Review: ‘Black Is King,’ starring Beyoncé

July 31, 2020

by Carla Hay

Beyoncé in “Black Is King” (Photo courtesy of Disney+/Parkwood Entertainment)

“Black Is King” 

Directed by Beyoncé, Kwasi Fordjour, Emmanuel Adjei, Blitz Bazawule, Pierre Debusschere, Jenn Nkiru, Ibra Ake, Dikayl Rimmasch and Jake Nava

Culture Representation: This visual album of Beyoncé’s original songs for the 2019 “The Lion King: The Gift” soundtrack features a predominantly black cast (with a few white people, Asians and Latinos) primarily representing life in Africa in a musical format.

Culture Clash:  Many of the songs’ lyrics and the movie’s narration are about pushing back against fear, bigotry and self-doubt.

Culture Audience: Beyoncé fans are the obvious target audience for this movie, but “Black Is King” should also appeal to people who like to see visually stunning musical numbers set to contemporary R&B music.

Beyoncé (center) in “Black Is King” (Photo courtesy of Disney+/Parkwood Entertainment)

People already know that Beyoncé is capable of making a collection of memorable an impactful music videos, so it’s not too much a surprise that she has done it again with “Black Is King,” a visually intoxicating and emotionally empowering movie that celebrates self-confidence and Afro-centric culture.

Whereas Beyoncé’s visual collection for her critically acclaimed 2016 album “Lemonade” was her feminist response to issues going on in her personal life at the time, “Black Is King” is more of a rousing anthem directed at generations of people, especially those whose ethnic roots are in Africa. There are no conversations in “Black Is King,” but the messages are loud and clear.

Because “Black Is King” is a visual representation of Beyoncé’s 2019 soundtrack album “The Lion King: The Gift,” the songs themselves (and some of the music videos) were made available a year before the full “Black Is King” movie was released. But seeing all of these songs together as musical numbers in “Black Is King” puts the soundtrack in a whole new light.

“Black Is King” is not a traditional movie, since there is no real plot. Rather, it’s an atmospheric journey of eye-catching sights, sounds and philosophical thoughts. The choreography? Spectacular. The hair and makeup? Gorgeous.  The costumes? Unforgettable.

Folajomi “FJ” Akinmurele portrays Beyoncé’s fictional son Little Simba throughout “Black Is King.” At the end of the film, this dedication appears on screen: “Dedicated to my son Sir Carter. And to all our sons and daughters, the sun and the moon bow for you. You are the keys to the kingdom.”

The movie has narration that includes lines from the 2019 “The Lion King” movie, which had Beyoncé as the voice of warrior lioness Nala. But the most intriguing narration comes from a script whose credited writers are Beyoncé, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Clover Hope and Andrew Morrow, featuring poetry by Warsan Shire.

James Earl Jones provides the opening voice narration as he intones in “Balance (Mufasa Interlude)”: “Everything that you see exists together in a delicate balance. You need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling creatures to the leaping antelope. We are all connected in the circle of life.”

Beyoncé also voices several messages of Afro-centric pride, including “Black is the color of my true love’s skin” and “Let black be synonymous with glory” and “Black is king. We were beauty before they knew what beauty was.”

There are also calls of empowerment, such as “Life is a set of choices. Lead or be led astray. Follow your light or lose it.” And she also speaks about the importance of representation: “To live without reflection for so long might make you wonder if you even truly exist.”

It wouldn’t be a Beyoncé visual album without cameos. They include members of her immediate family: husband Jay-Z (real name: Shawn Carter); their children Blue Ivy, Sir and Rumi; and Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles Lawson. “Brown Skin Girl,” with Saint Jhn and Wizkid featuring Blue Ivy Carter, celebrates inner and outer beauty and includes visual appearances by Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyong’o and Kelly Rowland, who is one of the original members of Destiny’s Child with Beyoncé. Jay-Z, Knowles Lawson and Rowland can also be seen in “Mood 4 Eva.”

And several artists on the audio soundtrack can be seen in “Black Is King,” including Jessie Reyez (“Scar)”; Nija, Busiswa, Yemi Alade, Tierra Whack and Moonchild Sanelly (“My Power” ); Shatta Wale (“Already”); Tiwa Savage and Mr Eazi (“Keys to the Kingdom”); and Salatiel and Pharrell Williams (“Water”).  Meanwhile, Beyoncé hands over the spotlight to Lord Afrixana, Yemi Alade and Mr Eazi, who perform “Don’t Jealous Me.”

Noticeably absent from “Black Is King” are Kendrick Lamar, Major Lazer and Childish Gambino (also known as Donald Glover, the voice of adult Simba in 2019’s “The Lion King”), who are featured artists on the audio soundtrack’s songs but don’t make visual appearances in the “Black Is King” movie. Lamar can be heard on the duet track “Nile,” while Major Lazer is featured on “Already.” Childish Gambino/Glover is a featured artist on “Mood 4 Eva.”

Speaking of “Mood 4 Eva,” it’s one of the highlights of “Black Is King” and it has explosion of beauty that’s both raw and luxurious. (And there’s also a scene of Beyoncé and Jay-Z holding hands that’s reminiscent of their famous 2018 “Apeshit” video that was filmed in the Louvre Museum.) “Don’t Jealous Me,” another standout segment, conjures up African tribal imageries that includes giant yellow python around the neck of certain people, including Beyoncé. “Water” is pure glam, with Beyoncé in outfits ranging from a stunning magenta gown to flared ’70s-styled denim with Rapunzel-length hair.

Although “The Lion King” takes place in Africa, and “Black Is King” is very Afro-centric, “Black Is King” was actually filmed around the world: Africa, New York, Los Angeles, London and Belgium. However, the movie prominently several African actors in the story segments, including Folajomi Akinmurele, Connie Chiume, Nyaniso Ntsikelelo Dzedze, Nandi Madida, Warren Masemola, Sibusiso Mbeje, Fumi Odede, Stephen Ojo and Mary Twala.

Not everyone likes Beyoncé’s music. Not everyone likes the 2019 movie version of “The Lion King.” However, “Black Is King” is a perfect example of why Beyoncé is a superb entertainer who’s a major influence on pop culture while speaking out on issues that are important to her.

Disney+ premiered “Black Is King” in July 31, 2020.

Review: ‘Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert,’ starring Paul Tollett, Raymond Roker, Dani Lindstrom, Stacey Vee, Perry Farrell, Ice Cube and Diplo

April 10, 2020

by Carla Hay

Beyoncé in “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert” (Photo courtesy of YouTube Originals)

“Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert” 

Directed by Chris Perkel

Culture Representation: This official documentary about the first 20 years of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (an annual event in Indio, California) includes interviews with a racially diverse group of Coachella employees, artists and other associates.

