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For The Record: A Tribe Called Quest 'The Low End Theory'

A Tribe Called Quest

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For The Record: A Tribe Called Quest's Groundbreaking 'The Low End Theory' At 30

A 2021 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inductee, 'The Low End Theory,' released in 1991, saw A Tribe Called Quest reinvent the wheel yet again, marrying the sounds of jazz and hip-hop and solidifying the group's artistic legacy

GRAMMYs/Feb 15, 2021 - 09:59 pm

In 1991, hip-hop was in a state of flux, and A Tribe Called Quest were searching for balance. Their 1990 debut album, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, propelled the Queens, New York, group to new heights. Tribe tempered the growing gangster rap movement with their own breed of hip-hop, one full of humor, life, positivity and a more lighthearted approach to making music. Their style positioned them more as a group who loved being musicians over utilizing their rhymes to vent about the doom and gloom enveloping their environment.

Tribe, along with groups like De La Soul, Jungle Brothers and Leaders of the New School, were a part of the DAISY ("Da Inner Sound, Y'all") age of hip-hop. (De La Soul coined the term on their 1989 debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, in which they chanted the phrase several times throughout the project.) DAISY artists donned brighter clothing, used literal daisy imagery in their artwork, music videos and album covers, and punctuated their positive messages with poignancies on Afrocentricity. Even de facto A Tribe Called Quest leader Kamaal Fareed went by MC Love Child before he was given the name Q-Tip.

Intertwined with this bohemian take on hip-hop music, several DAISY artists, including Jungle Brothers, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, were also part of the Native Tongues collective, a loose network of East Coast hip-hop artists. But even if you weren't down with Native Tongues, if your music was the antithesis of the exploding gangster rap style of the time, you tangentially became a part of the DAISY Age.

DAISY artists diverged from what most considered then to be the sonic norm for rap music, which was a rugged exterior revealing street hymns and conspiracy theories, along with stories of police brutality and gang wars. N.W.A's 1988 debut album Straight Outta Compton was mostly to thank, along with Public Enemy's 1988 album It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back, a clarion call for the mobilization of Black people against the powers that be. It was raging against the machine at its best.

While artists of the DAISY Age discussed ways for Black people to find their own grooves and means to mobilize, albeit in a different way, Tribe and groups of their ilk were categorized under the "alternative hip-hop" subgenre, an industry move suggesting that discussions of anything other than gun talk were the exception, not the rule. They were all deemed "safe," nonviolent "alternatives," while also commanding a sound both parents and kids could mutually enjoy. It was a gift and a curse at the same time.

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It was a frustrating position for any critically acclaimed group paving their own path. Still, by the time A Tribe Called Quest got to work on The Low End Theory, they were more than ready to reinvent the wheel yet again. This would be the project that served as a reference point for A Tribe Called Quest as bastions of versatility. In order to prove that, they had to rework their whole style, right down to their image. There was also the added pressure of the sophomore slump. But that didn't faze lead producer Q-Tip in the least. Tribe weren't cocky—they were confident.

Tribe had a lot to prove on The Low End Theory while not coming off as tryhards. In 14 tracks, they had to somehow remove the stigmas attached to so many hip-hop artists at the time: You were either too street, too soft or too artsy, or you didn't understand a single instrument. Tribe aimed to strike that balance artfully.

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Inspired by the hard thuds checkered throughout Straight Outta Compton, Q-Tip opted for bass-heavy beats on Low End.  Album opener "Excursions" oozes with those steady basslines, as does "Buggin' Out," "Check The Rhime" and closer "Scenario."

Q-Tip made it a point to masterfully bring the sounds of jazz and bebop to boom bap, where, for the first time ever, the instruments were front and center. You could listen to any song on Low End and hear every layer as it's being played, a rarity in the sample-heavy world of hip-hop. With Tribe, you experienced the masterpiece in full totality, while also seeing every stroke of the paintbrush. And despite their claims of having the jazz on "Jazz (We've Got)," Tribe didn't sound like some jazz ensemble in hard-bottom shoes anywhere on Low End. This was pure hip-hop in a new iteration by a group determined to make a mark on their own terms.

