J. Cole Compares “2014 Forest Hills Drive” To Winning A Championship

The debate surrounding J Cole’s legacy often lies within the number of classic albums in his catalog. Some would say none, while others proclaim 2014 Forest Hills Drive as his magnum opus. The rapper didn’t win a Grammy for the album. However, he later earned a trophy for his contributions to 21 Savage’s “a lot.” During his conversation with Bob Myers on Lead By Example, he explained that the experience of recording and releasing the album felt similar to a championship run. “Had I won it early on, I feel like it would have validated all of those feelings I had for it,” J Cole said.

“Maybe it would have felt like a championship at that point, I’m not sure,” he continued. However, 2014 Forest Hills Drive’s loss allowed him to reflect on his career. These days, he doesn’t necessarily hold the accolade to the same standards as he did when he was younger. “After more time with sitting with myself, it becomes clear that, ‘Oh, wait a minute, those things weren’t for you.’ And then when it actually came, it was almost like, ‘I’m not in love with this thing anymore.’ So it couldn’t feel like a championship,” he added.

J Cole’s Grammy Win

Evidently, the Grammys can’t dictate J. Cole’s greatness. During his conversation, he told Myers that winning the award was “nowhere close to a championship for me.” Still, in retrospect, the success and praise that 2014 Forest Hills Drive earned made felt comparable to how the Bulls two-time three-peats. “The making of this album I got called Forest Hills Drive, and the releasing of it and the tour, that was a championship run in the way that how the Bulls look at The Last Dance,” he said.

Ultimately, the album’s success cemented J Cole’s status in hip-hop and the recognition from institutes like the Recording Academy couldn’t take that away from him. “The fact that it didn’t win didn’t change my experience. That was what a championship felt like to me,” he concluded. 2014 Forest Hills Drive dropped with no prior announcement, leaping to the top of the Billboard 200 with 350K units sold in its first week. Check out J Cole’s interview with Bob Myers above and sound off with your thoughts in the comments. 

Dave East Says J. Cole’s Advice Helped Improve His Next Album

Dave East has credited J. Cole for giving him key advice that has improved his upcoming album. Speaking with HipHopDX at the 2023 Grammy Awards, East explained how working with the Fayetteville, North Carolina rapper impacted his recording process.

“I took a lot from that,” he said. “Just his whole energy, you know what I mean? For him to be who he is at the level he’s at and give me that game like that, give me that little bit of advice just to help my own shit out.” He added: “I definitely apply it to what I got going on. My new album, you definitely going to hear some of that in there. But yeah, big shout out to J. Cole.”

Dave East At A “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” Screening

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 23: Dave East attends “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” Screening at 92NY on February 23, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

The Grammys’ red carpet isn’t the first time East has spoken about learning from J. Cole. He also discussed the rapper’s impact during an interview with Apple Music‘s Ebro Darden in 2021. “I got a chance to lock in with J. Cole, just me and him in the studio with the engineer,” he said at the time.

He added: “And he asked that same question, like, ‘Bro, I’m a fan of what you do, I really respect your pen, but you rap with one tone.’ And I really sat and listened to myself, and a lot of my shit is one tone. Me and him in the studio testing tones. He’s just really seeing how high I can take my voice, how low I can take it, and then he just was like, ‘Apply that to your music. Watch the difference.’ That’s just something I gotta keep working at, keep working at. I think it will be something dope to add to my music.”

East released his debut studio album, Survival, in 2019 with features from Rick Ross, Lil Baby, Gunna, Fabolous, DJ Premier, and more. In the years since, he’s worked on several EPs and mixtapes while also focusing on his acting career. He currently stars in Wu Tang: An American Saga.

Dave East At The Grammys


The 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop Celebrated At The 2023 Grammys

On February 5th, 2023 at the 65th annual Grammy awards, in a groundbreaking performance, some of the most profound and influential names in hip hop took to the stage to deliver one of the biggest performances in hip-hop history. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the genre was a monumental moment for both musicians and fans alike. Why? The inaugural class of hip-hop artists who in 1989 boycotted the first Grammy ceremony to include a rap award, due to the fact that it was not being televised.

Adding to the sting, they referred to it as  “ghettoizing” at the time. Female hip hop supergroup Salt-N-Pepa stated,   Making matters worse, up until 2004 there was no award for best rap song. While the genre of hip hop/ rap has long been established since the 1980’s. To add insult to injury the first award for the best rap song in 2004 at the Grammys was given to Caucasian emcee Eminem for his song “Lose Yourself”. This was seen as a slap in the face to the vast majority of hip hop artists who are black. Therefore this 50th anniversary performance was seen as a full circle moment and a long time coming. “If they don’t want us, we don’t want them,” regarding the boycott back in 1989.