Culture Clash: Coachella was a money-losing festival in its first few years and has grown into a major money-making event in pop culture, even though some critics believe Coachella has become too trendy and high-priced.

Culture Audience: “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert” will primarily appeal to music fans and people who want to learn more about Goldenvoice, the concert-promotion company behind Coachella.

The hologram of Tupac Shakur in “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert” (Photo courtesy of YouTube Originals)

If you’re looking for shocking behind-the-scenes stories in the documentary “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert,” then you’ll probably be disappointed. But this feel-good movie, directed by Chris Perkel, is a traditionally made chronicle of one the world’s most famous music festivals. The reason for this family-friendly portrayal of Coachella’s history (besides the fact that it’s available for free viewing on YouTube) is because Goldenvoice, the Los Angeles concert-promotion company behind Coachella, is one of the production companies that made this movie. In other words, this is not really an investigative documentary as much as it is a feature-length promotional video for Coachella.

Although some people in the movie talk about the festival’s early problems, there is absolutely no criticism of Coachella. Pretty much everyone who’s interviewed in the film gives praise to Coachella is some way. The movie’s biggest strengths are the musical performances that are in the film, as well as some interesting tidbits of information that aren’t very surprising, since most of the information in the movie has already been revealed in previous media coverage of Coachella.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, like most pop-culture phenomena, didn’t start out as something that people immediately thought would be a hit. The festival was launched in 1999, the same year that large-scale music festivals got a very bad name because of the disastrous Woodstock ’99 Festival, which ended with riots, arson, assaults and thefts. The first Coachella, which took place in October 1999, was announced the Monday after Woodstock ’99 (which took place in August in upstate New York) got a lot of backlash for ending in such a catastrophe. And the site for Coachella was an unorthodox risk—the Empire Polo Club in the desert city of Indio, California, which is about 128 miles east of Los Angeles.

According to Goldenvoice president/Coachella co-founder Paul Tollett (the person with the most screen time in the movie), Coachella had two things going for it that most other large-scale music festivals did not: The promise of a laid-back California vibe and California’s sunny weather, which made the chances very slim that Coachella would be plagued by the kind of rain that often wreaks havoc on festivals that are east of California.

Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) founder Pasquale Rotella, who says his business models for EDC and his other festivals were heavily influenced by Coachella, had this to say: “Some people who see Coachella now think, ‘Oh, that’s a no-brainer.’ Coachella is beautiful now [but] it was difficult. It took the concert promoter Goldenvoice several years to make it happen. And if it wasn’t for Goldenvoice’s roots, I don’t think Coachella would be what it is today.

“Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert” is divided into five chapters, with two chapters focused on specific music genres: “Chapter One: Origins,” “Chapter Two: The Early Years”; “Chapter Three: The Rise of Robots” (focusing on electronic dance music); “Chapter Four: The New Beats” (focusing on hip-hop); and “Chapter Five: The Next Generation.”

“Chapter One: Origins” has the history of the early years of Goldenvoice, which Gary Tovar launched in 1981 as an independent concert-promotion company whose specialty was booking punk and alternative rock bands at small venues in the Los Angeles area. Tovar says in the documentary: “When I started doing concerts, the punk rock that I did was too wild for some people.” Slamdancing and violence were very common at these shows, so many venues were reluctant to have shows that Goldenvoice was promoting.

By the mid-1980s, Goldenvoice’s influence grew to booking larger venues and helped launch the careers of acts such as Jane’s Addiction, Fishbone and Red Hot Chili Peppers. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, many of those acts had outgrown Goldenvoice, which was still mainly booking nightclubs and small theaters. But the relationships that Goldenvoice had with these artists were the foundation of what would become Coachella.

Tollett got his start booking ska shows in Pomona, California, in the mid-1980s. When he first met Goldenvoice’s Tovar, he thought Tovar would be an unfriendly rival, but “We hit it off instantly,” Tollett remembers. Later, “He gave me a box of flyers to pass out, and that was the first day that I worked at Goldenvoice.”

Dani Lindstrom, a longtime Goldenvoice employee, remembers that back in the late 1980s, the Goldenvoice office, which was located at the time above The Palladium, was “basically about five people booking shows.” Tollett adds that in the early 1990s, it looked like Goldenvoice was doing well, but the reality was that company was struggling financially.

And then, Goldenvoice experienced a major blow when Tovar was busted for what he describes in the documentary as his “side business”—smuggling and selling marijuana. In 1991, he was arrested and later sentenced to seven years in prison. The scandal effectively ended Tovar’s career as a concert promoter, but he refused to let Goldenvoice go bankrupt while he was in prison. Tovar sold the company to Goldenvoice employees Tollett and Rick Van Santen, who became presidents of the company.

The documentary names two events that also planted the seeds of Coachella. First, during Pearl Jam’s feud with Ticketmaster in 1993, the band was looking to do a gig in Southern California at a venue that wasn’t associated with Ticketmaster. Goldenvoice stepped in and booked Pearl Jam at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio. The concert was a sold-out success (25,000 people attended), and it put the concert industry on notice that a show of this size could be done without Ticketmaster.

The other important event that helped give birth to Coachella was Goldenvoice’s involvement in the Organic Festival for rave music. After bands like Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine became too big to book for Goldenvoice in the 1990s, Tollett says that the company began to focus more on booking rave acts. The concept of Coachella was for it to be a combination of a big rock festival and a rave party.

Moby, one of the performers at the first Coachella, says that he was one of the people who thought that bringing a “European-style festival to the U.S.” was an interesting idea, but at the time, he wasn’t sure if it was going to work in the California desert. Meanwhile, sound engineer Dave Rat of Rat Sound admits that he was one of many people who thought even the name Coachella was a bad idea at the time.

The documentary portrays Coachella as a groundbreaking large-scale U.S. music and arts festival for alternative rock and other artists whose careers were helped by college radio, but the movie doesn’t properly acknowledge that Lollapalooza had the same concept and did it years before Coachella existed. Lollapolooza was a touring festival that began in 1991 and continued to 1997, and was resurrected in 2003. Lollapalooza was then revived in 2005 as a non-touring festival, with the U.S. edition taking place in Chicago. It’s obvious from the timeline of when Lollapalooza was on hiatus that Coachella was created to fill the void left by Lollapaolooza.

Jane’s Addiction lead singer Perry Farrell, who co-founded Lollapalooza and performed as a solo artist at the first Coachella, is interviewed in the documentary. As influential as Lollapalooza was in the 1990s, even Farrell acknowledges that Coachella has a much higher profile in the consciousness of the media and pop culture: “You’re going to be judged, man, when you hit the Coachella stage, and it’s going to be talked about for the rest of the year.”

