Photo: Curtis Taylor Jr.
This Is SHAVONE.: Creative Renaissance Woman, Tech Titan, Artistic Force & Proud Advocate
As a voice of experience, swagger and inspiration for women of color in the tech and creative industries, SHAVONE. is crafting a new intersection between music, fashion and tech
SHAVONE. has presence. Not just the online type of presence so many chase these days, but real, tangible presence. She's warm and engaging in the way you want your friends to be, yet commanding and articulate in the way you'd expect from someone with her track record as a creative Renaissance woman. Everywhere she's been, she became a star, leaving a path of meaningful progress, inspired innovation and lasting relationships in her wake. That's presence.
SHAVONE.'s story started in a familiar way, as a child wild about music. But her path took a turn toward tech, where she blazed trails and broke molds, launching her career at Google before creating her own role at Twitter as the first Head of Global Music and Culture. She went on to become Instagram's Head of Global Music and Youth Culture, developed and refined her own personal fashion style Elle dubbed "Instagram Cozy Queen" and was a shoo-in on Forbes' coveted "30 Under 30" list earlier this year.
Most important, she's become an ardent advocate for women of color, especially in the tech and creative spaces, traveling the country to inspire and advise. Recently, she's appeared at BET Experience and—fitting as SHAVONE. has spent the majority of her career in the Bay Area—at the San Francisco Women's Summit. When she was at Twitter, she created BlackBirds, a resource group for African-American employees. Forever ahead of the curve, SHAVONE. knew what to do to support and empower her colleagues before anyone else.
"I joke around with my friends and mentees about like being black in tech before it was cool to be black in tech," says SHAVONE. "When it wasn't like, 'Yes, we need you here to check a box,' when it was, 'What are you doing here?'"
But now SHAVONE., the artist, has her sights set on new creative horizons. After leaving Instagram earlier this year, she shifted her focus to developing both her own artistry and an artistic community around her. In March she dropped the empowering single "4C" with a striking video, showcasing the beauty of inclusivity.
She's also launching Magic In Her Melanin, her very own creative collective and in-house agency to serve as creative HQ for all her art and music projects. With music, fashion and tech overlapping more than ever before, it's hard to imagine someone better positioned to lead the way for creatives into whatever is coming next, which is exactly what she's doing.
SHAVONE. let us into her world for a conversation with Recording Academy, discussing the twist and turns of her inspirational, one-of-a-kind career and how her transition from tech change agent to authentic artist came "right on time." Jump into a portion of our conversation with her below, and follow her on social so you aren't left behind.
[this conversation has been edited down from the original for length]
I read that your family's also very musical—how did you spend your childhood and how did you get into tech?
As a younger person, I think my parents quickly figured out I'd need an outlet. I had a lot of energy, a lot of sh*t to say, and needed some sort outlet and, early on, I was already very intrigued by music.
My grandfather is from Trinidad, and so I've always been attracted to the Caribbean West Indies. And my grandfather's son, my uncle Terry, he's classically trained in classical and jazz across pretty much any woodwind instrument… He'd pick up the sax, he'd pick up the clarinet, he put down the sax, picked up the flute. This guy was just jamming out. He'd have a piccolo, so that already piqued my interest.
My brother JJ started off playing the flute. He switched over to sax because he thought that was a more masculine instrument, whatever JJ. [Laughs.] But I got attracted then, took piano lessons early on… I ended up shifting over to flute just because it was something that was familiar to me. My uncle told me "You're a bull in a china factory. When you play the flute, handling this instruments very delicate. It's very difficult. Are you sure you want to do this? This is going to take a lot of time a lot of hard work." I was like, "I'm sure I want to do this. Now that you said all that, I definitely want to do it! You know it's a challenge. Let's do it." So in second and third grade, I started on the recorder. That's what you start on.
Oh yeah, I remember. I think every young adult of a certain age had to play the recorder in grade school.
And I was like, "this is cute but like I'm trying to upgrade to that really shiny, blinged out thing that you have, Uncle Terry." So I started taking lessons. Then like upgraded to a beginner flute, and then kept playing.
I was in band in elementary school and middle school. Then I started playing competitively in high school, I was flute section leader in band and in marching band wind symphony. I basically went crazy with it.
But, in between me doing flute, writing had always been a huge piece of my self-expression, and I wrote a lot of poetry in middle school and elementary school, and then my brothers started rapping. And my dad, seeing that they were interested, he had a friend who had a studio space in San Diego and Downtown so he helped pay for their studio time, just to kind of more so support again positive outlet for them.
So then, I seen them rapping and I was like, "That's tight." I'm definitely really into music and rap so I'm like, "maybe I could do that was like my poetry?" So I started rapping. I didn't start seriously rapping until about end of middle school, going into high school, that's when I actually was like good enough to actually be heard publicly. So I kind of mixed it together but I always kept my flute musicianship separate, because flute is all about structure.
