We’ve all had the uncomfortable experience happen when we’re jamming out to a great playlist on Spotify but suddenly a song comes on that just doesn’t agree with us. Maybe it’s music that we just can’t stand, it contains super offensive language, or it’s something that can’t be played in public. Whatever the situation, we’ve all been there.
Thanks to a new feature, Spotify is changing the game plan a little bit and allowing you to have greater control over what you listen to.
On the surface, this change sounds awesome, and in reality, it mostly is. Yet the timing of this update we’re about to discuss is rather uncanny due to the latest news coverage about artist R. Kelly and is prompting some music lovers to ask the question — is Spotify impressing their personal bias upon our listening experience?
Don’t Like It? Spotify Thinks That’s Okay
For people who use Spotify on their smartphone, you may have noticed a new option when you touch the three dots on an artist page. Options including “Share” or “Go to radio” are still present, along with another selection called “Don’t play this artist.” If you make this choice, Spotify will no longer include any songs from this artist in any playlists or radio stations. While it doesn’t completely remove your access to their discography as a whole, they won’t be surprising you in the middle of a great groove session.
Spotify reports that any time you mark an artist with this option that it will directly sync your preferences when using the desktop version of the program. Initially, it seems as if this level of customization is just one more way that they’re making it easier to enjoy the music you love, although the #MuteRKelly hashtag has also made major waves recently, causing people to ask if there’s a connection.
Censorship at Its Finest
This isn’t the first time that Spotify has made it easy to remove R. Kelly’s music from your life, as a decision in May 2018 caused all of his work to be erased from the platform in an effort to adhere to a new hateful conduct policy. Later down the line, Spotify reversed this action and allowed his music back on, but for some, the damage was already done. While the organization stated that they don’t censor music due to an artist’s behavior in their professional or personal life, their editors do want to curate a selection that reflects their own values.
At the time of this publication, R. Kelly has not been convicted of a crime. Accusations of sexual misconduct have surrounded the artist for longer than most can even remember, and as documentaries, magazine features, and more certainly aren’t shy about pointing the finger at him, the adage of “innocent until proven guilty” is ringing in the ears of many. Still, it’s hard to not see any connection between the popular hashtag in circulation and the ability for Spotify customers to easily block the artist through this update.
As things progress it will become more clear if there really is a link between the streaming service’s actions and R. Kelly, or if this option is simply one more way to let users control who they hear. For now, just remember that you can mute anyone, not just R. Kelly.
‘It Feels Good’: Snoop Dogg Buys Death Row Records
Snoop Dogg is now the owner of Death Row Records. The purchase brings his career full circle, as the legendary rapper now owns the label where his career in the music industry began.
“I am thrilled and appreciative of the opportunity to acquire the iconic and culturally significant Death Row Records brand, which has immense untapped future value,” Snoop Dogg said in a statement. “It feels good to have ownership of the label I was part of at the beginning of my career and as one of the founding members. This is an extremely meaningful moment for me.”
Snoop Dogg added that he was “looking forward to building the next chapter of Death Row Records.”
Blackstone, Inc. BX, -8.15 percent, a private-equity firm that held the remnants of the record label as part of MNRK Music Group, announced the sale on Wednesday. The terms of the agreement were not made public.
In a statement to People, Blackstone’s Senior Managing Director David Kestnbaum said of the deal, “We at Blackstone are strong supporters of the artist and creator community in our entertainment investments. We are excited to put the Death Row Records brand back in the hands of a legend like Snoop Dogg. We wish him success in the years ahead as the brand moves forward under his leadership and vision.”
Dr. Dre and Suge Knight co-founded Death Row Records with record executive Dick Griffey in 1991. Snoop’s debut Doggystyle was released in 1993.
Death Row Records fell on hard feet after a remarkable run in the 1990s. In 2006, the label declared bankruptcy before being purchased by WIDEawake Entertainment Group in 2009. Due to WIDEawake’s insolvency, the label was sold to eOne Music in 2013. Until eOne was purchased by Blackstone in 2021, Death Row Records was a branch of Hasbro.
The Doggfather is set to release his new album B.O.D.R., an acronym for “Bacc On Death Row,” on the 12 February ahead of his appearance alongside Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige at this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show on Sunday. He called “a dream come true” during a recent interview with the Associated Press.
“I’m still thinking I’m in a dream because I can’t believe that they will let a real hip-hop artist grace the stage in an NFL Super Bowl LVI,” the rapper-turned-mogul explained. “We’re just going to wait for that moment and put something together that’s spectacular, and do what we’re known for doing and add on to the legacy.”
