meta-scriptVicky Cornell To Congress: "We Must Integrate Addiction Treatment Into Our Health Care System" |
Chris and Vicky Cornell

Chris and Vicky Cornell

Photo: CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images


Vicky Cornell To Congress: "We Must Integrate Addiction Treatment Into Our Health Care System"

Following Chris Cornell's tragic death in 2017, his wife continues to speak up about mental health and substance abuse. This time she spoke in front of Congress

GRAMMYs/Feb 28, 2019 - 06:36 am

Vicky Cornell, the widow of late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, visited Washington D.C. on Feb. 25 to testify before the Congressional Bipartisan Heroin And Opioid Task Force on the opioid crisis. She advocated for better addiction training for health care professionals in the face of the growing epidemic, underscoring that her husband's death "was not inevitable."

"Chris had a brain disease and a doctor who, unfortunately, like many, was not properly trained or educated on addiction," Cornell told the task force, according to People. "We must integrate addiction treatment into our health care system—no more false narratives about the need to hit rock bottom, no more secret societies, no more shame—we must educate health care providers on how to treat addiction and best support recovery."

The rock icon was found dead by suicide in his hotel room in Detroit on May 17, 2017 following a Soundgarden concert. The toxicology report revealed prescription medications in his system, including Ativan, a benzodiazepine he was prescribed as a sleep aid, although the medical examiner said these drugs did not directly "contribute to the cause of death."

Vicky believes that her husband would still be here today if he had been treated by a doctor better educated in addiction, which he had struggled with for years before going sober.

"He didn't want to die. If he was of sound mind, I know he wouldn't have done this… Addiction is a disease. That disease can take over you and has full power," she told People in 2017.

Earlier this month, Cornell posthumously won Best Rock Performance for "When Bad Does Good" at the 61st GRAMMY Awards." His children Toni and Christopher accepted the GRAMMY on his behalf in a tear-jerking moment.

"I never thought we would be standing here without my dad," Cornell's son Christopher said during their acceptance speech. "I'm sure he would be proud and honored. He was a rock icon, the Godfather of grunge and a creator of a movement. While he touched the hearts of millions, the most important thing he is known for, for us, is for being the greatest father and our hero."

If you or a loved one is dealing with substance abuse, there are resources that can help—MusiCares offers free addiction recovery services for people in the music industry, including support groups in several states.    

Remembering Chris Cornell: A Sweet Sunshower

Lady Gaga holds her 2019 GRAMMY Awards
Lady Gaga

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images


GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Lady Gaga Advocate For Mental Health Awareness During Her 2019 Win For "Shallow"

Lady Gaga accepts the Best Pop/Duo Group Performance award for "Shallow" from 'A Star Is Born' at the 2019 GRAMMYs while encouraging the audience "to take care of each other."

GRAMMYs/May 3, 2024 - 04:00 pm

Between two award seasons, A Star Is Born received seven nominations — including Record Of The Year and two nods for Song Of The Year — and four wins for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, Best Song Written for Visual Media twice, and Best Pop/Duo Group Performance.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, travel to 2019 to watch Lady Gaga accept one of the album's first GRAMMY wins for Best Pop/Duo Group Performance for "Shallow."

After thanking God and her family for their unwavering support, Lady Gaga expressed gratitude for her co-star, Bradley Cooper. "I wish Bradley was here with me right now," Gaga praised. "I know he wants to be here. Bradley, I loved singing this song with you."

Gaga went on to express how proud she was to be a part of a movie that addresses mental health. "A lot of artists deal with that. We've got to take care of each other. So, if you see somebody that's hurting, don't look away. And if you're hurting, even though it might be hard, try to find that bravery within yourself to dive deep, tell somebody, and take them up in your head with you."

Press play on the video above to hear Lady Gaga's complete acceptance speech for A Star Is Born's "Shallow" at the 2019 GRAMMY Awards, and check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

Run The World: How Lady Gaga Changed The Music Industry With Dance-Pop & Unapologetic Feminism

The Melvins
The Melvins (L-R: Dale Crover, Steven McDonald, Buzz Osborne)

Photo: Chris Casella


On The Melvins' 'Tarantula Heart,' Buzz Osborne Continues His Idiosyncratic Calling: "I Don't Want To Do Anything Normal"

Kicking out bassists, flipping the script on drummers, beating up drunks: no conversation with the razor-sharp Buzz Osborne is going to be conventional. And the Melvins' gloriously strange new album, 'Tarantula Heart,' is a boon to off-center music fans.