Now I'm working to break down all the structure that I've built up in my mind around flute. Because I'm now learning Ableton to basically make my set fully electronic and be able to improv DIY style in the moment. It's not structured, it's just feeling versus structure. So I'm tearing these walls down to bring the two worlds together now.
Excited to announce I’ll be speaking at the @Forbes #Under30Summit in Detroit this fall, alongside a group of extraordinary minds. Register here and pull up on us in the D: https://t.co/UkRVjhC3Eq pic.twitter.com/ZyXFOPTlCZ— SHAVONE. ® (@Shavone) April 24, 2019
You held prominent roles at Twitter and Instagram... You're a self-proclaimed Data Queen. How did you end up getting into these hugely prominent roles in the tech world?
I interned at Google my junior year of college, and I had interned at BET. I did a talent relations PR internship there, and I also did a bunch of internships in public service. I interned on the Hill. I interned at the DOJ. I was actually kind of thinking more of a governmental route. Just because I'm a huge supporter of public service and community and civic engagement. I had to wear these stockings and these clothes and I've got to worry about my hair.
Yeah. I interned there two of the years the Republicans took over the House. I was like, "you know what, this is getting kind of crazy."
But, I went to Google anyways, interned there at the Googleplex in Mountain View. I interned on the Global Communications and Public Affairs team, and I worked on Google Play when it started. I worked on the launch of Google Plus, which was very interesting at the time. I worked on Google Apps for education, that's how I got exposed to traditional tech world, but in a non-traditional way. I got to work on consumery topics, and I interned on their PR team but it was consumer PR. So I got a chance to scratch all my itches, but also still be in the epicenter of tech.
And I think at that time I just realized just how central tech was going to be to music and the industry. Even with Google Play and I saw all arrows pointing in that direction.
I knew, tech was the marriage of all these different, eclectic things that were stimulating for me. That's how I got into tech.
It's crazy, because right after college I had a job offer from MTV that, that was a real job, but I turned it down to go intern at Twitter. Because it was paid, number one, and it's like they're a startup but they're going IPO at some point, I just felt it was a good opportunity that I can try to mold. I'd have to work hard as hell, but maybe...
I think the numbers would support your decision.
So that's how I kind of got over there. I started out on the PR team covering everything. Fashion, music, culture, politics. Pretty much any cultural zeitgeist moments.
"I still need to learn. As a woman in music, you have to protect yourself with knowledge and knowing." -SHAVONE.
As a woman of color working in tech, how did you navigate that kind of stereotypically homogenous environment?
Yeah, it's tough. It's still tough, honestly, it's still hard. I joke around with my friends and mentees about being black in tech before it was cool to be black in tech. When it wasn't like "Yes, we need you here to check a box," when it was "What are you doing here?"
And it was hard. I definitely believe in God and like, higher powers in the universe and I feel like the universe has always showed up to show support through people around me and mentors when I need them the most. I don't have a ton of mentors, but I feel like people move into the right place at the right time for me.
When I went to Twitter, there's a gentleman, whose name is Scott T, shout out to you. He was at Facebook, he left Facebook, and he's doing some other amazing work now. But he was a huge mentor of mine at Twitter... Scott is African, and there were not many faces of color there, but he was there when I needed him.
I also had allies, and people who I had actually met at Google. Because all the people from the tech company they go, "I'm with this company, I was at that company, I was at that company." So I had a lot of familiar faces. Having that support system really did help me stay grounded and confident about who I was and my skill sets. Because it's easy to go into those places and shrink. Number one you kind of just want to be invisible to avoid confrontation. And then the other piece is figuring out how to tap into your skill sets and who you are in a way that doesn't compromise what you stand for.
So as a person of color, having a role that's culture oriented, it's like, "okay, that's great. But how are you enlightening without like self-exploitation?" And enlightening in a way that's going to somehow help increase access, hopefully, and leave the door open for more... Beyond just bringing the company money, how are you kind of shifting what's normalized and normalizing your blackness and your diversity in the space. And this is a lot to carry around for anybody in a workspace.
Especially somebody that hasn't been in the workforce for that long.
Yeah, it was like my first job.
What was the impetus for you to make the transition from tech to music? And how did you find a way to professionally integrate all of your passions?
Yeah, I'd say it was a long time coming. When I left Twitter, I still felt like there was a little bit more to learn. I kept kind of stepping along in the background of music, making music when I could in the Bay Area. I recorded when I could, I wrote, I always kept writing. I have so many songs written, and kept recording where I could. And I was always around music, so I never felt so starved because I was always behind the scenes. I was working in the music industry.
