the studio. I did the song myself after being really upset at a man. I made the song just venting. I didn't even think that I was ever gonna put that song out, honestly. Latto ended up hitting me up within a week's span just giving me my flowers and telling me she wanted to do a song [together]. I ended up sending her "Back Outside" because I felt like she would eat [it up] and she did just that. 

She did! Are there any other female rappers you’d like to work with?

I really want to work with Cardi B — I love her! I'm also looking forward to collaborating with GloRilla

Read more: A Guide To Southern Hip-Hop: Definitive Releases, Artists & Subgenres From The Dirty South

Many female rappers come into the industry and feel like they have to start changing themself to fit a certain aesthetic or archetype. However, everything about you seems super unique — from your voice to your style and appearance. How do you maintain your individuality? 

Being yourself is literally the easiest job ever. When you're doing everything you're supposed to be doing, you're being genuine while you're doing it and you’re just being 110 percent authentically yourself — I feel like everything works out for you perfectly fine. 

I haven't had the urge to change anything or do anything different. The reason people started liking me was because I was being myself. Even if it wasn't accepted, I'm not going to stop being myself. I do what works for me and I feel like everybody should just do what works for them and not what works for the people outside of them. 

That's what creates discomfort for yourself, that’s how you become a depressed artist — trying to please everybody [but] yourself. I feel like people lose sight of that fact. Aside from this being a job or a career for me now, it’s still my outlet and a way I express myself;  it's still my form of art. I will never let anybody take that from me. It's intimate for me. 

Speaking of intimacy, what was the inspiration behind "Nene’s Prayer"? I want to know who was playing with you.

I was just having a little therapy session in the booth and everyone ended up liking it. Instead of getting mad, flipping out and wanting to go to jail I just put in a song. Even though I said some messed up things in the song, it’s better than me doing those messed up things. 

Have you ever written a lyric or song that you felt went too far or was too personal?

Nope. A lot of the [topics] that I [rap about] is just stuff girls really want to say, but don't have the courage to say. But me, I don’t give a damn! If it resonates with you then it does, and if it doesn't — listen to somebody else. 

Exactly! What advice would you give to upcoming artists trying to get noticed or have that one song that pops?

If you got something that you want to put out into the world, you just have to have that confidence for yourself, and you have to do it for you and not for other people. I feel like people make music and do certain things for other people. That's why [their song] doesn't do what it needs to do because it’s a perspective of what other people want, rather than doing [a song] that you're comfortable with and what you like.

How do you want people to feel after listening toPrincess Pop That?’

I just want the girls, and even the boys, to get in their bag. Regardless of how you went into listening to the album, I want you to leave with just a little bit more self confidence. If you’re feeling low, I want you to feel like "I am that bitch." 

It's a no judgment zone. I want everybody to find their purpose, walk in their truth and feel like "that girl" with everything they do. You could even be in a grocery store, I want you to feel like the baddest bitch. 

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A black-and-white photo of pioneering rap group Run-DMC
Run-DMC

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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'Run-DMC' At 40: The Debut Album That Paved The Way For Hip-Hop's Future

Forty years ago, Run-DMC released their groundbreaking self-titled album, which would undeniably change the course of hip-hop. Here's how three guys from Queens, New York, defined what it meant to be "old school" with a record that remains influential.

GRAMMYs/Mar 27, 2024 - 03:49 pm

"You don't know that people are going to 40 years later call you up and say, ‘Can you talk about this record from 40 years ago?’"

That was Cory Robbins, former president of Profile Records, reaction to speaking to Grammy.com about one of the first albums his then-fledgling label released. Run-DMC’s self-titled debut made its way into the world four decades ago this week on March 27, 1984 and established the group, in Robbins’ words, "the Beatles of hip-hop." 

Rarely in music, or anything else, is there a clear demarcation between old and new. Styles change gradually, and artistic movements usually get contextualized, and often even named, after they’ve already passed from the scene. But Run-DMC the album, and the singles that led up to it, were a definitive breaking point. Rap before it instantly, and eternally, became “old school.” And three guys from Hollis, Queens — Joseph "Run" Simmons, Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels — helped turn a burgeoning genre on its head.

What exactly was different about Run-DMC? Some of the answers can be glimpsed by a look at the record’s opening song. "Hard Times" is a cover of a Kurtis Blow track from his 1980 debut album. The connection makes sense. Kurtis and Run’s older brother Russell Simmons met in college, and Russell quickly became the rapper’s manager. That led to Run working as Kurtis’ DJ. Larry Smith, who produced Run-DMC, even played on Kurtis’ original version of the song.

But despite those tie-ins, the two takes on "Hard Times" are night and day. Kurtis Blow’s is exactly what rap music was in its earliest recorded form: a full band playing something familiar (in this case, a James Brown-esque groove, bridge and percussion breakdown inclusive.)

What Run-DMC does with it is entirely different. The song is stripped down to its bare essence. There’s a drum machine, a sole repeated keyboard stab, vocals, and… well, that’s about it. No solos, no guitar, no band at all. Run and DMC are trading off lines in an aggressive near-shout. It’s simple and ruthlessly effective, a throwback to the then-fading culture of live park jams. But it was so starkly different from other rap recordings of the time, which were pretty much all in the style of Blow’s record, that it felt new and vital.