GRAMMYs/Apr 23, 2024 - 08:24 pm

"I will answer any and all questions. Just, a lot of times, people don't like my answers."

So goes Buzz Osborne — the long-reigning King Buzzo, of cult heavies the Melvins — halfway through a hair-raising, hour-long interview. He had a catbird seat to the exhilarating rise and tragic fall of the grunge era; for some, his brutal honesty in that regard might be a liability.

"That's just Buzz," said his old friend Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, after Osborne virally disparaged the documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck as "90 percent... bulls—." "He's always been like that, but we love him so we just accept him for that. He's always had these opinions. Like, 'Oh, there goes Buzz again.'"

There he goes again, indeed. But Osborne's honesty is just that — honesty. Go ahead and scour his interviews; try to catch him in a lie, or a half-truth, about anything he's lived through.

"I wasn't wrong then, I'm not wrong now. I was misunderstood then, and I'm going to continue to be misunderstood," Osborne tells of the old days, when he watched his friends in Nirvana and Soundgarden grow from nothing to dominate the earth. "But that's OK, it's part of the deal."

Unlike either act, Osborne has always been 100 percent opposed to conventional notions of rock stardom. (Cobain seemed hot and cold on the matter.) He doesn't drink or take drugs. He's been married to the same woman forever. "I live a conservative life, and I let my wildness come out of my art," Osborne explains.

And while Tarantula Heart might not necessarily grow his cult fanbase, it's one of the wildest things Osborne's made — and that alone makes it worth celebrating and cherishing.

The Melvins' 27th studio album (Osborne estimates the total to be over 30, so perhaps it depends on how you count) is rife with off-kilter, pummeling tracks like "Working the Ditch," "She's Got Weird Arms" and "Smiler."

Therein, Osborne shows he can still throw a wrench in the works when things threaten to become predictable, and come up with profoundly idiosyncratic and ineffably satisfying art. (How he recorded the drums alone is fascinating — and by some standards, backwards.)

Read on to learn how Tarantula Heart was made, living with Kurt Cobain's distorted public shadow, which of his grunge-era contemporaries he still talks to, and much more.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

I'll admit that I haven't heard every Melvins album. But Tarantula Heart still strikes me as a high watermark in the discography.

Well, I don't think anybody has heard our entire catalog.

I probably have. I would say that I guarantee you Steven [Shane McDonald]'s never listened to all of our records. The guy who plays bass for us. I really, seriously doubt it. I doubt that [former bassist] Kevin Rutmanis has ever listened to all of our records. I can't imagine that the Big Business guys listened to all our records. It's too much for anybody to take in. I don't expect people to do that.

At any rate, how do you keep your artistry so fresh and inspired?

I stay inspired by thinking — moving my feet. After 30-plus albums, I am always looking for something that's going to inspire me in a new way. I don't really have much interest in going back and making records the way that I did 30 years ago, or 15 years ago.

There's really no template for how you guys do things, is there?

No, there's no template. I don't want to do anything normal. Nothing. I'm an accidentalist, I'd say, by 50 percent. And the other 50 percent is making sure that you are not throwing out the good stuff with the bad stuff. 

Also, as time has gone on, I've realized that my tolerance for lots of stuff is a lot higher than most people are capable of dealing with. I can listen to long, drawn-out stuff, and I always could, but I realized in my music, I always held back a little bit on it. Then, I realized, Well, I don't need to do that. I can do whatever I want. I can view albums the way that I want to.

Do go on.

One of my favorite albums for that kind of thing is Heathen Earth by Throbbing Gristle. That's been a huge inspiration on what I've done for a long time. Or early Swans. I mean, we were never going to sell millions of records. All we were going to do was make music that, because I felt like I had good taste, there'd be other people that would like it. It probably won't be millions, but it'll be enough.

Those kinds of inspirations [are] very exciting for me. And I expect people not to understand it, but that's the way it's always been.

We did this record in such a weird fashion. I knew that I needed to tell people how we did it, but…once they knew, they would say, "That's what it sounds like." They'd piss all over it.

You know how many times I have been told what I should do in the last 41 years? It's like if I listened to all this good advice, I'd be sitting here with nothing.

