Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Watch Kendrick Lamar Win Best Rap Album For 'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers' | 2023 GRAMMYs Acceptance Speech
Kendrick Lamar took home the award for Best Rap Album, recognizing how 'Mr. Morale' allowed him to grow as an artist.
In his acceptance speech, Lamar thanked his family for giving him the "courage and vulnerability" to tell his stories, as well as his fans for trusting him with the stories.
In addition to winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album, Lamar took home two more GRAMMYs for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance, both for his track “The Heart Part 5.”
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech below, and listen to music from all of the nominees on our official Amazon Music playlist.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Recording Academy
The 2023 GRAMMYs Nominated For Three Emmys: See The Categories Below
In an awards show crossover to remember, the 2023 GRAMMYs telecast has been nominated in three prestigious categories at the 2023 Emmy Awards.
An Emmy for the GRAMMYs? It's happened before, and it could happen again.
The 2023 Emmys nominations list has been revealed, and Music's Biggest Night is well represented.
The 2023 GRAMMYs have been nominated for Emmy Awards in the Outstanding Production Design For A Variety Special, Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction For A Variety Special and Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Variety Series Or Special categories.
In the first category, the 2023 GRAMMYs compete with "The Oscars," "Encanto At The Hollywood Bowl," "Carol Burnett: 90 Years Of Laughter + Love," and "The Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show Starring Rihanna."
The second category also contains "Encanto At The Hollywood Bowl," as well as "2022 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony," "75th Annual Tony Awards," and "The Weeknd Live At SoFi Stadium."
Also nominated in the third category are "Bono & The Edge: A Sort Of Homecoming With Dave Letterman," "Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium," "Saturday Night Live • Co-Hosts: Steve Martin & Martin Short," and "Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert."
Check out the complete list here, and watch this space to see if the GRAMMYs will take home the world's most prestigious TV award!
Photo: Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
10 Albums That Showcase The Deep Connection Between Hip-Hop And Jazz: De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Kendrick Lamar & More
Hip-hop and jazz are two branches of Black American music; their essences have always swirled together. Here are 10 albums that prove this.
Kassa Overall is tired of talking about the connections between jazz and rap. He had to do it when he released his last two albums, and he has to do it again regarding his latest one.
"They go together naturally," he once said. "They're from the same tree as far as where they come from, which is Black music in America. You don't have to over-mix them. It goes together already."
Expand this outward, and it applies to all Black American musics; it's not a stretch to connect gospel and blues, nor soul and R&B. Accordingly, jazz and rap contain much of the same DNA — from their rhythmic complexity to its improvisational component to its emphasis on the performer's personality.
Whether in sampling, the rhythmic backbone, or any number of other facets, jazz and rap have always been simpatico; just watch this video of the ‘40s and ‘50s vocal group the Jubilaries, which is billed as the “first rap song” and is currently circling TikTok. And as Overall points out to GRAMMY.com, even jazz greats like Louis Armstrong or Dizzy Gillespie had “Lil B and Danny Brown energy.”
De La Soul — 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
Featuring samples by everyone from Johnny Cash to Hall and Oates to the Turtles, their playful, iridescent, psychedelic 1989 debut, 3 Feet High and Rising, is the perfect portal to who Robert Christgau called "radically unlike any rap you or anybody else has ever heard,"
3 Feet High and Rising consistently ranks on lists of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. In 2010, the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry.
A Tribe Called Quest — The Low End Theory (1991)
If one were to itemize the most prodigious jazz-rap acts, four-time GRAMMY nominees A Tribe Called Quest belong near the top of the list. Their unforgettable tunes; intricate, genre-blending approach; and Afrocentric POV, put them at the forefront of jazz-rap.
There are several worthy gateways to the legendary discography of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White,, like 1993's Midnight Marauders and 1996's Beats, Rhymes and Life.
But their 1991 album The Low End Theory, was a consolidation and a watershed. From "Buggin' Out" to "Check the "Rhime" to "Scenario" — featuring Busta Rhymes, Charlie Brown and Dinco D — The Low End Theory contains the essence of Tribe’s vibrant, inventive personality.
Dream Warriors — And Now the Legacy Begins (1991)
Representing Canada are Dream Warriors, whose And Now the Legacy Begins was a landmark for alternative hip-hop.