Major Record Labels to Become Carbon Neutral by 2050
Three major record labels — Sony, Universal, and Warner — have made a pledge to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, joining a slew of independent labels that have set similar or more aggressive goals. Following the Secretly label group’s pledge last week to be “climate positive” by 2026, the major labels joined indies like Beggars Group, Warp, and Ninja Tune to sign the Music Climate Pact, which addresses activities like touring, vinyl manufacturing, and music streaming that are currently unsustainable in terms of carbon emissions.
Aside from the emissions reductions, the signatories pledge to track and reduce subsidiary emissions related to music listening and fandom, encourage artists to discuss the climate crisis, and collaborate with streaming companies to track and reduce subsidiary emissions related to music listening and fandom.
Beggars Group and Ninja Tune made similar commitments earlier this year, with the latter aiming towards carbon neutrality by the end of 2021. Massive Attack completed a climate analysis in September, recommending “an immediate and major reassembly” of the industry.
Billie Eilish Makes History at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards
A cloud of sadness hung over the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, as news developed of the tragic deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on January 26. Outside the Staples Center, home of Bryant’s team the Lakers, arrivals took place on the red carpet as mourners gathered outside the arena to pay their respects.
The night kicked off with a solemn Cappella tribute to Bryant of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by host Alicia Keys and Boys II Men.
Billie Eilish dominated the night, winning Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album categories. Eilish, 18, is the youngest Album of the Year winner in Grammy history. She is also just the second artist in Grammy history — and the first woman — to take home the Big Four awards.
Lizzo took home the Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Best Urban Contemporary Album trophies.
Lil Nas X picked up two awards for Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
Tyler, the Creator took home his first Grammy award for Best Rap Album.
The late rapper Nipsey Hussle was recognized posthumously with two awards for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance.
Record of the Year
Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”
Album of the Year
Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Best New Artist
Song of the Year
Billie Eilish — “Bad Guy”
Best Rap/Sung Performance
DJ Khaled feat Nipsey Hussle & John Legend — “Higher”
Best Rap Album
Tyler, the Creator — Igor
Best Pop/Solo Performance
Lizzo — “Truth Hurts”
Best Pop Vocal Album
Billie Eilish — When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Elvis Costello & The Imposters — Look Now
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Lil Nas X feat Billy Ray Cyrus — “Old Town Road”
Best R&B Album
Anderson .Paak — Ventura
Best Urban Contemporary Album
Lizzo, Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)
Best R&B Song
PJ Morton feat JoJo — “Say So”
Best Traditional R&B Performance
Lizzo — “Jerome”
Best R&B Performance
Anderson .Paak feat Andre 3000 — “Come Home”
Best Rock Album
Cage The Elephant — Social Cues
Best Rock Song
Gary Clark Jr — “This Land”
Best Rock Performance
Gary Clark Jr — “This Land”
Best Rap Song
21 Savage feat J Cole — “A Lot”
Best Rap Performance
Nipsey Hussle feat Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy — “Racks in the Middle”
Best Music Film
Beyonce — Homecoming
Best Music Video
Lil Nas X feat Billy Ray Cyrus — “Old Town Road”
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Dan + Shay — “Speechless”
Best Comedy Album
Dave Chappelle — Sticks & Stones
Best Song Written for Visual Media
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper— “I’ll Never Love Again”
Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper — A Star is Born
Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
Chernobyl — Hildur Guðnadóttir
Best Song Written for Visual Media
“I’ll Never Love Again” (Film Version) — Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey & Aaron Raitiere (Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born)
Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling)
Becoming — Michelle Obama
Best Instrumental Composition
“Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Symphonic Suite” — John Williams, composer (John Williams
Best Remixed Recording
“I Rise (Tracy Young’s Pride Intro Radio Remix)— ” Tracy Young (Madonna)
Best Dance Recording
“Got to Keep On” — The Chemical Brothers
Best Dance/Electronic Album
No Geography — The Chemical Brothers
Best Country Solo Performance
“Ride Me Back Home” — Willie Nelson
Best Country Song
“Bring My Flowers Now” — Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth and Tanya Tucker (Tanya Tucker)
Best Country Album
While I’m Livin’ — Tanya Tucker
Best Rap Performance
“Racks in the Middle” — Nipsey Hussle featuring Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy
Best Rap Song
“A Lot” — Jermaine Cole, Dacoury Natche, 21 Savage & Anthony White, (21 Savage featuring J. Cole
Best Recording Package
Chris Cornell — Barry Ament, Jeff Ament, Jeff Fura & Joe Spix, art directors (Chris Cornell)
Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package
Woodstock: Back To The Garden – The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive — Masaki Koike, art director (Various Artists)
Best Album Notes
Stax ’68: A Memphis Story — Steve Greenberg, album notes writer (Various Artists)
Best Historical Album
Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection — Jeff Place & Robert Santelli, compilation producers; Pete Reiniger, mastering engineer (Pete Seeger)
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? — Rob Kinelski & Finneas O’Connell, engineers; John Greenham, mastering engineer (Billie Eilish)
Best Immersive Audio Album
Lux — Morten Lindberg, immersive audio engineer; Morten Lindberg, immersive audio mastering engineer; Morten Lindberg, immersive audio producer (Anita Brevik, Trondheimsolistene & Nidarosdomens Jentekor)
Best New Age Album
Wings — Peter Kater
Best Bluegrass Album
Tall Fiddler — Michael Cleveland
Best Traditional Blues Album
Tall, Dark & Handsome — Delbert McClinton & Self-made Men
Best Contemporary Blues Album
This Land — Gary Clark Jr.
