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Donald Fagen of Steely Dan
Steely Dan Team Up With Steve Winwood For Big Summer 2020 Tour
Don't miss the two GRAMMY-winning acts on their joint nationwide Earth After Hours Tour this summer
Their collaborative Earth After Hours Tour will stop at various amphitheaters and pavilions in cities throughout the country including shows in Los Angeles, Seattle and Atlanta before wrapping up in Bethel, N.Y. on July 11. After longtime Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker passed away in 2017, Donald Fagen, the act's surviving co-founder, has continued to perform their music. The show is slated to feature crowd favorites and hit-heavy sets from both Donald Fagen and company, as well as from the “Roll With It” singer.
Of Steely Dan’s nine GRAMMY nominations, the first came for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus in 1974 for their hit single “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.” They earned three wins at the 43rd GRAMMY Awards, including Album Of The Year for Two Against Nature. Winwood earned his first five GRAMMY nods in 1986, taking home two wins for his power ballad "Higher Love."
Pre-sale tickets will be available for Citi credit card holders beginning on Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. local time until Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. local time. Tickets will be available for purchase to the general public on Jan. 25 at 10 a.m. local time on LiveNation.com. All tour dates and locations can be found here.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage
Five Hip-Hop Songs That Sample Steely Dan, In Celebration Of New Book 'Quantum Criminals'
A new book, 'Quantum Criminals,' maps how Steely Dan's cynical, visionary universe resonates in unexpected ways today. Their intrigue extends to the world of hip-hop sampling.
Among serious music fans, it's a common rite of passage to realize there's a lot more to Steely Dan than meets the eye. And a lot of that is biting, sardonic wit.
If you think Donald Fagen and Walter Becker's three-time GRAMMY-winning partnership is just the stuff of smoothed-over yacht rock, you could have a change of heart: Dan bangers from "Deacon Blues" to "Don't Take Me Alive" to "Hey Nineteen" are full of pitch-black character studies, acidic turns of phrase, and one-liners that may singe your eyebrows.
Sure, this component of the group is key to their conceptual essence. But in your dance with the Dan, take the next step: If you took away all the sarcasm, all the seediness, all the salt, Steely Dan would still be one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Because their musical sophistication was second to none.
For decades, connotations of soft-rock yuppiedom have calcified around Steely Dan; The Onion once summed it up with an article headlined "Donald Fagen Defends Steely Dan To Friends." But not only do they barely resemble yacht rock on any level; their compositions and playing were of a stunning level of sophistication. It's no accident that unquestionable musical godheads Wayne Shorter, Bernard Purdie and the Brecker brothers played with them.
Steely Dan is a tangled web indeed, and a new book illuminates every nook and cranny of their legend. Journalist Alex Pappademas and visual artist Joan LeMay's Quantum Criminals, arrived in May and pulls apart the Steely Dan myth like Russian nesting dolls.
"We're all looking out at the world with a Donald and Walter-ish kind of dismay. So they make a lot more sense now," Pappademas recently told Rolling Stone. What seemed cold and remote and jerky about them back in the day — now, that's just the way people talk. They're also also writing apocalyptically about their time, and our time now seems so unavoidably apocalyptic.
In the same interview, Pappademas cited the final album of their original run, 1980's Gaucho. "Gaucho is the ultimate one because it's the slickest," he said, mentioning an ultra-complex drum machine they built to remove any vestige of humanity. "Eventually, the solution is, 'We're going to invent sampling so that we can reduce the amount of human error.'"
Of course, Steely Dan didn't literally invent sampling. But the comment at least tacitly bridges two worlds few know are bridged: Steely Dan and hip-hop. As Pappademas put it in the book — albeit in the context of a contentious royalties agreement — “Even if nothing about Steely Dan was hip-hop, everything about them was hip-hop… they were about that cash.”
According to WhoSampled, the Dan have been sampled 152 times; in a number of cases, those samples were in rap songs. Pappademas acknowledges this component of the Dan's legacy in the chapter "Peter/Tariq/Daniel" in Quantum Criminals.
In tandem with Quantum Criminals, let the following list of Dan-sampling rap songs elucidate this misunderstood band for neophytes: they were not only gritty lyrically, but conducive to musical grit.
De La Soul - "Eye Know" (1989)
Smack in the middle of De La Soul's debut album, 1989's 3 Feet High and Rising, is "Eye Know," which samples the Mad Lads' "Make This Young Lady Mine," Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay," and Lee Dorsey's "Get Out of My Life, Woman."
Underpinning it all is the clavinet from key Steely Dan hit "Peg," a single from their 1977 masterpiece, Aja.
"Hip-hop love this is and don't mind when I quiz your involvements before the sun," Pos raps over the burbling chords. "But clear your court 'cause this is a one-man sport." Between verses, a sampled Fagen bleats, "I know I'll love you better!"