King Lou and Capital Q's 1991 debut eschewed tough-guy posturing in favor of potent imagination and playful wit. Christgau nailed it once again with his characterization: "West Indian daisy age from boogie-down Toronto."
Its single "My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style" samples "Soul Bossa Nova" by 28-time GRAMMY winner Quincy Jones — who, among all the other components of his legacy, is one of jazz's finest arrangers. The tune would go on to become the Austin Powers theme song; in that regard, too, Dream Warriors were ahead of their time.
The Pharcyde — Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde (1992)
All of Black American music was fair game to producer J-Swift; on the Pharcyde's classic debut Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, he sampled jazzers like Donald Byrd and Roy Ayers alongside Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, and more. Over these beds of music, Fatlip, SlimKid 3, Imani, and Bootie Brown spit comedic bars with blue humor aplenty.
"I'm so slick that they need to call me, "Grease"/ 'Cause I slips and I slides When I rides on the beast" Imani raps in "Oh S—," in a representative moment. "Imani and your mom, sittin' in a tree/ K-I-S-S (I-N-G)."
All in all, the madcap, infectious Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde is a pivotal entry in the jazz-rap pantheon. One reviewer put it best: "[It] reaffirms every positive stereotype you've ever heard about hip-hop while simultaneously exploding every negative myth."
Digable Planets — Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) (1993)
Digable Planets' Ishmael Butler once chalked up the prevalent jazz samples on their debut as such: "I just went and got the records that I had around me," he said. "And a lot of those were my dad's s—. which was lots of jazz." It fits Digable Planets like a glove.
"Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" contains multiple elements of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers' "Stretching"; "Escapism (Gettin' Free" incorporates the hook from Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man"; and "It's Good to Be Here" samples Grant Green's "Samba de Orpheus. Throughout Reachin', Butler, Craig Irving and Mary Ann Viera proselytize Black liberation in a multiplicity of forms.
Pitchfork nailed it when it declared, "Reachin' is an album about freedom — from convention, from oppression, from the limits imposed by the space-time continuum."
Gang Starr — Daily Operation (1992)
In the realm of Gang Starr, spiritual consciousness and street poetry coalesce. Given that jazz trucks in both concepts, it's a natural ingredient for DJ Premier and Guru's finest work.
One of their first masterpieces, Daily Operation, contains some of jazz's greatest minds within its grooves. "The Place Where We Dwell" samples the Cannonball Adderley Quintet's "Fun"; Charles Mingus' "II B.S" is on "I'm the Man"; the late piano magician Ahmad Jamal's "Ghetto Child" pops up on "The Illest Brother."
Throughout their career, DJ Premier and Guru only honed their relaxed chemistry; jazz elements help give their music a natural swing and sway. (Their musical partnership continues to this day; Gang Starr is releasing music this very week.)
The Roots — Things Fall Apart (1999)
Three-time GRAMMY winners The Roots' genius blend of live instrumentation and conscious bars launched them far past any "jazz-rap" conversation and into mainstream culture, via their role as the house band on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
Elements of limbic, angular jazz can be found throughout their discography, but their major label debut Do You Want More?!!!??! might be the most effective entryway into their blend of jazz and rap. ("Silent Treatment" features a bona fide jazz singer as a guest, Cassandra Wilson.)
Whether it’s the burbling "Distortion to Static," or the jazz-fusion-y "I Remain Calm," or the knockabout "Essaywhuman?!!!??!", venture forth into the Roots' discography; they're a hub of so many spokes of Black American music.
Madlib — Shades of Blue (2003)
As jazz-rap connections go, Madlib's Shades of Blue is one of the most pointed and direct.
Therein, he raids the Blue Note Records vault and remixes luminaries from Wayne Shorter ("Footprints") to Bobby Hutcherson ("Montara") to Ronnie Foster ("Mystic Brew," flipped into "Mystic Bounce"). In the medley "Peace/Dolphin Dance," Horace Silver and Herbie Hencock's titular works meet in the ether.
Elsewhere, Shades of Blue offers new interpretations of Blue Note classics by Madlib's fictional ensembles Yesterday's New Quintet, Morgan Adams Quartet Plus Two, Sound Direction, and the Joe McDuphrey Experience — all of whom are just Madlib playing every instrument.
