meta-scriptRihanna, Beyoncé, Lizzo, Lil Nas X And More Win Big At The 2020 NAACP Image Awards | GRAMMY.com
Rihanna at the 2020 NAACP Image Awards

Rihanna at the 2020 NAACP Image Awards

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

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Rihanna, Beyoncé, Lizzo, Lil Nas X And More Win Big At The 2020 NAACP Image Awards

Other winners included Bruno Mars, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Kelly Rowland, Kirk Franklin and more

GRAMMYs/Feb 24, 2020 - 01:04 am

Rihanna, Beyoncé, Lizzo and Lil Nas X were among the top music winners at the 2020 NAACP Image Awards, which took place last night (Feb. 22) at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Southern California.

This year's key honors, the President's Award, which recognizes special achievements and distinguished public service, went to nine-time GRAMMY winner Rihanna for her achievements as a public servant and her work as an activist and philanthropist, which include the Clara Lionel Foundation, a nonprofit organization she founded in 2012 that "supports and funds groundbreaking education and emergency response programs around the world." 

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In an impassioned speech she delivered while accepting the award, Rihanna spoke about the importance of solidarity when tackling global issues and actions. 

"If there’s anything that I’ve learned, it’s that we can only fix this world together," she said. "We can’t do it divided. I can not emphasize that enough. We can’t let the de-sensitivity seep in."

“How many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions? Show of hands," she continued. "Well then, they want to break bread with you, right? They like you? Well then, this is their problem, too. So when we’re marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown Jrs. and the Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up.”

Rihanna now joins previous artists like Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter and Lauryn Hill who have received the President's Award. 

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Following a big night at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards last month, where she won three golden gramophones, Lizzo took home two major awards at the 2020 NAACP Image Awards last night, including Entertainer Of The Year and Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album for "Juice." 

Read: BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Festival 2020: Ms. Lauryn Hill, Alice Smith, Victory Boyd & More Announced

Beyoncé, a 24-time GRAMMY champion, also took home multiple awards yesterday. Her 2019 concert film and documentary, Homecoming, won for Outstanding Variety Show, while the accompanying album, Homecoming: The Live Album, won for Outstanding Album. She also won for Outstanding Female Artist, among other awards. 

Elsewhere, Lil Nas X won for Outstanding New Artist, while Bruno Mars won for Outstanding Male Artist. Other winners included Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Kelly Rowland, Kirk Franklin, Jazzmeia Horn and more. 

Presented by the civil rights organization NAACP, the annual NAACP Image Awards, which hosted its 51st installment this year, "celebrates the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors," according to the event's website.

To view clips and a full winners list from the 2020 NAACP Image Awards, visit the event's official website. 

Prince, Rihanna & Cardi B: 15 Big Music Moments in Black History

Leon Michels, center, poses with Black Thought, Kirby and members of El Michels Affair backstage at "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon."
Leon Michels, center, poses with Black Thought, Kirby and members of El Michels Affair backstage at "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon."

Photo: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC via Getty Images

interview

Behind Leon Michels' Hits: From Working With The Carters & Aloe Blacc, To Creating Clairo's New Album

Multi-instrumentalist turned GRAMMY-nominated producer Leon Michels has had a hand in a wide range of pop and hip-hop music. Read on for the stories behind his smash hits with Norah Jones, Black Thought, Kalis Uchis, Aloe Blacc, and others.

GRAMMYs/May 27, 2024 - 03:17 pm

A child of New York’s ultra-niche soul revival scene of the early 2000s, multi-instrumentalis turned producer Leon Michels has had an extensive reach into global pop music. As both producer and session man, Michels has worked with the Carters, Norah Jones, Black Thought, the Black Keys, Kalis Uchis, and Aloe Blacc — to name a few.

He has held to a specific creative vision for more than two decades, first through his heavily sampled El Michels Affair projects and a healthy schedule of releases through Truth & Soul records and later, Big Crown, the label he co-founded with DJ Danny Akalepse in 2016. He runs a studio in upstate New York called the Diamond Mine North, where he does most of his work since relocating from New York City in 2017. He has two GRAMMY nominations to his name, for Mary J. Blige’s Good Morning Gorgeous and Lizzo’s Special.

Trained originally on piano, he took up drums and eventually saxophone through the guidance of his high school music teacher, Miss Leonard. "[She] is actually the person I owe it all to. She started this jazz band when I was in fifth grade, and there's no drummer, so she asked me if I would learn drums," he tells GRAMMY.com. "I did that, and she would give me Duke Ellington cassettes, Sydney Bichet, Johnny Hodges. She would just feed me music."

Daptone Records co-founder Gabe Roth recruited and mentored Michels while he was still in high school, and the teenager soon became a regular touring member of what would become the Dap-Kings, backing singer Sharon Jones during an early run of success in the mid-2000s. " I joined Sharon Jones when it was the Soul Providers. We went on tour in Europe with them. Somehow my parents let me do it. I don't even understand. Gabe came over and sweet-talked them."

Michels left the group in 2006 after seven intense years, wanting to spend more time recording than enduring the grind of touring. His chosen timing caused him to miss out by mere "months" on the group’s recording sessions for Amy Winehouse’s four-time GRAMMY winner Back To Black. Despite what appeared to be a major missed opportunity, he turned his focus to his group El Michels Affair after initial encouragement from the 2005 album Sounding Out The City, released on Truth & Soul, the label he had co-founded. 

Finding his inspiration in the intersections of soul and hip-hop, as a fully committed instrumentalist producer, he was able to develop an analog soundscape that quickly caught the ears of artists including Raekwon and other Wu-Tang Clan alumni, with whom he toured in 2008. This led to the follow-up album Enter The 37th Chamber in 2009. Samples from El Michels Affair, including those by Ghostface Killah, Jay-Z, Just Blaze, J. Cole, and Travis Scott quickly proliferated and opened doors. Via the Lee Fields album My World, Michels' work caught the attention of Dan Auerbach, with whom he and his longtime collaborator and bassist Nick Movshon toured from 2010 to 2012.

Producing the Aloe Blacc song "I Need A Dollar" in 2010 further enhanced his credentials and provided the financial stability to allow him to be true to his creative spirit, which he has done successfully over the last decade.

Leon Michels spoke to GRAMMY.com about some key career recordings, including his latest release with singer Clairo.

Clairo – "Sexy to Someone" (Charm, 2024)

I met Clairo almost three years ago. I made a record with her that took three years to complete, which is actually one of the longest stretches I've ever spent on a record.