Part of me, it was torturing, right? When you feel like you have your story, or a voice that you want to create. Then another part of it was so amazing because I got to be around my people. I was around you guys, I was around my people, I got to talk about cool things, tell cool stories. I was learning still.
You have got to say, "enough is enough." How much is enough? When is your thirst going to be quenched? When do you step up into your own purpose? And for me, it came down to me, figuring out that it's either now or never. And thinking a lot about trajectory for me long-term. I set out to do certain things in tech, and I felt like I gave it my all. A lot of me being motivated to have one foot in, one foot out as more of a multi-hyphenate creative was, I noticed that, even from within you can only do so much to increase access. Because you work for the company, no matter what, you got to stick to their agenda, their roles, their bottom line. If they say something's not important, you can't come back and say "Yes it is and forget you, here's what I'm going to do." You can't.
You're working as a full-time musician now, and you're launching a creative collective and in-house agency. I'd love to learn a little bit about that and any other initiatives that you're spearheading.
Yeah, so for Magic In Her Melanin, it's been a long time coming. I got Magic in Her Melanin trademarked a of couple years ago. It was sort of another one of those projects after work that I was like this needs to be done. Again, with just seeing the gaps up front, and like going out in the Tenderloin, working at Twitter in San Francisco, walking outside and seeing, feeling the gaps. Working with the Boys and Girls Club and literally feeling the gaps. I was able to take notes, go home and figure out, how can I be accountable outside of my tech job, right? What can I do outside of showing up like, "Hey kids, here's where you can be. All right, bye."
Well it's so easy to stay cloistered in your little comfy bubble.
Yeah, it's so easy. I mean it's normalized. It's like not actually frowned upon if you do do that, actually the opposite, right? So that allowed me to really notice the gaps and I couldn't just sit by, and I've been indexing the gaps, basically.
Magic is a result of me indexing the gaps and figuring out, "How do I show up in a way that's really valuable and true to me? And how can I make myself a resource for other people?" And I found that a lot of my network, even a lot of my friends and colleagues, contemporaries, even mentees, mentors are all these people of color who were amazingly creative who work in these different functions and tech, and music too. Just because my role was culture and youth and these new topics, I got exposed to people who covered similar realms at Spotify or Beats or Apple or wherever.
Magic is basically a collective, and it's literally a network of all the people I know who have a passion to give back in some way but will never have the time to start their own org. I basically want to leverage those relationships to do good out in the world, to create more access for underrepresented voices in the corporate space.
There's a gentleman named Quil Lemons who is a photographer. He's super young, Gen-Z photographer who does partnerships and is making a living off of just partnering and having value. Whether you're Pharrell, or whether you're me or you guys and you want to work for the company, you should be able to do both. You should be able to choose what you want to do, there should be accessibility.
Then with Magic, I also have basically kind of made it, I guess what I Am Other is to Pharrell, or what Saint Heron is to Solange, it's sort of my in-house creative suite.
So my friends who are passionate about like the music and the art I'm creating, and incubating the videos that you see, the visuals, and sort of everything SHAVONE. does as a creative, I want to continue incubating with that group. And keep reading with other people, but really keeping Magic as the nucleus of everything I put out into the world.
Earlier we were talking about your video for "4C," which you said you recorded late last year in Brooklyn. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you recorded it at a salon owned by a woman who works with Solange?
Yeah, she blew up mainstream-wise from her doing a number of Solange's tribal inspired, like American-inspired braid looks, and Beyoncé's braid looks. She's incredible. She's a Nigerian hairstylist.
It looks like you got together a lot of your contacts, friends and familiars and that video serves as symbol for almost everything you're trying to achieve, the diversity of people's interests, and it all coming together. What are you trying to do next in terms of your music?
Right now I'm super focused on really honing in on my sound. I'm working with new producers. I'm also getting my like show set tight and together. That's the thing I'm most excited about. I'm actually, like holding off on performances until I get it right where I want it with me adding the flute instrumentation into it, in a way that, again, is authentic to me. And even tech kind of continuing to be this huge part of who I am and what I do. And really, I kind of more so envision an electronic vibe for my set like more of a kind of EDM energy just because of my tie to software and hardware as a person. I'm a tech person still at heart. So keeping that visible in my instrumentation, I'm excited about.
But I'm also working on,I don't know if it's going to be EP or a mixtape, I'm still kind of deciding. But, I'm basically working on a project which I maybe by the summer or fall. I'm collaborating with folks also who have reached out. I played a set for GRAMMY week at Soho House with 1500 or Nothin'. They're amazing. Larrance [Dopson], and my guy Mars, they're just incredible. They did Nipsy Hussle's Victory Lap. There are pillars of L.A. and the community.