The Night Of The Hip-Hop Tribute

On the night of the hip hop tribute, a number of the performing artists had quite a bit to say regarding the long overdue acknowledgment of the genre and creatives that have built it and kept it around. Rapper turned TV star Ice-T said on the red carpet, “The Grammys didn’t even respect hip-hop for so long, and now to be here, to be honored like this, we’ll take it, absolutely,” to People correspondents Jeremy Parsons and Janine Rubenstein. “It’s only right,” Queen Latifah told Cox and E! on the red carpet before joining the performance. “We had to fight to get on the Grammys quite a long time ago, and so it’s great to be here to celebrate this in front of the entire world with people who were my mentors.”

How It Came Together

Back in December of 2022 The recording academy approached QuestLove about helping to right a long standing wrong. The legendary drummer, DJ, producer, culinary entrepreneur, designer, New York Times best-selling author and member of The Roots was the one who asked to fit 50 years of rap history into 15 minutes. On the Grammys red carpet he described  it as a “family reunion.” According to The New York Times, “for once, the awards show gave the genre a fitting spotlight.”

According to QuestLove he knew, “It was a lot of mountains to move to make this happen.” Mainly because, “It took a lot of cajoling for this particular generation to come to a function that has systematically treated them as stepchildren,” he said. He further explained, “I understand the historical significance of it, but you’ve got to understand that there is a new generation that has a seat at the table. Our job is to make it right. I know this reeks of a lot of overcompensatory acts, but just trust me, the old guard is gone and the new guard is the establishing guard. What should’ve been due to you 35 or 40 years ago is coming to light now.”

The Performances: Chapters One Two and Three

The Grammys performance itself was divided into chapters. Beginning with the start of hip hop in the 1980’s telling the story up to this point in time. The entire performance started with an introduction from LL COOL J . The star acknowledged all those not featured on the telecast. He said, “We wish we could have included every single hip-hop artist from 1973 to 2023 — I know, I know, I know,” as an attempt to get ahead of any criticisms based on the set list. From there the performance began. With narration from legendary frontman for the roots, Black Thought. The performance opened with 80’s great Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and the hit, “The Message”. Which seamlessly transitioned into a short yet memorable performance by the forever legendary Run DMC.

Followed by a remixed rendition of “Rock the Bells” by announcer LL Cool J and scratched by the incredible Dj Jazzy Jeff himself. Will Smith was asked to attend and originally was scheduled. But, there was a scheduling conflict with “Bad Boys 4”. Immediately following LL Cool J’s performance, Salt – N-Pepa came out performing their hit, “My Mic Sounds Nice”. Rakim followed up with his verse from the legendary hit, “Eric B. is President”. Chuck D and Flavor Flav slid in next with the 1988 classic, “Rebel Without a Pause”.

To begin the second chapter there was a short intermission of sorts with LL Cool J and Black Thought narrating the short interlude. Upon the beginning of the short second act of the tribute, there was a brief performance by one of the members of De La Soul. He performed his verse of the classic track, “Buddy”. What followed were performances by Scarface, who performed a verse from “My Mind is Playing Tricks On Me”.

The Second Chapter Of The Performance

The second chapter concluded with Ice-T rapping, “New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme).  The transition from 80’s to 90’s hip hop continued on with performances by Queen Latifah. She performed, “U.N.I.T.Y. Then, Method Man performed his self titled hit, “M-E-T-H-O-D Man”. Immediately after Method man concluded his set, one half of the iconic southern hip hop duo Outkast, Big Boi, performed “ATLiens”. Hip hop heavyweight Busta Rhymes followed  up by performing not one but two of his hits. He performed the 90’s hit “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See”. Also, he performed his verse the early 2000’s hit,“Look at Me Now”.

The second chapter was concluded by the one and only Missy Elliott. She took to the stage to perform the dance classic “Lose Control”. The Third and final chapter of the performances were narrated by Queen Latifah herself. The performances that followed were by heavy hitters of the most recent generation of hip hop stars. Closing out the early 2000’s era there were performances by Nelly & City Spud’s performance of the hit “Hot in Herre ”.

Followed up by Too Short’s track, “Blow the Whistle ” and then ending the era with a track that summed up a generation; Swizz Beatz & the Lox’s “We Gonna Make It”. The final performances were all newcomers to the hip hop scene. Rapper Lil Baby came out to perform, “Freestyle”. Female emcee GloRilla performed her hit “ F.N.F (Let’s Go)”. Philly rapper Lil Uzi Vert closed out the epic celebration by performing the party anthem “Just Wanna Rock”. 

Hip Hop Is Here to Stay

The conclusion of the epic 15 minute history lesson left attendees and viewers raving about the Grammys performances. Viewers took to social media as soon as the telecast ended. Some comments caught by tweeters said things such as, ‘This hands down the is THE best motherf***ing #grammys show to Air!!! Hip-hop cultureeeee winning.’ according to tweeter @sheisTylerV. @hinadira tweeted, ‘Hip-hop has literally impacted so much. Respect these artists and all of the pioneers. Y’all changed the world forreal.’