You characterized yourself as an "accidentalist." Give me a couple of great accidents on Tarantula Heart.

Well, one of them was accidentally figuring out how we were going to do this record. Because that's not how we recorded the drums originally. I didn't know that's what we were going to do. I just accidentally stumbled on it while listening to the demos or the rough mixes of all the jams that we made.

So, we would have a basic riff that we could jam to with the drummers. We recorded for about 15 minutes, 20 minutes, maybe a few minutes into it, the drummers would lock up into something. And I realized when I was listening back to [the demos] that they did something interesting for this little six-minute section or eight-minute section, and then they kind of lost it.

Then, I would take that section, and write a riff to it that had nothing to do with the original riff that was on it. The first one I did was "Allergic to Food," I think. And then I put vocals on it and then I realized I could do the whole record like this. The drums are playing along with stuff that's not now on there. So, all their accents and all the way that they're playing isn't the way they would've done it, had we rehearsed it or something like this.

So, I got something out of it that's brand new.

That's the epitome of a happy accident.

I just accidentally stumbled upon this thing that might work, let me try doing the whole record like that. And it worked. But I don't know, I couldn't do it again, because now they'd be suspicious of it and they might play in a way that wasn't as free as the way they played. So, it's probably a one-time-only.

There's a song we did a long time ago called "The Bloated Pope," and there's a stumbly-sounding drum intro. Dale [Crover] made a mistake. I went, "Leave that in there. That's really cool." Now, that's the intro. It sounds intentional. That's how we play it now. But it was a mistake.

You mentioned Kevin Rutmanis. Do you keep in touch with old members of the Melvins?

I'm still really good friends with Kevin. Let me think. Mark [Deutrom], no. Lori [Black], no. Jeff Pinkus… I'm going to do a big acoustic tour starting in August with Trevor Dunn, who's also played with us. Jeff Pinkus is doing all the U.S. touring, and we're trying to get him on the European end of it. So, I talk to both Trevor and him a lot.

Matt [Lukin] from Mudhoney — no, not in the least.

I didn't know stuff wasn't cool with Matt. I just knew he played on the first Melvins album, Gluey Porch Treatments.

Oh, no, I don't get along with him at all. I haven't liked him since I was in high school. He's a very toxic human being. He wasn't a very good player, and I just found him irritating and counterproductive. I've not looked back one minute, nor have I regretted any part of not having him in my life.

He can do or say whatever he wants. I don't give a s—. That's nothing new. It's not like that's a new revelation. Look, hardly anybody in the world even knows who he is. You're one of the first people that's even brought him up.

That's surprising, as Pearl Jam named a song after him. It's not a hit, but fans know it.

Yeah, well, if Eddie wants to think he's a great guy, then so be it. Better him than me.

How about your other contemporaries, like the other members of Mudhoney?

Oh, I get along with those guys great. I would love to do a recording with all the Mudhoney guys.

Mark [Arm], especially, is someone I've known since the very early '80s. I learned a lot of stuff about bands and music that I never knew before. He turned me on to lots of stuff that I was very excited about, like Foetus and the Birthday Party — just a host of bands.

I always viewed him as somebody who was really smart — really fun to be around. He and Steve Turner know more about music than anyone I've ever been around.

I’d like to broach this as sensitively as possible: April 5 marked the 30th anniversary of your old friend Kurt's passing. How have you dealt with the endless flattening and deification of a person you knew as flesh and blood?

It's very weird. It's not the kind of thing you get over. People tend to want me to look at it like the good old days, but to me, heroin addiction and death, it's hard to romanticize that. I'm not going to get over it anytime soon. I don't know that I ever will.

Part of me also thinks that, yeah, I turned him onto music and got him interested in all this stuff, and it's like maybe if I hadn't, he wouldn't be dead. So it's a weird position to be in.

I hope that doesn't bedevil you too much. That's a massive weight to carry — one that you didn't ask for.

I mean, at some point, you just have to move on. And musical ideas that I had, other people took, and it changed music on a global level. So I wasn't wrong about what I originally thought, and I'm happy to have that be the case, and I'll just move forward with the same attitude I did then.

I wasn't wrong then, I'm not wrong now. I was misunderstood then, and I'm going to continue to be misunderstood, but that's OK, it's part of the deal. I'm OK with that.

It's your lot in life.

That's all right. I mean, I make my living as a musician. That's all I ever wanted. So no one could have guessed any of that stuff would happen.