Ice Cube - "Don't Trust 'Em" (1992)
Get past the… er, interesting cover art, and 1976's The Royal Scam is a jewel in Steely Dan's crown — a revisitation of their rock roots as they hurtled into ironic smoothness.
"Green Earrings," about a remorseless jewel thief, is a highlight, and Ice Cube incorporated a sped-up sample of its keyboard part in "Don't Trust 'Em," from his 1992 album The Predator.
The crystalline-toned hook is woven into brutal storytelling, as the former N.W.A. MC details how a sexual encounter can get you hogtied in a trunk: "You can't trust a big butt and a smile," Cube sagely warns.
Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz - "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" (1997)
Aja's opener, "Black Cow," remains of one Steely Dan's all-time funkiest cuts, and it provides the engine for East Coast rap duo Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz's debut single, "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)".
As Pappademas lays out in Quantum Criminals, Fagen and Becker would only clear the sample if they received 100 percent of the royalties. "People are under the impression that we put the record out and got sued," Gunz said, according to the book. "We didn't get sued. We got stuck up." "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" turned out to be Tarique and Gunz's one and only hit song, from their one and only album.
MF DOOM - "Gas Drawls" (1999)
Other MCs clearly got the memo on "Black Cow": it shows up early on the late MF DOOM's "Gas Drawls," from his 1999 debut album Operation: Doomsday, and pops up repeatedly throughout the song.
"You were very high!" Fagen crows just before Dumile punches in, in media res: "By the way, I re-up on bad dreams, bag up screams in 50s/ Be up on mad schemes that heat shop like jiffy."
Kanye West - "Champion" (2007)
Like Ye's cartoon-bear mascot on the cover of 2007's Graduation, "Champion," a cut from that album, blasts into the air — buoyed by a vocal sample from Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne."
"Did you realize/ That you were a champion in their eyes?" Fagen croons as the song's chorus, giving "Champion" its thrust as well as its title. At first, Fagen and Becker were reluctant to clear the sample; they relented after West sent Fagen a heartfelt, handwritten letter.
Today, the verse resonates in the rapper now called Ye's legacy — not only for this particular song, but because it seems to sum up his rise and fall. Clearly, Pappademas was right: Steely Dan has nothing to do with hip-hop. Steely Dan is hip-hop.
Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Remembering Wayne Shorter: 7 Gateway Tracks From The Jazz Titan's 1960s Run
The pioneering composer and tenor and soprano saxophonist passed away on March 2. His influence and legacy spans decades and permutations of jazz, but for the uninitiated, here are seven highlights from his 1960s leader albums.
When the world learned of the pioneering saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter's death on March 2, it did so partly through a quote from the maestro itself: "It's time to go get a new body and come back to continue the mission."
This evocation of reincarnation not only speaks to Shorter's elaborate psychospiritual universe — he followed Nichiren Buddhism for half a century — but his multitudes as an artistic behemoth. In his 89-year life, Shorter irrevocably altered so many sectors of jazz and related forms that he seemed to inhabit many bodies at once.
To trace the 12-time GRAMMY winner's artistic evolution is to tell the story of the music as it evolved and propagated through the latter half of the 20th century. He was a member of two of the most crucial groups in jazz history: the brilliant, hotheaded drummer Art Blakey's unofficial jazz academy the Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis' so-called Second Great Quintet.
But even that's just the tip of the iceberg. After an astonishing run of leader albums on Blue Note — including all-timers like JuJu, Speak No Evil and The All Seeing Eye — Shorter formed Weather Report, a fundamental group in '70s and '80s jazz fusion. Along the way, he also collaborated with AOR legends — Joni Mitchell on a slew of mid-period records, and on the title track to Aja, Steely Dan.
In the 21st century, he continued hurtling forward as a composer, and work only seemed to grow more eclectic and multifarious, arguably culminating with (Iphigenia), an expansive opera co-created with bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding. At the 2023 GRAMMYs, he won Best Improvised Jazz Solo alongside pianist Leo Genovese for "Endangered Species," a cut on Live at the Detroit Jazz Festival, which also features Spalding and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.
In 2015, the Recording Academy bestowed upon him a Lifetime Achievement Award. "Wayne Shorter's influence on the jazz community has left an indelible mark on the music industry," Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said in part. "It's been a privilege to celebrate his contributions to our culture throughout his incredible career."
As bandleader Darcy James Argue put it, "There isn't a jazz composer today who does not owe an absolutely immeasurable debt to Wayne Shorter. Whether you assimilated his harmonic language, or consciously rejected it, or tried to thread a path somewhere in between, his influence is as unavoidable as the elements."