A writer for the New York Times who wrote a column on the 50th anniversary of the genre stated, “…the sound came from a people whose voices could never be silenced,”. Granderson continued, “This is why Black music is described as having an ‘uncapturable spirit’ . Hip-hop may be 50, but its lineage stretches back much further.” That Grammys tribute proved and meant a lot to a lot of people. Public Enemy hype man Flavor Flav said on the red carpet prior to the airing of the show,  “This is to all those who said hip-hop wouldn’t last!”

SZA Was So Nervous To Present At The Grammys That She Questioned Whether She’ll Ever Perform There

SZA is currently on her headlining SOS Tour in support of her massively successful December album by the same name, which is celebrating its record-breaking 10th week atop the Billboard 200 chart.

Before the SOS Tour kicked off last week, SZA was on stage at the 2023 Grammys on February 5 to present Bad Bunny with Best Música Urbana Album for Un Verano Sin Ti.

“I was really freaking out about announcing,” SZA told Alternative Press as one of the publication’s spring 2023 cover stars. “I wasn’t even performing or anything, and [backstage] I was like, ‘Wow, I could never perform because I’m gonna lose it just walking out with a piece of f*cking paper.’ I was shaking like, ‘I’m gonna pass out, no deadass.’ And then, it subsided as I got on there and accepted what it was.”

Elsewhere in the cover story, SZA teased the deluxe edition of SOS and a future appearance on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. She admitted to previously turning down an opportunity to be on Carpool Karaoke because she felt “scared of being on camera, looking bad, sounding bad and being perceived,” so maybe she’ll also change her mind about a future Grammys performance.

Either way, based on her recent comments to The Los Angeles Times about Beyoncé controversially losing Album Of The Year, SZA isn’t sweating the Grammys.

“Beyoncé — she’s so much bigger than a[n] f*cking Grammy,” SZA said. “She’s Beyoncé! She’s done it for women, she’s done it for Black people, she’s done it for artists. She’s done so much for the world by just being herself.”

Diplo Clarifies He Didn’t Diss Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” At Grammys

Diplo has once again clarified that he did not diss Beyoncé at the 2023 Grammy Awards after her project, Renaissance, won Best Dance/Electronic Music Album. In a clip from the broadcast of the ceremony, it appears that the DJ says “they bought that” after her win. Diplo later explained that he was actually saying, “I’m glad to be part of this.” When Hollywood Unlocked shared the clip recently, Diplo DM’d them further clarifying that he meant no offense to the singer or her fan base.

“You know I didn’t say that lol,” Diplo wrote to Hollywood Unlocked when they posted the clip again. When asked for clarification, he directed them back to the previous Instagram statement. He also reiterated that he instead said, “I’m glad to be part of this.”

Diplo At The Grammys

Diplo at the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Crypto.com Arena on February 5, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty Images)

As for Diplo’s original statement, he captioned a series of pictures and videos from the Grammys: “Beyoncé[’s] album was legendary (I’m a Beyoncé stan. Remember I produced some classic dance songs for her, like ’Til the End of Time’ and ‘Girls Run the World’). What’s important to understand was that her intention was 100 percent. She did the work, found the real producers, and she made classics. So, she deserves her flowers, and when she won, I was just proud to see my nomination on the screen in the huge arena.” He also noted that 2023 was the first year the Best Dance/Electronic Music Album category was televised. “Dance music has and will be the most Inclusive music of our generation,” he wrote. “Our community has always been gay / straight, but icy , poor.. white black brown purple .. it’s the music that had united the world during my lifetime and i’m glad to just be one part of it.”

Diplo released his self-titled fourth studio album back in 2022. The project features Miguel, Leon Bridges, Busta Rhymes, Lil Yachty, and more. Other nominees for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album in addition to Beyoncé and Diplo included Bonobo (Fragments), Odesza (The Last Goodbye), and Rüfüs Du Sol (Surrender).

Diplo’s DM’s To “Hollywood Unlocked”


SZA Praises Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, & Megan The Stallion

SZA spoke about her appreciation of Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Megan The Stallion during a new interview with The Los Angeles Times. Speaking with the outlet, she reacted to Beyoncé losing at the 2023 Grammy Awards, Swift re-recording her albums, and the lack of empathy for Megan The Stallion following her case against Tory Lanez.