But like Q-Tip says on "Rap Promoter ("Not too modest and not a lot of pride"), Tribe had to be bolder with their messaging this time around, while still maintaining their stance on peace and positivity. On "Excursions," an idyllic intro to that creative approach, Q-Tip makes it clear that Tribe is playing the long game in rap, in the right way, while still switching the sound up. He does the same on "Verses From The Abstract," in which he takes the reins on the group's collective messaging.

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This was also the moment, however, where Phife Dawg would step forward and do just enough posturing and bragging on the group's behalf. His presence was barely felt on Tribe's debut album since Phife's head wasn't all the way in the game until Q-Tip centered him. The yin to Q-Tip's yang, Phife was a 5-foot-3-inch sh*t-talker and bona fide comedian who helped the former not take the game too seriously. On "Buggin' Out," Phife is in the spotlight, and he keeps it going on "Butter" where he talks about pulling girls like "Flo" while simultaneously shining on his own for once.

Read More: 'Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty' At 10: The Story Behind The Missing Tracks From Big Boi's Solo Debut Album

Low End is also full of music industry cautionary tales. On "Rap Promoter," Q-Tip waxes philosophically and questions why rap promoters will invite hip-hop heads to a wack show. Tribe then expose the ills of the biz on "Show Business," with the help of Brand Nubian and Diamond D, and continue that sentiment on "Check The Rhime" where Q-Tip births the now-infamous line, "Industry rule number four-thousand-and-eighty / Record company people are shady."

Tribe's storytelling is in clear view on "The Infamous Date Rape" and "Everything Is Fair," with the former carrying a real sentiment of exposing criminal acts. It's heavy without being too dark, while tracks like "What?" are light without being too whimsy. "Skypager" sees Tribe dissecting their many reasons for carrying a beeper. At face value, the concept would seem like a whole lot of nonsense about an inanimate piece of technology. But the song ultimately places the group alongside the same beeper-carrying drug dealers from whom the industry and the media attempted to forcibly disassociate them. While Tribe aim to show they are different and unfazed by fancy gadgets, "Skypager" still echoes their main message: We are all in this together.

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Then, of course, there's "Scenario." With the help of Leaders of the New School and the soon-to-be legend Busta Rhymes, the track is heavy on basslines, trash talk, braggadocio and bars. The perfect closer to the album, "Scenario" is so bullish and so energetic, it almost serves as a celebration of Tribe's accomplishment: the martini after a cinematic piece has wrapped.

The Low End Theory was somewhat of a swan song for A Tribe Called Quest in more ways than one. It was their diversion from the Native Tongues and the DAISY Age scenes, especially after the group signed to Russell Simmons' Rush Artist Management, under manager Chris Lighty, a move that would take their message to a bigger, more mainstream hip-hop audience. However, the album was also a farewell to the pigeonholed style and sound they were wedged into the first time around. After The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest could fly, and the sky was the limit.

"Loops Of Funk Over Hardcore Beats": 30 Years Of A Tribe Called Quest's Debut, 'People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm'

Megan Thee Stallion at the 2021 GRAMMYs
Megan Thee Stallion at the 2021 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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GRAMMY Rewind: Megan Thee Stallion Went From "Savage" To Speechless After Winning Best New Artist In 2021

Relive the moment Megan Thee Stallion won the coveted Best New Artist honor at the 2021 GRAMMYs, where she took home three golden gramophones thanks in part to her chart-topping smash "Savage."

GRAMMYs/Apr 5, 2024 - 05:25 pm

In 2020, Megan Thee Stallion solidified herself as one of rap's most promising new stars, thanks to her hit single "Savage." Not only was it her first No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, but the "sassy, moody, nasty" single also helped Megan win three GRAMMYs in 2021.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the sentimental moment the Houston "Hottie" accepted one of those golden gramophones, for Best New Artist.