I mean, the Nirvana guys and the Soundgarden guys — those are rags-to-riches stories.Those guys, especially the Nirvana guys, had nothing. And if you look at the guys in Soundgarden, those people all come from nothing. Zero.

So, it's been exciting to watch people you're so fond of become successful and have that kind of thing happen and say that you were an influence on what they were doing. Great.

But when you're handed that kind of responsibility and those kinds of keys, you need to work harder than you ever have. You just need to keep doing this good work. And that's what I've tried to do for the next 35, 40 years.

The Melvins

*The Melvins in 1991 (L-R: Dale Crover, Buzz Osborne, then-bassist Lori Black). Photo: David Corio/Redferns*

It feels so unfair what happened to you guys. You were kids from the sticks — and to varying degrees, you were all thrown into this ruthless celebrity grinder.

Oh, yeah. It's easy to avoid that stuff. I'm not going to any industry parties. I never have. I don't want to do that kind of stuff. I've always shied away from it, because I'm not comfortable there.

I don't think it's wrong for everyone, but it's wrong for me. I'd rather just do my work and let that be the end of it. I'm not good at networking. I'm not good at outselling myself to people who may not give a s—.

I've been in L.A. for 30-plus years and most people in the industry don't even know I'm there. They still say, "Oh, so you live in the Northwest?" I go, "Well, I left there in '86, '87." And in L.A., you're far more likely to see me at a municipal golf course than at a rock and roll show.

At this point, I only go to rock and roll shows if I'm getting paid to be there. They're not fun for me. I end up in the audience talking to a bunch of drunks. That's not fun for me. Drunks are only fun if you're drunk.

And I appreciate everybody who comes to our shows, but I don't have fun at live shows myself as an audience member. I'm in those places all the time, and I don't want to put myself in a position where I'm going to have to punch someone in the mouth. It's not a good place for me to be, so I avoid it.

That's unfortunate, but I know exactly how I am. If you push me far enough. I'll beat the living f—ing s— out of you. And I don't fight fair. I don't. I grew up in a redneck town. I fought all the time. I'll kick you right in the nuts and then lay your head open.

I get to see enough shows. We did a tour last year with Boris, and we played some shows with We Are the Asteroid and Taipei Houston, who are really good. On stage, I'll get to watch Trevor Dunn play every night. I'm not feeling unfulfilled in a live music type of way at all.

I'm sure your intense work ethic also stems from your upbringing.

Suffering and working a s— job and all those kinds of things — I don't know that that ever made my music better, but it did give me an understanding of how important things like hard work are.

I think it's kind of a tragedy that teenagers don't work more. I always enjoyed working when I was a teenager. I wanted a job. I wanted to do things like that. I think that working hard is something that people should do. I couldn't wait to get a car. I couldn't wait to be mobile, and be my own person.

I've only ever been around my family situation, around people who had to work, so I don't know anything else. I don't know what it's like to live some bourgeois life where work is just not important. Unless you plan on inheriting a lot of money, I don't know how else it's going to work out for you.

I went to school and went to a job after school, got home by about 9 or 10 at night, and went and did the whole thing over again. I never had a problem with that. You don't do the work, you don't get the money. That's just how it works. So this whole idea that teenagers don't work anymore hardly in the US anyway, I think is just kind of absurd.

Before we go, give me a line from the album that you believe in with your whole heart.

"I'm about to make you happy."

What's that mean to you?

It could be the truth. It could be a lie.

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Soundgarden in 1994
Soundgarden in Tokyo in 1994.

Photo: Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images


8 Reasons Soundgarden's 'Superunknown' Is One Of The Most Influential Grunge Albums

Six years into their career, Soundgarden surged into the grunge stratosphere with their fourth LP, 'Superunknown.' Thirty years after its release, here's why the album is still rocking.

GRAMMYs/Mar 8, 2024 - 03:56 pm

Despite being the first grunge group to sign with a major label in the late '80s, Seattle four-piece Soundgarden were one of the last major players to break through to the mainstream. In fact, by the time they released their fourth LP, Superunknown, in March 1994, Pearl Jam had already sold 20 million records, Stone Temple Pilots had won a GRAMMY, and Nirvana were only a month away from tragically imploding.  

