meta-scriptWelcome To Rico Nasty's 'Nightmare Vacation' | GRAMMY.com
Welcome To Rico Nasty's 'Nightmare Vacation'

Rico Nasty

Photo: Jason Carman

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Welcome To Rico Nasty's 'Nightmare Vacation'

As she gears up to release her debut album, 'Nightmare Vacation,' this fall, the Maryland-born rapper tells GRAMMY.com about the evolution of her sound, the cultural connection between her music and fashion and the new era of women-led rap music

GRAMMYs/Sep 30, 2020 - 09:19 am

Rico Nasty knows how to stand out. In an era filled with gray days and dark skies, she is the rainbow-bright, spiky-haired, fashion-forward loudmouth with nothing to hide and everything to gain. 

Since first breaking out in 2016 with her underground hits "iCarly" and "Hey Arnold," the Maryland-born rapper has become one of the most exciting, singular voices in today's hip-hop scene. Her unique take on the genre—melodic vibes and hard-edged flows over bright, bass-rattling trap beats, a style she's trademarked as "Sugar Trap"—has helped mutate rap music into all sorts of weird shapes and sounds. Rap music is all the better for it.

On her forthcoming debut album, Nightmare Vacation, Rico bridges her raw style with mainstream ambitions. Just take "iPhone" for a ride. Produced by fellow pop weirdo Dylan Brady, one half of experimental electronic duo 100 gecs, the song is an adrenaline rush of distorted hyperpop paired with Rico's washed-out, razor-sharp rhymes. In the middle of the track, she floats into soft R&B coos that can still cut like rusty blades. 

"I definitely feel like this is just a whole new vibe," Rico Nasty tells GRAMMY.com about the vision behind Nightmare Vacation. "It's a whole bunch of that overcoming, that, 'Wow, I didn't think I could do this.' And then actually do it and it sounds amazing. I look forward to that."

As she gears up to release Nightmare Vacation this fall, Rico Nasty checks in with GRAMMY.com to talk about the evolution of her sound on her debut album, the cultural connection between her music and fashion, and the new era of women-led rap music.

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You found the name for your new album, Nightmare Vacation, while you were on a trip to Mexico last year. What's the significance behind the album's title?

I feel like life is dated by what a person thinks they should be. They find themselves in a "nightmare vacation." They find themselves surrounded by a bunch of the stuff that they thought they would love once they got it, but they realized that that wasn't what they wanted—it was what somebody else wanted. I felt like I dealt with a lot of that during [my trip] in Cabo, [Mexico]—just a whole lot of minding myself and growing up and realizing that can't nobody makes choices for me. I like what I like, I don't like what I don't like. I want in life what I want out of life.

I was listening to some of your older music, specifically your 2018 mixtape, Nasty, which is raw, it's hard and it's, well, pretty nasty. Nightmare Vacation has that same energy, but then you also have tracks like "Come Over" and "Loser," which show a little bit of a softer side with some R&B melodies. How would you say your sound has changed or evolved over the last couple of years, or since your last couple of releases?

I feel like I've been in the studio more than I ever have in my entire life. I was doing 72-hour sessions, even just literally experimenting and, obviously, drawing inspiration from the people that I love. I love Rihanna. I feel like she makes the best music, she has the best beats and melodies ever. I just tried to pull from my inspirations, but still keep it me, keep everything true to myself and ... everything that's been going on with my life.

You're doing something really unique and interesting with the rollout of Nightmare Vacation. With each of your announcements, you're sharing these personal letters in a series that you're calling the Nightmare Vacation Journal. Tell me about the journal series and the decision behind all of these personal letters.

I feel like before I dropped a song, I would get real nervous and I'd have all these thoughts. I get all tumbled up and emotional ... I never deal with a lot of other things. I can't really compare it to anything. Every time I drop a song, it's a process of letting go. I feel like whatever emotions I'm feeling the night before I drop those songs, I share my feelings. Whether or not they're meaningful messages or like ... I don't really know. It's just whatever comes to my mind, I feel like that's part of it. Every day, I might look back on this sh*t and say, "Why did I say that? Why did I think that? Why did I feel like that?" But it's just important to share that stuff so [my fans] know what type vibe I'm on when I'm releasing it.

In the first letter for the album's debut single, "iPhone," which you sent out in August, you wrote that you felt anxious about the announcement of Nightmare Vacation. Now that we're getting closer to the album's release, do you still feel anxious?

Yeah, I'm always anxious. I'm always anxious or excited ... I don't know what the word is. I'm always high-strung and ready for whatever ... As a child, I would never think that I would make an album, like a real album. I've toured and I've seen the world and I actually have fans—it's a dream come true. I think anybody would get anxious for sharing that with the world.

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That's interesting because when I listen to your music, I don't hear a nervous or an anxious person. Your album, for example, has a track called "Own It," which is basically a self-empowerment anthem. Do you consider yourself confident?

Some days I'm confident. Some days I'm not. I feel like I'm confident when I make music.

When I hear you rapping, I feel like you very much are confident and you love yourself for who you are. How did you go about gaining that confidence? How did you learn to love yourself?

It's one of those things that I feel like, when you're born ... You have to just have an early sense of self-worth. When you're a kid, it's just certain choices that you make ... This is something small, but in high school, I was on this health kick, and I was going to the gym and I was in sports. I was serious about it. I was serious about taking care of myself. The older I've gotten, I became more aware of what it took to take care of myself. I feel like, when you strive for self-love and not perfection or all that other sh*t that you strive for, you just strive to be the best you, whatever you like. You gotta finesse it. It just makes you feel better about everything.

But like I said, you don't feel that way every day. I feel like anybody who's feeling great every day is a lunatic. You're a crazy person. There's no way everybody feels good every single day. There's no way, not one person. Everybody feel like sh*t. Some days I feel ugly. Some days I feel like the baddest person in the room. Some days I feel misunderstood. Some days I feel like everybody can relate to me ... It's up and down.