"I don't want to cry," Megan Thee Stallion said after a speechless moment at the microphone. Before starting her praises, she gave a round of applause to her fellow nominees in the category, who she called "amazing."

Along with thanking God, she also acknowledged her manager, T. Farris, for "always being with me, being by my side"; her record label, 300 Entertainment, for "always believing in me, sticking by through my craziness"; and her mother, who "always believed I could do it."

Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage" remix with Beyoncé also helped her win Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance that night — marking the first wins in the category by a female lead rapper.

Press play on the video above to watch Megan Thee Stallion's complete acceptance speech for Best New Artist at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards, and remember to check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

Black Sounds Beautiful: How Megan Thee Stallion Turned Viral Fame Into A GRAMMY-Winning Rap Career

A black-and-white photo of pioneering rap group Run-DMC
Run-DMC

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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'Run-DMC' At 40: The Debut Album That Paved The Way For Hip-Hop's Future

Forty years ago, Run-DMC released their groundbreaking self-titled album, which would undeniably change the course of hip-hop. Here's how three guys from Queens, New York, defined what it meant to be "old school" with a record that remains influential.

GRAMMYs/Mar 27, 2024 - 03:49 pm

"You don't know that people are going to 40 years later call you up and say, ‘Can you talk about this record from 40 years ago?’"

That was Cory Robbins, former president of Profile Records, reaction to speaking to Grammy.com about one of the first albums his then-fledgling label released. Run-DMC’s self-titled debut made its way into the world four decades ago this week on March 27, 1984 and established the group, in Robbins’ words, "the Beatles of hip-hop." 

Rarely in music, or anything else, is there a clear demarcation between old and new. Styles change gradually, and artistic movements usually get contextualized, and often even named, after they’ve already passed from the scene. But Run-DMC the album, and the singles that led up to it, were a definitive breaking point. Rap before it instantly, and eternally, became “old school.” And three guys from Hollis, Queens — Joseph "Run" Simmons, Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels — helped turn a burgeoning genre on its head.

What exactly was different about Run-DMC? Some of the answers can be glimpsed by a look at the record’s opening song. "Hard Times" is a cover of a Kurtis Blow track from his 1980 debut album. The connection makes sense. Kurtis and Run’s older brother Russell Simmons met in college, and Russell quickly became the rapper’s manager. That led to Run working as Kurtis’ DJ. Larry Smith, who produced Run-DMC, even played on Kurtis’ original version of the song.

But despite those tie-ins, the two takes on "Hard Times" are night and day. Kurtis Blow’s is exactly what rap music was in its earliest recorded form: a full band playing something familiar (in this case, a James Brown-esque groove, bridge and percussion breakdown inclusive.)

What Run-DMC does with it is entirely different. The song is stripped down to its bare essence. There’s a drum machine, a sole repeated keyboard stab, vocals, and… well, that’s about it. No solos, no guitar, no band at all. Run and DMC are trading off lines in an aggressive near-shout. It’s simple and ruthlessly effective, a throwback to the then-fading culture of live park jams. But it was so starkly different from other rap recordings of the time, which were pretty much all in the style of Blow’s record, that it felt new and vital.

"Production-wise, Sugar Hill [the record label that released many key early rap singles] built themselves on the model of Motown, which is to say, they had their own production studios and they had a house band and they recorded on the premises," explains Bill Adler, who handled PR for Run-DMC and other key rap acts at the time.

"They made magnificent records, but that’s not how rap was performed in parks," he continues. "It’s not how it was performed live by the kids who were actually making the music."

Run-DMC’s musical aesthetic was, in some ways, a lucky accident. Larry Smith, the musician who produced the album, had worked with a band previously. In fact, the reason two of the songs on the album bear the subtitle "Krush Groove" is because the drum patterns are taken from his band Orange Krush’s song “Action.”