As for Beyoncé, she recently lost out at the Grammys in the Album of the Year category for her 2022 project, Renaissance. The Academy instead went with Harry’s House by Harry Styles. “Beyoncé — she’s so much bigger than a[n] fucking Grammy. She’s Beyoncé! She’s done it for women, she’s done it for Black people, she’s done it for artists,” SZA said while adding, “She’s done so much for the world by just being herself.” Despite the loss, Beyoncé still took home enough awards to become the winningest artist in the history of the awards ceremony. Of Taylor Swift, she added: “Even Taylor letting that whole situation go with her masters and then selling all of those fucking records. That’s the biggest ‘fuck you’ to the establishment I’ve ever seen in my life, and I deeply applaud that shit.”

SZA For The L.A. Times

From there, SZA spoke about dealing with misogyny in the music industry. “I was tired and angry, ” she said. “I feel like men just pick on women so much in music, it’s corny. Women sell so much music! A lot of y’all that are talking down on women — we sell more records than you. We literally make more money.” In particular, SZA says that she was upset with the negative response to Megan The Stallion regarding Tory Lanez’s recent trial. “Why did we require so much from Megan to have empathy for her?” SZA said. “It was inhumane how it all went, with the bizarre level of scrutiny on her sex life. But justice was served. I hope that Megan’s somewhere healing.”

SZA’s interview with The Los Angeles Times comes after the release of her second studio album, SOS. The project dropped back in December featuring Don Toliver, Phoebe Bridgers, Travis Scott, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. It spent nine non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200.


Madonna Says Her Face Swelling Is Going Down After Surgery

Madonna says that her face is looking better as the swelling goes down from a recent surgery. The post comes after she went viral for her appearance at the Grammy Awards, earlier this month. She had attended the ceremony to introduce Kim Petras and Sam Smith for their “Unholy” performance. Afterward, she trended on social media as fans reacted to her face.

“Look how cute i am now that swelling from surgery has gone down. Lol,” Madonna captioned a selfie posted on Monday. Fans’ response to the new post was mostly positive. One follower wrote: “Trolling or being honest? Doesn’t matter. This is the realest tweet ever. Yes, you do look cute.” Another added: “I have no idea what these truly means but I know that I’m muthafuggin here for it!”

Madonna At The Grammys

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA FEBRUARY 5: 65th GRAMMY AWARDS Madonna speaks on stage at the 65th Grammy Awards, held at the Crytpo.com Arena on February 5, 2023. — (Photo by Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The response runs opposite to that of her Grammys appearance. At the time, one user remarked: “This legit looks like a Madonna impersonator with pics of the [sic] real Madonna in the background. She really f–ked up her face,” while another joked, “Has Madonna been nominated for ‘Best New Face’ at this year’s Grammy Awards?”

This is the second time that Madonna has posted a selfie on Twitter since the Grammys drama. Captioning a picture earlier this month, Madonna wrote: “The world is threatened by my power and my stamina. My intelligence and my will to survive. But they will never break me this is all the test.”

The post from Madonna comes as she is gearing up for The Celebration Tour, which will see the legendary singer headline shows across the world later this year. Madonna made the announcement back in January, tapping a number of celebrities for a video promo featuring Lil Wayne, Eric Andre, and more. “I am excited to explore as many songs as possible in hopes to give my fans the show they have been waiting for,” she said in a statement. The tour will kick off on July 15 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC, before stopping in Seattle, New York City, London, and many more cities.

Madonna’s Selfie


Spike Lee Isn’t Mad At Harry Styles But Called Beyoncé’s Album Of The Year Snub ‘Straight-Up Bullsh*t’

Beyoncé won Best Dance/Electronic Music Album with Renaissance at the 2023 Grammys on February 5. It marked 32nd career Grammy, making her the winningest artist of all time. That felt inevitable.

The surprise came at the end of the night when Harry Styles won Album Of The Year, and many were left flabbergasted that Renaissance became the latest album of Beyoncé’s four albums to be snubbed by the Recording Academy for Album Of The Year.

Jay-Z downplayed the snub, but leave it to Spike Lee to lay it all out there.

“I’m not the male president of the Beyhive, but I love and support Beyoncé,” Lee said in a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian. “Her album is amazing. I know she’s won multiple Grammys, but four times nominated for Album Of The Year, and she’s lost every time? No disrespect to those artists like Adele or Harry Styles who won. It’s not their fault, but that’s some straight-up bullsh*t.”

The transcendent filmmaker continued, “There’s a history of great Black artists who come up for these awards and don’t win. We all know their work is great because art speaks for itself. But then, it always comes down to this tricky territory of validation. Do Black artists say: ‘F*ck it,’ or seek white validation and chase awards? I just want to give a shoutout to my sister Beyoncé. We know what the deal is. It’s straight-up shenanigans, skulduggery, subterfuge. Or as the British say: It’s some poppycock!”

The Grammys are in Beyoncé’s rearview. She’s preparing to start her Renaissance World Tour this May in Sweden. The intensely sought-after tour will hit North America this summer, beginning in Toronto on July 8 and finishing in New Orleans on September 27.