So, yeah, they're amazing. I'm excited to just take it one day at a time and really put in the work. I think a lot of my experience and my knowledge, even with PR and music, only it goes so far. It's different from the scope of an artist. You can't skip putting in the rest of the work. And I feel like a lot of my work has been foundational with being able to read and write music, being able to write music and I feel like there's a new challenge now for me with writing music for consumption versus as a hobby. Writing music as a business is different, so I'm up for the challenge.
Someone once told me, "if something scares you, you should probably do it." But in many ways as an artist, stepping out on your own, you're the most qualified to navigate tech from the artist side. Do you feel that way?
Yeah, I do. I feel like where I have a leg up, I feel like, in a conversation with, even with some of the artists that I know, friends that I know, I'm learning from them and they're learning from me.
It's sort of like this: You realize you're so good at this, or you're so good at that, like, the sort of midway point. But it has been interesting to apply what I've learned in a sort of a different dimension to my artistry and getting the word out. And I think Instagram was truly the cherry on top of my experiences, because I really got a chance to see how important community is, and community online. Not just community in terms of fandom, but community for a cause, community behind topics that matter, body positivity, mental wellness, mental health, latte art. I mean, anything you care about, it's online. Even at Twitter, all the data stuff, I feel like my whole life is sort of this moment. So I do feel good in that sense. You start to think, "Oh, did I wait too long? Should I have like left earlier?" But I feel like no, I feel like I'm right on time.
Photo: Josh Chapmon
Positive Vibes Only: NewSpring Worship Share A Sweeping Message Of Faith With "Desde El Principio"
Led by Venezuela-born vocalist Charlee Buitrago, NewSpring Worship shares their message of hope, faith and community in this sparkling live performance of "Desde El Principio."
Since its inception more than two decades ago, NewSpring Worship has grown into a multicultural, multigenerational, musical expression of faith. Their name is a tribute to their beloved home base, the NewSpring Church, which has 14 different locations across South Carolina.
In this episode of Positive Vibes Only, NewSpring Worship deliver a soaring performance of their song, "Desde El Principio." Helmed by vocalist Charlee Buitrago — who also co-wrote the track — the bandmates take viewers through a simple, but powerful, rendition of the song.
The clip begins with Buitrago singing in front of a simple white backdrop, and as the first verse progresses, the camera pans back to reveal two more musicians — one strumming an acoustic guitar, the other on the bench of a Rhodes electric piano.
With just those three artists in the frame, NewSpring Worship deliver a moving rendition of their song, which represents the faith collective's passion for putting out worship music that represents their own cultural diversity.
According to his website, Buitrago originally hails from Venezuela, but emigrated to the U.S. at age 17 after meeting an American missionary who helped him find his faith. Since then, Buitrago has continued to pursue both music and worship, with both himself and his native Spanish language becoming mainstays in the NewSpring Worship collective.
Press play on the video above to watch this performance of "Desde El Principio," and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Positive Vibes Only.
Photo: Evening Standard / Stringer via Getty Images
Remembering Christine McVie Of Fleetwood Mac Through Her GRAMMY Triumphs, From 'Rumours' Onward
Unflashy and undramatic, McVie's contributions to Fleetwood Mac led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song — with two GRAMMY wins to boot.
In an acclaimed career that spanned more than half a century, Christine McVie staked her claim as one of the most potent singer-songwriters of her generation. A beloved original member of the seminal rock group Fleetwood Mac, with whom she sang, wrote and played keyboard, she and her bandmates catapulted to fame in the early '70s, scoring GRAMMY gold and influencing generations of musicians.
"As a GRAMMY Award winner and 2018 Person of the Year honoree, the Recording Academy has been honored to celebrate Christine McVie and her work with Fleetwood Mac throughout her legendary career," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. stated. In an announcement of her death, the remaining members of Fleetwood Mac mourned her passing by saying "She was truly one-of-a-kind, special, and talented beyond measure."
McVie, who passed away Nov. 30 at 79 after a brief illness, may have not been as flashy, or as dramatic, as fellow Fleetwood Mac members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. But McVie's contributions to the band led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song, with two GRAMMY wins among seven nominations.
The tour de force that is Rumours is one of the most acclaimed and best-selling albums of all time and an inductee into GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. The masterpiece earned McVie her first GRAMMY (for Album of the Year no less) at the 20th Annual Ceremony in 1978, also earning a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Group.
Fleetwood Mac's 11th studio album, Rumours was actually McVie's 7th album with the band after making her name in the English blues scene, rising through the ranks as part of the band Chicken Shack, and even releasing a solo album.