Best Folk Album
Patty Griffin — Patty Griffin
Best Regional Roots Music Album
Good Time — Ranky Tanky
Best Reggae Album
Rapture — Koffee
Best Children’s Music Album
Ageless Songs For The Child Archetype — Jon Samson
Best Contemporary Instrumental Album
Mettavolution — Rodrigo y Gabriela
Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella
“Moon River” — Jacob Collier, arranger (Jacob Collier)
Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals
“All Night Long” — Jacob Collier, arranger (Jacob Collier Featuring Jules Buckley, Take 6 & Metropole Orkest)
Best Improvised Jazz Solo
“Sozinho” — Randy Brecker, soloist
Best Jazz Vocal Album
12 Little Spells — Esperanza Spalding
Best Jazz Instrumental Album
Finding Gabriel — Brad Mehldau
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
The Omni-American Book Club – Brian Lynch Big Band
Best Latin Jazz Album
Antidote — Chick Corea & The Spanish Heart Band
Best Gospel Performance/Song
“Love Theory” – Kirk Franklin; Kirk Franklin, Songwriter
Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song
“God Only Knows” — for King & Country & Dolly Parton; Josh Kerr, Jordan Reynolds, Joel Smallbone, Luke Smallbone & Tedd Tjornhom, songwriters
Best Gospel Album
Long Live Love — Kirk Franklin
Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
Burn The Ships — for King & Country
Best Roots Gospel Album
Testimony — Gloria Gaynor
Best Latin Pop Album
#ELDISCO — Alejandro Sanz
Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album
El Mal Querer – Rosalía
Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano)
De Ayer Para Siempre — Mariachi Los Camperos
Best Tropical Latin Album
Opus — Marc Anthony (TIE)
Best Engineered Album, Classical
Riley: Sun Rings — Leslie Ann Jones, engineer; Robert C. Ludwig, mastering engineer (Kronos Quartet)
Producer Of The Year, Classical
Best Orchestral Performance
“Norman: Sustain” — Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
Best Opera Recording
“Picker: Fantastic Mr. Fox” — Gil Rose, conductor; John Brancy, Andrew Craig Brown, Gabriel Preisser, Krista River & Edwin Vega; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Boston Children’s Chorus)
Best Choral Performance
“Duruflé: Complete Choral Works” — Robert Simpson, conductor (Ken Cowan; Houston Chamber Choir)
Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
“Shaw: Orange” — Attacca Quartet
Best Classical Instrumental Solo
“Marsalis: Violin Concerto; Fiddle Dance Suite” — Nicola Benedetti; Cristian Măcelaru, conductor (Philadelphia Orchestra)
Best Classical Solo Vocal Album
Songplay — Joyce Didonato; Chuck Israels, Jimmy Madison, Charlie Porter & Craig Terry, accompanists (Steve Barnett & Lautaro Greco)
Best Classical Compendium
The Poetry Of Places — Nadia Shpachenko; Marina A. Ledin & Victor Ledin, producer
Best Contemporary Classical Composition
Higdon: Harp Concerto — Jennifer Higdon, composer (Yolanda Kondonassis, Ward Stare & The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra)
Best Musical Theater Album
Hadestown — Reeve Carney, André De Shields, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada & Patrick Page, principal soloists; Mara Isaacs, David Lai, Anaïs Mitchell & Todd Sickafoose, producers (Anaïs Mitchell, composer & lyricist) (Original Broadway Cast)
Best Metal Performance
“7empest” — Tool
Best Alternative Music Album
Father of the Bride — Vampire Weekend
Best World Music Album
Celia — Angelique Kidjo
Best American Roots Performance
“Saint Honesty” — Sara Bareille
Best American Roots Song
“Call My Name” — Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’donovan & Sara Watkins, songwriters (I’m With Her)
Best Americana Album
Oklahoma — Keb’ Mo’