“Chapter Two: The Early Years” is one of the more fascinating parts of the documentary because it covers the years that didn’t get the level of media attention that Coachella does now. The headliners at the first Coachella Festival (which was only a two-day event back then) included Beck, Morrissey (footage of his performance is in the documentary), Rage Against the Machine, the Chemical Brothers, Tool, Farrell and Ben Harper.

Tollett says that Coachella was such a financial disaster in its first year (he estimates the festival lost between $850,000 to $1 million) that he had his bank card taken away and “I got kicked out of a bank.” He adds that Coachella was able to continue because of Goldenvoice’s good relationships with people in the music industry. “The only reason why we were able to keep going was because we had a good reputation,” he says, adding that people such as Lollapalooza co-founders Don Muller and Marc Geiger lent money to Goldenvoice.

The financial losses of the first Coachella caused the festival to go on hiatus in 2000. But then, the financial fortunes of Goldenvoice changed in 2001, when the company was bought by AEG Live (now called AEG Presents) for about $7 million. Goldenvoice then became part of the AEG subsidiary Concerts West, with Tollett and Van Santen retaining their presidential roles at Goldenvoice. AEG had recently constructed the Staples Center arena and wanted to have a major festival as part of its portfolio, so the company gave the go-ahead for Goldenvoice to revive Coachella. And the rest is history.

The documentary then goes over some of the biggest highlights in those early Coachella years. In 2001, there was the reunion of Jane’s Addiction, which Tollett says largely happened because Van Santen convinced the band to get back together. But the festival had a serious garbage-disposal problem that year because, as Tollett says, they didn’t have enough trash cans on the site.

However, the reunion of Jane’s Addiction at Coachella set a precedent for Coachella being a leading festival for bands to stage reunions. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA says in the documentary that seeing Rage Against the Machine’s 2007 reunion performance at Coachella was when he knew that Wu-Tang Clan would eventually do a reunion show at Coachella, which happened in 2013. Other artists who have done reunion performances at Coachella include N.W.A., Pixies, Guns N’Roses and OutKast.

Coachella in 2002 was “the first year we didn’t make a mistake,” Tollett says. That year, Björk became the first female artist to headline at Coachella. Goldenvoice employee Stacey Vee remembers that the early 2000s were a great time for alternative rock bands, and that only helped Coachella. The documentary includes footage of 2003 headliners the White Stripes.

The year 2004 was the first time that Coachella made a profit, according to Tollett. Radiohead, Pixies and Kraftwerk were among the headliners. In 2005, there was another big alt-rock reunion: Bauhaus, which included lead singer Peter Murphy entering the stage hanging upside down like a bat for the song “Bela Legosi’s Dead.” The movie has footage of this performance. The documentary includes interviews with Bauhaus members Murphy (in an audio interview), Daniel Ash and David J, who remembers that Bauhaus wanted to release live bats during the band’s performance but couldn’t because it was illegal.

It was in the mid-2000s that Coachella became a very hot ticket. Coachella culinary director Nic Adler remembers in the first few years of Coachella, Goldenvoice was literally giving away tickets to him and his co-workers to attend. By the sixth or seventh year of Coachella, he says, those free tickets stopped. “There was that switch in the festival where you literally saw it was something you had to do, something you had to be at,” Adler comments.

Coachella in 2006 was most memorable for Madonna’s performance, which was booked on such relatively short notice that she couldn’t perform on the already-booked main stage. Instead, she performed in the tent for electronic dance music (EDM) artists. The documentary includes footage of Madonna performing “Hung Up” in the tent. Madonna was the first superstar to perform at Coachella, according to Goldenvoice’s Raymond Roker, the former editor-in-chief/publisher of URB magazine.

However, Madonna at Coachella didn’t happen without some criticism, as some of Coachella’s early fans thought that the festival wasn’t supposed to be for major pop acts. But at this point, so many Hollywood celebrities were flocking to Coachella, that it was inevitable that the festival would start having artists with more mainstream appeal. The documentary has some backstage footage from the 2007 Coachella that briefly shows actor Danny DeVito posing for a picture with singer Amy Winehouse—that pretty much says it all. Hollywood actress Rosanna Arquette, who did backstage interviews for Coachella for several years, says in the documentary: “It was the most favorite job I’ve ever had in my life.”

“Chapter Three: The Rise of Robots” covers the importance of Coachella to EDM acts. While many festivals in the 2000s were afraid to have a rave-style atmosphere, Coachella embraced it and helped boost the careers of many EDM acts. Coachella also helped usher in the era of DJs and other EDM artists staging big productions for their shows, with elaborate lighting and stunning visuals.

Two EDM performances at Coachella are singled out as major milestones: Daft Punk in 2006 (when the group performed a very “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”-inspired outer-space-themed set) and Tiësto in 2010, when he became the first EDM artist to perform on Coachella’s main stage. Steve Aoki raves about Daft Punk’s 2006 Coachella performance: “It changed people’s lives, including mine, forever.” Jason Bentley adds, “Nothing was the same after that performance.”

This chapter also mentions that Coachella influenced how EDM acts began to have more high-tech productions. Paul van Dyk says, “I’m not scared of technology. It’s something I use as a tool.” Tiësto says that the rise of EDM also coincided with the rise of social media: “Social media made a big difference. As soon as Facebook and Instagram blew up, EDM blew up. For years [EDM music] was held down by the people who controlled the [mainstream] media.”

But EDM at Coachella isn’t just about elaborate light shows or movie-quality images on big screens. Also included in this chapter are commentaries from actor Idris Elba (who moonlights as a DJ) and Nina Kraviz, who praise the low-tech vibe of Coachella’s Yuma Stage, which doesn’t have any big screens. Meanwhile, Diplo says that even though headlining sets happen at night, “Sunset is the best time to play Coachella.”

“Chapter Four: The New Beats” covers the evolution of rap and hip-hop at Coachella. Goldenvoice’s Roker notes that in Coachella’s early years, the rap acts booked at the festival tended to be those that were played on college radio and had a largely white fan base. (Jurassic 5 is named as one example.) Roker says, “It took a while for the culture to merge.”

Coachella went from booking mostly independent rap acts to acts that had major crossover success on the pop charts. Kanye West (who showed up 20 minutes late for his first Coachella performance in 2006) is cited as one of the first major crossover rap acts to perform at Coachella. Jay-Z had the biggest breakthrough as the first rap act to headline at Coachella, which he did in 2010.