Read more: Essential Hip-Hop Releases From The 1970s: Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Sugarhill Gang & More

But by the time sessions for Run-DMC came around, the money had run out and, despite his desire to have the music done by a full band, Smith was forced to go without them and rely on a drum machine. 

His artistic partner on the production side was Russell Simmons. Simmons, who has been accused over the past seven years of numerous instances of sexual assault dating back decades, was back in 1983-4 the person providing the creative vision to match Smith’s musical knowledge.

Orange Krush’s drummer Trevor Gale remembered the dynamic like this (as quoted in Geoff Edgers’ Walk This Way: Run-DMC, Aerosmith, and the Song that Changed American Music Forever): “Larry was the guy who said, 'Play four bars, stop on the fifth bar, come back in on the fourth beat of the fifth bar.' Russell was the guy that was there that said, ‘I don’t like how that feels. Make it sound like mashed potato with gravy on it.’”

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It wasn’t just the music that set Run-DMC apart from its predecessors. Their look was also starkly different, and that influenced everything about the group, including the way their audience viewed them.

Most of the first generation of recorded rappers were, Bill Adler remembers, influenced visually by either Michael Jackson or George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. Run-DMC was different.

"Their fashion sense was very street oriented," Adler explains. "And that was something that emanated from Jam Master Jay. Jason just always had a ton of style. He got a lot of his sartorial style from his older brother, Marvin Thompson. Jay looked up to his older brother and kind of dressed the way that Marvin did, including the Stetson hat. 

"When Run and D told Russ, Jason is going to be our deejay, Russell got one look at Jay and said, ‘Okay, from now on, you guys are going to dress like him.’"

Run, DMC, and Jay looked like their audience. That not only set them apart from the costumed likes of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, it also cemented the group’s relationship with their listeners. 

"When you saw Run-DMC, you didn’t see celebrity. You saw yourself," DMC said in the group’s recent docuseries

Read more: 20 Iconic Hip-Hop Style Moments: From Run-D.M.C. To Runways

Another thing that set Run-DMC (the album) and Run-DMC (the group) apart from what came before was the fact that they released a cohesive rap album. Nine songs that all belonged together, not just a collection of already-released singles and some novelties. Rappers had released albums prior to Run-DMC, but that’s exactly what they were: hits and some other stuff — sung love ballads or rock and roll covers, or other experiments rightfully near-forgotten.

"There were a few [rap] albums [at the time], but they were pretty crappy. They were usually just a bunch of singles thrown together," Cory Robbins recalls.

Not this album. It set a template that lasted for years: Some social commentary, some bragging, a song or two to show off the DJ. A balance of records aimed at the radio and at the hard-core fans. You can still see traces of Run-DMC in pretty much every rap album released today.

Listeners and critics reacted. The album got a four-star review in Rolling Stone with “the music…that backs these tracks is surprisingly varied, for all its bare bones” and an A minus from Robert Christgau who claimed “It's easily the canniest and most formally sustained rap album ever.” Just nine months after its release, Run-DMC was certified gold, the first rap LP ever to earn that honor. "Rock Box" also single-handedly invented rap-rock, thanks to Eddie Martinez’s loud guitars. 

There is another major way in which the record was revolutionary. The video for "Rock Box" was the first rap video to ever get into regular rotation on MTV and, the first true rap video ever played on the channel at all, period. Run-DMC’s rise to MTV fame represented a significant moment in breaking racial barriers in mainstream music broadcasting. 

"There’s no overstating the importance of that video," Adler tells me. vIt broke through the color line at MTV and opened the door to a cataclysmic change." 

"Everybody watched MTV forty years ago," Robbins agrees. "It was a phenomenal thing nationwide. Even if we got three or four plays a week of ‘Rock Box’ on MTV, that did move the needle."

All of this: the new musical style, the relatable image, the MTV pathbreaking, and the attendant critical love and huge sales (well over 10 times what their label head was expecting when he commissioned the album from a reluctant Russell Simmons — "I hoping it would sell thirty or forty thousand," Robbins says now): all of it contributed to making Run-DMC what it is: a game-changer.