In recent years, Blue Note has been hurtling forward with a slew of inspired new signings — some veterans, some newcomers. Through that lens, Shades of Blue provides a kaleidoscopic view of the storied jazz repository's past while paving the way for its future.
Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
While hip-hop has had a direct line to jazz for decades — as evidenced by previous entries on this list — Lamar solidified and codified it for the 21st century in this sequence of teeming, ambitious songs about Black culture, mental health and institutional racism.
"Kendrick reached a certain level with his rap that allowed him to move like a horn player," Overall told Tidal in 2020. And regarding Lamar’s present and future jazz-rap comminglings, Overall adds, "He opened up the floodgates of creative possibilities."
Kassa Overall — Animals (2023)
The pieces of Overall's brilliance have been there from the beginning, but never had he combined them to more thrilling effect than on Animals — where jazz musicians like pianists Kris Davis and Vijay Iyer commingle with rappers like Danny Brown and Lil B.
"I would rather people hear my music and not think it's a jazz-rap collage," Overall once told GRAMMY.com. "What if you don't relate it to anything else? What does it sound like to you?"
When it comes to the gonzo Danny Brown and Wiki collaboration "Clock Ticking," the Theo Croker-assisted "The Lava is Calm," and the inspired meltdown of "Going Up," featuring Lil B, Shabazz Palaces and Francis & the Lights — this music sounds like nothing else.
Over the decades, Black American musicians have swirled together jazz and rap into a cyclone of innovation, heart and brilliance — and there’s seemingly no limit to the iterations it can take on.
Photo: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Hip-Hop Education: How 50 Years Of Music & Culture Impact Curricula Worldwide
The study of hip-hop has evolved significantly — from socio-cultural studies, to deep dives on specific artists — as has its use as a pedagogical tool. A curriculum without hip-hop would "be an incomplete education of our world," one professor notes.
In its 50th year, hip-hop is in a remarkable place of leadership. Despite the mainstream forces that long sidelined hip-hop its rightful impact for decades, what began as a cultural expression now has significantly impacted business, music and culture on a global scale.
Beginning in the 1990s, hip-hop music and culture emerged as a key pedagogical tool in education at all levels. From dancing and rhyming in K-12 classrooms to university-level classes and archives, artist-centric studies and fellowships, the use of hip-hop in education has evolved significantly over the decades.
Teaching Hip-Hop As History
What hip-hop artists have been expressing about race, violence, economic class and beyond for the past 50 years is used as a powerful education tool in the present. Dan Charnas, Associate Arts Professor at New York University, suggests that hip-hop is crucial in overall education. His popular course on the late producer and composer J. Dilla — who produced for artists including A Tribe Called Quest, Common and Janet Jackson — inspired Charnas to write the New York Times bestseller Dilla Time.
"Hip-hop is just part of a longer popular music tradition which sits very squarely in any history — cultural, music or otherwise. So teaching hip-hop is just teaching history," Charnas tells GRAMMY.com, adding that not incorporating hip-hop into his curriculum would "be an incomplete education of our world.
"It’s funny," he continues, citing an episode of [Rick Rubin's] podcast. "When I was on last year, he’s like, ‘So you teach hip-hop, what’s that like?’ It was such a weird question! He says when he was a student at Tisch, where I teach, hip-hop was the thing you did instead of school. He comes from a generation that had no context for it being somewhat academic."
Charnas certainly isn't the first academic to study hip-hop. He cites Brown University professor Tricia Rose’s 1994 book Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America as a key breakthrough to pave the way for hip-hop scholarship.
The study of hip-hop has also experienced significant development — from history-focused socio-cultural studies, to deep dives on specific artists. Decades after Howard University began talking about hip-hop studies in 1991 and the University of California, Berkeley created a course to study the late rapper Tupac Shakur in 1997, 17-time GRAMMY winner Kendrick Lamar is now the subject of dedicated college courses around the country. Lamar is among the artists who exemplify the way hip-hop culture transcends genre and form, whose work is a living document of society.
Good kid, m.A.A.d city has themes of "gang violence, you’ve got child-family development in the inner city, you’ve got drug use and the war on drugs, you’ve got sex slavery, human trafficking — a lot of the things that are hot-button issues for today are just inherent in the world of Compton, California," Georgia Regents University instructor Adam Diehl told *USA Today.
Diehl introduced a course on Lamar in 2014, and today lectures on hip-hop at Augusta University. What if people had said, ‘we shouldn’t study Toni Morrison or Hemingway or Emily Dickinson because they’re too new?" he continued to USA Today. "Everything was new or too popular or too risqué at the time, but I just think that great stories last and the story of good kid, m.A.A.d city, is lasting."
"In my literature courses, music is considered a critical text," said Dr. Regina N. Bradley, an assistant professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. In one class, her students delve into Black protest songs. In another, they examine the music of Southern rap trailblazers like Outkast. Both help students connect the past to the present.
"Music is pedagogy. It’s an archive and so real," she explained. "When you can show and prove to students that the history of civil rights for Black folks is not linear but cyclical, they understand and value that their experiences and what they are witnessing on a daily basis are reflections of the past in the present. History lives in the music; it lives in the culture… As a professor, it is my job to show students the dots, connect them a little bit and set them on their own journeys of discovery."
Hip-hop is also used as a tool for teaching K-12 students in a wide variety of ways, whether it’s learning and performing rhymes in math classes or analyzing current issues like police brutality and social justice. Nonprofits such as Oakland’s Hip Hop For Change work with local schools to teach foundational elements such as MCing, DJing, graffiti and breakdancing. Like colleagues around the country, their instructors also use the culture to share practical knowledge about the world.
Hip-Hop Archives And Fellowships Advance Studies Of The Form
The creation of hip-hop archives and fellowships at universities have been a significant educational development over the past 15 years, beginning when Cornell University opened The Cornell Hip-Hop Collection in 2007. The CHHC features over a quarter million digital and physical artifacts, including recordings, party flyers, graffiti art, magazines, books and personal archives. Media from artists and documentarians such as MC Grandmaster Caz, photographers Joe Conzo and Ernie Paniccioli, film director Charlie Ahearn (best known for the seminal hip-hop movie Wild Style) and former Def Jam publicist and author Bill Adler are all at CHHC.
A first for the West Coast, UCLA’s Hip-Hop Initiative followed the CHHC in 2022. The university’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies is creating a digital archive and offering postdoctoral fellowships, among other missions. Public Enemy’s Chuck D is the Hip-Hop Initiative’s first artist-in-residence.
"It’s been incredible to witness and mentor so many students as they reach into the histories and experiences of the communities that gave rise to hip-hop," UCLA professor and advisory board member Cheryl Keyes said in a statement. "There's a richness and depth and context that are yet to be discovered and revealed, and this initiative will support much more of that."
"As we celebrate 50 years of hip-hop music and cultural history, the rigorous study of the culture offers us a wealth of intellectual insight into the massive social and political impact of Black music, Black history and Black people on global culture — from language, dance, visual art and fashion to electoral politics, political activism and more," added Associate Director and Initiative Leader H. Samy Alim.
One of the most prominent universities in the United States offers resident fellowships for the advanced study of hip-hop music and culture. In 2013, The Hiphop Archive and Research Institute (HARI) and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University launched the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship. Named after GRAMMY-winning hip-hop artist Nas, the fellowship is funded by an anonymous donor. Past recipients include Dr. Bradley of Kennesaw State. (Harvard’s HARI also offers an additional resident fellowship.)
"Hip-hop is important like computer science," Nas said in a press conference announcing the Jones fellowship. "The world is changing. If you want to understand the youth, listen to the music. This is what’s happening right underneath your nose."
Having fellowships and archives help ensure the continued study of hip-hop and offer hope to solidify its legacy for the next 50 years and beyond.
Teaching The Elements
As hip-hop education broadens and deepens at every academic level, there may also be the formation of more dedicated schools and increased educational attention to the original elements of hip-hop: DJing, MCing, beatboxing, graffiti art and breakdancing.
The foundational history and practice of DJing is now taught in courses at major institutions, including Stanford University and New School in New York City, and incorporated into curricula at music production schools such as Berklee College of Music in Boston and Pyramind in San Francisco. One-off workshops and day classes are also sometimes offered at select record stores such as Superior Elevation in Brooklyn.
Dedicated technical DJ schools are training future stars on and offline. After teaching DJ skills to private and college students for years, Queens, N.Y.-based DJ Rob Swift started his own Brolic Army DJ School to teach advanced skills, host masterclasses with other legends and host student challenges online.
Another excelling technical DJ school is Beat Junkie Institute of Sound (BJIOS), which trains students in DJing and production both online and at a brick and mortar location in Glendale, California. Like their friend and colleague Swift and his X-Ecutioners crew, the Beat Junkies DJs came to international prominence in the '90s as champions on the world battle DJ circuit.
As with MCing, graffiti and breakdancing, women DJs have been both influential and underrepresented in rap culture, but that may be changing. BJIOS has a supportive division for women and girls called Ladies of Sound to serve over half of the student body and offers a yearly scholarship for women in honor of the late Pam The Funkstress, the DJ of choice for Prince on his final tour, in conjunction with Pyramind and the Purple Pam Foundation.
A Future In Physical Education
The world is at the precipice of a new frontier in hip-hop influenced physical education thanks to breakdancing, which will be an official Olympic sport beginning with the Paris 2024 Games. This official recognition could foster the need for new learning opportunities all across the globe at K-12 schools, universities, dance studios and specialized sports schools.
This is already starting to happen on the academic front on the East Coast. Philadelphia’s Hip-Hop Fundamentals brings professional breakdancing workshops into K-12 schools, using movement alongside academic and social teaching.
Princeton University lecturer and Hearst Choreographer-in-Residence Raphael Xavier offers a college course called Introduction to Breaking: Deciphering its Power that "gives equal weight to scholarly study and embodied practice, using both approaches to explore the flow, power and cultural contexts of Breaking."
Hip-hop has grown from being dismissed as a short-term fad to becoming a vital lens for studying the world. The acceleration of the latter over the past 15 years alone suggests much more to come for hip-hop and education.
The most important teacher of this culture is hip-hop music, and it will continue to evolve intellectually, spiritually and physically over time and all across the planet. In that respect, the educational potential has only just begun to be understood.
Photo: Pooneh Ghana for Bonnaroo 2023
10 Amazing Sets From Bonnaroo 2023: Paramore, Kendrick Lamar, Rina Sawayama & More
The four-day festival in Manchester, Tennessee was completely sold out this year, drawing more than 80,000 people. Relive the excitement with these 10 incredible sets from Bonnaroo 2023.
Following a few rocky years, Bonnaroo 2023 made a triumphant comeback to Great Stage Park (affectionately dubbed "The Farm") under glorious skies. The Manchester, Tennessee festival was completely sold out this year, drawing more than 80,000 people for four days of music, laughter, food, and plenty of sun.
From the Midnight and their showstopping saxophonist, to Amber Mark’s masterful lyricism and Three 6 Mafia's guests (which included a surprise cameo by country star Jelly Roll), to young musician Ben Goldsmith’s country-inspired tunes and Hayley Williams joining Foo Fighters to perform "My Hero." And if all-day music wasn’t enough, Bonnaroo 2023 featured numerous food vendors and relaxing areas, and even a place to get married.
While at times the lines were long, the sun was hot, and getting from one remote area to another proved difficult, rousing sets by headliners and larger-than-life moments at the smaller tents made everything worth it. Here are 10 of the most exciting sets from Bonnaroo 2023.
Suki Waterhouse Shines Despite Difficulties
Suki Waterhouse ⎹ Dusana Risovic for Bonnaroo 2023
After a severely delayed set due to technical difficulties, Thursday’s performance at That Tent saw English actress-turned-singer Suki Waterhouse playing through much of her debut album, I Can’t Let Go.
Drenched in pink light with an enveloping fog, Waterhouse’s cinematic performance and comforting vocals could draw anyone into the tent. She flitted through "Moves," "Bulls— on the Internet," "My Mind" and TikTok favorite "Good Looking" with a robust collection of layered drums and guitar for support.
Big Freedia Fires Everybody Up
Big Freedia ⎹ Charles Reagan for Bonnaroo 2023
Across the park, Big Freedia treated audiences to an extra-special taste of New Orleans bounce. The 1:45 a.m. set time after a sweltering day did not deter the amped-up audience, many of whom likely attended Thursday’s Pride Parade — also helmed by Big Freedia.
"I just want to wish everyone happy Pride," Big Freedia, donning an outfit made of rainbow feathers, said to momentous cheers. "We about to turn up, we about to celebrate!"
Folks from the audience jumped on stage for a 2 a.m. twerk contest, dancing along with Big Freedia as she performed "Azz Everywhere" and "Rock Around the Clock." It was a lot of energy to be had for the wee morning hours, but if there’s anything the Bonnaroo crowd does better than others, it’s the late nights.
Black Midi Brings The Noise
Translating a distinctively chaotic discography into a sensical live set isn’t an easy task. Compound that with a fickle festival audience in the hot sun, and sometimes it can be downright impossible. Yet, Black Midi's experimental arrangements seemed to delight the audience relatively quickly on Saturday.
With songs that took a slower cadence ("Still") and others that were characterized by sharp tonal shifts and dramatic tempo changes ("Eat Men Eat!", "953"), the bulk of the excitement came in not knowing what to expect next. It was the kind of organized mayhem that invited people to start chucking inflatable dinosaurs, rubber chickens, bananas, toilet paper, anything they had in hand.
The charm in Black Midi’s music, at least on that stage, was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. In translating their mind-melting, seemingly random studio style to the Bonnaroo stage, Black Midi taught us, song after song, that some shows just have to be some degree of chaos.
Rina Sawayama Cycles Through Every Genre
Rina Sawayama ⎹ Cora Wagoner for Bonnaroo 2023
To see Rina Sawayama live is a gift. The rising pop (and rock, and country) artist shined on Friday at the Which Stage, moving with elegance through choreographed dance routines. Her performances included a two-dancer ensemble and various spur-of-the moment outfit and character changes.
There’s a transporting magic wrought by Rina’s one hour set; every song she performed felt like an individual production with a story to tell, beginning with the fearlessly reflective "Hold The Girl" and ending with the rousing "This Hell" (featuring a surprise cameo by MUNA, who had just finished playing the What Stage).
For a set that started with hard rock, cycled through bubblegum pop, and ended with country, it felt every bit as extraordinary and arresting as she is. Rina Sawayama doesn’t demand your attention — she’s not begging for it. She simply acquires it whether you like it or not.
Paris Jackson Conjures Pixies And Nirvana
Paris Jackson ⎹ Gary Miller/WireImage
Paris Jackson may have just one album under her belt, but that didn’t stop the 25-year-old singer/songwriter from packing sets on Saturday and Sunday at two different stages. The crowd clearly couldn’t get enough of their Nirvana-inspired music as they overflowed the Toyota Music Den on Saturday to listen to acoustic versions of her new tracks, and then This Tent on Sunday for the full-instrumental versions of those songs.
Highlights of both sets included her lighthearted guitar tuning interlude — a seemingly out-of-place folk song her bandmate plays as she tunes her guitar in her earpiece — and "bandaid," the title track off of her forthcoming new album.
"Most of my songs are about heartbreak," Jackson told GRAMMY.com during a backstage chat. "This is the most raw and vulnerable I’ve ever been in my lyrics, but it’s still vague enough for people to make it about what they want it to be about."
Though a departure from her old sound— which leaned more towards indie folk, watching her perform "bandaid" and her other two singles "Just You" and "Lighthouse" felt like we were watching her come into her own. The depth of the songwriting felt right at home amongst the covers of Blind Melon’s "No Rain" and Pearl Jam’s "Even Flow."
Kendrick Lamar Performs On His Birthday
Kendrick Lamar ⎹ Roger Ho for Bonnaroo 2023
The first of the weekend’s headliners to perform, Kendrick Lamar, spent his 36th birthday eve putting on a theatrical performance that blended cuts from last year’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers ("Count Me Out") with back catalog material ("A.D.H.D.", "Backseat Freestyle").
After a modest, humble response to the audience singing him "Happy Birthday" at the stroke of midnight, Lamar leaned into the melodrama, as he rapped alongside a group of suit-wearing doppelgängers dancing with uncanny, uniform movements. For his second-to-last act, Lamar brought out his cousin Baby Keem, who brought vigorous rhymes to the stage for "family ties". And even though Kendrick’s set ended 20 minutes early with "Savior," its high energy and dramatic visuals were the cherry on top to an already exhilarating Friday evening.
The Band Camino Brings Their Music Back Home
The Band Camino ⎹ Nathan Zucker for Bonnaroo 2023
Tennessee’s own The Band Camino were slated to appear at two canceled Bonnaroos in a row, and by this year's festival the Memphis band were visibly happy to be there. They revived their song "California" just for Bonnaroo, and played the ever-popular "2/14" alongside some of their newer singles, "What Am I Missing" and "Last Man in the World" — the latter of which was a huge hit with the crowd.
Speaking to GRAMMY.com backstage, vocalists Spencer Stewart and Jeffery Jordan discussed the song’s provenance: "We were trying to write something that was verbally heavy-hitting, that paints a really good picture about what it feels like to be with this very special person. It feels like everyone else is gone and you’re just left with this one person left; you’re the last people in the world."
Lil Nas X Rides ’Til He Can’t No More
Lil Nas X ⎹ Pooneh Ghana for Bonnaroo 2023
The main stage at Bonnaroo is always a grand marvel, and Lil Nas X gave the Bonnaroo audience nothing short of that, drawing an enormous crowd on Saturday just after nightfall. Bobbing and weaving across a stage he shared with giant costumed animals, a six-person dance ensemble, and swirling rock formations, it’s obvious the rapper has an insatiable desire to entertain and magnetize.
As expected, songs like "Old Town Road" and "What I Want" proved their staying power as fans from all walks of life sung along unabashedly, celebrating Nas X's Black queer joy.
"It's f—ing Pride month, y'all better make some noise for this gay ass s—!", Lil Nas X yelled, prompting applause from both the audience and his dancers, who were just as integral a part of the show as he was. The GRAMMY-winning performer gave each of his dancers gave the audience a chance to hype up the crowd, too, showcasing their dancing abilities to songs by J. Balvin, Lola Brooke, and Beyonce.
With dance arrangements full of vogueing, ass shaking, and straight-up boogie, the Nas X show was a spectacle to behold, and kept the crowd whipped up in a frenzy until the very last notes of GRAMMY nominated "Industry Baby."
Paramore Dabbles In Nostalgia
Hayley Williams and Zac Farrow of Paramore ⎹ Pooneh Ghana for Bonnaroo 2023
"Does anybody here tonight feel like cashing in on a little nostalgia? Anyone here feel like taking a trip down memory lane?" yelled Hayley Williams of Paramore. The four-piece formed just 70 miles north in Franklin, Tennessee in 2004, and led the audience right back to 2007’s Riot!, where a young Hayley Williams boldly sang "Once a whore you’re nothing more/I’m sorry that’ll never change" ("Misery Business").
She doesn’t sing that lyric live anymore because of its misogynist tone, but their setlist resembled something of a greatest hits record. The band powered through standouts for those who had been supporting "since day one" ("All I Wanted", "Last Hope"), and incredible renditions of their newer songs, like "Rose-Colored Boy", performed with samples of Whitney Houston’s "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love" intermixed.
In a raw and potent performance before a thousands-strong audience — it was the band’s second appearance at the festival — Paramore proved that they will remaina treat to see live for years to come.
Pixies Prove They're Larger Than The That Tent
Being the gold-standard of alt rock is just what the Pixies are all about, and their Sunday evening performance at the That Tent seemed intent on showing everyone that.
The That Tent was spilling out from every corner, uncomfortably so, as the reclusive ‘80s stalwarts rocked and rolled through through favorites from albums past— including "Here Comes Your Man" and "Where is My Mind" — and songs from their newest project, Doggrel — "Who's More Sorry Now?" and "Get Simulated."
It was 23 songs in just an hour’s time. And in true Pixies fashion, they did this all without a setlist, coursing seamlessly from song to song without a plan, solely from the heart. As the band closed with a Neil Young cover ("Winterlong") to raucous applause, everyone was reminded that, much like the festival, you don’t always need a plan to have a good time.