meta-script14 New Female Hip-Hop Artists To Know In 2023: Lil Simz, Ice Spice, Babyxsosa & More | GRAMMY.com
14 New Female Hip-Hop Artists To Know In 2023: Lil Simz, Ice Spice, Babyxsosa & More
(From left) Tkay Maidza, Doechii, TiaCorine, Armani Caesar, GloRilla, Ice Spice, Bktherula

Photos:  Martin Philbey/WireImageMichael Loccisano/Getty Images for Coachella, Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images, Marcus Ingram/Getty Images, Kayla Oaddams/Getty Images, Scott Dudelson/Getty Images 

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14 New Female Hip-Hop Artists To Know In 2023: Lil Simz, Ice Spice, Babyxsosa & More

Women are pioneering the future of hip-hop, and their styles have never been more pronounced. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, listen to 14 rising female artists that you should keep an eye on in 2023 and beyond.

GRAMMYs/Jul 13, 2023 - 06:00 pm

Hip-hop has long been a male-dominated space, despite the success and indisputable influence of female generational talents. From the jump, women have overcome gatekeepers and expectations, beginning with MC Sha-Rock, then via Salt-N-Pepa, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot, and more recently with Gangsta Boo, Nicki Minaj, City Girls and Noname have overcome gatekeepers and expectations. Contemporary acts such as GloRilla are continuing their efforts and reaching a demographic that had never been excessively marketed to in hip-hop: women who want to hear rap music from women.

Rap is slowly becoming a more inclusive space — with an audience that’s finally willing to carve out a space for diversity and sex-positivity for all genders — and open to a myriad of subgenres, with female rappers leading the pack. In 2021 did Cardi B became the first female rapper to acquire a diamond-certified single. Any club in America that doesn’t play Meg Thee Stallion should be considered a rarity. Ice Spice is the first female drill rapper to break into mainstream culture. 

The stage has been set for a new generation of artists, largely thanks to the genderless, wide reach of social media platforms. Today, misconceptions which hide the grit of Gangsta Boo, the explicit sensuality of  Lil’ Kim, and the lyrical and political expertise of Noname are beginning to dissolve. The glass ceiling has broken, giving into an exponential increase in the number of female artists: ramblers, trash talkers, storytellers and sexually-charged drill rappers. 

Women are pioneering the future of hip-hop, and their styles have never been more pronounced. GRAMMY.com offers a list of 14 rising female artists that you should keep an eye on in 2023 and beyond. 

Sexyy Red 

Odds are, you’ve heard "Pound Town." If you haven’t, lie low for the next few minutes as the St. Louis rapper spares no detail from her sexual exploits.

Much like Lil’ Kim, Sexyy Red is not only sex-positive, but infamous: "My coochie pink, my booty hole brown, I just left Pound Town," she declares. Sexyy Red also encourages empowerment, uplifting women’s self-worth. On "Hellcat SRTs," she proclaims to her fellow compatriots: "Bad bitches, we like fast cars. We like n—s that sell drugs with fast cars." 

In all seriousness, Sexyy Red is audacious, confident, and the next hottest rapper to come out of St. Louis. Keep your eyes peeled and listen to Hood Hottest Princess from earlier this year whenever you need to hype yourself up.

Babyxsosa 

Ex-SURF GANG member Babyxsosa was one of the first viral rappers to breakout on TikTok during the pandemic, but her story goes much further than the bright tones and oddly-sporadic drums of "Everywhereigo." Her dainty, autotuned voice and lush soundscapes make her the Internet’s iteration of a soul singer. She’s warm and intimate, using simple lyrics in order to croon through feelings of desire and despair. 

At heart, however, Babyxsosa is underground hip-hop’s Billie Eillish crossed with PinkPantheress. Beats mutate to the sound of her voice. Where her singles of the past four years have ranged from cacophonous, leady synthesizers to elevator music dapped with 808s, her recent EP, Bling Bling, is demonstrative of eery, melodic versatility, laying muted-verses to club beats, using range of different experimental digicore instrumentals to challenge herself as both a vocalist and songwriter.

Hook

Hook can’t be likened to any one sound in hip-hop. Some of her beats beep like 8-bit minigames, others are made of single oscillating synthesizer chords; generally, her production has a heartbeat that fades in and out and loops, giving each song its own life, and agitation thereafter. 

The Riverside, California-raised rapper seethes in her verses, rambling out of frustration and joy and disappointment and confusion and anger and disgust and sadness and every emotion in-between. Still, Hook and her avant-garde approach to rap is erratic and hilarious and lyrically distinct in every way.

Armani Caesar 

Armani Caesar is the first and only female rapper on Griselda Records, which has featured Boldy James, Mach-Hommy, Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher and more. Like the latter three, Armani Caesar hails from Buffalo, N.Y. delivering gritty, tooth-and-nail stories of the streets, but with a bit more rhythm than a dusty ’45 record. 

She incorporates pop rhythms and seeks more towards the disco-era and modern technology for a cadence that’s just a hair shy more uptempo than soul. Armani Caeser’s rhythm is infectious, but her lyrics are venomous. Look at the cover art to her single, "Diana," cover art, she’s Lil’ Kim had she hustled in Buffalo.