"Production-wise, Sugar Hill [the record label that released many key early rap singles] built themselves on the model of Motown, which is to say, they had their own production studios and they had a house band and they recorded on the premises," explains Bill Adler, who handled PR for Run-DMC and other key rap acts at the time.

"They made magnificent records, but that’s not how rap was performed in parks," he continues. "It’s not how it was performed live by the kids who were actually making the music."

Run-DMC’s musical aesthetic was, in some ways, a lucky accident. Larry Smith, the musician who produced the album, had worked with a band previously. In fact, the reason two of the songs on the album bear the subtitle "Krush Groove" is because the drum patterns are taken from his band Orange Krush’s song “Action.”

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But by the time sessions for Run-DMC came around, the money had run out and, despite his desire to have the music done by a full band, Smith was forced to go without them and rely on a drum machine. 

His artistic partner on the production side was Russell Simmons. Simmons, who has been accused over the past seven years of numerous instances of sexual assault dating back decades, was back in 1983-4 the person providing the creative vision to match Smith’s musical knowledge.

Orange Krush’s drummer Trevor Gale remembered the dynamic like this (as quoted in Geoff Edgers’ Walk This Way: Run-DMC, Aerosmith, and the Song that Changed American Music Forever): “Larry was the guy who said, 'Play four bars, stop on the fifth bar, come back in on the fourth beat of the fifth bar.' Russell was the guy that was there that said, ‘I don’t like how that feels. Make it sound like mashed potato with gravy on it.’”

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It wasn’t just the music that set Run-DMC apart from its predecessors. Their look was also starkly different, and that influenced everything about the group, including the way their audience viewed them.

Most of the first generation of recorded rappers were, Bill Adler remembers, influenced visually by either Michael Jackson or George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. Run-DMC was different.

"Their fashion sense was very street oriented," Adler explains. "And that was something that emanated from Jam Master Jay. Jason just always had a ton of style. He got a lot of his sartorial style from his older brother, Marvin Thompson. Jay looked up to his older brother and kind of dressed the way that Marvin did, including the Stetson hat. 

"When Run and D told Russ, Jason is going to be our deejay, Russell got one look at Jay and said, ‘Okay, from now on, you guys are going to dress like him.’"

Run, DMC, and Jay looked like their audience. That not only set them apart from the costumed likes of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, it also cemented the group’s relationship with their listeners. 

"When you saw Run-DMC, you didn’t see celebrity. You saw yourself," DMC said in the group’s recent docuseries

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Another thing that set Run-DMC (the album) and Run-DMC (the group) apart from what came before was the fact that they released a cohesive rap album. Nine songs that all belonged together, not just a collection of already-released singles and some novelties. Rappers had released albums prior to Run-DMC, but that’s exactly what they were: hits and some other stuff — sung love ballads or rock and roll covers, or other experiments rightfully near-forgotten.

"There were a few [rap] albums [at the time], but they were pretty crappy. They were usually just a bunch of singles thrown together," Cory Robbins recalls.

Not this album. It set a template that lasted for years: Some social commentary, some bragging, a song or two to show off the DJ. A balance of records aimed at the radio and at the hard-core fans. You can still see traces of Run-DMC in pretty much every rap album released today.

Listeners and critics reacted. The album got a four-star review in Rolling Stone with “the music…that backs these tracks is surprisingly varied, for all its bare bones” and an A minus from Robert Christgau who claimed “It's easily the canniest and most formally sustained rap album ever.” Just nine months after its release, Run-DMC was certified gold, the first rap LP ever to earn that honor. "Rock Box" also single-handedly invented rap-rock, thanks to Eddie Martinez’s loud guitars. 

There is another major way in which the record was revolutionary. The video for "Rock Box" was the first rap video to ever get into regular rotation on MTV and, the first true rap video ever played on the channel at all, period. Run-DMC’s rise to MTV fame represented a significant moment in breaking racial barriers in mainstream music broadcasting. 

"There’s no overstating the importance of that video," Adler tells me. vIt broke through the color line at MTV and opened the door to a cataclysmic change." 

"Everybody watched MTV forty years ago," Robbins agrees. "It was a phenomenal thing nationwide. Even if we got three or four plays a week of ‘Rock Box’ on MTV, that did move the needle."

All of this: the new musical style, the relatable image, the MTV pathbreaking, and the attendant critical love and huge sales (well over 10 times what their label head was expecting when he commissioned the album from a reluctant Russell Simmons — "I hoping it would sell thirty or forty thousand," Robbins says now): all of it contributed to making Run-DMC what it is: a game-changer.

"It was the first serious rap album," Robbins tells me. And while you could well accuse him of bias — the group making an album at all was his idea in the first place — he’s absolutely right. 

Run-DMC changed everything. It split the rap world into old school and new school, and things would never be the same.

Perhaps the record’s only flaw is one that wouldn’t be discovered for years. As we’re about to get off the phone, Robbins tells me about a mistake on the cover, one he didn’t notice until the record was printed and it was too late. 

There was something (Robbins doesn’t quite recall what) between Run and DMC in the cover photo. The art director didn’t like it and proceeded to airbrush it out. But he missed something. On the vinyl, if you look between the letters "M" and "C,", you can see DMC’s disembodied left hand, floating ghost-like in mid-air. While it was an oversight, it’s hard not to see this as a sign, a sort of premonition that the album itself would hang over all of hip-hop, with an influence that might be hard to see at first, but that never goes away. 

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