But with this vast cosmology established, how can Shorter neophytes find their own way in? To traverse the universe of the self-dubbed Mr. Weird — from a line about person or thing X being “as weird as Wayne” — one need not enter it at random.
Arguably, the gateway is Shorter's aforementioned '60s run as a leader; from there, one can venture out in a dozen directions and be rewarded with a lifetime of cerebrality and majesty.
So, for those looking for a way in, here are seven essential tracks from that specific period and component of Shorter's culture-quaking legacy.
"Night Dreamer" (Night Dreamer, 1964)
Shorter was terrific as a leader from the jump, but he arguably came into his own with his fourth album under his own name, Night Dreamer. Much of this had to do with paring down his compositions to their haunting essence. "I used to see a lot of chord changes, for instance, but now I can separate the wheat from the chaff," Shorter said at the time.
Immerse yourself into the fittingly crepuscular title track, which Shorter crafted for a nighttime brood. "The minor keys often connotes evening or night to me," he wrote in the liner notes. "Although the beat does float, it also is set in a heavy groove. It's a paradox, in a way — like you'd have in a dream, something that's both light and heavy."
"Juju" (Juju, 1965)
Night Dreamer and Juju feature a rhythm section closely associated with John Coltrane — the classic Olé Coltrane one, composed of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Elvin Jones.
As a tenorist influenced by Coltrane, Shorter invited comparisons to his inspiration. But alongside Trane's accompanists, he had developed his own style — with the raw, unvarnished quality of said legend, but a barer tone and more elliptical sense of articulation. Juxtaposed against his accompanists' dazzling, shattered-glass approach, the side-eyeing Shorter is enchanting.
"House of Jade" (Juju, 1965)
After the rainshower of piano notes that initiates "House of Jade," Shorter demonstrates his inimitable way with a ballad, hung on Jones' weighty swing and sway. As jazz author and columnist Mark Stryker put it in an edifying Twitter thread compiling the best of Shorter at a gentler pace: "The ballads are everything. It's all there, now and forever."
"Indian Song" (Etcetera, rec. 1965 rel. 1980)
Featuring bassist Cecil McBee, drummer Joe Chambers, and harmonic mastermind Herbie Hancock — Shorter's lifelong ride-or-die — on piano, Etcetera was recorded the same year as Juju but remained on the shelf for a decade. Better late than never: it stands tall among Shorter's Blue Notes of its time.
All five tracks are fantastic — four Shorters, one Gil Evans, in "Barracudas (General Assembly)." But regarding its final track, "Indian Song," one reviewer might have hit the nail on the head: "At times the rest of the album seems like a warm-up for that amazing tune."
Across more than 11 minutes, "Indian Song" expands and retracts, inhales and exhales, on a spectral path into the unknown. Want an immediate example of how Shorter and Hancock twinned and intertwined their musical spirits to intoxicating effect? Look no further.
"Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum" (Speak No Evil, 1966)
As per compositional mastery, evocative interplay and plain old vibe, Speak No Evil represents something of an apogee for Shorter — and many in the know regard it as the crown jewel.
The majestic, mid-tempo "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum" is just one highlight of this quintessential, classic-stuffed Blue Note. Hear how Hancock's elusive harmonic shades and Shorter's simple yet impassioned approach just gel — with support from trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Elvin Jones.
"Wayne isn't playing the changes, but plays around the composition—he's creative within the composition," saxophonist David Sanchez once explicated. "[It's] distinct from a lot of other Blue Note recordings of the period on which, generally speaking, people would improvise on the changes once the head or theme was over."
But you don't need to know what's under the hood to hear how this classic thrillingly pushes and pulls.
"Infant Eyes" (Speak No Evil, 1966)
"Infant Eyes" is a Shorter ballad of almost surreal atmosphere and beauty: on a compositional and emotional level, it's difficult to compare it to much else. It's "doom jazz" decades before that was ever a thing.
Down to Shorter's sheer note choices and the grain of his tone, "Infant Eyes" will make your heart leap into your throat. As per Stryker's Twitter litany of enchanting Shorter ballads, the combination is stiff — but if one is supreme, it's difficult to not pick this one.
"Footprints" (Adam's Apple, 1967)
This loping waltz-not-waltz from 1967's Adam's Apple is one of Shorter's most well-known tunes; even without close analysis of its sneaky rhythms, it's downright irresistible. And talk about gateways: it's a launchpad for any young musician who wants to give his tunes a shot.
"Footprints" continues to be a standard; it titled his biography; the Facebook post announcing Shorter's death bore footprint emojis. Shorter may have transitioned from this body, but his impressions are everywhere — and we'll never see the likes of Mr. Weird again.
Photo: Rachel Kupfer
A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.
It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.
Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.
Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.
In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.
Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.
There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.
Say She She
Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.
While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."
Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.
Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.
Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.
Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.
L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.
During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.
Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.
Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.