Little Simz

Though Little Simz is not necessarily a rising artist, her success has been exponential since the release of 2021’s Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. The UK grime-turned-amorphous rapper of equal parts technically flawless and lyrically awe-inspiring. Over garden party-esque orchestral swells she can deliver a poem penned to her own empowerment, but she can also rap a 16-bar verse with a live band almost breathlessly. 

She’s punchy and energetic, sentimental and adamantly altruistic. A fire burns in Little Simz, and the spark is fanned with each beat of the drum.

Amaarae 

Where hip-hop has begun to transition towards two extremes — heavy metal on one side and drumless beats on the other — Amaarae presents a hidden alternative. The Ghanaian vocalist ushers in a new conception of hip-hop, bringing an Afro pop influence that's reminiscent of Doja Cat’s debut album, Hot Pink.

Amaarae produces her own work, blending traditional Ghanaian instrumentation and polyrhythms with a digitally-created drum circle. As the music claps into double time, Amaarae’s voice speeds up and down, wavering between rapping and singing. She does it all, and after the viral success of "SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY" and its remix with Kali Uchis, Amaarae dropped a new EP in July, Fountain Baby, scoring the scorching heat of the summer. 

Tkay Maidza  

Creating an electronic collage of house, club, drum n bass, afro beats, and live drum breaks, Tkay Maidza exceeds the term "multi hyphenate." Whether she’s collaborating with JPEGMAFIA or Flume, Tkay creates dystopian worlds in her soundscapes, cut with screeching basslines and glitching snares. Her music is neo-R&B as she deems fit, soulfully calling on Kari Faux for over articulation on "Don’t Call Again;" it’s rage rap on the industrial track, "Grasshopper;" it’s even a derivative of EDM in her latest single, coyly titled, "Silent Assassin."

Flo Milli 

Flo Milli is the young, happy-go-lucky artist within this new crop of talent. Her voice is an alto and her lyrics are just conceited enough to radiate excellence while delivering some of hip-hop’s most clever remixes for Gen Z listeners. 

Whether she’s rapping to Ethereal’s beat on Playboi Carti’s "Beef" or to Too $hort’s "Blow the Whistle," Flo's enfranchising rhymes drive confidence and sexual prowess into her listeners. On "Roaring 20s," she playfully takes on the role of Daisy from The Great Gatsby, fascinated by ragtime-inspired production and men who would give up anything to spend a few minutes with her. That’s the magic of Flo Milli: she’s animated, fluidly jumping to whatever style and aesthetic she deems worthy of her exhibition.

CLIP 

In her many lives, CLIP has graduated from NYU, had a flourishing career in journalism, and ended up in Los Angeles amongst the next generation of Soundcloud artists. Her music is a melting pot of these cultures and influences. On her recent PERCEPTION EP, she includes drum n bass-inspired beats on songs like "Happy;" her breakout single, "SAD B!TCH," border on cloud rap with their ethereal mixing; her recent single, "sunset blvd" incorporates the croons of emo rap. CLIP has already become a rising star without releasing a single full-length project. 

Her voice is soft and melodic like Babyxsosa and her production matches the mild psychedelia of Hook’s use of filter. CLIP incorporates the downtempo eeriness of Houston chopped-and -screw tapes, drowning out her own braggadocio through internet-coded soundscapes.

TiaCorine

Hailing from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, TiaCorine has the swagger of a Gangsta Boo, coloring her lyrics with braggadocio and slick, staccato phrasing. Her instrumentation is wavy and pompous, featuring warped 808s and the glossy sparkle of xylophones and high-pitched synths.

TiaCorine stands out for the way she meshes her Southern cadence with disjointed, bubblegum beats,  drum machine hi-hats and Jersey club-style kicks. She’s erratic yet sweet; she’s cutesy like pluggNB yet arrogant like JT and Yung Miami.

Vayda 

Compared to Hook or CLIP or Babyxsosa, Vayda would be their prodigal child of the forthcoming generation of digital media consumers, aiming for an even more stimulating derivative of industrial hip-hop: hyperrap. Vayda creates starkly genreless hip-hop, jumping from Jersey club to sample-based beats to trap hi-hats for short, digestible tracks typically landing at under 90 seconds. Her music is uptempo and comes in waves of focused attention, etched with sporadic bass drum kicks similar to Evilgiane’s in SURF GANG and Cash Cobain’s hyper focused, sample drill 808 patterns.

Vayda isn’t concerned with regionalism and having a sound attributable to any one place. Her beats sparkle and shimmer, they dash like bodies towards the DJ at a club, and Vayda is at the forefront, leading the new school.

Doechii

Akin to the Southern, tongue-twisting legend Young Thug, Doechii’s vocal inflections twist and contort, wringing out sonically and lyrically emotive verses. For the Tampa-born artist's stuffy intonation squirms in your ear on tracks such as "Stressed," and genuinely evoke the emotion. 

Alongside labelmates Isaiah Rashad and SZA at TDE, Doechii stretches her syllables for zig-zagging hooks against everything from double-time drums on "Crazy" to dancehall on "Persuasive."