She’s made two records before this. Her first record, Immunity, came out when she was 19. It's a pop record, and it was very successful. But she's a total music nerd like me. She’s constantly scouring the Internet for music. The way people, especially young people, ingest music these days is just insane. She's got great taste.

Her first record was super successful. She made her second record, Sling, with Jack Antonoff, and it was an ambitious folk record, and a huge departure from her first record. I think it caught her audience off guard, but it was kind of a perfect move because now she can make whatever she wants. 

When she came to me, I was excited but slightly confused. What do I do? Because in those situations, you think, well, I need to facilitate a successful pop record, but she just wanted all the weird s—.

It’s this cool mix of pop elements, but some of the music sounds like a Madlib sample. All of it is steeped in pretty cool references and older music, but her perspective is a 25-year-old’s, and she’s an incredible songwriter. It's a really cool mix.

Norah Jones - "Running"  (Visions, 2024)

Norah used to hit up me and Dave Guy, trumpet player in the Menahan Street Band and the Roots, if she needed horns.

As we were coming out of the pandemic, she hit me up and wanted to make some music. We made a few songs and then after that, she asked me to produce her Christmas record, which was super fun because I've never listened to Christmas music. I started to enjoy it, which was weird because I had thought I hated Christmas music. I mean, once you start to dig for Christmas records, pretty much all of your favorite artists have them. I was listening to Christmas music from March to October the entire year. 

After that, we made Visions, which is all original stuff. Norah's just so talented. Her musicianship is actually some of the most impressive I've ever seen or worked with. She's so good that when I play with her, I get intimidated and I forget basic harmony and music theory!

Read more: 5 Inspirations Behind Norah Jones' New Album 'Visions': Nightly Dreams, Collabs, Harmony Stacks & More

We cut that record,  mostly just the two of us. There's a couple of songs where we got a band, but most of it was in my upstate studio. She would just come over from nine to three. She would come after she dropped her kids at school and then have to leave to pick them up. It was super fun to make, essentially just jamming all day.

[Overall] it’s not a huge departure for Norah, but sonically it is a departure, and it's got this very loose, "un-precious" quality. That's maybe a little different from her other stuff.

"Running" was her choice as a single. When it comes to singles — the songs that have actually been most successful — I've wanted to take those off the record. I have no idea what's going to be the hit or not.

Black Thought - "Glorious Game" (Glorious Game, 2023)

That was a total pandemic record — at the start of the pandemic when everyone was completely locked in, we had no idea what was going on.

Black Thought texted me out of the blue, and I think he was just trying to stay busy. So he just said, "Can you send me songs?" I sent him maybe two songs and then he sent back finished verses three or four hours later. Most of that record was just me sending him s— and him sending it back, and then going like that. We had probably 20 songs. 

The time I did spend in the studio with him was, he's a total savant. He sits there while you're playing a song, and it kind of looks like he's on Instagram or f—ing around, you know what I mean? Does this guy even like this song? And then 45 minutes later, he’ll be like "Aight, ready." And he goes in there and, and he'll rap four pages of lyrics in one take. It's insane. He remembers everything;  we'll do a song and then three years later, he'll have to redo it, but he'll know the lyrics from memory.

There's a couple of things that I figured out on that record. One: The thing I love about sampled hip-hop production the most is it's almost always pitch-shifted, which makes a giant difference in the sound. And if the piano has decay or vocals have vibrato, when you pitch it up, it becomes something that is so uniquely hip-hop. The second thing was, with hip hop, one of the best parts about sampling is the choices a producer has to make when they are limited to chopping a two-track mix.  If you have multi-tracks, there are too many options. 

I think that record resonated with people who are hip-hop aficionados who really love the art of emceeing. 

Aloe Blacc - "I Need A Dollar" (Good Things, 2010)

We had just recorded the Lee Fields record, My World. Eothen Alapatt, who used to be a label manager at Now Again, was a friend of mine. [Jeff Silverman and I] started Truth & Soul, but we had no infrastructure. We thought My World would have a bigger reach if Stones Throw took care of the press and distribution. And so Eothen said "Yeah, we can do that, but instead of paying us, just make a record with this artist we have, Aloe Blacc."

I had no idea who he was. And so that was the business deal. We didn't get paid for the record initially. The payment was that they were going to promote Lee Fields record for us. So [Aloe] came to New York, and I did it with my partner at the time, Jeff Silverman, also Nick Movshon, who played on the entire record.

He wanted to do this Bill Withers thing. "I Need A Dollar" was probably my least favorite song on the record. I think I have this aversion to anything that's slightly cheesy, but I've gotten better at it. But at the end of the day, it's just a good song. It got picked up as the theme song to an HBO pilot called "How To Make It In America." And then, it just blew up in Europe. It was No. 1 everywhere. But it never hit in America.

It kind of set me off on a weird path for a minute, because I got a taste of success. And made some poor career decisions. I tried to a do lot of songwriting sessions with strangers.  It was maybe four years until I decided to just make El Michels Records.  

The Carters - "SUMMER" (EVERYTHING IS LOVE, 2018)

At the time, I was making these sample packs and sending them out to producers. One of them was this slow jam, and so the producers called me up and said "We used one of your samples. It's for a giant artist. We can't tell you who it is. You have to approve it now. And you can't hear it, but it's going to change your life." That’s what they kept saying to me. Then they said "It's coming out in two weeks."

So I figured they used one of my samples and chopped it up and did their thing to it.  And so when the record came out, it was Beyoncé and Jay-Z. It was the first track on that record they did together, the Carters. And it was mostly just my original sample with some new bass and string section. So basically it was just Beyoncé and Jay-Z over an El Michael's Affair track. The track was called "Summer," and my original never came out. 

So just hearing Beyoncé, hearing these giant pop voices that I associate with absolute hits, over my song, that was pretty cool.

Liam Bailey - "Dance With Me" (Zero Grace, 2023)

Me and him just have a very crazy chemistry when it comes to music, because it all happens super fast and with very little thought. Sometimes I'll listen to Liam's stuff, and I actually don't know how we did it. That is actually the goal. That’s why Lee "Scratch Perry" is the greatest producer of all time, because he could access that instant input, instant output type of creativity. It just passes through him and then it's on the record. Making music with Liam is like that; I'll make some instrumental, or I'll have an idea and then he'll freestyle lyrics one or two times.

To me, it sounds gibberish, but then he'll go through it and change one or two words and all of a sudden has this crazy narrative, and it's about his childhood [for example]. When I’ve worked with him, he has this same process where it's just kind of "hand to God" s—, just let it happen. I was trying to make something the way Jamaicans did, [like] that brand of Jamaican soul from the mid-'60s. 