In 1971, McVie joined Fleetwood Mac alongside her then-husband John McVie. The potent combination of the McVies, along with Mick Fleetwood, Buckingham and Nicks, catalyzed and detonated into the stratospheric Rumours.
"It's hard to say (what it was like) because we were looking at it from the inside," McVie said about the iconic album earlier this year. "We were having a blast and it felt incredible to us that we were writing those songs. That's all I can say about it, really."
McVie's coyness may stem from the fact that prior to its production, Christine and John divorced after eight years of marriage. Meanwhile, Buckingham and Nicks were having a tumultuous relationship themselves.
McVie is credited as sole songwriter on a handful of instant-classic Rumours tracks, all written during a perilous moment. "I thought I was drying up," explained McVie. "I was practically panicking because every time I sat down at a piano, nothing came out. Then, one day, I just sat down and wrote in the studio, and the four-and-a-half songs of mine on the album are a result of that."
That includes "Don't Stop," an ironically peppy ode considering the turmoil McVie and her bandmates were grappling with at the time. With lyrics that staunchly proclaim "Yesterday's gone!," the song was reportedly written as a plea from Christine to John to move on from their relationship.
"I dare say, if I hadn't joined Fleetwood Mac, we might still be together. I just think it's impossible to work in the band with your spouse," McVie later said. John, meanwhile, was oblivious to the song's message during its production and early acclaim. He revealed in 2015: "I've been playing it for years and it wasn't until somebody told me, 'Chris wrote that about you.' Oh really?"
John was also equally ignorant to the source inspiration of "You Make Loving Fun"; McVie told him the joyful song ("Sweet wonderful you/ You make me happy with the things you do") was about her dog. In reality, it was about an affair with the band's lighting designer.
"It was a therapeutic move," McVie later mused of her lyrical penchant for hiding brutal honesty in plain sight. "The only way we could get this stuff out was to say it, and it came out in a way that was difficult. Imagine trying to sing those songs onstage with the people you're singing them about."
When McVie was asked earlier this year what song she written she was most proud of, it was an easy answer: the Rumours track "Songbird."
"For some peculiar reason, I wrote "Songbird" in half an hour; I've never been able to figure out how I did that," she told People. "I woke up in the middle of the night and the song was there in my brain, chords, lyrics, melody, everything. I played it in my bedroom and didn't have anything to tape it on. So I had to stay awake all night so I wouldn't forget it and I came in the next morning to the studio and had (producer) Ken Callait put it on a 2-track. That was how the song ended up being. I don't know where that came from."
McVie's most recent GRAMMY nominations were for her contributions to The Dance, Fleetwood Mac's 1997 live album that featured her stand-outs from Rumours along with the McVie penned-tracks "Say You Love Me" and "Everywhere."
The album earned McVie and the band GRAMMY nominations for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for the Lindsay Buckingham-written "The Chain") and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for "Silver Springs," penned by Stevie Nicks). It also landed a nomination for Best Pop Album. It was her final album with the band before a 15-year self-imposed retirement.
In her final years, McVie was a vital member of Fleetwood Mac, including in 2018 when they became the first band honored as MusicCare's Person of the Year.
Speaking to the Recording Academy before the ceremony, Nicks expressed that her initial goal upon joining the group was a humble one: "Christine and I made a pact. We said we will never, ever be treated as a second-class citizen amongst our peers."
Photos (L-R): Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic; Prince Williams/Wireimage; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Justin Combs Events; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: SZA, Neil Young, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, NCT Dream & More
Rounding out the year, here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping in December 2022 from Weezer, Metro Boomin, NOFX, Jacquees, Ab-Soul, and many others.
And just like that, 2022 is almost done — but not before we get another round of must-hear albums. December's slate of releases is set to send the year out on a high note, with something for all tastes.
This month heralds much-anticipated returns from R&B innovator SZA, with S.O.S., and rap super-producer Metro Boomin, with the mysterious HEROES & VILLAINS. December's riches also include Bad MFs from West Coast hip-hop supergroup Mount Westmore, indie-rock lifers Weezer dropping SZNZ: Winter and a loaded, possibly final album from punk-rock misfits NOFX. There's also new-generation R&B (RINI’s Ultraviolet EP and Jacquees' Sincerely For You), dark techno (Terence Fixmer's Shifting Signals), soul-baring indie (Sophie Jamieson's Choosing), and much more.
Below, check out a guide to the 15 essential albums dropping just in time for the festive season. — Jack Tregoning
Contributed reporting by Ashlee Mitchell
SZA - S.O.S.
Release date: TBD
Five years after her GRAMMY-nominated debut album, Ctrl, it's about to be SZA season all over again. While details are still pending, the alternative R&B star is expected to drop her second album, S.O.S., this month, following the single "Shirt" and its teaser follow-up, "PSA."