Read: Rico Nasty On Being Fearless & The Importance Of Highlighting Black Women's Emotions

Going back to your letters and journal, it all feels very intimate. They reveal a little vulnerability, and they're written directly to your fans. What's your relationship like with your fans, the so-called Nasty Mob?

I always tell them that our relationship is one-of-a-kind because they've never given me a hard time. I've never had a situation with my fans where I'm out and they're just giving me a hard time. Everybody who I come in contact with is just respectful and polite, dressed cool as hell, and their hair is fire and their makeup is fire. They're just a really cool individual. I always say that I would probably be friends with my fans if I was just a regular person, like if I just seen them out, I'd be like, "OK. You can hang with me. Let's get lit." It's just one big gang, one big mob.

Whenever I'm in the city, I personally invite certain fans that have come out to other shows. I just feel like I watched them growing. We all met when they was like 17 and I'm, like 19. My first time away from home, they first time ever going to a show. Just that human interaction is so important, especially now with coronavirus. I've cried a couple of times about missing them, like literally missing them, their presence, the way how I can get on stage and say, "Guys, I feel terrible today. Today has been the worst day ever." And they just scream at me and throw flowers at me, throw gifts at me, get on each other's shoulders, they mosh for me. It's one-of-a-kind, the love that I have for them. They're the best fans ever, I don't care what anybody says.

Rico Nasty | Photo: Jason Carman

It sounds like your fans are really excited about Nightmare Vacation. What do you think they're going to think about the album?

I just imagine a brain that's gray, and I just imagine a colorful brain after they see the album. [They're going] to be stimulated and well-fed and well-behaved. They probably won't be as mad at me as they are now. I feel like they're going to have a lot of fun with this album ... Fun by themselves, fun going for a walk, fun in the shower, fun driving alone. You don't even need a person to listen to this album with. You don't need nobody to party with. It's the party. This is the party. Put this b*tch on and let go. This the party in your room. You don't need nobody.

Read: Princess Nokia Is Making Space For People Who "Don't Have A Voice Yet" In Music

Speaking of having fun, did you have fun making Nightmare Vacation?

Yeah, I had fun making every single song on his album. But you know what I didn't have fun doing? I didn't have fun learning a whole lot of stuff. Obviously, every artist, you learn so much. You learn the ins and outs, you learn the ups and downs, you learn the pauses, the, "This might not be cleared. This might get cleared." This video and these dates and features and people available. You learn so much sh*t. So it definitely takes away [from] the glory of, "Wow this is great, great studio session!"

But that is what it is. It's Nightmare Vacation, man, f**k that. Everything's good, everything's bad—it's life. But you love life, right? You don't want to die. You want to see tomorrow. You might f***ing hit the lottery tomorrow. If you died, you wouldn't see that. You wouldn't see anything.

On an artistic level, does Nightmare Vacation feel different from what you've done before?

I definitely feel like this is just a whole new vibe. I never would have thought I could make a song like "Own It." "Own It" is so smooth, it's just different. The video is so couture and so camp, and it's different. It's a whole bunch of that overcoming, that, "Wow, I didn't think I could do this." And then actually do it and it sounds amazing. I look forward to that.

As you said, your "Own It" video shows some very futuristic fashion. You've got some strong looks on there. You have your hands in fashion: You have your own unique, very colorful look and style. You're going to be appearing and walking in Rihanna's Savage X Fenty show this week. What's the connection between fashion and your music?

I feel like I would not be who I was if the music didn't match the way I dress. [Giggles.] I feel like the music has to match your style ... I don't know, it doesn't have to. Look at J. Cole. J. Cole doesn't really go deep into that fashion sh*t. But his music is crazy, and it's a great reflection of him. But for me, my fashion is out there with big-ass boots, crazy eyeliner, leather, spikes. You listen to my music and that's what will probably be in the room if you were laying in the bed with me. [Laughts.].

I think [fashion is] a mirror almost, and I've used it like that. I've used it like a real-life mirror of how I'm feeling. Because sometimes I dress super hardcore, and some days I dress in dresses and I just look like a girly-girl, a whole lot of pink. Fashion is just one of those things that, honestly, the first thing that made feel accepted in any industry ever. 'Cause music was a little hesitant. I remember music was like, "OK, we like her. It's cool." But fashion was really like, "Oh my God, hop out." I made a lot of friends in fashion and a lot of people that keep me inspired.

Read: Leikeli47 On Honest Storytelling, Performing With A Mask, 'Acrylic' & More | Up Close & Personal

You mentioned spikes and leather, which makes me think about punk rock fashion. You've been called a rock star, a punk rock princess, a pop-punk princess. There are mosh pits at your shows. What's your relationship with rock and punk?

I am a fan of rock and punk music, but I feel like I'm really a fan of rap music. I'm a rapper, and I've used those other references, like rock, to blend with rap music. I feel like people kinda ignore that a little bit, but I love rap music. I always tell my manager and my friends, whenever they say stuff like that—it's been so many different titles for me that they're going to have to come up with my own word at this point ... There's punk, there's rock, there's hardcore.

I don't think there's anything ... It's just getting inspired from things that I've heard growing up. I might make a song that sound like that ... It's the voice and the cadence, I get, could be the rock stuff. But also, there's a lot of rockers that have had that crazy-ass voice. Obviously, the beats draw them in and that's what sticks in their head, like, "OK, she raps on this hard." There's a lot of music that people have fallen in love with that don't have anything to do with rock.

Do you believe in genres? Do you see them as an inspiration or a barrier?

I feel like genres definitely are needed ... But I don't know. This new generation, of course, we are just so obsessed with everything being our own and we being the creators of everything. I call my music "Sugar Trap." That's what I've always called it.

What is Sugar Trap?

You have the soft, beautiful, flowy vibes, melodic, but then you also have trap music like Chicago drill music, Atlanta trap music, Memphis trap music, little bit of California trap music. I mix everything. If the sound catches my ear, I mix it. So when we talk about rock, I just remember, when I made that song, I was listening to a lot of rock. I felt very alone and very alienated, so I made music to reflect that. That's why we get songs like "Rage."