Brainstory - "Peach Optimo" (Sounds Good, 2024)

I met those guys through Eduardo Arenas, who's the bass player from Chicano Batman, and he had recorded a couple of demos from them. And they had one song in particular that really caught my attention, which made it onto their first record called "Dead End."

They’re three jazz kids. Their dad was a gospel singer and loved soul and Stevie Wonder. So they grew up on all that stuff as well. Producing a band like Brainstory is super easy, because they rehearse all the time. Most of their songs are written; all I have to do is maybe shuffle around sections or just essentially cut stuff out. Because a lot of times when bands write music and rehearse every day, they just love to play, so sections are endless. 

I'll…have a sound in mind for the record, some reference for me and the engineering hands to kind of work from. And in the case of Sounds Good, the reference for the whole sound of the record was that this is Gene Harris song called "Los Alamitos Latin Funk Love." This is kind of the vibe of the entire record. We just cut that record over the course of a year, but it was two sessions that were maybe six days each. 

Kevin is the main vocalist and he's amazing. He can do that sweet soul background stuff perfectly. And when he does [his own] background vocals, it's this thing that not a lot of people can do where he changes his personality. So he becomes three different people. Then the background sounds like an actual group. 

Behind Mark Ronson's Hits: How 'Boogie Nights,' Five-Hour Jams & Advice From Paul McCartney Inspired His Biggest Singles & Collabs

Michael Sticka, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Museum, Lauryn Hill, and Jimmy Jam
(L-R): Michael Sticka, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Museum, Lauryn Hill, and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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6 Key Highlights From The Inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala Honoring Lauryn Hill, Donna Summer, Atlantic Records & Many More

The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum celebrated music's legacy with tributes to Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, Buena Vista Social Club, and more, featuring performances by Andra Day, The War and Treaty, and other musical greats.

GRAMMYs/May 23, 2024 - 12:34 am

Many years ago, veteran CBS journalist Anthony Mason lost his entire record collection when it disappeared in transit as he moved from one place to another. Mason was inconsolable, and you could still hear a tinge of sadness in his voice when he recounted this painful story at the inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala, held on May 21 at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles. The evening’s eloquent and entertaining host, Mason was making a point with his personal anecdote of lost records: music is priceless, one of our most treasured possessions — both as individuals and as a community. Preserving its legacy is essential.

It’s been over 50 years since the GRAMMY Hall of Fame was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees to honor records of deep historical significance that are at least 25 years old. This year, the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Museum paid tribute to 10 newly inducted recordings (four albums and six singles) by artists including De La Soul, Lauryn Hill, Buena Vista Social Club, Donna Summer, Guns 'N Roses, Charley Pride, Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra, the Doobie Brothers, William Bell, Wanda Jackson, and Atlantic Records, the annual Gala's inaugural label honoree. 

The first Hall of Fame Gala was a dazzling event presented by City National Bank, complete with guest speakers and performances by Andra Day, The War and Treaty, William Bell, Elle King, and HANSON covering some of the inducted works. The event underscored the sumptuous variety that continues to define popular music, spanning the sounds of hip-hop, rock, country, R&B, disco, and even the venerable Cuban dance music of decades past.

Here are six takeaway points from an evening marked by celebration and transcendent musical memories.

Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” Has Lost None Of Its Edge

Studious music fans are well aware that “I Feel Love” — written by Donna Summer with visionary Italian producer Giorgio Moroder and British songwriter Pete Bellotte — is a shimmering disco gem, a futuristic precursor to the entire EDM genre. What was stunning about the Gala performance of the track by singer and actress Andra Day is how edgy and fresh the 1977 track still sounds today. Day’s ethereal reading was appropriately hypnotic, with live drums, nebulous synth textures and glorious, three-part vocal harmonies.

The Future Of American Music Is In Good Hands With The War and Treaty

Formed by husband and wife Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter, The War and Treaty were rightfully nominated for Best New Artist at the 2024 GRAMMYs earlier this year. The duo’s electrifying combination of Americana, gospel, and rock is especially effective on a live stage, and the pair delivered a memorable rendition of Charley Pride's inducted Hall Of Fame country hit, “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’,” recorded in 1971. The War and Treaty also received a standing ovation later in the evening for their performance of Ray Charles' classic, "What'd I Say," released in 1959.

26 Years Later, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Is Still Ahead Of Its Time

Released in August 1998, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, and became the first hip-hop artist to win Album Of The Year at the 1999 GRAMMYs. At the Gala, Andra Day delighted the audience — including Lauryn Hill and her family — with a soulful version of hidden track “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” originally a Frankie Valli hit from 1967. Day's performance was marked by brassy accents and funky bass lines, creating an unapologetically lush rendition that mirrored the sonic richness of Hill's original take.

Read more: Revisiting 'The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill': Why The Multiple GRAMMY-Winning Record Is Still Everything 25 Years Later

Atlantic Records Transformed The Face Of Global Culture

Celebrating 75 years of inaugural label honoree Atlantic Records in the span of a few minutes loomed like an impossible task, but the Gala producers paid tribute to the legacy label well. Beginning with a short video, the event segment highlighted the miraculous roster assembled by Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson that included Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, ABBA, Phil Collins, and Bruno Mars — to name just a few. But it was the actual performances that highlighted the label’s hold on pop culture: Ravyn Lenae’s breathy take on Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” made a case for considering the 1973 hit as one of the most vulnerable recordings of all time. On the other side of the dynamic spectrum, the epic rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” by alt-rock quartet Shinedown was appropriately intense.

The Wondrous Legacy Of Stax Records Should Not Be Underestimated

The home of such legendary artists as Otis Redding, The Staple Singers and Carla Thomas, Memphis-based Stax Records developed a rich, ragged sound with gospel, blues, R&B and luminous pop as its foundational pillars. Currently the subject of an HBO documentary series, "Stax: Soulsville USA," the record label defined American music during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Memphis singer/songwriter William Bell was one of its most prolific artists, and he regaled guests with a performance of his Hall of Fame inducted debut 1961 single, “You Don’t Miss Your Water.” At 84 years of age — and the winner of a Best Americana Album at the 2017 GRAMMYs — Bell was in rare form, and the band backed him up seamlessly, reproducing the sinuous organ lines of the original.