"It was the first serious rap album," Robbins tells me. And while you could well accuse him of bias — the group making an album at all was his idea in the first place — he’s absolutely right. 

Run-DMC changed everything. It split the rap world into old school and new school, and things would never be the same.

Perhaps the record’s only flaw is one that wouldn’t be discovered for years. As we’re about to get off the phone, Robbins tells me about a mistake on the cover, one he didn’t notice until the record was printed and it was too late. 

There was something (Robbins doesn’t quite recall what) between Run and DMC in the cover photo. The art director didn’t like it and proceeded to airbrush it out. But he missed something. On the vinyl, if you look between the letters "M" and "C,", you can see DMC’s disembodied left hand, floating ghost-like in mid-air. While it was an oversight, it’s hard not to see this as a sign, a sort of premonition that the album itself would hang over all of hip-hop, with an influence that might be hard to see at first, but that never goes away. 

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A collage photo of African women rappers (Clockwise from top-left): Femi One, Deto Black, Nadfiav Nakai, Candy Bleakz, Rosa Ree, Sho Madjozi
(Clockwise from top-left): Femi One, Deto Black, Nadfiav Nakai, Candy Bleakz, Rosa Ree, Sho Madjozi

Photos: Kaka Empire Music Label; Dave Benett/Getty Images for Dion Lee x htown; Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images via Getty Images; Slevin Salau; Asam Visuals; Harold Feng/Getty Images

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10 Women In African Hip-Hop You Should Know: SGaWD, Nadai Nakai, Sho Madjozi & More

Women have been a part of African hip-hop since its onset, contributing to the genre’s foundation and evolution. These 10 female African rappers bring unique perspectives to hip-hop coming from Nigeria, Ghana and across the continent.

GRAMMYs/Mar 27, 2024 - 03:26 pm

African music has become increasingly mainstream, with Afrobeats gaining global popularity in recent years. As Burna Boy, Davido, Wizkid, and Tems have become household names, and the Recording Academy presented the inaugural Best African Music Performance award in 2024, all eyes are on Africa.

Hip-hop is a crucial thread running through Afrobeats, which also mixes traditional African rhythms with pop and dancehall. Hip-hop landed in Africa between the 1980s and 1990s, first in Senegal in 1985 and in South Africa the following decade. Over time, African hip-hop advanced from imitating American styles, to a focus on artists incorporating their own cultural experiences, languages, and social commentary.

The result was a distinctly African sound, present across the continent from West to East Africa. In Nigeria, the rap scene is almost mainstream with artists like Olamide earning a GRAMMY nomination for Best African Music Performance for his hit song with Asake; Tanzania has gained enormous respect on the international rap scene for its own "Bongo Flava." 

Women have been a part of African hip-hop since its onset, contributing to the genre’s foundation. Nazizi Hirji is known as the "First Lady of Kenyan Rap" for becoming the first successful female artist in her country at age 16. Mariam of the Malian duo Amadou and Mariam created a distinctive sound by fusing elements of hip-hop and traditional Malian music. 

Africa's hip-hop community is ever-evolving, and women are at the forefront. The following 10 African women rappers are bringing their unique voices, experiences and sounds to the scene.

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SGaWD

After leaving her career as a lawyer to pursue music, the Nigerian rapper SGaWD is beginning to make her mark on the scene. Fusing elements of hip-hop and Nigerian alté, SGaWD creates a sound without restrictions. 

She released her debut EP, Savage Bitch Juice, in 2021 and collaborated with fellow Nigerian artist Somadina on flirty lead single "Pop S—." In the second single "Rude," SGaWD detailed the nuances of her romantic and sexual experiences with men. She followed this with a slew of singles, including "INTERMISSION " and "Dump All Your Worries On The Dance Floor."