According to Tollett, Jay-Z was selected for the headlining spot after Goldenvoice promoters saw him perform as a replacement for headliner the Beastie Boys at the 2009 All Points West Festival, which was also a Goldenvoice show. When Jay-Z opened the show with the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” (a rap song with a rock beat), the people at Goldenvoice knew that he could do a show that could appeal to Coachella’s audience, which consisted of mostly rock fans at the time.

As the 2010s became the decade that rap and hip-hop began to have more of a presence at Coachella, so too did social media. It was in this decade that Instagram became the main social-media platform for Coachella attendees to document their experiences and fashion choices. In 2011, YouTube began livestreaming Coachella for the first time.

By 2012, Coachella had become so popular (with the event usually selling out the first day it went on sale) that Goldenvoice did something that was truly groundbreaking at the time: Coachella was extended for a second weekend, with the same acts performing in the same time slots for each weekend. Tollett says that there were many naysayers to this idea at the time, but it turned out to be a major success and catapulted Coachella to become the world’s top-grossing festival, in terms of ticket sales. Although attendance numbers and ticket sales were not mentioned in the documentary, in 2017 (the last year that Coachella publicly reported this information), Coachella was attended by 250,000 people and grossed $114.6 million.

The year 2012 was also a milestone year for Coachella because it featured what Tollett calls “The single most popular thing that ever happened at Coachella.” During Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s performance at Coachella’s first weekend, a surprise hologram of the late Tupac Shakur appeared on stage and performed. The hologram made news worldwide and became a massive sensation on the Internet.

Dylan Brown, who created the hologram, explains in the documentary how precise the movements had to be, even down to raising an eyebrow on the hologram. “We just wanted to do it right. We wanted to be respectful to the [Shakur] family and to the fans.”

Roker adds that after this groundbreaking hologram performance, “The genie was never going back in the bottle. It established the show as part of popular culture.” Ice Cube, who was a peer of Shakur’s in the vital 1990s West Coast rap scene, comments on the Coachella hologram: “I was happy for [Dr. Dre] and happy for Tupac being able to be on stage.”

“Chapter Five: The Next Generation” covers how Coachella has evolved to stay relevant to the mostly young people who flock to the event. Gone are the days when alt-rock artists were the majority of the headliners. Coachella is now more diverse than ever before, with pop, hip-hop, Latino and Asian artists becoming more prevalent at Coachella, compared to the festival’s early years. Some of the artists highlighted via performance clips in this chapter include Ariana Grande, Travis Scott, Rosalía and Blackpink.

Roker comments on Coachella changing to fit trends in music: “That’s been the hardest pill to swallow for some of the older fans.” He notes that many of Coachella’s youngest stars share some common characteristics: “They’re coming with fashion, wealth, bravado and carefree aggression.”

As for the definitive Coachella performance in the late 2010s, people interviewed in the documentary mention Beyoncé’s show-stopping 2018 Coachella extravaganza, which was made into the 2019 Netflix documentary “Homecoming:  A Film by Beyoncé.” (She was also the first black woman to headline at Coachella.) Beyoncé’s performance was such a media sensation that fans affectionately renamed Coachella 2018 as “Beychella.”

Roker says of Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella performance: “She was a woman on a mission. She came there with a script. The performance was a State of the Union for her, and she was going to deliver it.”

And the high profile of a Coachella performance means that artists often feel the need to surpass each other with elaborate productions. The documentary mentions Kanye West’s 2019 Sunday Service performance at Coachella (with hundreds of choir singers and dancers) as one of those over-the-top productions. Goldenvoice literally built a mountain on the field at his request, since a stage was too small for what West had in mind. Goldenvoice producer Jason Brown says that hundreds of trucks were needed to bring in all the dirt and grass to construct the mountain.

Coachella’s increasing diversity and its ability to evolve with the times (instead of sticking to the same musical formula from the festival’s early years) is ultimately one of the reasons why it will continue to thrive, according to artists interviewed in the documentary. Beck, one of the performers at the first Coachella, says about the festival: “If I’m in town, I usually go as a fan. It’s everything that’s happening in music at the moment.” Shepard Fairey adds that the musical variety of Coachella is its biggest draw: “It’s not one cohesive genre. It’s just more cohesive in the idea that ‘good is good.'”

And although headliners get the majority of the media attention at Coachella, most of the music fans at the festival are also there to discover new music or see lesser-known artists they wouldn’t normally see at a regular concert. Diplo, who’s performed at Coachella several times, comments on Coachella expanding beyond the festival’s original template of rock, EDM and some hip-hop: “It’s always been a festival for discovery anyway, so we’re reaching sort of a global cusp. Every year is a metamorphosis.”

“Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert” does a great job of covering the festival’s variety of music, and the concert footage is well-edited with very good sound mixing. (Try to watch this movie on the biggest screen possible.) But what’s missing from the documentary is any coverage of the “arts” at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. There have been many amazing art installations at Coachella over the years, so it would have made the documentary truly comprehensive if a little bit of time had been devoted to including a behind-the-scenes look at the festival’s art.

And curiously, the documentary doesn’t mention that Coachella co-founder Van Santen died in 2003, until a brief obituary dedication that’s flashed at the very end (“Rick Van Santen, 1961-2003”). In the documentary, the Goldenvoice people don’t talk about how Van Santen’s death (he passed away from flu complications) affected them and Coachella. Maybe it was too much of a downer for this documentary, which clearly wants to present only a positive and upbeat side to Coachella.

Since this is a Goldenvoice-produced documentary, it comes as no surprise that there’s also no mention about Coachella’s controversies, such as complaints of overcrowding and sexual harassment of attendees. Despite Coachella’s ongoing problems that this documentary doesn’t really want to address, the festival has undoubtedly become a major part of pop culture.

As pop star Billie Eilish says in the beginning of the documentary: “Everybody knows what Coachella is. If you don’t care about music, you know [about Coachella].”  Goldenvoice’s Roker has this conclusion about Coachella’s evolution: “The fact that it represents a fuller picture of culture, that’s the bottom line.”

YouTube Originals premiered “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert” on April 10, 2020.

 

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2019 NAACP Image Awards: Jay-Z to receive President’s Award; more presenters announced

March 28, 2019

50th NAACP Image Awards logo

Jay-Z (Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian/BFA)

The following is a press release from the NAACP:

The NAACP today announced that globally dominant pop culture icon Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter will receive the prestigious President’s Award during the 50th NAACP Image Awards. The President’s Award is presented in recognition of a special achievement and distinguished public service with previous recipients including Jesse Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Soledad O’Brien, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Muhammad Ali among others. NAACP President Derrick Johnson will present the award to Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter during a LIVE TV special on TV One on Saturday, March 30, 2019 from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by Anthony Anderson. Newly announced presenters will include Algee Smith, Cynthia Erivo, Danai Gurira, Issa Rae, Jimmy O. Yang, John Legend, Laura Harrier, Lupita Nyong’o, Marsai Martin, Mike Epps, Regina Hall, Ron Stallworth, Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Van Jones, Vin Diesel, Viola Davis, and Winston Duke. They join previously announced presenters Chrissy Metz, Kerry Washington, KiKi Layne, Lena Waithe, Letitia Wright, Malinda Williams, Mike Colter, Roshon Fegan, Thandie Newton, Tika Sumpter, and Trevor Noah.