Read more: 1968: A Year Of Change For The World, Memphis & Stax Records

Future Editions Of The Gala Will Continue To Surprise And Delight

The inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala set a high standard for future celebrations of iconic recordings. The event proved to be fertile ground for the creation of indelible music moments, showcasing the beauty and authority of music across genres and generations. Other honored Hall of Fame inducted recordings including De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising, Guns’N’Roses Appetite For Destruction, the Buena Vista Social Club’s debut, Wanda Jackson’s “Let’s Have A Party,” Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra’s “Ory’s Creole Trombone” and The Doobie Brothers’ “What A Fool Believes.”  

As we look ahead, the excitement for future Galas grows, with each event promising to honor more historic recordings, and uphold the tradition of celebrating excellence in music's rich legacy.

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inducted Recordings: Lauryn Hill, Guns N' Roses, De La Soul, Donna Summer & Many More

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductees

The Recording Academy revealed the 2024 inducted recordings to the distinguished GRAMMY Hall Of Fame on its 50th anniversary. Graphic shows all of the 10 recordings newly inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
The GRAMMY Museum's inaugural GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala and concert presented by City National Bank on May 21, 2024 at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles.

Image courtesy of the GRAMMY Museum

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Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inducted Recordings: Lauryn Hill, Guns N' Roses, De La Soul, Donna Summer & Many More

Learn more about the 2024 GRAMMY Hall of Fame inducted recordings, including iconic works by Buena Vista Social Club, Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, and more. The inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala takes place May 21 at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles.

GRAMMYs/May 21, 2024 - 12:46 am

As the GRAMMY Hall of Fame celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum are proud to honor the 2024 inductees with the inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala, presented by City National Bank, taking place Tuesday, May 21, at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles. This year, the GRAMMY Hall of Fame will induct 10 recordings: four albums and six singles.

This year's class of inductees highlights the diversity and historical significance of recordings that have shaped the musical landscape. From Lauryn Hill's groundbreaking album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to the electrifying Appetite For Destruction by Guns N' Roses, the selected recordings span genres and eras and showcase the lasting impact of these timeless works. Other notable inductees include De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising, Buena Vista Social Club's self-titled album, and singles by Donna Summer, Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra, the Doobie Brothers, and William Bell.

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala promises an unforgettable night, featuring performances that pay tribute to the newly inducted recordings. Artists such as Andra Day, William Bell, Elle King, and HANSON will bring these iconic songs to life while celebrating the rich heritage of the music honored this year. Hosted by veteran CBS journalist Anthony Mason, the evening will also recognize the contributions of Atlantic Records and feature an online auction benefiting the GRAMMY Museum.

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees in 1973 to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance that are at least 25 years old. The inducted recordings are selected annually by a special member committee of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts with final ratification by the Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. There are currently 1,152 inducted recordings in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. Explore the full list of all the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inducted recordings.

Join us as we honor the 2024 GRAMMY Hall of Fame inductees and celebrate the recordings that continue to resonate with listeners around the world by exploring the newly inducted works in depth below.

Tickets for the inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala are available now.

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductees

De La Soul, 3 Feet High And Rising

Tommy Boy Records, 1989

Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2024, 3 Feet High and Rising is the debut studio album from Long Island, New York-born hip-hop trio De La Soul. Released on Tommy Boy Records in 1989 — considered one of the years during hip-hop’s "Golden Age" — and produced by legendary DJ and hip-hop producer Prince Paul, the album was a critical and commercial success. Featuring samples that draw on a vast array of genres — from doo-wop and psychedelic rock to children’s music — the album was unlike any hip-hop album that came before it. Melding inventive production with clever and humorous wordplay and samples from artists as diverse as Johnny Cash (the title of the album is derived from the Cash song "Five Feet High and Rising"), Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, and the Turtles, 3 Feet High And Rising is often considered the beginning of 1990s alternative hip-hop. De La Soul’s use of skits/comedy sketches as interludes also had a huge influence on future generations of rappers. In a review of the album for The Village Voice in 1989, music critic Robert Christgau wrote, "An inevitable development in the class history of rap, [De La Soul is] new wave to Public Enemy’s punk."

Featuring the singles "The Magic Number," "Buddy," "Eye Know," and the GRAMMY-nominated "Me Myself and I," 3 Feet High and Rising spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. "Buddy" is one of the album’s hallmark songs and features cameos from Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, and Monie Love — who are collectively known as the Native Tongues (along with Black Sheep, the Beatnuts and Chi Ali). 

The platinum-certified record consistently places on lists of the greatest albums of all time, including in 2023 when Paste magazine featured it at No. 4 on their list of the Greatest Debut Albums of the 1980s. In 2010 it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. 3 Feet High and Rising has influenced countless artists, from the Roots and Yasiin Bey to OutKast and Common. With the album's undeniably trailblazing release, Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove and Pasemaster Mase of De La Soul have cemented themselves as one of the best rap groups of all time. 



Kelvin "Posdnuos" Mercer – Artist/Songwriter

David "Trugoy the Dove" Jolicoeur – Artist/Songwriter

Vincent "Maseo" Mason – Artist/Songwriter

"Prince Paul" Huston – Producer/Engineer/Songwriter

Alan Watts – Engineer/Mixer


Guns N’ Roses, Appetite For Destruction

Geffen, 1987

Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction LP will go down in history as one of the most iconic and influential rock albums ever made. But when it was released in the summer of 1987, Appetite didn’t initially garner much mainstream attention. Once the band hit the road in support of the album, singles "Welcome to the Jungle", "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" started getting significant airplay. By the summer of 1988, the band found themselves with a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Appetite For Destruction became the best-selling album of all time in the U.S. and the best-selling debut album. In a review for Pitchfork, Maura Johnston said, "The debut from Guns N' Roses was a watershed moment in '80s rock that chronicled every vice of Los Angeles led by the lye-voiced Axl Rose and a legendary, switchblade-sharp band."


Produced by Mike Clink, Appetite for Destruction is widely considered a near perfect album where the deep cuts are just as good as the hits. From the opening roar of "Welcome to the Jungle" and the iconic "Sweet Child O’ Mine," to "It's So Easy," "Nightrain," "You're Crazy," and "Mr. Brownstone," the album is an artistic triumph in sound, songwriting and production, earning its place at No. 62 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In many ways, the album changed the world. In a 2018 article for Revolver, Dan Epstein noted that Appetite ushered in a new wave of bands like the Black Crowes with its "blues-based music played by an unflashy yet hard-swinging rhythm section, a rock-solid rhythm guitarist, a flashy-but-soulful lead player and a charismatic vocalist who exuded danger and decadence." It also paved the way for Nirvana and the arrival of grunge as rock fans’ "ears were primed for more raw, real and rebellious hard rock." Now, nearly 40 years since its release, Appetite for Destruction has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and is without a doubt one of the most successful debut albums of all time.