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Talking about rock, you've mentioned Joan Jett as a major inspiration to your music and your career. In many ways, you are now on that opposite end where you're inspiring a younger generation of rappers, artists and fans. Do you feel the weight of responsibility as a role model to your fans?

Nah, because I feel more of a weight or responsibility to be a role model towards my son. Just as long as I'm a good person to him, that's what really matters to me. Fans going to like what they like. I know some songs they don't like from me; they're allowed to feel that way. I just feel like, where I think my son is different, because they they always grow with me.

As far as the younger generation looking up to me, too, however they're inspired by me, I just want them to understand that they're their own person and they're going to live their own life. And though there might be a lot of situations that resemble one another, there's a lot of choices they're going to have to make that I ain't had to make, and things they going have to do that I ain't have to do. And they just going to have to respect the hustle. It's hard to get where I am. It's gonna be hard to get wherever they get. That's still weird having people look up to me because I take my pants off one leg at a time, and I'm just a regular person.

Your dad, who was a rapper, introduced you to hip-hop. Are you doing the same for your son? Are you introducing him to your music or rap or any other genres?

He be in the studio with me. He go places with me. He knows, he watch my music videos. He listens to his own stuff, though. It's very important that he's his own person, too, 'cause he's one-of-a-kind just by watching him make his own decisions. He listens to Aminé and Post Malone. His music choice is kinda cute. Justin Timberlake, too; he likes Justin Timberlake a lot.

But you know, he don't really listen to my stuff. He's around, he sees it. He was there for some video shoots. He was there for the "Countin Up" video shoot in New York. He's there for a lot of stuff; he's just behind the scenes, though. I definitely try to incorporate him in my life, but I ain't going to force it. He doesn't have to like music.

We are having a major cultural moment in hip-hop: Women are dominating rap, a genre that's always been very male-driven. You have Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion on top. Does it feel like we're in a new era where women are the new leaders in rap?

Yeah. It's kinda weird watching it become what it is become. This is what the next 10 years is going to look like. I feel like people like women's music more. [Laughs.] I don't know how to say that. A woman's voice, it is what it is. Whether it's rap or whatever it is, the confidence that women give other women, it's unmatched ... I feel like the world needs women's music to heal as well. The early 2000s had so much women's music and girls were so powerful, and the world just felt better. I'm praying for that.

There's a lot of momentum happening for women rappers right now. Where would you like it to go and what needs to happen to take it there?

Well, it's already in a great direction. Obviously, I would wish that people would stop being so judgemental. But it's one of those things where, just like everything else, if you just put it in their face enough, they'll get the point. They'll get it. They'll care. Just like there's a lot of male rappers who talk about certain things, and people just get their point. That's their life. That's what they do. Just give it, like I said, five years and it'll be what it is ... This is the new era of music: women rapping.

In order to make it happen, we just need ... I don't even know what to say. Women already supporting each other. We already cool. We already text each other when great sh*t happens for one another and we're like, "Oh my God, that's crazy!" We are all watching this unfold.

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4 Reasons Why Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP' Is One Of The Most Influential Rap Records
Eminem

Photo: Sal Idriss/Redferns/GettyImages

list

4 Reasons Why Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP' Is One Of The Most Influential Rap Records

Eminem’s major label debut, 'The Slim Shady LP,' turns 25 on Feb. 23. The album left an indelible imprint on hip-hop, and introduced the man who would go on to be the biggest-selling artist of any genre in the ensuing decade.

GRAMMYs/Feb 23, 2024 - 03:44 pm

A quarter century has passed since the mainstream music world was first introduced to a bottle-blonde enfant terrible virtuoso who grabbed everyone’s attention and wouldn’t let go

But enough about Christina Aguilera.

Just kidding. Another artist also exploded into stardom in 1999 — one who would become a big enough pop star, despite not singing a note, that he would soon be feuding with Xtina. Eminem’s biting major label debut The Slim Shady LP turns 25 on Feb. 23. While it was Eminem's second release, the album was the first taste most rap fans got of the man who would go on to be the biggest-selling artist in any genre during the ensuing decade. It also left an indelible imprint on hip-hop.

The Slim Shady LP is a record of a rapper who was white (still a comparative novelty back in 1999), working class and thus seemingly from a different universe than many mainstream rappers in the "shiny suit era." And where many of those contemporaries were braggadocious, Eminem was the loser in his rhymes more often than he was the winner. In fact, he talked so much about his real-life childhood bully on the album that the bully ended up suing him.  

It was also a record that played with truth and identity in ways that would become much more difficult once Em became world famous. Did he mean the outrageous things he was saying? Where were the knowing winks, and where were they absent? The guessing games that the album forced listeners to play were thrilling — and made all the more intense by his use of three personas (Marshall Mathers the person; Eminem the battle rapper; and Slim Shady the unhinged alter ego) that bled into each other.

And, of course, there was the rhyming. Eminem created a dizzying array of complicated compound rhymes and assonances, even finding time to rhyme "orange" — twice. (If you’re playing at home, he paired "foreign tools" with "orange juice" and "ignoring skill" with "orange bill.")

While the above are reason enough to revisit this classic album, pinpointing The Slim Shady LP's influence is a more complicated task. Other records from that year — releases from Jay-Z, Nas, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, and even the Ruff Ryders compilation Ryde or Die Vol. 1 — have a more direct throughline to the state of mainstream rap music today. So much of SSLP, on the other hand, is tied into Eminem’s particular personality and position. This makes Slim Shady inimitable; there aren’t many mainstream rappers complaining about their precarious minimum wage job, as Em does on "If I Had." (By the time of his next LP, Em had gone triple-platinum and couldn’t complain about that again himself.)

But there are aspects of SSLP that went on to have a major impact. Here are a few of the most important ones.

It Made Space For Different Narratives In Hip-Hop

Before Kanye rapped about working at The Gap, Eminem rapped about working at a burger joint. The Slim Shady LP opened up space for different narratives in mainstream rap music. 