Bktherula

Bktherula is hip-hop’s response to grunge and punk rock. Her aesthetic varies from neon colored braids to skull tees, each in a slightly different shade of black. The Atlanta rapper references punk's yearning screams and whispers in her own groaned melodies on songs such as "Tweakin’ Together" and "FOREVER, PT. 2 (JEZEBEL)."

On tracks such as "TAN," however, that Bktherula’s music matches the aggression of punk, using warbling synthesizers and arcade-sounding, drive-heavy snare. Bktherula flexes, showcasing not only technique but preemptively taunting anyone with the audacity to diss her.

Ice Spice 

Last but certainly not least is America’s most talked about drill rapper since Pop Smoke (RIP). Arriving from the Bronx, Ice Spice became popular after coining the term "munch," referring to selfless, sexually-pleasing men. Her sex appeal, her gospel of female empowerment and her creative free-spirit enabled by SpongeBob SquarePants samples and Zedd flips, puts Ice Spice as the queen of virality in 2023.  

How is she wielding her superstardom? With now-refined drill beats, melodic collaborations with UK-sensation PinkPantheress, and working with some of the most influential women in hip-hop from New York — including her idol-turned-peer, Nicki Minaj.

Ladies First: 10 Essential Albums By Female Rappers

10 Alté Artists To Know: Odunsi (The Engine), TeeZee, Lady Donli & More
(From left) Cruel Santino, Somadina, Prettyboy D-O, Odunsi (The Engine), Kingsley Okorie of the Cavemen, Tay Iwar, TeeZee

Photos: The Lizard Queen; Kate Green/Getty Images; Paras Griffin/Getty Images; Jérémy Beaudet; Pedro Gomes/Redferns; Lorne Thomson/Redferns; David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Raf Simons

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10 Alté Artists To Know: Odunsi (The Engine), TeeZee, Lady Donli & More

Nigerian slang for "alternative," the fusion genre of alté describes any artist with a unique visual aesthetic whose music blends elements of Afrobeats, pop, rap, R&B, soul, and dancehall.

GRAMMYs/Feb 28, 2024 - 05:40 pm

Afrobeats and amapiano may be the most prominent sounds originating from Africa on the global radar, but another sound from Africa is gaining steam. 

Coined by the creative collective DRB LasGidi in 2014, the alté genre combines elements of Afrobeats, pop, rap, R&B, soul, dancehall, and more. It's the sonic result of a Nigerian arts scene developed by and for unconventional personalities; alté describes any artist whose music blends the aforementioned elements and subscribes to the aesthetic tenants of the scene. 

"Alté is Nigerian lingo for 'alternative,' which means freedom of expression essentially through any medium," alté pioneer, rapper, singer/songwriter, and producer TeeZee told RedBull. In 2016, alté exploded into the mainstream, with a new class of rising stars gaining cult followings.

The genre's emergence is a reaction to conservative Naija culture, which is sometimes unwelcoming to radical changes in the status quo. Alté is distinguished by its origins in youth-led subculture and is built around an experimental aesthetic; it is exemplified by the vibey visuals of genre trailblazers Cruel Santino and Odunsi (The Engine) and the radical, non-traditional designs inspired by Nigerian and London youth culture of Mowalola.

Alté artists such as Amaarae and Tems have experienced global commercial success, while  Ayra Starr, who unifies alté and mainstream Afrobeats, was recognized at the 2024 GRAMMYs in the new Best African Music Performance Category. In Lagos, the fifth NATIVELAND music festival was held in December 2023 at the biggest venue to date and featured a bill of alté acts. Organized by the culture platform The NATIVE co–founded by TeeZee, the publication has been lauded for supporting the alté's rise. 

Lagos youth have successfully created a paradigm-shifting global movement. To get to know the multidisciplinary genre, these 10 alté acts are an introduction to the innovative scene. 

Cruel Santino

Formerly publishing music under the mononym Santi, the Nigerian singer/songwriter, director, and rapper is widely recognized as a key figure and the frontrunner in alté. A member of the Monster Boys collective, Cruel Santino is known for his distinct delivery and fusion of R&B, dancehall, rap, Afrobeats, and indie, as well as his signature ever-changing locs and distinguishing fashion. Santi first developed a cult-like following among Lagos’ youth in 2016 following the release of "Gangsta Fear," a collaboration with fellow alté trailblazer Odunsi (The Engine). At the time, Cruel Santino was rapping under the moniker Ozzy B. He has since demonstrated his range and artistry in collaborating with Gus Dapperton, Amaarae, Skepta, and DRAM. 

Cruel Santino’s highly anticipated sophomore album, Subaru Boys : FINAL HEAVEN, was featured on Rolling Stone’s The 100 Best Albums of 2022 list. The project is a fascinating exploration of the creative mind of Santi, who orchestrated the album to have the same effect as a video game. On tracks like "WAR IN THE TRENCHES" and "TAPENGA," dense synth beats, classic breakneck African drums, and computerized PlayStation-like effects fuse to create an idiosyncratic sound and help craft the vision of the Subaru Boys digital world. The Afrofuturism and intergalactic visuals associated with the concept album also draw influence from Mortal Kombat, cementing Santi’s talent as a multidisciplinary visionary.      

Odunsi (The Engine)

Odunsi (The Engine) is one of the most critical figures and producers in alté, and ushered in a new generation of Nigerian creatives who challenged the existing status quo. Odunsi released his debut project in 2016, Time of Our Lives, and followed with a slew of singles and EPs. His 2019 project, rare, was a commercial success, earning him nominations at The Headies, Nigeria’s annual music ceremony recognizing outstanding achievements in the industry, and SoundCity MVP Awards. 

Known for his cutting-edge sartorial choices and elaborate production abilities, Odunsi effortlessly blends sounds of R&B, hip hop, and Afrobeats with braggadocious lyrics, crooning on his track "PDA!" from his 2020 third studio album EVERYTHING YOU HEARD IS TRUE, "That girl got too much swagger/Fashion killer, uh, that's Margiela."

His eye for fashion goes beyond just lyricism. In 2023, Odunsi collaborated with longtime friend and fellow alté influencer Nigerian designer Mowalola for the SABI BOI collection. The same year saw the surprise release of his three-track EP SPORT. The compact project is a captivating cruise through the remarkable sonic experience Odunsi has spent years crafting. The intro track "NOSTALGIA" is a sultry blend of Afrobeats and R&B and, unsurprisingly, features Cruel Santino. 

On the EP’s second track, "OTE!," named after his abbreviated moniker, the energetic instrumental ladened with fast-paced African drums creates an infectious rhythm impossible to deny. Throughout the standout’s 1-minute and 32-second runtime, Odunsi seamlessly flows between English, Nigerian pidgin, and Yoruba languages, showcasing a one-of-kind swagger that cannot be replicated. 

Prettyboy D-O

Erupting into the scene in 2018 with Everything Pretty, the eclectic artist has created his own lane within alté. A rap maverick, Prettyboy D-O is known for his distinct flow and frenzied blend of Afrobeats, dancehall, alté, and R&B. His ascension continued with his 2021 album Love is War, which appeared as the 17th slot on the Fader’s list of Top 50 best albums that year. 

Aesthetically, he is easily distinguishable from your typical Naija rapper. Owing to his bold appearance — including a signature colorful buzzcut — cult-like following and fusion of grimy street music and the alté genre, Prettyboy D-O has been described as "culté." 

Tay Iwar

A genuine jack of all trades, the musician’s buttery vocals posit him as one of the most soulful agents in alté. Tay Iwar debuted in 2014 with his mixtape Passport, following up in 2019 with his debut album, GEMINI. The latter weaved together elements of Afrobeat and R&B, while featuring guest appearances from Cruel Santino, Odunsi (The Engine), Preyé, and his brother Suté Iwar. 

Tay Iwar has also participated in GRAMMY-nominated projects. In 2020, he provided vocals on "True Love" from Wizkid’s Made in Lagos project in 2020, and co-wrote "Steady" on the deluxe version. The deluxe edition was nominated for Best Global Music Album at the 64th GRAMMY Awards. 

Showing no signs of slowing down, the vibrant alté vocalist signed a publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music in 2022 and released his Summer Breeze EP in June 2023. 

Lady Donli

While there is space for all artists in alté, commercial success sometimes seems like a boys-only club. Despite this, Lady Donli has paved her own path within the genre. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Donli spent her early years between the Nigerian cities of Abuja and Kaduna. The songstress flawlessly melds Afrobeat, R&B, and soul music.

She released her first project Love or War in 2014 and, nearly a decade later, she returned with sophomore project Pan African Rockstar. Combining an Afro-fusion sound with self-assuring lyrics on the title track, while including content about social issues affecting African youth, particularly Nigerian youth and women on other album cuts, Lady Donli is a vanguard of the revolutionary alté scene. 

BOJ

One-third of alté founding fathers DRB LasGidi, BOJ is recognized for pioneering the fusion genre. The term was coined in his 2014 debut track "Paper" where he croons, "The ladies they like me cus I’m a shy guy/Say the ladies they like me because I’m an alté guy." His knack for self-expression without boundaries and the contemporary constraints of popular culture has paid off, earning him a partnership with Jameson Irish Whisky and a solo publishing and distribution deal with MOVES Recordings.    

BOJ credits artists such as Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Lagbaja, and Sean Paul as influences, attributing his taste to the records his parents played at home while growing up. Being raised on a diverse musical palette, these creative sources formed the eclectic rhythm of BOJ’s afrobeats, dancehall, reggae, and hip-hop-influenced signature sound. This prototypical sound he helped craft has fed directly into the modern sound of Afrobeats, and he is now regarded as a musical backbone in Lagos. His 2023 project Gbagada Express confirms this, littered with appearances from heavy hitters, including 2024 GRAMMY nominee Davido, Mr Eazi, Wizkid, Fireboy DML, Tiwa Savage, and others.

The Cavemen

Formed in March 2018, the highlife band of sibling duo bassist Kingsley Okorie and drummer Benjamin James are known for their avant-garde live performances. The group was discovered early by Lady Donli and their debut project, Roots, was released in August 2020. An ode to their Naija heritage, the pair recorded the project in their living room, and took home the 2020 Headie Award, a music award show founded in 2006 to recognize outstanding achievements in the Nigerian music industry, for Best Alternative Album. 

The album was executively produced by Lady Donli, and The Cavemen. returned the favor by producing 11 songs on the alté pioneer’s 2019 project Enjoy Your Life. Their contributions to alté are precise and unique, retaining the original essence of highlife music while combining additional Afro-fusion musical elements.    

SOMADINA

Somadina has claimed her space among the next generation of alté stars. The young songstress cites many influences on her artistry — including John Legend, Fela Kuti, Avril Lavigne and the English pop music duo Shampoo — which is reflected in her bold blend of R&B, pop, alt-rock, and Afropop. 

In 2019, Somadina was tapped by Lady Donli to feature on the track "FLAVA" alongside alté breakout star Amaarae. In 2022, Somadina continued to showcase her promising rise by releasing an EP titled Heart of the Heavenly Undeniable under her independent label Somadina Sounds. featuring Odunsi (The Engine) and The Cavemen. on the track "Small Paradise."  Later that month, she performed at Lollapalooza Chicago as one of the Nigerian artists featured on the bill alongside Tems and Rema. 

TeeZee 

Co-founder of Nigeria’s The NATIVE Networks, TeeZee’s contributions to the alté movement are undeniable. He began his career as one-third of the group DRB LasGidi and is regarded as one of Nigeria’s first self-publishing artists. The rapper/singer has since collaborated with artists ranging from Skepta to Davido to Kid Cudi. He continues to release projects as a solo act and executive producer, and debuted his first solo album, Arrested by Love in 2022. Still, his contributions to alté extend beyond just music. 

In 2016, he established The NATIVE, a space for Naija youth to unite for their shared interest in the craft. He cited the genre's lack of media attention during the early stages of the innovative style as the reason for founding the music magazine, which has since become an epicenter for all things relating to the culture. NATIVE Records, a label under The NATIVE Networks, was founded in 2022 through a joint venture with Def Jam Recordings and signed its first act, Odumodublvck in the same year. The rapper has since experienced significant critical and commercial success upon releasing his mixtape EZIOKWU, executively produced by the alté OG.

SuperJazzClub 

SuperJazzClub is a nine-person Ghanaian supergroup with skills ranging from vocals and production to DJing, filmmaking, and more. Their first song, 2019's "Couple Black Kids," is an alternative hip-hop tracj with brassy synths, heavy drums, and a computerized piano featuring vocals from all members.

Since the collective’s founding, SuperJazzClub has concentrated on encouraging a spirit of creativity and self-expression among youth. The first of its kind within alté, the group’s novel sound and boundary-pushing aesthetic secures them as a staple in the movement. 

South African Singer Tyla Won The Inaugural Best African Music Performance Category At The 2024 GRAMMYs. What Does It Mean For African Music On The Global Stage?

Inside GRAMMY House's 2024 GRAMMYs Best New Artist Spotlight:  Victoria Monét, Ice Spice, Jelly Roll & More Share Tales About Their Road To The GRAMMYs
Tanya Trotter and Michael Trotter Jr. of The War And Treaty speak during the Best New Artist Spotlight

Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Inside GRAMMY House's 2024 GRAMMYs Best New Artist Spotlight: Victoria Monét, Ice Spice, Jelly Roll & More Share Tales About Their Road To The GRAMMYs

Nominees for Best New Artist descended upon GRAMMY House on Feb. 3 for a panel discussion. From Noah Kahan almost deleting his hit song to Gracie Abrams' initial fear of performing, learn how the 2024 GRAMMY nominees arrived at Music's Biggest Night.

GRAMMYs/Feb 8, 2024 - 11:53 pm

In an era when nobody wants to be pigeonholed, diversity is an important facet when it comes to the musical cultural zeitgeist. Case in point: the 2024 GRAMMY Nominees for Best New Artist. 

At the 66th GRAMMY Awards, the General Field Category was a zig-zagging array of budding superstars who are the epitome of their respective genres. From the bopping club tracks of  Ice Spice, the smooth R&B of  Victoria Monét — who ultimately won the golden gramophone on Feb. 4 — or the unflinching discography of Jelly Roll, this year’s Best New Artist class represents every taste. 

As part of the Recording Academy’s GRAMMY House, presented by presented by Mastercard, that variety was on full display as seven of this year’s nominees descended onto the stage with moderator and Rolling Stone writer Brittany Spanos to muse about creativity, their respective journeys, and what the honor means to them. 

Read on for some of the most exciting insights from the Best New Artist Spotlight at GRAMMY House.

Noah Kahan Almost Deleted His Star-Making Song

For the singer/songwriter known for his ripped-from-the-heart "Stick Season," Noah Kahan said he was blown away when he found out about his Best New Artist nomination. "It’s the realization of a childhood dream," he said. "I’ve practiced my GRAMMY speech as a kid, and didn’t believe it was going to happen until the day it happened. It’s so special and beautiful, because no matter what I’ll be able to tell my grandkids I was nominated for a GRAMMY." 

However, Kahan’s dream nearly didn’t come to fruition due to an initial fear of rejection. "I put a verse on TikTok and thought I was going to delete it that nobody liked it," Kahan of "Stick Season." Planning to delete it, Kahan said he ate an edible and forgot; the song subsequently went viral. 

"I wrote the first verse and chorus in 20 minutes, while the second verse took me three months," he told the audience at GRAMMY House. "There were a lot of rewrites, stepping away from TikTok. But one night at a show in Syracuse, everybody was suddenly singing and I knew it was going to be special." 

Gracie Abrams Was Initially "Horrified At The Idea Of Performing"

While she may have had a stint opening for Taylor Swift’s blockbuster Era’s tour, it wasn’t too long ago that singer/songwriter Gracie Abrams found the idea of playing shows a terrifying prospect. 

"I was horrified at the idea of performing," Abrams said. "Up until a few years ago, I had never sung in a room that wasn’t my bedroom. I originally turned to music to be alone, and not to experience community."

Abrams' successes have changed her. "Everyone needs that kind of space, and it’s been really magical to connect in a room full of people that way. Now I have such gratitude for live music in a way that I didn’t before," she told GRAMMY House attendees. 

Of course she’s taken pointers from her aforementioned Eras headliner along the way. "When I see Taylor fill the stadiums she does with such force, power and joy, there’s something about it that feels lighter in the studio, I’ve been really lucky to learn from the best in the past year."

Coco Jones Rebuilt Her Career From The Ground Up

A showbusiness veteran who got her start as a young Disney star, first-time nominee Coco Jones noted that despite her initial acting success, she made a conscious effort to become a more authentic artist. 

"I went through years of uncertainty," she admitted to Spanos. "When you’re a child star, it was fine but I had no dignity. You can’t really control much. I had to find out who I was: have fun, meet people, fall in love, fall out of love, and that’s what gave me the stories to share [in my music]."

As a result, Jones snagged five GRAMMY nominations, and took home the golden gramophone for Best R&B Performance for "ICU." 

Every new level of success inspires me to dream bigger," she said. "At one point, my dreams got so tiny and believable. But I want to dream things that are unbelievable."

The War And Treaty Learned To Be Vulnerable 

For many years, the country-folk outfit The War and Treaty (composed of couple Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter) drove around in a van playing tiny gigs. "Just eight years ago we’d be performing for three people in a coffee shop,"  said Tanya. "So when we started, we always were very closed in our writing process."

However, as they became more successful, they began to become a bit more vulnerable when it comes to their artistry. "When we decided to open ourselves up to working with other songwriters," she continued. 

"It’s scary, because I’m sensitive about my art," said Michael.  "I had one song I was banking on, it’s the greatest song ever and I’m giving them the best that I got. And I go to the bathroom, come back, and they changed my entire song." However, he soon realized that was part of the process. "You have to realize it’s for the better."

Victoria Monét's Creative Evolution Took Patience

When the R&B star Monét was growing up, she was initially inspired by the music her parents listened to. "I’d listen to artists like Earth, Wind and Fire (with their) arrangements, live musicianship, lyrics and feeling," she told the Best New Artist Spotlight audience. "And then I became really obsessed with Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, TLC, Janet Jackson and Sade." 

It’s those artists who lit a musical fire and led Monét to seven GRAMMY nominations and a range of hit singles, including "Hollywood" and "How Does It Make You Feel."  

"I want to make sure I’m living life to have experiences to write about," she said. "Life is a writing session, one long writing session, and you get to record it when you get in the studio."

Ice Spice Took Taylor Swift’s Advice To Heart

Perhaps the biggest cheers of the panel went to breakout artist Ice Spice who, along with her Best New Artist nod, snagged a total of four GRAMMY nominations including Best Rap Song with Nicki Minaj for "Barbie World."  

"As an artist overall, I’m always working on my craft," she said. "I’ve been surprising myself a little bit, especially working on my new album. I have some interesting sounds I haven’t really done before."

But it was a bit of inspiration from Taylor Swift that helped her look at her career in a new way. "One of the best pieces of advice Taylor gave me was to keep making music. She said, ‘As long as you keep making music, everything’s going to work out.’"

Jelly Roll Uses Genre-Defying Music As Therapy 

When it comes to splicing together disparate genres into a cohesive sound, there’s no better example than Jelly Roll, the dynamic country artist currently riding high with his powerful and unflinching anthem, "Need a Favor." 

"I learned every trick I had from hip-hop," he said. "It taught me so much when it comes to storytelling and not being afraid to tell your truth."

Jelly Roll also noted he uses the marketing savvy of hip-hop artists when it comes to his own career. "When it comes to volume, I want to release music as a rapper, I want to write music like a country writer, and I want to tour like a rock and roll star."

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Winners & Nominees List

The Rise Of Ice Spice: How The "Barbie World" Rapper Turned Viral Moments Into A Full-On Franchise
Ice Spice

Photo: Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images

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The Rise Of Ice Spice: How The "Barbie World" Rapper Turned Viral Moments Into A Full-On Franchise

Ice Spice charmed the masses with her flirty rhymes and playful, Bronx-born personality. Now with four nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs — including Best New Artist — she's solidified her position as Gen Z rap royalty.

GRAMMYs/Jan 31, 2024 - 06:53 pm

From Slick Rick to Cardi B, rap has long been synonymous with exorbitant personalities. But in 2023, Ice Spice showed that you can still make noise with subtle charm.

The 24-year-old charmed the masses with her nonchalant flow and demeanor, paired with boisterous Bronx drill beats. Just two years into her career, Ice Spice was coined the "People's Princess" — a title first given to the late Princess Diana, whose name serves as the title for the rapper's breakthrough single. 

While Ice's Bronx pride, Y2K fashion and relatable disposition contribute to her appeal, a fan noted on Twitter that her most prominent qualities mirror Diana's: "Resilient, determined and blazing their own trail - in [her] own way." Even her mentor (and "Princess Diana" collaborator) Nicki Minaj co-signed the royal title: "Catch it!!" she exclaimed in a March 2023 Instagram Story.

Ice Spice's reign was solidified by countless accolades in 2023, as she scored four top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and over a billion streams. And when it came to the 2024 GRAMMYs, her impact is apparent: not only did Ice Spice earn her first four nominations, but she's the only rapper up for Best New Artist. (She also earned nods in the Best Rap Song and Best Song Written For Visual Media Categories for her "Barbie World" collaboration with Minaj, as well as Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for her "Karma" collaboration with Taylor Swift.)

2024 GRAMMYs: Explore More & Meet The Nominees

The first inklings of Ice Spice's virality came in 2021, when she began making music with her college friend-turned-producer and fellow Bronx native RIOTUSA. That year, the rapper took part in TikTok's "Buss It" challenge, with her seductive dance moves going viral. She quickly capitalized on the moment, using her growing number of followers to draw attention to her music. She soon released debut songs like "Bully Freestyle" and "Name of Love," but it was the following year that officially ignited her rap takeover.

In the summer of 2022, Ice Spice's independently released "Munch (Feelin' U)" single was virtually inescapable following a Drake co-sign, nearly 120 million Spotify streams and a music video that became a meme (Lil Nas X even donned Ice Spice's video look for Halloween). The song's rapid popularity led to a deal with 10K Projects and Capitol Records shortly after its release. But it also had naysayers questioning if the rapper was an industry plant and doubting her career success.

"Everybody was tryna be like, 'Oh, she a one-hit wonder,'" Ice Spice said of her critics in an episode of Genius' "Verified" series. "But now, it's like, 'What? Two-hit wonder?'"

When it comes to virality, Ice Spice has the Midas Touch — and she's well aware of it. Whether it's her signature phrases "grah" and "like", her passion for twerking ("But I'm still shaking ass in the deli", she exclaims on "Deli"), or self-affirmations that are perfect for Instagram captions ("How can I lose if I'm already chose? Like," she assures on "Bikini Bottom"), her calm, cool and collected confidence has held a tight grip on social media and beyond.

"I wouldn't consider myself a lyricist. Obviously, lyrics go into music and I do think about them, and I do be having bars in my music but they're just super simple," she told Complex in October. "I want them to be digestible, I don't want them to fly over people's heads and they never catch it. I want people to hear it right away and be like, 'OK, that was cute.' But it's also fun at the same time."

Following the release of her Like ..? EP in January 2023, Ice Spice proved her versatility and knack for hit-making with an onslaught of both niche and A-list collaborations. Massive singles like "Boy's a Liar Pt. 2" with fellow Gen Z princess PinkPantheress and the "Princess Diana" remix with Nicki Minaj peaked at No. 3 and 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively.

In fact, "Diana" helped Ice Spice already land a history-making feat: it marked the first time that No. 1 co-billed by two women topped Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart since its launch 34 years ago. And through that collab, Ice Spice gained a mentor in Minaj.

"She be telling me to learn from her mistakes — just watching her in general, if you pay close enough attention, you gonna see what you should do," Ice shared with The Guardian about Minaj. "I love to talk to her about things that I can't talk about publicly — it just means so much to be able to have somebody like her."

Ice Spice further proved her mainstream appeal last May, propelling into the pop stratosphere alongside Taylor Swift. The two joined forces for a remix of Swift's Midnights track "Karma," which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the rapper's highest-charting song to date as of press time. 

"I relate to Ice in many ways, but I think her dedication and focus is what blew me away from the very start," Swift, who brought the rapper on stage at the New Jersey stop of her blockbuster Eras Tour, shared with Variety in September. "She's extremely professional without being cold. Playful and fun without ever taking her eye off the prize. 

"She knows what is and isn't 'her' and sets those boundaries with grace," Swift continued. "She studies the industry and other artists' careers but is very clear about charting her own definitive, original path. It's her ability to carefully find that balance that impresses the hell out of me."

Ice Spice kept the momentum going last June, latching on to the summer's biggest pop culture moment — the Barbie movie. And what better way to celebrate the occasion than with the Head Barb herself?

The rapper reunited with Minaj for "Barbie World," which sampled Aqua's 1997 Eurodance smash "Barbie Girl" and soundtracked the closing credits of the blockbuster. The drill-meets-Jersey-club collaboration debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Ice Spice's fourth top 10 hit in just four months. 

"Where we come from, our borough is often 'judged' — people have a lot of mixed opinions on it. So to be able to have such an iconic song with the type of genre that comes from where we're from is awesome," producer RIOTUSA told Billboard of the track. "[We] get to shed new light on the genre and bring it to a bigger place."

Ice Spice wrapped a momentous year with multiple festival performances including Rolling Loud and Hot 97's Summer Jam, a Best New Artist win at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards, a brilliant partnership with Dunkin' Donuts (the commercial announcement of the Ice Spice Munchkins Drink featured actor and Dunkin superfan Ben Affleck), a musical guest debut for the season 49 premiere of "Saturday Night Live" in October (Swift made a surprise cameo to introduce her new BFF), and opening for Doja Cat's Scarlet Tour in November.

And just one week into 2024, the rapper spawned her first viral moment of the year, sharing a snippet of a hilariously unserious bar, "Thinking you the s—, bitch you not even the fart." The clip was a preview of her first release of 2024, aptly titled "Think U The S— (Fart)," which racked up eight million views on the teaser alone.

On Jan. 30, Ice Spice confirmed that her forthcoming album (titled Y2K, which alludes both to her style and her January 1, 2000 birth date) is coming this year; though she didn't announce a release date, she did reveal it's "almost finished". On the heels of a massive 2023, there's no doubt Ice Spice is ready to continue her rap domination — one drill anthem at a time.

"I always felt like I could do anything I tried to do, but especially now it feels like anything is possible," she told The Guardian. "Being at award shows, being on magazine covers, getting huge features — all those moments made me feel like, Wow, we're really doing it big."

The Official 2024 GRAMMYs Playlist is Here: Listen To Songs By SZA, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift, Jon Batiste, & More

GRAMMY.com’s 50th Anniversary Of Hip-Hop Coverage: A Recap
A tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop at the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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GRAMMY.com’s 50th Anniversary Of Hip-Hop Coverage: A Recap

The Recording Academy’s celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary included televised events and captivating interviews. Check out the wide range of articles and features produced by GRAMMY.com commemorating this musical milestone.

GRAMMYs/Dec 28, 2023 - 02:51 pm

When we look back at the Recording Academy’s 2023, the 50th anniversary of hip-hop will loom exceptionally large.

The ongoing celebration permeated every facet of the world’s leading society of music professionals this year, from the 65th Annual Awards Ceremony in February to the special airing of "A GRAMMY Salute To Hip-Hop" in December — a dense, thrillingly kaleidoscopic televised tribute to the breadth of this genre.

One major accompaniment to this was coverage of the genre’s legacy via GRAMMY.com, the editorial site run by the Recording Academy. If you haven’t been keeping up, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a highlight reel of the work GRAMMY.com published in honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.

We Profiled Rising Stars

From Lola Brooke to Tkay Maidza, GRAMMY.com engaged in comprehensive in-depth interviews with artists who are at the forefront of shaping the future of hip-hop, and held a roundtable discussion about exactly what the next 50 years might look like. 

We Published Conversations With Legends

DJ Kool Herc and Questlove, who have played unquestionable roles in hip-hop’s continuing evolution, spoke to GRAMMY.com about their profound and abiding connections to the idiom.

The Contributions Of Women Were Highlighted

Without the inspired vision of countless women, hip-hop would not be what it is today. The "Ladies First" segment, which kicked off "A GRAMMY Salute To Hip-Hop" featuring Queen Latifah, Monie Love, and MC Lyte, among other lady greats with Spinderella as DJ, was an ode to this. 

In acknowledgment of female trailblazers in a world dominated by men, GRAMMY.com wrote about teen girl pioneers, women behind the scenes, a revealing Netflix doc, and women artists pushing the genre forward in 2023, from Ice Spice to Lil Simz.

We Revisted Hip-Hop’s Biggest Releases

From Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) to Jay-Z’s The Black Album to Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy, GRAMMY.com dove deep into the core hip-hop canon. We also broke down the genre’s development decade by decade through the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s, and 20s, with a focus on classic albums from each era.

Listen To GRAMMY.com's 50th Anniversary Of Hip-Hop Playlist: 50 Songs That Show The Genre's Evolution

We Criss-Crossed The Country

GRAMMY.com’s series of regional guides — from the Bay Area and SoCal, to Texas and the Dirty South, to D.C. and NYC highlight hip-hop’s diversity of culture and sound.

We Went International

Although hip-hop is a quintessentially American phenomenon, its impact, appeal, and influence has spread worldwide. The international appetite for hip-hop was showcased in coverage of Latinx and Argentinian rappers to know, as well as five international hip-hop scenes to know: France, Nigeria, Brazil, South Africa, and England.

We Explored Hip-Hop’s Larger Impact

Hip-hop is more than a sound. It’s a culture that permeates almost every sector of life. Showcasing this effervescence, GRAMMY.com ran pieces about the evolution of hip-hop’s influence on educational curriculum worldwide, as well as its biggest fashion and style moments.

We Covered On Stage Celebrations

"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop," the two-hour special that aired in December on CBS and is available on demand on Paramount+ represented a culmination of the Recording Academy’s 50th year anniversary celebration.

Revisit the 2023 GRAMMYs’ hip-hop revue, and check out a recap of "A GRAMMY Salute" with photos, a rundown of all the performers and songs and coverage of the Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy honors in February.

It Didn’t Stop There…

Notable coverage also included the evolution of the mixtape, 11 Hip-Hop Subgenres to Know and 10 Binge-worthy Hip-Hop Podcasts, as well as a breakdown of Jay-Z’s Songbook and Snoop Dogg’s discography.

For everything GRAMMY.com and all things hip-hop — including our rap-focused run in the GRAMMY Rewind series — visit here.

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