Axl Rose – Artist/Songwriter

Slash – Artist/Songwriter

Duff McKagan – Artist/Songwriter

Steven Adler – Artist/Songwriter

Izzy Stradlin – Artist/Songwriter

Mike Clink – Engineer/Producer

Steve Thompson – Mixer


Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club

World Circuit/Nonesuch, 1997 

In 1996, a group of veteran Cuban musicians was assembled to record an album that would pay tribute to Cuba’s "musical golden age" of the 1930s to 1950s. Showcasing styles of music that were popular at the time, such as son, bolero and danzón, the group became known as the Buena Vista Social Club, named after a 1940s-era members-only music club that was located in the Buenavista quarter of Havana. Organized by British music producer and executive Nick Gold and produced by GRAMMY-winning American guitarist Ry Cooder and Cuban director Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Buena Vista Social Club recorded their eponymous 14-track debut album in just six days. Released in September 1997, the album featured 20 of Cuba’s most prominent musicians, including vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer (1927–2005), pianist Rubén González (1919–2003), and vocalist/guitarist Compay Segundo (1907–2003). Buena Vista Social Club was an instant hit with tracks such as the four-chord song "Chan Chan," written by Segundo, and a rendition of the romantic criolla "La Bayamesa." Everything fell into place at the right time for this album — from the chemistry between the musicians to the rich music history of Havana — to create one of the moments that can only be described as pure musical magic. Buena Vista Social Club sold more than 1 million copies, earned a spot on the Billboard 200, and won the GRAMMY Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance. 

In 1998 the ensemble held performances in Amsterdam and New York that were captured on film by German director Wim Wenders. Along with interviews with musicians that were conducted in Havana, a documentary, titled Buena Vista Social Club, was released in 1999 and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (Feature). In 2003, Buena Vista Social Club was named on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 2022, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. Further cementing its place in the music history books, Buena Vista Social Club was recognized by Guinness World Records as the best-selling album of world music with more than 8 million copies sold worldwide.

Ry Cooder – Leader/Producer

Juan Demarcos Gonzalez – Director

Larry Hirsch – Engineer

Jerry Boys – Engineer/Mixer


Donna Summer, "I Feel Love"

Casablanca, 1977

When the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, released her hit single "I Feel Love" in 1977, it propelled Brian Eno (who was in the studio with David Bowie at the time) to rush in and declare, "This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years." Now, more than 40 years after its release, "I Feel Love" definitely changed something – it changed pop music forever. Recorded with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, the goal was to create a song that signified the future — and it did. "I Feel Love" was the first song to pair repetitive synthesizer loops with four-on the-floor bass drum and an off-beat hi-hat, helping to forge the path for synth pop, New Romantics, Italo disco, Hi-NRG, electro, house, techno, and more. Along the way, the global smash influenced countless artists, including Blondie, who became one of the first punk-associated groups to embrace disco, releasing "Heart of Glass" the following year.

Upon its release, "I Feel Love" reached No. 1 in several countries, including the UK, and peaked in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200. In 2012, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Recording Registry. Many of today’s biggest artists have paid tribute to Summer’s groundbreaking track with covers or samples, including Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bronski Beat, and Beyoncé, the latter of whom samples "I Feel Love" on "Summer Renaissance," the closing track on her 2022 GRAMMY-winning album Renaissance. To this day, "I Feel Love" is considered the No. 1 greatest dance song of all time (Rolling Stone).

The song's impact on the LGBTQ+ community is equally as great as its impact on the dance community. GRAMMY-winning artist Sam Smith, who released a cover of "I Feel Love" in 2019, wrote on X: "As a queer person, ‘I Feel Love’ has followed me to every dance floor in every queer space from the minute I started clubbing. This song, to me, is an anthem of our community." In 2023, Pride Life Global ranked the track as one of the best gay anthems. 

Donna Summer – Artist/Songwriter

Giorgio Moroder – Producer/Songwriter

Pete Bellotte – Producer/Songwriter

Jürgen Koppers – Artist/Songwriter


Charley Pride, "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'"

RCA Victor, 1971

"Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’" is GRAMMY winner Charley Pride’s biggest hit of his career. Released in 1971 as the first single from his GRAMMY-winning album Charley Pride Sings Heart Songs, the song peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, his only single to break the Top 40. Considered one of Pride’s signature songs, the track marked his eighth single to top the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and became one of the biggest country hits of the decade. "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’" was produced by Cowboy Jack Clement (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton) and written by Ben Peters, who got the inspiration for the song after he and his wife Jackie welcomed their daughter Angela. It’s a song purely about love and a slight departure from Pride’s other hits, such as "I’m Just Me" and "I’d Rather Love You." In a 2021 article for CMT, Marcus K. Dowling writes, "The achievement of conveying life's simple joys with a magnificent voice over complex countrypolitan rhythms and melodies — instead of discussing complex emotions over those same types of tracks — is the greatest victory of Pride's signature song." The single also earned Pride a GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male. Since its release, "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’" has been covered by countless artists, including George Jones, Conway Twitty, Gene Stuart, and Roy Clark — all of whom released the song in 1972 — along with Percy Sledge, Alan Jackson and Heather Myles. 

When he signed with RCA in 1964, Pride became the first Black country music singer to get a major record label deal. He went on to have 29 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, selling more than 70 million records. When it comes to sales for RCA, he is second only to Elvis Presley. Though he passed away in December 2020, Pride’s impact on country music, especially Black country music artists, remains. His influence can be heard in the music of up-and-coming artists such as Brittney Spencer, Mickey Guyton and Shy Carter. As country music’s first Black superstar, Pride and his warm baritone captivated audiences, broke racial and cultural barriers, and earned him an induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 1993.

Charley Pride – Artist

Jack Clement – Producer

Ben Peters – Songwriter

Ray Butts – Artist

Mike Shockley – Producer


Wanda Jackson, "Let's Have A Party"

Capitol, 1960

Originally recorded by Elvis Presley for the 1957 musical/romance film Loving You, "Let’s Have a Party" was recorded by Wanda Jackson and released on her eponymous debut album in 1958. After Jackson’s version of "Let’s Have a Party" was discovered by an Iowa disc jockey and received an increase in interest from radio listeners, Capitol Records encouraged Jackson to release the song as a single two years later in 1960. The song became a hit, making the Top 40 in the U.S. and topping the chart in the U.K. The success of "Let’s Have a Party" inspired Jackson to rename her band the Party Timers and Capitol subsequently released the compilation album, Rockin’ With Wanda that same year. As one of the first women to have a career in rock and roll, Jackson recorded a series of singles in the 1950s that helped earn her the nickname of The Queen of Rockabilly. It was Elvis, with whom she toured with in 1955, who encouraged her to record in the rockabilly style. 

 In 2005, Jackson received the Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, becoming the first female country and rock artist to receive the honor. In 2009, after several artists advocated on her behalf — including Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper — Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lauper has cited Jackson as one of her earliest influences, recording a cover of "Funnel of Love" for her 2016 album Detour. Other artists who have listed Jackson as an influence include Adele and Elle King. 

 Lauper told Rolling Stone in 2016: "I think for country you look at Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn who played a guitar, or sang the songs she wrote, and Dolly Parton. But Wanda Jackson was a rocker, and so, of course, I was going to listen and learn from her because I was a rocker and that's what we did."

Jackson is also a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Honors. 



Wanda Jackson – Artist

Ken Nelson – Producer/Engineer

Jesse Mae Robinson – Songwriter


Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra (As Spike’s Seven Pods Of Pepper Orchestra), "Ory's Creole Trombone"

Nordskog, 1922 

Louisiana-born composer, trombonist and bandleader Edward "Kid" Ory put New Orleans jazz on the map. Kid Ory’s 1922 hit "Ory’s Creole Trombone" was the first recording of Black/Creole New Orleans jazz. Recorded in Los Angeles, the single features Ory on trombone, along with Thomas "Papa Mutt" Carey on cornet, Oliver "Dink" Johnson on clarinet, Fred Washington on piano, Ed "Montudie" Garland on bass, and Ben Borders on drums. Upon release, the entire first pressing of 5,000 records sold out, leading to gigs for Ory and his band down the California coast in San Diego and Tijuana.

Born on Christmas Day in LaPlace, Louisiana, Ory led a band early on in his career in New Orleans that featured music legends such as Joe "King" Oliver, Johnny Dodds, Johnny St. Cyr and, later, Louis Armstrong. Ory relocated to Los Angeles after the prohibition of alcohol in 1919 changed the landscape for jazz musicians performing in New Orleans nightclubs. Many of the musicians who played on his L.A. sessions had also recently relocated from New Orleans. After moving to Chicago in 1925, where jazz was just starting to gain traction, Ory worked and recorded with artists such as Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and many others. He was an original member of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, with whom he would later re-record "Ory’s Creole Trombone" in 1927. As demonstrated on "Ory's Creole Trombone," Ory was an early adapter of the glissando technique, now a central element of New Orleans jazz. While he might not have been the first to play a glissando on a trombone, he was certainly the most influential.

In 2005, "Ory’s Creole Trombone" was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. In an essay written upon the recording's selection by the Library of Congress, GRAMMY-nominated musician and jazz historian David Sager wrote, "‘Ory’s Creole Trombone’ offers a rare glimpse into the origins of New Orleans jazz and a remarkable insight to this music’s durability and universal appeal." A pioneering record and one of the most essential jazz recordings, "Ory’s Creole Trombone" helped define the New Orleans style of jazz and served as the prototype for future musicians of that genre.

Edward "Kid" Ory – Artist/Songwriter


Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

Ruffhouse Records / Columbia Records, 1998 

Widely considered one of the greatest albums of all time, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is the debut album and only solo studio set released by GRAMMY-winning singer and rapper Lauryn Hill. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 422,000 copies in its first week, breaking the record for first-week sales by a female artist. Credited for bringing hip-hop and neo-soul to the forefront of popular music, the album earned Hill 10 GRAMMY nominations, which now has her tied with Beyoncé for the Guinness World Record for most GRAMMY nominations in a single year for a female artist. Hill turned half of those nominations into wins, taking home the awards for Album Of The Year, Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, and Best Rhythm & Blues Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Doo Wop (That Thing)." With lyrics that present arguably the most poignant of female perspectives on life, love and relationships, while also touching on the turmoil within her former group the Fugees, three of the album’s singles — "Everything Is Everything, "Ex-Factor" and "Doo Wop (That Thing)" — peaked in the Top 40 on the Billboard 200, with the latter claiming the top spot. 

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was partially recorded at Bob Marley’s studio Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, while Hill was pregnant with her first son, Zion. Speaking about that time, Hill told Rolling Stone, "When some women are pregnant, their hair and their nails grow, but for me it was my mind and ability to create. I had the desire to write in a capacity that I hadn't done in a while. I don't know if it's a hormonal or emotional thing ... I was very in touch with my feelings at the time." The album’s track "To Zion," which features Carlos Santana on guitar, is a song about her son. 

In 1999, Hill became the first hip-hop artist to appear on the cover of TIME magazine. Now, more than 25 years since its release and with more than 20 million copies sold, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill continues to be one of the most influential albums ever made. 

Lauryn Hill – Artist/Producer/Songwriter

Gordon "Commissioner Gordon" Williams – Engineer

Tony Prendatt – Engineer


The Doobie Brothers, "What A Fool Believes"

Warner Bros. Records, 1978

One of the few non-disco songs to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979, the Doobie Brothers’ "What a Fool Believes" is featured on their 1978 eighth studio album, the Album Of The Year-nominated Minute by Minute. Co-written by Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, "What a Fool Believes" won the Doobie Brothers two GRAMMY Awards, including Record Of The Year. Stylistically speaking, the song is unlike anything the Doobie Brothers had done before.

 

"What a Fool Believes" started off as a piano piece idea McDonald had. Producer Ted Templeman heard what he was working on and encouraged him to put some lyrics down with a co-writer. It turns out that McDonald and Loggins had talked about working together for some time. When they got together at McDonald’s house in Los Angeles to write, Loggins had already come up with the song’s hook — "she had a place in his life." Telling the story of a man who attempts to rekindle a romantic relationship, "What a Fool Believes" is about the lies we sometimes tell ourselves about past romances. When the protagonist in the song attempts to reconnect with an old love, he realizes that he barely registers in the woman’s mind. The Doobie Brothers and Templeman recorded numerous takes of its rhythm track over five or six days, but they couldn’t land on a version they all liked. Templeman eventually decided to cut up the master tape of a recording into sections. "In those days when you cut the tape, you’re over – that’s the master of your recording," recalled Templeman in an interview with The Guardian in 2022. "But we got lucky and I put it together on the spot." McDonald completed the rest of the arrangement, adding keyboards, vocals and strings. Before it was released by the Doobie Brothers, Loggins released his own jazzier and experimental version of the song on his 1978 album Nightwatch. 