However, when frontman Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd, and drummer Matt Cameron finally entered the big league, they did so in major fashion. Superunknown instantly topped the Billboard 200, and went on to spawn five top 20 hits on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart, win two GRAMMYs, and achieve five-time platinum status in the United States alone. 

Perhaps the most ironic part is that Soundgarden went stratospheric with an experimental 70-minute opus that resolutely drowns in despair — and that paradox was not lost on Cornell. "There's an eeriness in there, a kind of unresolvable sadness or indescribable longing that I've never really tried to isolate and define and fully understand," the singer told Rolling Stone in 2014, three years before he died by suicide. "But it's always there. It's like a haunted thing." 

Indeed, the cleaner-cut Cornell may have trimmed his signature locks in time for Superknown's array of MTV-friendly videos, but the album is hardly a streamlined affair tailor-made for the masses. Still, its intensity, uncompromising nature, and eclecticism — let's not forget it boasts a cameo from a street artist named Artis the Spoonman — has helped it remain one of premier grunge classics. 

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Superunknown, here's a look at why the record is a benchmark of Gen X rock.    

It Proved Grunge Could Survive the Death Of Its Hero

Many say that the grunge movement died the day Kurt Cobain took his own life on April 5, 1994. Yet while the tragedy nearly instantly made Nirvana obsolete, many of their peers still enjoyed major success for several years before the slightly more earnest sound dubbed post-grunge took up the angst-ridden mantle.  

Released just a month before Cobain's passing, Superunknown had already joined Nevermind and In Utero, Alice in Chains' Jar of Flies, and Pearl Jam's Vs. on grunge's list of Billboard 200 chart-toppers. But it had a remarkable shelf life, too, spending 80 weeks on the chart and becoming the 13th biggest seller of 1994.  

A 20th anniversary re-release and accompanying tour in 2014 further highlighted how seminal the record had become, with even Cornell — a man typically averse to all things nostalgic — appearing to accept its classic status. "It was showing what we were, not just a flavor of the month," he told Rolling Stone. "We had the responsibility to seize the moment, and I think we really did." 

It Broke The Grunge Mould

While the likes of Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., and Sonic Youth were key reference points for most grunge outfits, Superunknown took inspiration from a much broader musical palette. Producer Michael Beinhorn looked toward the ambient techno of Aphex Twin and the punishing Dutch dance music known as gabber to capture the required intensity; he also pointed Cornell in the direction of specific Frank Sinatra songs to help hone the frontman's performance style. 

There was also a strong Beatles influence, particularly on the Lennon-ish melodies of "Black Hole Sun" and the "Tomorrow Never Knows"-esque drum breaks of "My Wave." "We looked deep down inside the very core of our souls and there was a little Ringo sitting there," Thayil told Guitar World in 1994.. 

The Shepherd-sung "Half," meanwhile, further embraced the band's Middle Eastern tendencies, while the use of mellotrons ("Mailman"), clavinets ("Fresh Tendrils"), and, most intriguingly, various kitchen equipment ("Spoonman") further proved Soundgarden weren't afraid to push the genre outside of its comfort zone.   

It Won The Great Rock War Of 1994

You could say that March 8, 1994 was a momentous day for game-changing American rock, and indeed music retailers across the country. Not only did Soundgarden unleash their blockbuster fourth album, but Nine Inch Nails dropped their very own magnum opus, too.   

Combining transgressive themes such as S&M, self-hatred and substance abuse with pioneering electronics and strong melodic hooks, NIN's The Downward Spiral is credited with pushing industrial rock into the mainstream. And in most other weeks, its first-week sales of 118,000 would have been enough to land the No. 1 spot.  

Unfortunately for Trent Reznor and co., it went up against an even bigger commercial juggernaut. Superunknown sailed to the top of the Billboard 200 with a remarkable 310,000 sales, winning the unlikely chart battle by a landslide. 15 years later, Reznor admitted he'd been wounded by the defeat, but following a brief online beef with Cornell, the two outfits kissed and made up with a 2014 joint tour.   

It Inspired A Generation Of Rockers

Between The Buried and Me ("The Day I Tried to Live"), Halestorm ("Fell on Black Days"), and Ufomammut ("Let Me Drown") are just a few of the modern-day rock bands who've paid tribute to Superunknown with various covers over the years. Its most high-profile champion, though, was another iconic frontman also sadly no longer with us. 