The Slim Shady LP didn't feature typical rags-to-riches stories, tales of living the high life or stories from the street. Instead, there were bizarre trailer-park narratives (in fact, Eminem was living in a trailer months after the record was released), admissions of suicidal ideation ("That’s why I write songs where I die at the end," he explained on "Cum on Everybody"), memories of a neglectful mother, and even a disturbing story-song about dumping the corpse of his baby’s mother, rapped to his actual child (who cameos on the song). 

Marshall Mathers’ life experience was specific, of course, but every rapper has a story of their own. The fact that this one found such a wide audience demonstrated that audiences would accept tales with unique perspectives. Soon enough, popular rappers would be everything from middle-class college dropouts to theater kids and teen drama TV stars.

The Album Explored The Double-Edged Sword Of The White Rapper

Even as late in the game as 1999, being a white rapper was still a comparative novelty. There’s a reason that Em felt compelled to diss pretty much every white rapper he could think of on "Just Don’t Give a F—," and threatened to rip out Vanilla Ice’s dreadlocks on "Role Model": he didn’t want to be thought of like those guys. 

"People don't have a problem with white rappers now because Eminem ended up being the greatest artist," Kanye West said in 2015. You can take the "greatest artist" designation however you like, but it’s very true that Eminem’s success meant a categorical change in the status of white rappers in the mainstream.

This turned out to be a mixed blessing. While the genre has not, as some feared, turned into a mostly-white phenomenon, America’s racial disparities are often played out in the way white rappers are treated. Sales aside, they have more room to maneuver artistically — playing with different genres while insulting rap a la Post Malone,  or even changing styles completely like Machine Gun Kelly — to commercial approbation. Black artists who attempt similar moves are frequently met with skepticism or disinterest (see André 3000’s New Blue Sun rollout, which was largely spent explaining why the album features no rapping). 

Sales are worth speaking about, too. As Eminem has repeatedly said in song, no small amount of his popularity comes from his race — from the fact that white audiences could finally buy music from a rapper who looked like them. This was, as he has also bemusedly noted, the exact opposite of how his whiteness worked for him before his fame, when it was a barrier to being taken seriously as a rapper. 

For better, worse, or somewhere in between, the sheer volume of white rappers who are currently in the mainstream is largely traceable to the world-beating success of The Slim Shady LP.

It Was Headed Towards An Odd Future

SSLP laid groundwork for the next generation of unconventional rappers, including Tyler, the Creator.

Tyler is a huge Eminem fan. He’s said that listening to Em’s SSLP follow-up The Marshall Mathers LP was "how I learned to rap." And he’s noted that Em’s Relapse was "one of the greatest albums to me." 

"I just wanted to rap like Eminem on my first two albums," he once told GQ. More than flow, the idea of shocking people, being alternately angry and vulnerable, and playing with audience reaction is reflected heavily on Tyler’s first two albums, Goblin and Wolf. That is the template The Slim Shady LP set up. While Tyler may have graduated out of that world and moved on to more mature things, it was following Em’s template that first gained him wide notice. 

Eminem Brought Heat To Cold Detroit

The only guest artist to spit a verse on The Slim Shady LP is Royce da 5’9". This set the template for the next few years of Eminem’s career: Detroit, and especially his pre-fame crew from that city, would be his focus. There was his duo with Royce, Bad Meets Evil, whose pre-SSLP single of "Nuttin’ to Do"/"Scary Movies" would get renewed attention once those same two rappers had a duet, smartly titled "Bad Meets Evil," appear on a triple-platinum album. And of course there was the group D12, five Detroit rappers including his best friend Proof, with whom Eminem would release a whole album at the height of his fame.

This was not the only mainstream rap attention Detroit received in the late 1990s. For one thing, legendary producer James "J Dilla" Yancey, was a native of the city. But Eminem’s explosion helped make way for rappers in the city, even ones he didn’t know personally, to get attention. 

The after-effects of the Eminem tsunami can still be seen. Just look at the rise of so-called "scam rap" over the past few years. Or the success of artists like Babyface Ray, Kash Doll, 42 Dugg, and Veeze. They may owe little to Em artistically, but they admit that he’s done great things for the city — even if they may wish he was a little less reclusive these days

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Westside Gunn On How Virgil Abloh & "Coming To The End" Of His Rap Career Inspired 'And Then You Pray For Me'
Westside Gunn

Photo: Prolifickid

interview

Westside Gunn On How Virgil Abloh & "Coming To The End" Of His Rap Career Inspired 'And Then You Pray For Me'

A self-proclaimed "super-vet" of the rap world, Westside Gunn knows his time as a rapper is nearing its finale — but first, he wants to "give you a journey" with his new album, 'And Then You Pray For Me.'

GRAMMYs/Oct 18, 2023 - 02:07 pm

When Westside Gunn refers to himself as "the king of the underground," it's not hyperbole. The veteran rapper has spent the last decade-plus providing hip-hop with a streetwise, neo-boom-bap style that echoes heavily in the music of today. And as the founder of independent hip-hop label Griselda (and its related rap collective), Gunn's influence is felt through stars like his brother, Conway the Machine, his cousin, Benny the Butcher, and the enigmatic Mach-Hommy. 

But Gunn considers himself more a curator than a musician. He is obsessed with fashion and high art, more prone to mention going to see opera or buying a painting than jumping into a rhyme cipher.

All of Westside Gunn's obsessions come together on his new album And Then You Pray For Me. The rapper is positioning the project as a sequel to his 2020 LP Pray For Paris, which was inspired by Gunn attending a Paris Fashion Week runway show as a guest of the late Virgil Abloh. Abloh was the art director for both albums, which feature figures from iconic artworks laden with Gunn's signature chains; And Then You Pray For Me uses both the Mona Lisa and Caravaggio's The Entombment of Christ

While the 21-track album features plenty of Gunn's trademark neo-boom-bap sounds, he updates things a bit by including some songs that have a trap music influence. It contains stellar guest turns from old friends like Conway, Benny, Stove God Cooks, Rome Streetz, and Boldy James. But there are also surprising appearances from artists you might not normally associate with Griselda — Jeezy, Rick Ross, Denzel Curry, and Ty Dolla $ign.