“The President’s Award is an honor we carefully bestow upon an individual, maintaining its significance and commitment to recognizing excellence in service that directly affects our community,” says Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP. “Shawn Carter has been committed to shedding light on the issues that plague the black community including systematic racism and unjust treatment under the law, utilizing his global platform to create everlasting change. There is no better time than now, as we celebrate our 50th year, to honor him with this award.”

Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter is the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and also a 22-time GRAMMY award-winner. Outside of his musical achievements which also include selling over 100 million albums worldwide, serving as President of Def Jam Recordings, being co-owner of global streaming service TIDAL, and owning and curating “Made In America” festival, he also excels in his business ventures which include acquiring luxury spirits brands Armand De Brignac and D’usse and his role as majority owner in the 40/40 sports clubs. Carter also launched Roc Nation Sports in 2013, whose roster includes three-time NBA scoring champion and Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant and New York Mets MLB All-Star Robinson Canó.

Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter continues to use his platform for social good, intertwining his art and activism, through the work of his Shawn Carter Foundation and serving as co-founder of The REFORM Alliance. He was instrumental in bringing to life “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story,” which shed deeper light on the impact of the verdict felt round the world; a mini-series on the tragic effect of solitary confinement as seen through “Time: The Kalief Browder Story”; and also the animated documentary short “The War on Drugs is an Epic Fail,” highlighting the unjust treatment of people of color, specifically blacks and Latinos, as it relates to drug related crimes.

Winners for the 50th NAACP Image Awards will be revealed during the live TV special airing on TV One on Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 9pm/8c from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. As previously announced, Congresswoman Maxine Waters will be honored with the NAACP Chairman’s Award and radio legend Tom Joyner will receive the Vanguard Award. In addition to the live telecast, TV One will also air the 50th NAACP Image Awards Tribute Special, sponsored by Toyota, immediately preceding the show at 8pm/7c.

The 50th NAACP Image Awards production team includes: executive producers Reginald Hudlin and Phil Gurin; director Tony McCuin; co-executive producer Byron Phillips; producer Robin Reinhardt; and executive in charge of production Rachel Frimer.

For all information and the latest news, please visit the official NAACP Image Awards website at www.naacpimageawards.net or on Facebook at naacpimageaward and Twitter @naacpimageaward (#ImageAwards50).

About NAACP

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas at NAACP.org.

About TV One

Launched in January 2004, TV One serves 59 million households, offering a broad range of real-life and entertainment-focused original programming, classic series, movies and music designed to entertain and inform a diverse audience of adult black viewers. The network represents the best in black culture and entertainment with fan favorite shows Uncensored, Unsung, Rickey Smiley For Real, Fatal Attraction and The NAACP Image Awards. In addition, TV One is the cable home of blockbuster drama Empire. TV One is solely owned by Urban One, Inc., formerly known as Radio One, Inc. [NASDAQ: UONE and UONEK, www.urban1.com], the largest African-American owned multi-media company primarily targeting Black and urban audiences.

For more information about TV One’s upcoming programming, including original movies, visit the network’s companion website at www.tvone.tv. TV One viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@tvonetv) using the hashtag #ImageAwards50.

Woodstock 50: The Killers, Dead & Company, Jay-Z are headlining the festival

March 19, 2019

by Carla Hay

Woodstock 50 has announced that the Killers, Dead & Company and Jay-Z are headlining the festival, which takes place at Watkins Glen International race track in Watkins Glen, New York, from August  16 to August 18, 2019. The event is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock Festival. Woodstock 50 is produced by Woodstock Ventures, whose founder is original Woodstock promoter Michael Lang.

Woodstock 50’s lineup, which is dominated by male rock artists, will also include several of the original Woodstock Festival performers, including Santana, David Crosby, members of the Grateful Dead, John Fogerty, Canned Heat, John Sebastian, Country Joe McDonald and Melanie.

Other artists who will be performing at Woodstock 50 include the Raconteurs, Miley Cyrus, Robert Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters, Chance the Rapper, the Black Keys*, Imagine Dragons, Cage the Elephant, Sturgill Simpson, Greta Van Fleet and Brandi Carlile.

Woodstock 50’s lineup is not as iconic or diverse as many people had expected. Electronic dance music and country are two genres of music that are huge at festivals, but EDM and country are almost ignored at Woodstock 50. And even the rock music at Woodstock 50 isn’t very diverse: It falls into two categories: classic rock and alternative/modern rock. There are almost no heavy metal or punk acts on the bill. Women of color are also noticeably under-represented in the Woodstock 50 artist lineup (Halsey, Janelle Monáe and India.Arie are the most well-known women of color performing at the event), and the few rappers who are performing at Woodstock 50 are all male.

The original Woodstock Festival took place August 15 to 18, 1969, and had an estimated attendance of 400,000 people. Artists on the bill included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Santana and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The original Woodstock Festival is widely considered to be the most important live music event of the 1960s. The official “Woodstock” documentary film won an Oscar.

A 25th anniversary Woodstock Festival called Woodstock ’94 took place in 1994 in Saugerties, New York. The performers included Aerosmith, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Bob Dylan, Santana, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Crosby, Stills & Nash. A more controversial 30th anniversary Woodstock Festival (which included numerous incidents of assaults, vandalism, theft and arson) called Woodstock ’99 took place in 1999 in Rome, New York. Woodstock ’99’s lineup included Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bush, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Santana, Creed, Megadeth, the Chemical Brothers and Alanis Morissette.

So why are there very few superstar acts performing at Woodstock 50? A lot has changed in the concert industry since 1999. There are now more star-studded festivals than ever before, and people expect more diversity at festivals that are supposed to be represent several genres of music. In addition, the rise of mega-festivals such as Coachella (the world’s largest-grossing music festival), iHeartRadio and Bonnaroo has meant that people expect A-list talent every year at many of these events. And the fees for A-list entertainers have skyrocketed since Woodstock ’99, which is probably the biggest reason why there are few superstar acts on the Woodstock 50 bill.

Woodstock 50 is also competing against the Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival, produced by Bethel Woods Center for the Arts,  Live Nation and brand communications agency INVNT. The Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival will take place August 15 to August 17, 2019, at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (the site of the original Woodstock Festival) in Bethel Woods, New York. The Bethel Woods event has a lineup that leans heavily toward classic rock, with performers that include Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, Arlo Guthrie, the Doobie Brothers and Edgar Winter. Woodstock 50’s Watkins Glen venue is larger (with a capacity of 39,000) than the Bethel Woods venue, which has a capacity of about 15,000. But since Woodstock 50 and the Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival are both vying for the same core audience (rock fans who want huge doses of 1969 Woodstock nostalgia), that overlap is bound to affect ticket sales and enthusiasm for both events.

*April 8, 2019 UPDATE: The Black Keys have canceled their Woodstock 50 performance, due to a “scheduling conflict.”

April 29, 2019 UPDATE: Woodstock 50’s main investor has pulled out of the event, citing concerns about safety and overcrowding. Woodstock 50 has essentially been canceled before tickets went on sale. Click here for more details.

2018 BET Hip-Hop Awards: Cardi B is the biggest winner

October 17, 2018

The following is a press release from BET:

The BET Hip Hop Awards 2018 brought the heat to Miami, Florida on Saturday, October 6, 2018 for the annual taping of the most prominent hip hop showcase on television. Comedian and Actor Deray Davis hosted hip-hop’s biggest night of the year at The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater. The BET Hip Hop Awards 2018 premiered on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 8:00PM ET.

Cardi B reigned supreme with four wins for MVP of the Year, Hustler of the Year, Made-You-Look Award (Best Hip Hop Style), and Sweet 16, for her verse on Migos’ “Motorsport.”  The Carters followed closely picking up three awards for Album of the Year, Best Collabo and Single of the Year, for “Apes**t.”

XXXTentacion, who passed away earlier this year, was awarded for Best New Artist.  Anderson .Paak took to the stage for a tribute to his friend Mac Miller, who also passed away unexpectedly in 2018.  Lil Wayne took home the night’s biggest honor, the I Am Hip Hop Award, for his over two decades of contributions to hip hop culture.

The much anticipated cyphers were hosted by DJ Premier and featured a bevy of emcees dropping hot 16’s including Vic Mensa, Taylor Bennett, G Herbo, YBN Cordae Duckworth, Tobe Nwigwe, Blocboy JB, Casanova, Shawn Smith,  Nick Grant, Reason, Armani White, Wynne, Flawless Real Talk, Phora  and Big Pale.  Erykah Badu jumped on the turntables for a special “ladies only” cypher highlighting some of the hottest “Femcees” including Neelam Hakeem, Chika, Bri Steves and Sharaya J.

The show opened with a spellbinding performance by Lil Pump featuring Gucci Maneperforming a medley of “Esskeetit,” “Kept Back,” and “Gucci Gang.” Lil Baby & Gunna kept it sexy with performances of “Yes, Indeed,” “Yosemite,” and “Drip Too Hard.” Yella Beezy brought everyone to their feet with his performance of “That’s On Me.” Over at Club Liv, Cardi B was joined by Pardison Fontaine where they performed a medley of club bangers including “Get Up 10” and “Backin’ It Up.”  YG and A$AP ROCKY got the crowd ready for anything with their performance of “Band Drum.” T.I. took us to an exotic nightclub for his performance “Jefe” and brought out Yo Gotti for a special performance of their single “Wraith.” Young M.A. brought down the house with her performance of “Petty Wap,” before presenting the award for DJ of the Year.  Flipp Dinero kept the energy going with his performance of “Leave Me Alone.” Lil Duval hit the stage with a much-anticipated performance of his Billboard Chart-topping hit, “Smile (Living My Best Life)” featuring Ball Greezy.

Here is the complete list of 2018 BET Hip Hop Awards nominees and winners:

*=winner

Best Hip-Hop Video
Cardi B featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin, “I Like It”
Childish Gambino, “This Is America”*
Drake, “God’s Plan”
Kendrick Lamar featuring Rihanna, “Loyalty”
Migos featuring Drake, “Walk It Talk It”

Hot Ticket Performer
Cardi B
Childish Gambino
Drake*
Kendrick Lamar
Travis Scott

Album of the Year
Cardi B, “Invasion of Privacy”
Drake, “Scorpion”
J. Cole, “KOD”
Migos, “Culture II”
The Carters, “Everything Is Love”*

Video Director of the Year
Benny Boom
Dave Meyers & The Little Homies
Director X
Eif Rivera
Hiro Murai
Karena Evans*

Lyricist of the Year
Childish Gambino
Drake
J. Cole
Kendrick Lamar*
Travis Scott

MVP of the Year
Cardi B*
Childish Gambino
Drake
J. Cole
Travis Scott

Producer of the Year
Ben Billions
DJ Esco
DJ Mustard
Metro Boomin
Pharrell Williams*

Best Collabo, Duo or Group
21 Savage & Offset & Metro Boomin, “Ric Flair Drip”
BlocBoy JB featuring Drake, “Look Alive”
Cardi B featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin, “I Like It”
Post Malone featuring 21 Savage, “Rockstar”
The Carters, “Apes**t”*

Single of the Year
“Apes**t” – Produced By Pharrell (Performed by The Carters)*
“God’s Plan” – Produced By Cardo, Young Exclusive and Boi-1da (Performed by Drake)
“I Like It” – Produced By Craig Kallman, JWhiteDidIt and Tainy (Performed by Cardi B featuring Bad Bunny & J Balvin)
“Nice For What” – Produced By Murda Beatz (Performed by Drake)
“This Is America” – Produced By Donald Glover & Ludwig Goransson (Performed by Childish Gambino)

Best New Hip-Hop Artist
BloBboy JB
Juice Wrld
Lil Baby
Rich The Kid
XXXTentacion*

Best Mixtape
BlocBoy JB, “Simi”*
Future, “Beast Mode 2”
Juicy J, “Shut Da F* Up”
Lil Wayne, “Dedication 6: Reloaded”
Zoey Dollaz, “Sorry Not Sorry”

Sweet 16: Best Featured Verse
21 Savage – “Bartier Cardi” (Cardi B featuring 21 Savage)
Cardi B – “Motorsport” (Migos featuring Cardi B & Nicki Minaj)*
Drake – “Look Alive” (Blocboy JB featuring Drake)
Kendrick Lamar – “New Freezer” (Rich The Kid featuring Kendrick Lamar)
Nicki Minaj – “Big Bank” (Yg featuring 2 Chainz, Big Sean & Nicki Minaj)

Impact Track
Childish Gambino, “This Is America”*
Dej Loaf & Leon Bridges, “Liberated”
Lecrae featuring Tori Kelly, “I’ll Find You”
Meek Mill featuring Miguel, “Stay Woke”
N.E.R.D featuring Future, ” 1,000″

DJ of the Year
Calvin Harris
DJ Envy
DJ Drama
DJ Khaled*
DJ Mustard

Made-You-Look Award (Best Hip-Hop Style)
Cardi B*
Migos
Nicki Minaj
Remy Ma
Travis Scott

Best Hip-Hop Online Site/App
ALLHIPHOP
Complex
Hot New Hip Hop
Worldstar*
XXL

Hustler of the Year
Cardi B*
DJ Khaled
Drake
Jay-Z
Kendrick Lamar
Travis Scott

Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment, served as Executive Producer of the BET Hip Hop Awards along with Connie Orlando, BET Head of Programming and Jeannae Rouzan–Clay, Vice President of Specials, Jesse Collins Entertainment.

BET.com/HipHopAwards is the official site for the BET “HIP HOP AWARDS” 2018 where fans can visit to get up-to-date info on this year’s show and take a look back on past BET Hip Hop Awards.  The BET “HIP HOP AWARDS” 2018 will premiere on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at8:00PM ET.

Join the conversation on social media by logging on to BET’s multiple social media platforms:

●          On BET.com: http://www.bet.com/shows/hip-hop-awards.html

●          On Twitter by using hashtag: #HipHopAwards; follow us @HipHopAwards and @BET

●          On Facebook by liking the fan page at facebook.com/HipHopAwards

 

ABOUT BET NETWORKS:

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

 

ABOUT JESSE COLLINS ENTERTAINMENT:

Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full service television and film production company founded by entertainment industry veteran Jesse Collins. For more than a decade, Collins has played an integral role in producing some of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment. Collins has produced ground-breaking and award winning television programming including the BET Awards, the Grammy Awards, Soul Train Awards, BET Honors, UNCF An Evening of Stars, ABFF Awards and the BET Hip Hop Awards. Collins was an executive producer of the hit TV series “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” starring Kevin Hart, the critically-acclaimed “The New Edition Story,” a biopic on the boy band that aired as a 3-part mini-series on BET in January 2017 and posted record ratings for the network and attracted nearly 30 million viewers. He is also the executive producer of VH1 shows “Dear Mama” and “Hip Hop Squares” with Ice Cube.  He has appeared on the cover of Vibe magazine and has been featured in numerous publications including Ebony magazine. JCE recently produced “The Bobby Brown Story”, which premiered on September 4 & 5 on BET.

ABOUT BET HIP HOP AWARDS:

BET Hip Hop Awards is an annual celebration that pays homage to a culture that changed the world while highlighting the best in hip hop music. Year after year, BET Networks delivers the best in hip-hop for an unforgettable night of performances, cyphers and tributes honoring hip-hop legends that have and continue to make hip-hop culture a global force.

 

2018 Made in America: Nicki Minaj, Post Malone are headliners

June 4, 2018

Nicki Minaj at the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on May 1, 2017. (Photo courtesy of H&M)

The following is a press release from Live Nation:

MADE IN AMERICA, the JAY-Z curated two-day music festival and staple of Labor Day Weekend, returns to Philadelphia for a seventh year.

When:
Saturday, September 1, 2018
Sunday, September 2, 2018

Where:
Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, PA and for those unable to attend, global music and entertainment platform, TIDAL, will livestream the festival on TIDAL.com

A primary goal of MADE IN AMERICA is to have a positive impact on the communities involved. Since the inaugural two-day concert in 2012, the event has generated $31.9 million in economic impact for the city.  This year, the festival, produced by Roc Nation, will continue to benefit the ACLU of Pennsylvania as well as United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

Abercrombie & Fitch, Citi, and Puma’s commitments to the arts, as well as the community, make each a perfect fit with MADE IN AMERICA. The festival not only honors artists and music lovers, but it also benefits organizations that are vital to accomplishing much needed positive work.

Headliners Nicki Minaj and Post Malone are joined by Meek Mill, Diplo, Zedd, Miguel, Janelle Monáe, Alessia Cara, Fat Joe, 6lack, Belly, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich The Kid, Sabrina ClaudioJessie Reyez, Louis The Child, Tchami, Lil B, Gunna, Snakehips, Juice WRLD, BlocBoy JB, SOB x RBE, Sheck Wes, SAINt JHN, Jay Park, Saweetie, A$AP Twelvyy, Cashemere Cat, Jai Wolf, TOKiMONSTA, Preme, White Reaper, Clairo, Show Me The Body, Code Orange, Turnstile, Saba, Anna Lunoe, Driver Era, Bloodpop, Injury Reserve, Hobo Johnson & The LoveMakers, Davido, Shoreline Mafia, Elohim, Lost Kings, Forth Wanderers, Kweku Collins, Odie, Maxo KreamArmani WhiteAmara La NegraBuzzy LeeMir Fontane, Trouble, JPEGMAFIA, Tyla Yaweh, City Morgue, Louis Futon, Lophiile, Wicca Phase Spring Eternal, Orion Sun and Zahsosaa.

 

Ticket Purchase:
Continuing its commitment to bringing fans closer to their favorite artists, TIDAL members will have access to a special presale beginning on Monday, June 4th at 2:00pm ET.  Members can find details for purchasing tickets via their TIDAL account. Those who sign up for TIDAL to access presale will receive a six-month trial.

This year, TIDAL members attending the festival will have access to a wide array of exclusive benefits including: fast track entrance, TIDAL lounge access with air conditioning, seating and complimentary phone charging, artist meet and greets, ticket upgrades, limited-edition merchandise and premium views of the main stage on the TIDAL VIP riser.

Citi is the official presale credit card of MADE IN AMERICA. As such, Citi cardmembers will have access to purchase presale tickets beginning Tuesday, June 5 at 10am ET until Thursday, June 7 at 10pm ET through Citi’s Private Pass® program. For complete presale details visit www.citiprivatepass.com.

Tickets are available to the general public beginning Friday, June 8 at 10:00 am ET at LiveNation.com.

Make the weekend unforgettable with VIP passes that include access to VIP viewing areas, an air conditioned VIP Lounge, VIP restrooms, exclusive merchandise & more.  Details here: https://livemu.sc/MIA-VIP

ONGOING FESTIVAL INFORMATION:
For the latest on the “MADE IN AMERICA” Festival, United Way Of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, ACLU Of Pennsylvania and new partners please be sure to visit: www.madeinamericafest.com or download the MADE IN AMERICA app.

2018 Grammy Awards: Jay-Z leads with the most nominations

November 28, 2017

Jay-Z
Jay-Z (Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian/BFA)

The following is a press release from the Recording Academy:

The Recording Academy™ welcomes this year’s class of Grammy nominees. Already a 21-time Grammy winner, JAY-Z leads with eight nominations, followed by Kendrick Lamar (7), Bruno Mars (6), Childish Gambino (5), Khalid (5), No I.D. (5), and SZA (5). Selected from more than 22,000 submissions across 84 categories, the nominations showcase some of the most gifted music makers of the past awards year (Oct. 1, 2016–Sept. 30, 2017). As the only peer-selected music award, the Grammy is voted on by the Recording Academy’s membership body of music makers, who represent all genres and creative disciplines, including recording artists, songwriters, producers, mixers, and engineers.

“I’m inspired by this year’s nominees and the incredible talent each possesses,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. “Their recordings are a true testament to how creatively alive and meaningful our music industry has become. Each nominee uses their craft to inspire, uplift, and tell stories of our world through their artistry. They provide a vibrant soundtrack that represents the highest level of excellence and continues to impact and reflect our culture.”

“The beauty of our process begins and ends with the participation of music professionals,” said Bill Freimuth, Recording Academy Senior Vice President of Awards. “Our nominations reflect the expertise and passion of Recording Academy voting members.”

The final round of Grammy voting is Dec. 7–21, 2017. The Recording Academy will present the Grammy Awards® on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, live from Madison Square Garden in New York and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 7:30–11:00 p.m. ET/4:30–8:00 p.m. PT.

The following is a sampling of nominations from the GRAMMY Awards’ 30 Fields and 84 categories.

For a complete nominations list, visit  www.grammy.com.

Record of the Year

“Redbone” — Childish Gambino

“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber

“The Story Of O.J.” — JAY-Z

“HUMBLE.” — Kendrick Lamar

“24K Magic” — Bruno Mars

Album of the Year

“Awaken, My Love!” — Childish Gambino

4:44 — JAY-Z

DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar

Melodrama — Lorde

24K Magic — Bruno Mars

Song of the Year

“Despacito” — Ramón Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi & Marty James Garton, songwriters (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber)

“4:44” — Shawn Carter & Dion Wilson, songwriters (JAY-Z)

“Issues” — Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels & Justin Drew Tranter, songwriters (Julia Michaels)

“1-800-273-8255” — Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury, Khalid Robinson, songwriters (Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid)

“That’s What I Like” — Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus & Jonathan Yip, songwriters (Bruno Mars)

Best New Artist

Alessia Cara

Khalid

Lil Uzi Vert

Julia Michaels

SZA

Best Pop Solo Performance

“Love So Soft” — Kelly Clarkson

“Praying” — Kesha

“Million Reasons” — Lady Gaga

“What About Us” — P!nk

“Shape Of You” — Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Something Just Like This” ­— The Chainsmokers & Coldplay

“Despacito” — Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber

“Thunder” — Imagine Dragons

“Feel It Still” — Portugal. The Man

“Stay” — Zedd & Alessia Cara

Best Dance/Electronic Album

Migration — Bonobo

3-D The Catalogue — Kraftwerk

Mura Masa — Mura Masa

A Moment Apart — Odesza

What Now — Sylvan Esso

Best Rock Performance

“You Want It Darker” — Leonard Cohen

“The Promise” — Chris Cornell

“Run” — Foo Fighters

“No Good” — Kaleo

“Go To War” — Nothing More

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Free 6lack — 6lack

Awaken, My Love! — Childish Gambino

American Teen — Khalid

Ctrl — SZA

Starboy — The Weeknd

Best Rap Album

4:44 — JAY-Z

DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar

Culture — Migos

Laila’s Wisdom — Rapsody

Flower Boy — Tyler, The Creator

Best Country Album

Cosmic Hallelujah — Kenny Chesney

Heart Break — Lady Antebellum

The Breaker — Little Big Town

Life Changes — Thomas Rhett

From A Room: Volume 1 — Chris Stapleton

Best Jazz Vocal Album

The Journey — The Baylor Project

A Social Call — Jazzmeia Horn

Bad Ass And Blind — Raul Midón

Porter Plays Porter — Randy Porter Trio With Nancy King

Dreams And Daggers — Cécile McLorin Salvant

Best Gospel Album

Crossover — Travis Greene

Bigger Than Me — Le’Andria

Close — Marvin Sapp

Sunday Song — Anita Wilson

Let Them Fall In Love — Cece Winans

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album

Rise — Danny Gokey

Echoes (Deluxe Edition) —  Matt Maher

Lifer — MercyMe

Hills And Valleys — Tauren Wells

Chain Breaker — Zach Williams

Best Latin Pop Album

Lo Único Constante —  Alex Cuba

Mis Planes Son Amarte — Juanes

Amar Y Vivir En Vivo Desde La Cuidad De México, 2017 — La Santa Cecilia

Musas (Un Homenaje Al Folclore Latinoamericano En Manos De Los Macorinos) — Natalia Lafourcade

El Dorado — Shakira

Best Americana Album

Southern Blood — Gregg Allman

Shine On Rainy Day — Brent Cobb

Beast Epic — Iron & Wine

The Nashville Sound — Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit

Brand New Day — The Mavericks

Best Comedy Album

The Age Of Spin & Deep In The Heart Of Texas — Dave Chappelle

Cinco — Jim Gaffigan

Jerry Before Seinfeld — Jerry Seinfeld

A Speck Of Dust — Sarah Silverman

What Now? — Kevin Hart

Best Song Written For Visual Media

“City Of Stars” — Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, songwriters (Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone), Track from La La Land

“How Far I’ll Go” — Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter (Auli’i Cravalho), Track from Moana: The Songs

“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker) — Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew & Taylor Swift, songwriters (ZAYN & Taylor Swift), Track from Fifty Shades Darker

“Never Give Up” — Sia Furler & Gregg Kurstin, songwriters (Sia), Track from Lion

“Stand Up For Something” — Common & Diane Warren, songwriters (Andra Day Featuring Common), Track from Marshall

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical

Calvin Harris

No I.D.

Greg Kurstin

Blake Mills

The Stereotypes

About the Recording Academy

The Recording Academy represents the voices of performers, songwriters, producers, engineers, and all music professionals. Dedicated to ensuring the recording arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, the Academy honors music’s history while investing in its future through the Grammy Museum®, advocates on behalf of music creators, supports music people in times of need through MusiCares®, and celebrates artistic excellence through the Gtammy Awards—music’s only peer-recognized accolade and highest achievement. As the world’s leading society of music professionals, we work year-round to foster a more inspiring world for creators.

For more information about the Academy, please visit www.grammy.com. For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @RecordingAcad on Twitter, “like” Recording Academy on Facebook, and join the Recording Academy’s social communities on Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube.

 

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