In a revealing Billboard cover story, SZA spoke frankly about the pressure she feels to release the album while navigating the music industry and her fans' expectations. As always with SZA, the music itself speaks volumes, and the darkly seductive "Shirt" (accompanied by a music video co-starring SZA and Academy Award nominee LaKeith Stanfield in a riff on Bonnie and Clyde) suggests S.O.S. will be something to savor. — J.T.
Metro Boomin - HEROES & VILLAINS
Release date: December 2
To prepare fans for his new album, HEROES & VILLAINS, sought-after rap producer Metro Boomin went all-out on a short film starring his collaborators Young Thug and Gunna alongside celebrated actors Morgan Freeman and LaKeith Stanfield. Following that flex, the artist's first solo LP in four years is set to feature a who's who of rap, with an exact tracklist still to be announced.
Metro Boomin's previous album, 2018's Not All Heroes Wear Capes, featured the likes of Travis Scott, 21 Savage and Gucci Mane rapping over the producer's dark, trap-centric beats. This time around, he's keeping his cards close to his chest, slyly sharing a video of the studio sessions on his Instagram with the caption, "When the sequel is even better than the first." All will be revealed on Dec. 2. — J.T.
Neil Young - Harvest (50th Anniversary Edition)
Release date: December 2
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Young's seminal folk-rock album Harvest, released to great acclaim in 1972. Featuring indelible songs like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and "The Needle and The Damage Done," Harvest was the best-selling album of that year in the US.
To celebrate the milestone, Young is releasing a special anniversary edition, available in either CD or vinyl box-set. Extras include a new two-hour documentary called Harvest Time, an official release of Young's BBC In Concert performance, and a hardcover book featuring never-before-seen photos and notes by legendary rock photographer Joel Bernstein. Consider this the festive gift for the Neil Young completist in your life. — J.T.
RINI - UltraViolet
Release date: December 2
After breaking out with his 2021 debut album, Constellations, RINI returns this month with the seven-track EP, Ultraviolet. The Filipino-Australian R&B talent, who now calls Los Angeles home, pairs his indelible voice with slinky, late-night production that pulls the listener close.
Ahead of Ultraviolet, RINI has released the singles "Haunt Me" and "Selfish," featuring GRAMMY-winning rapper BEAM, which pair his themes of love and longing with gauzy, head-nodding beats. "I want to be able to show the world and myself that I'm growing, not just in music, but as a person," RINI told Uproxx in May. On Ultraviolet, which also features the slick bedroom jams "Something to Feel" and "Your Eyes," that evolution is evident. — J.T.
NOFX - Double Album
Release date: December 2
SoCal punk veterans NOFX have always kept up a prolific output, and this month the band returns with their 15th LP, Double Album. Following last year's Single Album, the conveniently titled Double Album features 10 new songs with perfectly NOFX titles like "Punk Rock Cliché" and "Is It Too Soon if Time Is Relative?" Lead single "Darby Crashing Your Party" showcases the band at their hard-riffing, rowdy best, with frontman Fat Mike clearly relishing lyrical volleys like, "A middle-class clown waging lower class war/A Beverly Hillbilly peeled off the floor."
In a statement announcing the new album, Fat Mike revealed the songs were recorded at the same time as Single Album, then finished off later. "I think it's a very enjoyable album, and maybe our funniest," he added. It could also be NOFX's parting gift — responding to a fan’s Instagram comment, Fat Mike announced that 2023 will be the band's "last year" after an "amazing run." — J.T.
Terence Fixmer - Shifting Signals
Release date: December 2
French producer Terence Fixmer has been one of the most intriguing figures in the electronic music scene for well over a decade. Over six past solo albums, numerous EPs and standalone releases, Fixmer has perfected a dark, gritty sound that melds techno with the looser industrial spirit of electronic body music (EBM).
Fixmer's seventh album, Shifting Signals, continues in that vein while allowing for new textures to creep in. "On each album I aim for something different but I retain the core sound, which is always there and often dark and melancholic," the producer wrote in a statement. "Sometimes the balance tips slightly and on this album, I'm striving to be freer and open myself up more to melody."
That openness to different modes is showcased on the atmospheric, piano-led "Synthetic Minds," which evokes a John Carpenter film score, while fellow singles "Corne de Brume" and "No Latitude for Errors" are built for heady techno dance floors. — J.T.
Sophie Jamieson - Choosing
Release date: December 2
On her debut album, Choosing, London-based singer-songwriter Sophie Jamieson doesn't shy from difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Lead single, "Sink" lays bare her push-pull relationship with alcohol over a lulling bed of piano and drums. That theme of emotional vulnerability carries through the LP's 11 songs, which foreground Jamieson's enchanting voice and plain-spoken lyrics.