"What a Fool Believes" was rated as the Doobie Brothers’ all-time greatest song by Ultimate Classic Rock critic Michael Gallucci and listed on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Today, "What a Fool Believes" is considered a "foundational yacht rock classic," as Tom Breihan wrote in a review for Stereogum in 2020.

Jeff "Skunk" Baxter – Artist

John Hartman – Artist

Keith Knudsen – Artist

Michael McDonald – Artist/Songwriter

Tiran Porter – Artist

Patrick Simmons – Artist

Ted Templeman – Producer

Kenny Loggins – Songwriter

Donn Lander – Engineer


William Bell, "You Don’t Miss Your Water"

Stax Records, 1961

As the first male solo act signed to the legendary Stax Records, Memphis-born GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter William Bell released his solo debut with the melancholy "You Don’t Miss Your Water" in 1961. Recorded as a demo with members of the Mar-Keys and MG’s, "You Don’t Miss Your Water" was originally released as a B-side of his single "Formula of Love" and gained steam after DJs flipped the record over and started playing "You Don’t Miss Your Water." The song became the first hit for Stax Records, charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962. It was later released on Bell’s 1967 album The Soul of a Bell and remains his best-known recording to this day.

 "The message is universal: appreciate what you have," said Bell in a 2022 interview with Uncut magazine. "Back then I didn’t realize what I was writing, but after I got a little older, I realized that although the world changes physically, every generation has the same wishes, desires and aspirations. If you just write truthfully about life and write things you think will help people, it will resonate."

And indeed, the song did resonate. More than six decades since its release, "You Don’t Miss Your Water" has gone on to become a Southern classic. Countless artists have recorded covers of it, including Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Taj Mahal, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Black Crowes, Sturgill Simpson, Peter Tosh & the Wailers, Brian Eno, and, most notably, the Byrds, on their seminal 1968 country-rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

In 2013, Bell performed "You Don’t Miss Your Water" before President Barack Obama during "In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul." The following year, Bell was featured in the documentary Take Me to the River, reflecting upon American music's soul. He was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2020, the National Endowment for the Arts celebrated him as a Heritage Fellow. Bell was instrumental in ushering in the Southern soul music genre, which is now known as the globally influential "Memphis Sound."

William Bell – Artist/Songwriter

Chips Moman – Producer

Explore The History Of The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame

Kid Cudi performs at Coachella 2024
Kid Cudi, whose music often discusses mental health, performs at Coachella 2024.

Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Coachella

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10 Times Hip-Hop Has Given A Voice To Mental Health: Eminem, J. Cole, Logic & More Speak Out

From the message of "The Message" to Joe Budden's vulnerable podcast and Jay-Z speaking about the importance of therapy, read on for moments in the history of hip-hop where mental health was at the forefront.

GRAMMYs/May 20, 2024 - 03:10 pm

In a world of braggadocio lyrics, where weakness is often looked down upon, hip-hop can often seem far from a safe place to discuss mental health. 

But underneath its rugged exterior, hip-hop culture and its artists have long been proponents of well-being and discussing the importance of taking care of one's mental health. Openness about these topics has grown in recent years, including a 2022 panel discussion around hip-hop and mental health, co-hosted by the GRAMMY Museum, the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective, and MusicCares in partnership with the Universal Hip-Hop Museum. 

"Artists are in a fight-or-flight mode when it comes to being in this game," said Eric Brooks, former VP of Marketing & Promotions at Priority Records who worked with NWA and Dr. Dre. "And there need to be strategies on how to deal with the inner battles that only happen in the mind and body."  

The panel only scratched the surface of the many times hip-hop culture has illuminated critical mental health issues that often remain hidden or under-discussed in the music industry. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, read on for 10 times hip-hop has shone a light on mental health. 

J. Cole Apologized To Kendrick Lamar

A long-simmering beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar was reignited in March 2024 when Metro Boomin' and Future released "Like That." The track featured a scathing verse from Kendrick, where he took aim at  Drake and J. Cole, and referenced the pair's collaborative song "First Person Shooter." 

The single begged for a response, and J. Cole, under what was presumably a significant amount of pressure, surprise-released his Might Delete Later. The album featured "7 Minute Drill," in which Cole calls Kendrick's To Pimp, A Butterfly boring. 

But the same week Cole's album came out, he apologized to Kendrick onstage at his Dreamville Fest, saying it didn't sit right with his spirit and that he "felt terrible" since it was released. Cole added that the song didn’t sit right with him spiritually and he was unable to sleep. Cole subsequently removed "7 Minute Drill" from streaming services. 

Strong debate followed about whether or not Cole should have removed the song. However, many heralded Cole’s maturity in the decision and said it was an important example of not doing things that don’t align with one's true emotions, and avoiding allowing others expectations of you weight down your own physical and mental health.

SiR Spoke Candidly About Depression & Sobriety

Although an R&B artist, TDE singer SiR is hip-hop adjacent, having collaborated with former labelmate Kendrick Lamar on tracks like "D'Evils" and "Hair Down." SiR recently spoke with GRAMMY.com about the troubles that followed him after the release of his 2019 album Chasing Summer.

"I was a full-blown addict, and it started from a string of depression [and] relationship issues and issues at home that I wasn't dealing with," SiR says. After the Los Angeles-based singer had hit rock bottom, he found the spark he needed to do something about it. His initial rehab stint was the first step on the road to change.  

"I was there for 21 days [in 2021]. [The] second time, I was there for two months and the third time wasn't technically rehab…I did personal therapy, and, man, [that] did wonders," he recalls. 

SiR also tackled the stigma many Black communities place on therapy and seeking help for mental health issues. "I would've never done something like that if I was in any other position, so I'm thankful for my issues because they led me to a lot of self-reflection and forgiveness," SiR says.

Big Sean Educated His Audience About Anxiety & Depression 

One of the biggest challenges in addressing anxiety and depression is the feeling that those issues must be kept under wraps.  In 2021, Big Sean and his mother released a series of videos in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month, in which the GRAMMY nominee opened up about his battles with depression and anxiety. 

In one of those videos, Sean and his mother discussed  the importance of sleep and circadian rhythms when managing depression and mental health issues. In an industry that prioritizes the grind, the hip-hop community often overlooks sleep — much to its detriment.

"Sleep is the most overlooked, disrespected aspect of our well-being," said Myra Anderson, Executive Director & President of the Sean Anderson Foundation and Big Sean's mother. "Even one day without good sleep can mess up your hormones severely." 

As a busy recording artist, Sean concurs that, for him, a lack of sleep contributes to challenges with anxiety. “If I’m not in the right mindset, I don’t get the right sleep,” says Sean in the mental health video series. “Then that anxiety rides high, and my thoughts are racing. I’m somebody that lives in my head.”

G.Herbo's "PTSD" Addressed The Impact Of Street Violence

Eastside Chicago's G. Herbo is an artist vital to the city's drill music scene. On "PTSD," the title track of his 2020 album, Herbo raps about his struggles coping with violence and loss. 

"I can't sleep 'cause it's a war zone in my head / My killers good, they know I'm hands-on with the bread / A million dollars ahead, I'm still angry and seeing red / How the f*ck I'm 'posed to have fun? All my n— dead."  

The lyrics echoed the realities of what G. Herbo grew up seeing in O-Block, considered by many to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. But it wasn't just a song title; G. Herbo was diagnosed with PTSD in 2019 and began therapy to manage it, showing that even rap's most hardened have opened themselves up to professional help. 

"I'm so glad that I did go to therapy," G. Herbo told GRAMMY.com in July 2020. "I'm glad that I did take that leap of faith to just go talk to somebody about my situation and just my thoughts and get 'em to a person with an unbiased opinion." 

Joe Budden Opens Up About His Darkest Times 

In 2017, on the "Grass Routes Podcast," rapper-turned-podcaster Joe Budden opened up about multiple suicide attempts and his lifelong battle with depression. 

"For me, there have been times where I've actually attempted suicide," Budden shared. "As open as I've been when it comes to mental health, it wasn't until retirement from rapping that I was able to dive into some of the things the fans have seen." 

Never one to shy away from rapping about his mental health struggles, Budden songs like "Whatever It Takes" peel back the layers on an artist fighting his demons: "See, I'm depressed lately, but nobody understands / That I'm depressed lately, I'm sorta feelin repressed lately." 

Budden continued to be a champion for mental health that year, including on his former Complex show "Everyday Struggle," where Budden broke down while discussing the suicide death of fellow rapper Styles P's daughter. 

In recent years, Budden has uses his wildly popular "The Joe Budden Podcast" as a tool to discuss his own struggles and raise awareness of mental health issues. 

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five Broadcast A Serious "Message"

Hip-hop culture has long used rap as a tool to highlight mental health and the everyday struggles of its community. Released in 1982, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five's "The Message" is an early, effective example of vulnerability in hip-hop.

"The Message" described the mental health impacts of poverty and inner-city struggle, describing desperate feelings and calling for support in underserved communities: "I can't take the smell, can't take the noise / Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice." Perhaps the most recognizable lyric comes from Melle Mel, who raps, "Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge/I'm trying not to lose my head." 

Eminem Got Honest About Depression While In Rehab

On "Reaching Out," Queen and Paul Rodgers sing "Lately I've been hard to reach / I've been too long on my own / everybody has a private world where they can be alone." These lyrics were sampled on the intro to Eminem's 2009 single "Beautiful," a raw tale of the rapper's struggles with depression. Half of the song was written while Eminem was in rehab, including lyrics like "I'm just so f—king depressed/I just can't seem to get out this slump." 

The lyrics pierced the core of Eminem's audience, who were able to see the parallels between the struggles of a rap superstar and their own issues. The song reached the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for a Best Rap Solo Performance GRAMMY Award. In an interview with MTV about the song, Eminem said it was an important outlet for him at a challenging time. 

But it was far from the first time Eminem has discussed mental health. One of the earliest examples was in his song "Stan," where Eminem rapped from the perspective of an obsessed fan who ended up killing himself and his wife after Eminem failed to respond to his fan mail. In a 2000 interview, Eminem told MTV that he wrote the song to warn fans not to take his lyrics literally. 

Logic Sparked Change With A Number

One of the most impactful moments hip-hop has seen regarding mental health and sparking change was when Logic released his song "1-800-273-8255" in 2017. The record, named after the real National Suicide Lifeline Prevention phone number, which is now 988, hit the top three on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Following the song's release, the British Medical Journal released a study sharing data that showed the song contributed to a 27 percent increase in calls to the prevention hotline that year and may have even contributed to an actual reduction in deaths by suicide. 

Logic's single further proved that rap music's impact extends well beyond charts and sales. "1-800-273-8255" highlighted the connection artists have with their fans, as well as the ways music can be a tool to cope with challenges like mental health and suicidal thoughts. 

Kid Cudi Opened Up About Suicidal Urges 

Cleveland's own Kid Cudi has never shied away from putting his emotions on record, rapping vividly throughout his career about his struggles with mental health. Cudi records, like the hit single "Pursuit of Happiness," are brutally honest about trying to find happiness in a world filled with trials and tribulations. 

In a 2022 interview with Esquire, Cudi recalled checking himself into rehab in 2016 for depression and suicidal urges. He had been using drugs to manage the weight of his stardom and even suffered a stroke while in rehab. "Everything was f—ed," Cudi said. 

Cudi took a break to develop stability, returning to the spotlight with the 2018 project Kids See Ghosts in collaboration with Kanye West.. Today, Cudi and his music remain pillars of strength for those facing similar challenges.   

Jay-Z Detailed The Importance Of Therapy & Getting Out Of "Survival Mode"

In 2017, Jay-Z released his critically acclaimed thirteenth studio album. 4:44 was packed with lessons on family, mental health, and personal growth.

An interview with the New York Times, Jay-Z discussed how helpful therapy had been to him. Therapy helped the rap superstar in his interactions with other people — something that had been hardened growing up as a black man in Marcy Projects. "I grew so much from the experience," he told the Times.

"I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected, and it comes from somewhere. I understand that, instead of reacting to that with anger, I can provide a softer landing and maybe, 'Aw, man, is you O.K.? You're in this space where you're hurting, and you think I see you, so you don't want me to look at you. And you don't want me to see you,'" he said. "You don't want me to see your pain."

The album also unpacked Jay-Z's infidelity. "I'll f— up a good thing if you let me," he raps on "Family Feud." In the same interview, Jay-Z shared that growing up in the hood put him into "survival mode," impacting his abilities to be a good partner and husband earlier in life. 

"You shut down all emotions. So even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can't connect," he reflected. "In my case, like it's, it's deep. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity." 

"I Made My ADHD Into My Strength": Understanding The Link Between Rap & Neurodivergence