Her summer anthem "Boy Toy" is a sexy and melodic blend of rap and R&B. Her comfort with sexuality goes beyond lyricism; the music video for "Boy Toy" shows her comfort and embrace of sexuality via wardrobe choices and choreography.

But it's not all sex; SGaWD is dedicated to organizing her community. In December 2023, she organized The Aquarium, a sonic experience that included performances from herself and other female rappers.

Lifesize Teddy

Mavins Records is known for producing back-to-back breakout stars — from Rema to Arya Starr — and fans now expect a new artist from them annually. When Lifesize Teddy was introduced to the scene, rapping as her alter ego PoisonBaby, she got deep. Her intro video dissected her relationship with her inner child and explored her roots in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. 

After spending three years of artist development in the Mavin Records Academy, she started her music career, by releasing two EPs in the span of four months in 2023. Her self-titled debut EP was led by the single "Hypnotic," a flirty song of sexual freedom that merges hip-hop and Afrobeats. Her second EP, POISN, featured five songs with one featuring her fellow Mavins Records artist, Magixx.

She ended last year headlining different shows in Lagos’ Detty December and is a special guest on Ayra Starr World Tour. 

Eno Barony

Ghanaian rapper Eno Barony's name reflects her aura and essence: "Eno" is Twi for mother, and quite fittingly she is referred to as "The Mother of Rap" in Ghana. Raised by missionary parents, she uses her music to spread the message that women should not be silenced. 

She has been releasing music for over a decade, with singles "Tonga," "Megye Wo Boy", "The Best," "Touch the Body," and "Do Something" gaining mainstream attention on the continent. Eno Barony released her first album in 2020 and, the following year became the first female rapper to win Best Rapper at the Ghana Music Awards. 

Her most recent album, Ladies First, captures the nuances and complexity of being a woman in Ghana and serves as a form of resistance to patriarchy. Opening track "God Is a Woman," featuring Ghanaian singer/songwriter Efya, establishes the tone: Eno is "entering every lane" even though "it’s a man’s world and she entered without a passport". 

Eno Barony continually pours vulnerability into her music. On these lead singles; "Heavy Load" and  "Don’t Judge Me" she raps about accepting her body image and addresses the culture of unconstructive criticism in the music industry, respectively. Last month, she released a new single "Good Enough," a romantic and reflective tune.

Nadai Nakai

Hailing from both Zimbabwe and South Africa, Nadai Nakai has been a fixture in the African rap scene for over a decade. She was the first female rapper to win the Mixtape 101 competition on the hip-hop show, "Shiz Niz."   

A mentee of pioneering Kenyan hip-hop artist Nazizi, Nakai released her first single "Like Me" under Sid Records in September 2013. The rightfully braggadocious song detailed her many talents and skills, wrapped in clever lyricism. She continued to release a slew of singles, including "Naaa Meaan" (a collaboration with Casper Nyovest, a South African male rapper), which garnered over 1 million views. Her debut album, Nadai Naked, was an ode to women making liberating choices. 

Her hip-hop and R&B-inspired songs highlight her values of female free expression and strength. Her most recent single, "Back In," announced Nakai's return to the industry after grieving the death of her boyfriend, AKA. She plans to release a tribute EP dedicated to AKA.

Deela

Deela saw a hole in the Nigerian music industry that needed to be filled. Where were the women who talked and behaved like her, with brazen confidence and an unfiltered sense of expression? 

She started making music during the pandemic lockdown, releasing singles such as the raging "Bitch Boi" and trap track "Rolling Stones." Both tracks later appeared on her debut album, Done Deel. Deela's most popular single, "Get A Grip," shows the rapper is demanding autonomy while owning her promiscuity and single life.

Deela's experimental sound includes ventures into trap, drill and more. Her 2023 album Is This On? showcased this range via UK rap-inspired "Trapstar" and straight-up hip-hop track "Take That Up" featuring Flo Milli.

