Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Imagess
Island Records' Cheyenne Beam
What Makes A Good Ally? LGBTQ+ Artists And Industry Leaders Weigh In On Pride, Diversity & More In New York
Queens rapper Dai Burger, electropop artist Saro, Island Records associate director of media relations Cheyenne Beam and Brooklyn-via-Oakland emcee Nappy Nina convene at Soho House in N.Y. to discuss issues of acceptance and representation
We're nearing the end of Pride Month, but the issues of acceptance and representation that LGBTQ+ artists—especially those of color—face don't disappear when June is over. With that in mind, the Recording Academy hosted a GRAMMYs Soundbite Conversation After Dark panel at New York City's Soho House Ludlow on Wednesday (June 26) to keep the discussion going.
Moderated by Recording Academy Editor In Chief, Digital Content & Strategy Justin Dwayne Joseph, the panel included Queens rapper Dai Burger, electropop artist Saro, Island Records associate director of media relations Cheyenne Beam and Brooklyn-via-Oakland emcee Nappy Nina explored a slew of topics that specifically impact black and brown members of the LGBTQ+ music community.
"It's kind of just like this double weight," Saro—who noted that while he has been out in his personal life for some time, he just recently came out in his career and started using male pronouns in his music—said. "You feel like you have this extra thing you have to break through."
Beam recalled feeling uncomfortable early in his career, but he said as he gets older, he has gained the confidence and experience to avoid that.
"I feel like the older I get, the more I know who I am and so I can go in any room and stand in my truth and also represent other artists, LGBTQ artists who are trying to make it in the mainstream business like every other artist," he said.
For Dai Burger, there was pressure to fit in, but she never succumbed to it. "It used to come back to me like, 'You should smooth this out a little, make it a little more prim and proper,'" she said "It was hard. I've had people tell me what I should change [and] shouldn't do, but we are who we are and you can't ever change that."
The panel noted that while the music business is more accepting than ever of LGBTQ+ artists, representation is important on all sides of the industry. Beam called for more diversity at record labels.
"We are who we are and you can't ever change that."
"There needs to be more diversity in the meetings, those brainstorming meetings, those creative strategy meetings, those conference calls," he said. "There aren't a lot of people of color in those meetings. A lot of times I walk into the room and I'm the only person of color. So therefore I'm the only person of color who also represents the LGBTQ community, you know what I mean? The more we hire and employ people of color and the more diverse these companies are, the better we can represent the artists and the talent."
Networking and collaborating with other members of the community was also brought up as an important tool. "I think if I do have an artist friend who is a part of the community, it just gives us that more energy and that more magnetism to work on something, and it usually is magical because we can just fully be ourselves together, just connect and make something beautiful," Saro said. "I don't have to wear that mask that I'm learning to shed."
The group discussed the need to book LGBTQ+ artists year-round, not just during Pride Month, and debated over whether or not straight artists like Ariana Grande, who will headline Manchester Pride, should be taking slots at pride events.
"I'm not the type to be like, 'Oh, he's not gay? No, get him off the stage,'" Dai Burger said, adding that she's not a fan of creating boundaries. "Just because someone doesn't announce or tell you their sexuality, you don't know what people are into, do behind closed doors. It shouldn't matter. If you are okay with me and my friends and who we are, then we're okay with you. So come as you are, straight or not. We're all friends, we're all musicians, artists, and there should be no cutoff on that based on what you do when you want to do it."
Nappy Nina disagreed, arguing that there's no shortage of LGBTQ+ artists to fill those performance slots.
"I think allyship looks like taking a step back," she explained. "There are plenty of queer artists. You don't have to go to whatever straight artists you're going to just because they're there and they're available and they're down with LGBTQ+ folks. Allyship does look like taking a step back sometimes. A lot of times."
She also noted that as June comes to a close, it's important to remember the origins of Pride Month and the members of the community who often get overlooked.
"Pride definitely didn't start as a party, and it is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which started by black trans women and sex workers, not folks who are really currently uplifted or showcased in the forefront of Pride, so I think every year during this month I take time to really reflect on that," she said. "I'm from a place that has a super deep political background, and I think that I've always known to look for the real sh*t, the ones who paved the way for me, because it's not the gay white men who are on the floats at the forefront right now."
Photo: Kelly Samson, Gallery Photography
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: Courtesy of Claud
Press Play: Claud Gets Vulnerable In This Confessional Performance Of Their New Single, "Wet"
Emerging pop singer Claud narrates the story of a guilty pleasure toxic relationship on "Wet," the lead single from their upcoming album, 'Supermodels.'
On their new single "Wet," bedroom pop newcomer Claud places themselves in the heat of a toxic relationship. Even amid empty apologies and tearful early morning phone calls, Claud can't get enough.
"That's not an apology/ But I'll take what I can get/ Dip your feet but not too wet," Claud sings in the chorus. "I swear this isn't like me/ But you're standing on the edge/ Say you'll never jump, but I know you want it."
In this episode of Press Play, Claud delivers an intimate performance of "Wet" live from their bedroom floor. The intimate, simple setting only intensifies the diaristic nature of the track.
"Wet" is the lead single from Claud's upcoming album, Supermodels, out July 14 via Saddest Factory Records. "'Wet' was written in one fast sitting. The writing process as kinetic as the outcome. Writing these songs felt like dropping a boulder into a pond, really shaking up the way I look at myself as an artist," they explained in a press statement.
On July 21, Claud will begin their headlining international tour in Bristol, United Kingdom, wrapping on Oct. 12 in San Francisco, California.
Watch the video above to see Claud's acoustic performance of "Wet," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.
Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage
Black Sounds Beautiful: How Lil Nas X Turned The Industry On Its Head With "Old Town Road" And Beyond
In this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, relive Lil Nas X's massive debut, "Old Town Road," and learn how he's since been an advocate for Black and LGBTQIA+ communities through his music and his platform.
Lil Nas X became a global sensation practically overnight, but it wasn't an accident.
The American singer and rapper — born Montero Lamar Hill — became fluent in music and pop culture at an early age, becoming a meme aficionado. His love for internet culture cultivated the perfect recipe for his debut single, "Old Town Road," to become one of the most viral hits in music history; the song also prompted a necessary conversation about the bounds of genre.
"Old Town Road" rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and still holds the record for most time spent at No. 1 at 19 weeks. The single later helped Lil Nas X snag two GRAMMY Awards for Best Pop/Duo Group Performance and Best Music Video. (To date, he's won 2 GRAMMYs and has received 11 nominations overall.)
Aside from his immense musical talent, Lil Nas X — who came out as gay on social media during his Hot 100 reign — has been a fierce champion for LGBTQIA+ and Black communities.
At just 24 years old, Lil Nas X has plenty more history-making and game-changing moves in store. As he revealed during his March 2023 campaign with Coach, "My next big chapter is coming."