Gunn has recently referred to And Then You Pray For Me as his last album, but don't expect him to slow down. He's making movies, planning big moves in the fashion world, and continuing to guide the careers of other artists. 

GRAMMY.com caught up with Gunn as he was, naturally, shopping in New York City's SoHo neighborhood ("I'm over here on Mercer [Street], so it's Lanvin, Balenciaga, Marni, Bape — it's all right here," he boasts). We discussed his creative pairing with Abloh, why he's really a curator at heart, and his views on underground rap's evolution over the past decade. 

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Not to start on a super serious note, but as I was preparing for this conversation, I realized that we just passed the 17-year anniversary of the murder of your cousin, rapper Machine Gun Blak. If he could see you now, and if he could hear the new album, what do you think he might say?

First of all, he'd be all on [the album]. But he'd be super proud, man. Even when he's not here, he's one of my biggest fans, I feel like. His energy is Westside Gunn. Westside Gunn is a perfect example of Machine Gun Blak — just the raw, the grittiness. The grimy part of Westside Gunn, that's Machine Gun Blak. That's his spirit.

But I think he would love this album. It's a great piece of work. It's my favorite that I ever worked on. Out of all my projects ever, this is the most fun I ever had making one. 

Does it feel like it's been 17 years since he died?

Nah. It doesn't seem like 17 years, honestly. And it's crazy because I just went to his grave site. I remember [the day he died] like it was yesterday. I vividly remember that day — what was going on, what I was doing, where I was going, everything.

Where were you when you found out? 

See, back in those days, that's when we were still in the streets. So I was just about to go make a move. I was talking to him on the phone, and I was like, "I'll hit you when I get over to Atlanta." Because at that time, I was making moves. That's before all of this. It's the things I rap about now. When you hear the lyrics, these are those days. 

He called me, and it was a situation. He was talking about it, and I was like, "Sorry to cut you off, but I gotta go handle this. When I get there, I'll hit you back so we can finish talking about it."

At that time I was still catching the Greyhound from Alabama to Atlanta. But it was crazy because I missed the bus, and I never miss the bus. So I was on my way back to the house in Alabama, and my grandma called me.  

This era of your career, which this album is a cap to, began in 2012 when you realized you had to step up and be an artist because Conway The Machine had gotten shot and you weren't sure he'd be able to rap anymore. I've always been curious about your state of mind at that moment.

Even then I was still in-the-streets Gunn. We was working so hard, man. I was acting as his manager and investing my bread, my time. I really wanted Conway to be the biggest artist in the world. Unfortunately, when he got shot, it was a devastating blow.

Of course, that's my brother. That's the number one thing. And it was also like, the streets is crazy. I thought, I'm a smart guy. If I just put in my effort, I could really make this happen. At that time, I was really in the streets, and I felt like the [other] rappers weren't. It was like, you're really rapping about us

It was that kind of mentality — that if I come in this game, can't nobody touch me, because I'm as real as it comes. I just put my hustle skills from the streets into this, and it all worked out. 

During the heyday of that era of Griselda, you guys released a flood of projects — dozens and dozens of mixtapes and albums. 

It was a flood. It was the craziest flood since No Limit [Records].

What was a typical day like for you when all that was going on, circa the mid-2010s?

Just being at [producer] Daringer's house. Getting high, eating f—in' Franco's pizza, drinking Loganberry, and Daringer cooking the craziest beats you ever heard in your life. The rest is history. Just having fun, man. Everybody had they hustles. Believe it or not, even Daringer was hustling! We from Buffalo, man.

You've always been someone who understood the importance of branding. Even on early Griselda projects, you'd promote GxFR [Griselda by Fashion Rebels, Gunn's clothing line at the time]. 

Yeah, because that's the thing: Griselda Records comes from Griselda by Fashion Rebels. I had the clothing brand first. I was already doing a clothing line and it was just like, What am I going to name this record company?

I've always been into fashion. I actually do more fashion-related things than hip-hop-related things. I'm a true designer. I've been designing since I was a kid, and that's the thing that I want to get into more. 

I've been rhyming since '12. That's over a decade. If we're looking at NBA years, NFL years, I'm already a super-vet. I'm not trying to be one of them dudes that went from averaging 40 a game to now I'm averaging five, looking crazy and old. 

I know when to gracefully bow out. And I know I'm coming to the end. I don't want to keep rapping forever about the same things, because in my life I'm maturing. I'm doing other things. I'm collecting art. I'm going to see operas. 

But it's not the end right now. Right now, I just want to give people the best music. And I also want to let people in. I've been doing these [YouTube] episodes for this album where I've been letting people into my life for the first time in my career. Everybody has been loving it. 

For the first time, people are actually getting to see the inside of Westside Gunn's life. I think that's one of the things that I lacked on, was letting people in. If I would have let people in a long time ago, I'd be way bigger. But everything is about time, and I'm not tripping.

Before I hang up the mic, I still want to kind of give you a journey with the music. This new project, it's a super different vibe. I've never made an album sound like this. It's the perfect art piece that I could have possibly created.

It's just the space I'm in in life. It comes with maturity — traveling the world, kids getting older, things like that. You can hear the music has matured. It's still raw though. That's the thing about me. I'm still gonna give you that Griselda Westside Gunn. That's never gonna change. I'm not going too far out of context. 

For this album, you've introduced the alter ego "Super Flygod." What does that name mean? 

Listen, man, Super Flygod right now is talking to you with a ponytail. I'm on another level. Super Flygod is what I've always been, but times 10. I'm super bougie. I love five-star meals. I love five-star hotels. I love wearing $10,000 outfits. I love getting massages. I love smelling good. I love just looking good. That's Super Flygod. 

It's just a different energy. It's something the game never seen before. I did the unthinkable at least 100 times already. I'm still doing it. 

What was it like for you to see Conductor Williams — a producer who has worked with Gunn and Griselda for many years — land a single on a Drake album?

Beautiful. That's what we do it for. He did exactly what he was supposed to do, and that's be on the No. 1 album in the world. He deserves all of that. That's what we're in this game for — to be able to leave a legacy and take care of our babies. So for him to be on the No. 1 album, that's a super blessing. 

That's the thing about Conductor — it's just gonna be the beginning. He's on my new album a few times. So he's gonna have a hell of a month. It's the biggest month of his life. Business is booming for Conductor. 

You've used the word "curation" a lot over the course of your career, and especially in regards to this album. What does that word mean to Westside Gunn?

First of all, that's my favorite thing to do on an album. Curation from me is me. I can curate for you, I can curate for MC Hammer. It's you, but it's me

When I curate a project, that's me naming every song, that's me picking every beat, that's me doing the sequence, that's me making the art cover, that's me doing the merch. You see what I'm saying? It's you, but it's me. All you're doing is showing up and rapping. That's all you gotta do.

Virgil Abloh is credited with art directing this album's cover. What did that mean, specifically? 

When I went out to Paris [for Paris Fashion Week in 2020], I really wasn't going to make music. I just felt the energy from Virgil having me out there. When I hit him and told him it was done, it was just like, "There's only one person that can do this cover." It had to be him. 

Virgil was an icon. So to have Virgil cooking up for you is already legendary. This don't happen to nobody from Buffalo, man. But when he was cooking, he was making me multiple pieces. At first, the idea was, I'm gonna do a trilogy [of Pray albums]. I was gonna have the Mona Lisa be the picture that represents all three of them together. I was thinking [of a] box set, with a Mona Lisa front and three different covers inside. 

Once he passed, it changed what I wanted to do with it. But we were already talking about dropping [a second Pray album]. We were already going to re-release the first shirts we did, and I was going to do new ones. But when [his death] happened, I put everything on a standstill and I didn't really know how I wanted to approach it again.

It was like, Damn, should I do the trilogy, or should I just make it a part two? I had different options. At the end of the day, it was just like, I think I'm just going to finish it up. I really want to give the people the work we created together before I throw in the towel. I felt it was only right. That's something that I want the world to always see and remember — what me and him cooked up together.

You say in your new YouTube documentary series that this new album will probably go over people's heads. What aspects of it do you think people might not get initially, or take a few years to catch up to?

The same reason why they're catching up now to the s— that I was doing five years ago, and everybody acts like it's new. I've always been ahead of my time. Always. I probably get copied off of the most in the industry. But you see that I've always gotten respect from everybody: from the Drakes, from the Tylers, the Rockys, Kendricks, Coles, anybody. I'm a one-of-one. It's never been seen before. 

The respect I get, it could be on a mainstream level, but then I could still be on an underground level. I can do something with an Estee Nack, but then turn around and do a song with Mary J. Blige. That's who Westside Gunn is. I got songs with everybody you can possibly think of, rhyming-wise or production-wise. All the legends, even our fallen legends. I can't even think of no other emcee that got a record with Sean Price, Prodigy, DMX, and MF DOOM. It's impossible to name another one. 

Westside Gunn is so cultured, people don't even understand. That's what I mean about [being] over people's heads. People still don't even get it. They're scratching their head, like, "How is this guy on [Kanye West's] Donda? How is this guy on [Travis Scott's] Utopia?"

There's a big part of underground rap now that can be traced directly to what Roc Marciano began doing in 2010, and what you guys started doing just a few years later. What do you think when you see a lot of your aesthetic from that time in the current underground scene?

The current underground scene, I'm loving it. Because you gotta think — at that time, like you said, it was only really Roc Marci, Action Bronson — a couple heads. That's in the space that we come from. Of course, we still had the J. Coles and Big Seans and all that, but that was another lane. We're in the same neighborhood, two different streets. 

But on our street, people on the block was Roc Marci and Action Bronson. Danny Brown, he lived on the block. People like that. When I came on the scene, that's all it was. But I took the bull by the horns. Like I said, I'm a hustler. I was still hustling in the street. I had a hustler mentality, and once I told myself I had to quit cold turkey, I never looked back. I just went extra hard. 

With the new heads, I'm proud of them. At the end of the day, I'm happy that I was able to be somebody that they could study. That they could see these vinyl deals or how this merch is played — I'm kind of like the blueprint. I'm not going to say I'm the king of the underground, but I'm the king of the underground.

Even though I'm the king of the underground, I'm still on Donda. I'm still on Utopia. I'm still making all these big songs and these big records. And even yesterday, we put up the Post Malone clip saying if he could work with anybody, it'd be me. 

I'm the one that put the most points on the board, in every way possible. But this is also showing the new heads, If I could work hard, I'm gonna be the next Roc Marci, I'm gonna be the next Action Bronson in that space.

What is the possibility of getting the original Griselda trio of you, your brother and your cousin back together for a project? 

That's coming in '24. You don't even you got to ask twice. That's already done, my brother. 

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Noah Kahan's Big Year: How The "Stick Season" Singer Became A Folk-Pop Hero
Noah Kahan

Photo: Aysia Marotta

interview

Noah Kahan's Big Year: How The "Stick Season" Singer Became A Folk-Pop Hero

On the heels of announcing an arena and stadium tour for 2024, Noah Kahan revisits some of the biggest moments that have led to it, from going viral with "Stick Season" to collaborating with Post Malone.

GRAMMYs/Oct 9, 2023 - 05:30 pm

In July 2019, Noah Kahan made a promise to his fans via Twitter: "I prolly won't sell out Madison square garden, or even all the shows on my tour but I'll keep writing songs for you all for as long as you'll have me."

Four years later, he's made good on his word about continuing to write songs. But he's also proved himself wrong; not only has the Vermont-born star sold out his entire 2023 tour, but 2024 will see him play a sold-out Madison Square Garden — twice.

While Kahan himself asserts that he's always had a "very dedicated" fan base — whether from his days of posting to SoundCloud and YouTube or since he signed with Republic Records in 2017 – he admits he still finds it hard to process the level to which it's grown. "It's f—ing unbelievable," he says. "It feels so fake that it's almost like, the more time I spend thinking about it, the more abstract it becomes."

His humility is a large part of his appeal (as well as his sense of humor, both on Twitter and on stage), which carries into his folk-pop music. It's matched with extreme vulnerability, as Kahan has been open about his struggles with mental health. Even one of his biggest hits has revealing lyrics: "So I thought that if I piled something good on all my bad/ That I could cancel out the darkness I inherited from Dad," he sings the second verse of "Stick Season."

"Stick Season" became Kahan's breakout song in 2022, first making waves on social media — catching the attention of stars like Zach Bryan and Maisie Peters — and earning him his first radio hit. Its namesake album earned Kahan top 5 spots on Billboard's Top Alternative Albums, Top Rock Albums and Top Rock & Alternative Albums charts in October 2022, but it was the 2023 deluxe edition that really showed his trajectory: all 18 tracks debuted on Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Charts, making him one of only five artists to ever land 18 songs on the chart in one week. 

Kahan's disbelief in his success is only going to continue into the new year, as his 2024 tour will also include L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl and two nights at Boston's Fenway Park. At this rate, he's seemingly on his way to Taylor Swift-level stardom — though, as he jokes, three-hour shows will never be in the cards: "From a physical health standpoint, this is as big as it can get."

In the midst of his Stick Season Tour, Kahan reminisced on the wild ride he's been on for the past 18 months. Below, he details seven of his most career-defining moments to date. 

Watching "Stick Season" Blow Up

I wrote the song in 2020 and I posted the first verse and the chorus [on social media] the next morning. It was kind of an awkward time, because I had another album coming out right after that video was posted [2021's I Was / I Am] , and I had to promote that, and people were like, "What about that other song?" I'd be at shows and people would be like, "Play 'Stick Season'!"

I started to play it live, which is really what stoked the fire in terms of us realizing that it could be a big song. I played it in Syracuse, New York — and we hadn't posted any snippets besides what I would do on my Instagram Lives, or I'd perform it here and there on social media. Everyone in the room knew every single word to it. That was the song that got the biggest reaction all night, and it was a song that wasn't even out yet. That definitely opened my eyes to the desire for that song to be out in the world. 

A lot of my set at the time was more pop-leaning, and this song is definitely more folk-leaning. I could really see the desire for sing-along folk anthems after that performance. [I remember] talking to my team and being like, "I think this song is gonna be around for a long time."

It gave confidence to something that I had been trying to do for a long time, even subconsciously. I think I was always making folk music, and I would always gravitate toward those songs, but a part of me would be like, This isn't who you are, you make pop. So I would stay away from it. 

It took this one song — and playing it the way that I wanted to, and having people really respond — it opened my eyes to the audience that I didn't realize was there. It also opened my eyes to that confidence in myself that really comes through in this kind of songwriting. It let me look at folk music and storytelling as a bigger focus in my life instead of something that I did for fun or in the privacy of my home.

Seeing The Success Of Stick Season

When I was a kid, I would write my name on a blank CD, and I'd put it next to my Green Day CD, and I would pretend that we were the same. For a second it feels real, but it's really not.

Seeing my name on the charts and in conversations with all of these incredible famous artists, it kind of gave me the same feeling where I felt like, This just can't be real — I must be back in my childhood bedroom writing my band name on blank CDs. Because this doesn't happen to people making folk music, really. I was just kind of stunned into disbelief to the point where it took people reminding me that it was happening to actually process it.

I was in love with everything about the process of making this album, and honestly, that was enough for me. I felt so fulfilled. The organic nature of how it all came together felt so real to me, and it felt so important to me. And doing it in Vermont, and having the record be about Vermont and New England — it really felt like the album I've been waiting to make my whole life. 

I think my fans could see how much it meant to me, and it meant the same to them. We kind of shared this real emotional attachment to this album together. 

It just felt like a huge change in the way my life was gonna be. It meant that I could make music that fulfilled me that would fulfill others. I guess you could say it reinvigorated my faith in music in a lot of ways.

The chart success, and the radio play, and the co-signs from other really great artists and songwriters was incredible and overwhelming. I still haven't really processed it all. 

It definitely changed my life and put me into a place where I'm selling out shows, and there's lots of people that want me to work with them. It feels so nice, because it all came from following my heart — in the least cliché way.

Playing Boston Calling

It started to feel monumental when I got there. It's, like, three minutes away from my house, which is crazy. So I took a van from my house and I started walking around the festival, and it felt like I was Justin Bieber — people were chasing me around the festival and screaming.

It was one of the first times I've played in Boston since the deluxe [version of Stick Season] came out, and it was the second festival of the tour, so we were not expecting this crazy reaction. We get on stage and the crowd is just a sea of people. It looked like the crowd for a headliner, and it was only, like, 6 p.m.

We had a really good performance — objectively, we kind of crushed it — and all the fans were losing their minds, and then later, I went on stage with the Lumineers, which was so insane. It just felt like this moment of this hometown crowd really coming out in full force, showing their support and showing the world that I had this kind of fan base. I felt like I was kind of stepping out into a new world in a lot of ways when I got on stage. 

Singing "Homesick" was pretty incredible. It has a line about the Boston [Marathon] bombers, and we were literally right next to Watertown where the Boston bombers were caught. And hearing like 40,000 New Englanders sing "I'm mean because I grew up in New England" was incredible — it made me tear up watching videos the next day. Seeing all those people connect over this common understanding of who we are, and that region, all at once was really, really special. It was just such a Boston moment.

Ever since then, it was kind of just crazy show after crazy show. And every hometown show has been so unbelievable. It was kind of the start of the madness.

Headlining Red Rocks

A show that felt particularly special was Red Rocks. Having gone from being an opener there to a headliner in a little less than a year was really special for me. The growth was so evident.

The crowds at Red Rocks are in this trance of community and love — it felt like the crowd was connecting with each other, and watching that happen was really incredible. Every single person there had a smile on their face. I think that everybody there had an amazing time, and that made me so happy. 

Another thing that I've loved about all the shows, but Red Rocks in particular, is that some of these songs are filled with painful feelings and thoughts, and things that, for me, required a lot of vulnerability. And when the crowd is singing every single word, it just means that a whole crowd of — in Red Rocks' case, 9,900 people — are just being vulnerable, and yelling it out loud. 

That's the greatest gift a musician can ever get — watching people express themselves and free themselves from any kind of shame at a show. That's what I try to do with my music, and I feel like I saw thousands of people shedding their guilt, their fear and their shame, and singing the lyrics. 

We were playing the song "Maine," and there's a line that's like, "If there were cameras in the traffic lights, they'd make me a star," and I remember looking up at the crowd — that line is really about knowing that you have something special, but not knowing if anyone can ever see it. 

I remember singing that song and that line, and I looked up to the crowd — 9,,000 people, that's four times bigger than everyone in my hometown — screaming that line back to me, and I cried. I couldn't believe where I was in my life. 

And I still can't, but there are moments that I get numb to all of it and there are moments when the absurdity of it all slaps me in the face. That was definitely a moment where I felt just shocked by where I had gotten to, and how things have grown.

Launching The Busyhead Project

The Busyhead Project is an endeavor to raise a million dollars for mental health awareness, and these organizations that are doing so much for fighting the stigma and supporting people who suffer around North America. We wanted to start this organization because I have spent a lot of my career thinking and about my own journey with mental health, but I always felt like I was not doing enough, or just kind of providing lip service. 

I never wanted to feel like I was accessorizing it or commodifying it. So I wanted to do something that felt boots-on-the-ground, tangible, [and] would make a real difference. We set out with a goal to raise a million dollars [for these organizations], and we're getting really close. [Editor's note: As of press time, The Busyhead Project has raised $977,055.]

I think it just comes down to putting your money where your mouth is. Like, I'm playing bigger venues and I sell merch — I'm starting to make money, and part of my philosophy on wealth and making money is that you're supposed to use it to help other people. 

I don't need a lot for myself. I live on a diet of sunflower seeds and bananas — I'm literally eating both of them right now — so I wanted to give back as much as I can. It's really that simple; trying to raise money for people that really need it, and organizations that are doing miraculous work. We're definitely not going to stop at a million — I hope not, because that would be kind of lame. [Laughs.] If we can raise more money, we should raise it. 

When I was a kid, I would look up "Artists with depression" or "Artists on medication." I didn't find a lot of 'em, but when I did find somebody, it would feel like I was, like, saved by God or something. That became like religion to me, to see that someone who was in the music industry was also struggling with what I was really struggling with as a kid. I want to provide that for some kid making music out there.

Breaking Onto The Hot 100 (And Collaborating With Post Malone) With "Dial Drunk"

The chart is kind of, like, the one thing from movies about the music industry that signify when the band is doing well — like The Rocker, or Rockstar, where it's like, "Oh my god, the music's on the charts!" And they're doing a montage where the chart spins, and they're on a magazine cover, you know what I mean? And what's always followed by that is a horrible downward spiral, so I think when I saw the song charting well, I was like, Oh God, this is where my career starts to go bad. 

But I was really excited, and it was super cool — and, again, one of those things that's hard to actually understand from a human level. 

It was also really nice because I always feel like the last thing I did is the best thing I did, so after "Stick Season" was a big success, I was like, I have to have another song! And I was touring so much, and I was on Zoloft, so I was feeling emotionally kind of numbed-down. Writing this song was kind of a wake-me-up from what was going on. 

It was kind of a personal victory in a lot of ways — I challenged myself to make something new, and I did, and then it had this massive success. It felt like I can get through anything and do this again if I have to. It reminded me that what was happening in my career wasn't lightning in a bottle, but a real reflection of an audience being hungry for my music.

So then when Post Malone started recording his verse in the song, I felt like I was in a fever dream. I felt like it was gonna elevate my career to a new place, and I think it did.

He's always been an inspiration to me in the way he approaches music. I literally just reached out to him on DMs randomly one day, I was like, "Bro, I think you might like this song, we should do it together." He responded two months later, like, "Yeah, I f—ing love it!" It felt really natural.

We sat cross-legged and drank beers at the show in Massachusetts that I went out with him [to perform "Dial Drunk"]. It was so Post Malone — we talked about adult diapers and The Dewey Cox Story. He was just so funny and fun to be around. 

Announcing An Arena & Stadium Tour For 2024

They had been talked about for a while when we were starting the tour in the spring, but they never felt real — I always kind of think, That'll happen later. At the point that I'm doing those shows, I'll feel like I belong in those rooms.

Having these shows scheduled is truly surreal. I just don't know how we're gonna sell that many tickets. [Laughs.] I think I'll believe it when I'm in the room — like, Madison Square Garden, to me, has always felt like just where Paul McCartney goes, and I can't believe that I get to be having my name on the marquee.

I told my managers on the phone when they booked Fenway, "I'm actually going to retire after this." [Laughs.] There's really no way to describe what that means to someone from New England. 

As someone who grew up loving the Red Sox, going to Fenway Park all the time with my friends — getting drunk and stealing somebody's seats, and screaming at the opposing players over the dugout — that place has meant so much to me and so many people in my life. And the fact that I'm going to be one of not many people that have headlined that venue is just the craziest f—ing thing in the entire world. It feels like there's no other higher peak than playing songs about New England in the mecca of New England.

There was, like, a limit to my dreams when I was a kid — what I could do for a living and how big it could be. I'm trying to have my 8-year-old self be proud of me. I don't think he could even imagine where I'd be now. 

I'm so proud of the people I work with, I'm so proud of myself, because I have really worked hard for this, and I've sacrificed a lot of things in my life to make music happen. To get to this place, it just feels like all those hard decisions were worth it. 

I'm grateful for all the people that have supported me, and the people that have taken time out of their day to believe in my music when I couldn't believe in it. I'm just happy to feel like I belong here.

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