She hit the ground running in 2024, releasing a collaboration with Somadina titled "Lagos" and a love-themed EP, Love Is Wicked

Deto Black

Lagos-based rapper Deto Black is an artistic polymath who dabbles in modeling, acting and photography. Her music spans hip-hop, Afrobeats, rap, pop and rock, and is becoming known in the alté scene following her collaboration with Odunsi the Engine, Amaarae and Gigi Atlantis on "Body Count." Deto’s verse on the 2020 track is  sex-positive, and encourages listeners to follow her example. 

Deto released her debut EP, Yung Everything, in 2021 and followed with singles "Nu Bag" and "Just Like Deto." At the start of 2024, she released "It’s A No From Me" featuring Chi; its music video was directed by notable alté artist Cruel Santino.

Rosa Ree

Tanzanian rapper Rosa Ree addresses the nuances of womanhood in male-dominated spaces. She entered the scene in 2016 with the goal of proving her naysayers wrong, releasing the aggressive "One Time" to dispel any notions that a woman couldn't exist in hip-hop.

In her 2022 single "I’m Not Sorry," Rosa Ree dismisses criticism and asserts that she won’t be sorry for showing her true image or voice. She also explores the unique bond between mother and child in 2023's "Mama Omollo," further showcasing the multifaceted identities of women in music.

Rosa Ree's 2024 single "In Too Deep" further showcased her introspective side by exploring themes of emotional hurt, betrayal and disappointment.

Candy Bleakz

Nigerian rapper Candy Bleakz fuses Afrobeats, amapiano and hip-hop, with heavy emphasis on street music. She started making music in 2019 and quickly began developing a community. Candy Bleakz collaborated with Zlatan and Naira Marley on "Owo Osu." 

Her resume now includes hits like "Baba Nla," "Kelegbe," "Virus", and "Kope." Her single "Won La" was even featured on the American TV series "Flatbush Misdemeanors." The most amazing thing about Candy Bleakz, though, is her courage to question the established quo and push for female representation in the infamously male-dominated street music scene.

She released her debut EP, Fire, in 2022 and raps proudly about her life and talent. On its breakout single, "Tikuku," she addresses her haters head-on. This song has garnered over 300,000 posts on TikTok going as far as eliciting a challenge in the Nigerian section of TikTok.

Candy Bleakz's second EP, Better Days, was released on March 22 and featured lead single "Para," a rap song featuring African drums, strings and chords. 

Femi One

At just 26 years old, Femi One is a renowned  Kenyan rapper and songwriter. Most of her songs are in Swahili and Sheng — a unique offering as many African rappers perform in a more universal language. 

Over the past five years, Femi One has released back-to-back singles, culminating in her 2019 debut EP XXV. " Two years later, her debut album, Greatness, further detailed her wild style and personality. Tracks like "Balance" are jam-packed with witty wordplay and hidden allusions. She also taps into her gospel roots on Greatness, thanking God for her career on "Adonai."

Her latest single, "B.A," is a pure Afrobeats song that invites listeners to lose themselves in the music and positive energy by throwing open the virtual club doors. 

Sho Madjozi

This South African rapper is known for her bold aesthetic, from her rainbow-coloured hair to her bright costumes. She released her first song, "Dumi Hi Phone," in 2017 and dropped her a genre-bending debut album the following year. Limpopo Champions League explores sounds from hip-hop to EDM.

Sho Madjozi has a quirky habit of writing songs about notable individuals. Her breakout single "John Cena," a tribute to the wrestler and actor, earned her the BET award for Best New International Act in 2019. She also collaborated with Sneakbo, Robot Boi and Matthew Otis on the hit amapiano song "Balotelli," which celebrated the renowned African soccer player. 

Sho Madjozi's music is entirely intertwined with her culture; she raps in the Bantu language Xitsonga and performs traditional dances such as xibelani wearing an adapted 

xibelani skirt. The xibelani (which translates to "hitting to the rhythm") dance is native to Tsonga women, and is performed by girls on special occasions as a celebration of their culture. Sho Madjozi's use of the dance and interpretation of its clothing helps shape her region’s cultural identity.