"The title of this album is so important," Jamieson wrote in a statement. "Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it's about hope, and finding strength. It's about finding the light at the end of the tunnel and crawling towards it." Choosing arrives via Bella Union, the tastemaking label led by Simon Raymonde, formerly of Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins. — J.T.
White Lung - Premonition
Release date: December 2
Canadian punk rockers White Lung weren't expecting to take six years to follow up 2016's celebrated Paradise. As the story goes, the band got together in their hometown of Vancouver in 2017, expecting to rip out their final album before parting ways. In the studio, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way discovered she was pregnant with her first child — which, along with a global pandemic and another child, put the album plans on ice.
Fast forward to 2022, and White Lung's fifth and final album, Premonition, is finally here. With all that extra time to marinate, Premonition is a thrilling return from the trio, mining deeper themes with the same raucous, kick-down-the-door energy that fans expect. The album opens furiously with "Hysteric", and also features the singles "Date Night" and "Tomorrow," which match Barber-Way's impassioned vocals with muscular punk-rock riffing.
"We felt like this record was the right endpoint and we are happy the songs will finally be released," the band wrote in a statement. — J.T.
A Boogie Wit da Hoodie - Me vs. Myself
Release date: December 9
New York's A Boogie wit da Hoodie has been steadily hyping the release of his fourth album, Me Vs Myself, throughout 2022. Originally scheduled for November, the album will drop this month, right in time for A Boogie's hometown album launch at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Me Vs Myself was preceded by a pair of singles, "Take Shots," featuring Tory Lanez, and "Ballin," which both showcase the rapper's supremely confident flow and wavy beats. While the full tracklist is not yet confirmed, A Boogie's previous album, ARTIST 2.0, covered the R&B and rap spectrum with guests like Summer Walker, Khalid, Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, without pulling focus from the main star. The rapper has already lined up dates for the Me Vs Myself tour stretching into 2023, so it's a great time to bet on A Boogie. — J.T.
Mount Westmore - Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort
Release date: December 9
When living legends Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too Short and Ice Cube formed the supergroup Mount Westmore, West Coast rap heads took notice. After several hints that a collaborative album was coming, Mount Westmore made the surprise decision to release their debut, Bad MFs, exclusively as an NFT via the blockchain-based platform Gala Music.
The album arrives on streaming services this month under a new title, Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort, featuring additional songs not included on the NFT version. A spirit of loose fun and ride-or-die friendship carries through all the singles released so far, including the swaggering "Bad MFs" and the bass-heavy, light-hearted "Big Subwoofer." As Snoop put it to HotNewHipHop, "You bring the legends of the West Coast together, something great will always happen." — J.T.
Leland Whitty - Anyhow
Release date: December 9
Best known as a member of Toronto-based jazz ensemble BADBADNOTGOOD, Leland Whitty is a true multi-instrumentalist. On his seven-track solo release, Anyhow, Whitty oversaw all production and composition, moving deftly between guitar, synthesizer, woodwinds and strings.
Following his scores for indie films Disappearance at Clifton Hill and Learn to Swim, Whitty was inspired to combine cinematic composition with rock and jazz instrumentation in his own project. Lead single "Awake" perfectly strikes that balance with twinkling keys, mournful strings and an insistent drum beat, while follow-up "Glass Moon" conjures a similarly beguiling mood. Members of BADBADNOTGOOD and Whitty's musician brother also joined the studio sessions, making Anyhow a family affair. — J.T.
Jacquees - Sincerely For You
Release date: December 16
On "Say Yea", the sultry bedroom anthem he dropped back in May, Jacquees croons, "Girl, you overdue for some romantic s—." That simple line is something of a mission statement for the R&B casanova, whose third album, Sincerely For You, drops this month.
The LP features "Say Yea" alongside 16 more R&B jams, including singles "Tipsy," which captures the singer's blurry plea to a lover, and the smoothly boastful "Still That." Elsewhere, Sincerely For You offers up guest turns from Future (who also executive produced the album), 21 Savage and Tory Lanez, plus the R&B dream team of 6lack and Summer Walker on "Tell Me It's Over." On his socials, Jacquees dedicated the album to "everybody who been there for me along the way" and promised to deliver only "real R&B." — J.T.
Ab-Soul - Herbert
Release date: December 16
Six hard-won years after his last album, the divisive, conspiracy theory-heavy Do What Thou Wilt., Ab-Soul has found his drive again. The rapper from Carson, California returns this month with a deeply personal album that shares his birth name, Herbert.
Ab-Soul's new outlook was previewed in lead single "Do Better," which reckons with the scars of his past and looks to the future with powerful clarity. The next single, "Gang'Nem," featuring Houston rapper FRE$H and produced by fellow Top Dawg Entertainment mainstay Sounwave, also revisits his upbringing and pays respect to L.A. street culture over a woozy, hard-hitting beat.
For fans of Ab-Soul's dense lyrical style and gravelly flow, Herbert is an eagerly-anticipated return to the rap limelight. — J.T.
NCT DREAM - Candy
Release date: December 19
NCT Dream, the youngest sub-group of Neo Culture Technology (NCT), has seen exponential growth since they rebranded as a fixed unit in 2020. The septet is set to release a winter special EP called Candy on Dec. 19. The mini-album's six tracks, include lead single "Candy," which was originally performed by H.O.T. in 1996. The album will be the first holiday release for any NCT sub-group, following a slew of successful releases from NCT Dream this year.
The group released their second studio album, Glitch, in March 2022, followed by their repackaged Beatbox in May. Their first feature film, NCT Dream The Movie: In a Dream, released worldwide on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 and documents the opening days of their tour in Seoul. The group will finish their tour in Japan by February 2023. — Ashlee Mitchell
Weezer - SZNZ: Winter
Release date: December 21
This has been a remarkably good year to be a Weezer fan. Always pleasingly prolific, in 2022 the band decided to release a four-EP series under the name SZNZ, each timed to coincide with a new season.
Following Spring, Summer and Autumn editions, SZNZ: Winter arrives just in time for peak coziness. While the complete tracklist is not yet known, Weezer performed the EP in full for an intimate crowd at the Troubadour in Los Angeles (using their favored alias Goat Punishment), with new highlights including "I Want A Dog" and "The One That Got Away."
While frontman Rivers Cuomo has described SZNZ: Winter as having a sad vibe that suits snowed-in days, you can always count on Weezer to cut the melancholy with some power-pop verve. — J.T.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
GRAMMY Rewind: Dua Lipa Champions Happiness As She Accepts Her GRAMMY For Best Pop Vocal Album In 2021
As Dua Lipa held her new GRAMMY, she reflected on how "jaded" she felt before putting out 'Future Nostalgia' — and how the album taught her the importance of happiness.
Three-time GRAMMY-winner Dua Lipa already had two golden gramophones to her name going into the 2021 GRAMMYs. But her third win — and her first for Best Pop Vocal Album — may have been the happiest of them all.
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the special moment when Dua Lipa took the stage to claim her trophy for her album, Future Nostalgia. The second studio album of the singer's career, Future Nostalgia earned her six nominations, including the coveted Album Of The Year as well as Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for lead single "Don't Start Now."
As she held her new trophy, Lipa reflected on what she's learned through the process of making Future Nostalgia, making special mention of the power of happiness, and putting out happy music.
"I felt really jaded at the end of my last album, where I felt like I only had to make sad music to feel like it mattered," she explained. "And I'm just so grateful and so honored, because happiness is something that we all deserve, and it's something that we all need in our lives."
The singer also threw a spotlight on her fans, team and co-writers during her time onstage. "This means so much," she concluded, adding a shout-out to her family and friends who were watching from home. "I love you, thank you."
Press play on the video above to watch Dua Lipa's complete acceptance speech at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com every Friday for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.
Photo: Beth Gwinn/Getty Images
Listen To GRAMMY.com's Outlaw Country Playlist: 32 Songs From Honky Tonk Heroes Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard & More
Ahead of the GRAMMY Museum's Dec. 5 event previewing the new documentary 'They Called Us Outlaws,' listen to a 32-song playlist of outlaw country greats.
Outlaw: a noun meaning someone unconventional, rebellious, or active outside the law.
In the mid-1970s, journalist Hazel Smith, country’s self-described "mother hen," coined the term "outlaw music" to describe artists like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings that did not fit the Music Row mold. These renegades rejected the norms — replacing saccharine sounds with storied songs.
Long before this country subgenre had a name, Hank Williams ("I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry"), Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues'') and Merle Haggard ("Mama Tried") were the original outlaws. In the early 1970s, Nelson's Shotgun Willie further forged the style of outlaw country.
Nashville initially ignored them. But, in 1976, after the compilation Wanted! The Outlaws became the first country album certified platinum, these outsiders earned industry respect. Today, the music endures. SiriusXM has a station devoted to these misfits. And a new six-part docuseries — They Called Us Outlaws: Cosmic Cowboys, Honky Tonk Heroes and the Rise of Renegade Troubadours (narrated by Jack Ingram) — will debut in 2023.
The GRAMMY Museum will hold an event on Dec. 5 to preview part of this new 12-hour documentary. Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett will lead a discussion with the filmmakers, and the evening will feature performances from Tyler Childers, John R. Miller and Abby Hamilton, Shooter Jennings and Jesse Daniel.