Chester Bennington regularly sang the album's praises, describing it as "one of the best rock records of all time" while also selecting "Limo Wreck" on his ultimate playlist for Shortlist. The Linkin Park singer had struck up such a close friendship with Cornell he was invited to perform at the latter's funeral in 2017 just two months before his own tragic death.  

Proof of just how wide-reaching Superunknown's appeal was, however, came with the fact '80s hair metallers Def Leppard also cited it as a source of inspiration for 1996's Slang, while nine years on, legendary crooner Paul Anka covered "Black Hole Sun" in a big band style on Rock Swings.  

It Spawned The Scene's Defining Video

Soundgarden's controversial video for Badmotorfinger's "Jesus Christ Pose" received a ban from MTV in 1991. In stark contrast, the promo for Superunknown's lead single three years later became a regular fixture on the network.  

Directed by Howard Greenhalgh, the attention-grabbing clip centers around a suburban community which gradually becomes consumed by, well, a black hole sun. While the band make an appearance, valiantly performing while the apocalypse rages on, they are inevitably overshadowed by the nightmarish locals and their exaggerated wide eyes, maniacal grins, and slithering lizard tongues.  

Heavily inspired by the opening minutes of David Lynch's 1986 cult classic Blue Velvet, "Black Hole Sun" was one of the few videos Soundgarden were satisfied with, according to Thayil. And one could argue that alongside Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," it's the grunge movement's visual piece-de-resistance.  

It Made GRAMMYs History

Stone Temple Pilots might have won grunge's first GRAMMY in 1994 (Best Hard Rock Performance for "Plush"). However, Soundgarden were the scene's first — and only — act to pick up two awards in the decade it reigned supreme. 

Rather surprisingly, Nirvana were only ever recognized in 1996 when MTV Unplugged in New York won Best Alternative Music Performance. Likewise, Pearl Jam, who picked up Best Hard Rock Performance for "Spin the Black Circle" (they did win a second in 2015 for Best Recording Package). And although Scott Weiland's outfit received a further two nominations, they never got the chance to make another acceptance speech. 

Both of Soundgarden's victories came for Superunknown in 1995, with "Spoonman" winning Best Metal Performance and "Black Hole Sun" Best Hard Rock Performance. The latter also got a nod in Best Rock Song (which went to Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia"), while the LP itself lost to the Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge for Best Rock Album.  

It Put The Poetry Into Grunge

"I write my best songs when I'm depressed," Cornell once told Melody Maker. And the frontman certainly appeared to be going through a lot during the making of Superunknown

"Let Me Drown" was self-described as a song about "crawling back to the womb to die." "Mailman" is the tale of a man driven to murder — specifically, shooting his boss in the head — by the pressures of work. And as its title suggests, "Fell on Black Days" reflects on the moment you realize, "everything in your life is f—ed." 

Yet, having reportedly immersed himself in the works of Sylvia Plath before recording, Cornell's lines are a little more poetic than the usual "woe is me" platitudes. See "Safe outside my gilded cage/ With an ounce of pain, I wield a ton of rage" from "Like Suicide," the haunting closer about a bird who flew fatally straight into his house window. Or "Shower in the dark day, clean sparks diving down/ Cool in the waterway where the baptized drown," from "4th of July," the recounting of a dread-filled LSD trip experienced on an Indian reservation. 

Not every track on Superunknown is particularly deep and meaningful: In a 1996 interview, Cornell freely admitted the album's breakout hit is simply a bowl of word salad. But on the whole, it's a record as intriguing lyrically as it is sonically.  

It's Grunge's Most Immersive Album

"A perfect headphones album." That's how Thayil described Superunknown to Spotify while promoting its 20th anniversary reissue in 2014. And he's not wrong. Although the full-throttle title track and punky "Kickstand" proved Soundgarden could still rock out without any bells and whistles, most of their accompanying tracks are of the intricate variety, the group leaning into their free-wheeling, psychedelic side stronger than ever before.  

Each band member gets the chance to display their versatility throughout the multi-layered affair, with subtleties that unfurl with each listen. Alongside Cornell's expressive vocal range, there's Thayil's winding guitar solos, Shepherd's fluid basslines, and Cameron's dexterous rhythms. The result is a record that appears specifically designed to be experienced via a pair of Dr. Dre's finest (or whatever the equivalent of Beats was back in 1994) — and one that has remained just as jammable and beloved 30 years on.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

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.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

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."

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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.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

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." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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