11 Women Pushing Amapiano To Global Heights: Uncle Waffles, Nkosazana Daughter, & More

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

Image courtesy of the GRAMMY Museum

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GRAMMY Hall Of Fame 2024 Inductees Announced: Recordings By Lauryn Hill, Guns N' Roses, Donna Summer, De La Soul & More

The GRAMMY Museum's inaugural GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala and concert, presented by City National Bank, takes place Tuesday, May 21, at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles.

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2024 - 11:59 am

The Recording Academy has announced 10 recordings to be newly inducted to the distinguished GRAMMY Hall Of Fame as part of its 2024 inductee class and in celebration of its 50th anniversary this year. This year's GRAMMY Hall of Fame additions, the first inductions since 2021, include four albums and six singles that exhibit qualitative or historical significance and are at least 25 years old. The inducted recordings, which will be added to the iconic catalog residing at the GRAMMY Museum, will be honored at GRAMMY Museum's inaugural GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala and concert, presented by City National Bank, taking place Tuesday, May 21, at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles. Tickets for and performers at the Gala will be announced at a later date. 

The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inducted recordings range from Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction. Others include recordings by De La Soul, Buena Vista Social Club, Donna Summer, Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra, the Doobie Brothers, and William Bell. Eligible recipients will receive an official certificate from the Recording Academy. With these 10 newly inducted titles, the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame currently totals 1,152 inducted recordings.

See below for a full list of the 2024 recordings inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, and see the full list of all past GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inducted recordings.

Full list of 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inducted Recordings:

3 FEET HIGH AND RISING
De La Soul
Tommy Boy (1989)
(Album)
Inducted: 2024

APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION
Guns N' Roses
Geffen (1987)
(Album)
Inducted: 2024

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB
Buena Vista Social Club
World Circuit/Nonesuch (1997)
(Album)
Inducted: 2024

“I FEEL LOVE”
Donna Summer
Casablanca (1977)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

“KISS AN ANGEL GOOD MORNIN'“
Charley Pride
RCA Victor (1971)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

“LET'S HAVE A PARTY”
Wanda Jackson
Capitol (1960)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL
Lauryn Hill
Ruffhouse/Columbia (1998)
(Album)
Inducted: 2024

“ORY'S CREOLE TROMBONE”
Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra (As Spike's Seven Pods of Pepper Orchestra)
Nordskog (1922)
(Single)
2024

“WHAT A FOOL BELIEVES”
The Doobie Brothers
Warner Bros. (1978)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

“YOU DON'T MISS YOUR WATER”
William Bell
Stax (1961)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductees

"We're proud to unveil the diverse mix of recordings entering the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in its 50th year," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a statement. "The music showcased here has played a pivotal role in shaping our cultural landscape, and it's a true honor to recognize these albums and recordings, along with the profound influence each has had on music and beyond."

"The artists, songwriters, producers, and engineers who composed this year's inducted recordings are a reflection of the sheer talent and hard work that goes into creating such seminal music," GRAMMY Museum President/CEO Michael Sticka said in a statement. "It's a privilege to be able to welcome these new additions into our distinguished catalog and celebrate the recordings at our inaugural gala on May 21."

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees in 1973. The inducted recordings are selected annually by a special member committee of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts with final ratification by the Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees.

This year, the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala will be the first of what will become an annual event and includes a red carpet and VIP reception on the newly opened Ray Charles Terrace at the GRAMMY Museum, followed by a one-of-a-kind concert at the NOVO Theater in downtown Los Angeles. 

The inaugural gala and concert is produced by longtime executive producer of the GRAMMY Awards, Ken Ehrlich, along with Chantel Sausedo and Ron Basile and will feature musical direction by globally renowned producer and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. For sponsorship opportunities, reach out to halloffame@grammymuseum.org.

Explore the history of the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame