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10 Most Exciting Things We Learned Backstage At The Grammys

Timbaland talks Aaliyah, Thundercat explains his place in the universe, and George Clinton reveals his grandchildren inspired him to work with Kendrick

February 16, 2016


A photo posted by Timbo the King (@timbaland) on

At the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, the music industry collected once again at Los Angeles’ Staples Center to bestow trophies on the most-voted artists and witness the best of them perform songs both mainstream and new. As the afternoon stretched into the evening, The FADER caught up with a handful of musicians on hand to accept awards and share some tidbits about their upcoming projects and nominations, on the red carpet and in the press room.

1. Timbaland asked Aaliyah’s family for permission to put an unreleased song on his new mixtape.

Timbaland is fresh off of releasing his late 2015 mixtape King Stay King, and is currently wrapping up a club tour promoting the project. At the Grammys, he was on hand for his work as music producer for Empire, wearing a knapsack and shades as he reflected on one of the release’s standout songs, “Shakin” featuring Aaliyah. “I asked the family if I could get it,” he said. “I just wanted to touch it up. A lot of the stuff is on the Internet now, so that was fortunately not already leaked. I wanted to give it to the fans.” Up next is his new album, which is scheduled to drop in April, and he confirms that he needs to finish up a few songs that he has in the can with Missy Elliot, who he says is still in the studio working on her long-awaited project.

2. BJ the Chicago Kid already started his next album—before his next one is even released.

BJ the Chicago Kid, who scored two nominations this year for his collaboration with Kehlani on her breakthrough mixtape album You Should Be Here and Dr. Dre on Compton, is gearing up for the release of his sophomore studio release In My Mind, due February 11. But he's already got his eye on the next project. "I never stopped recording, even from finishing the album," he says. "That's what makes it more of a lifestyle, a love, a passion. It's a séance between me and this music. It's a marriage that could never break."

3. 9th Wonder and Terrace Martin will executive produce Rapsody’s next album, which also features Anderson .Paak.

For her first trip to the Grammys, Rapsody, who was in the house for her contributions to Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, brought her mom as a date, rocking a Tupac Shakur shirt underneath a red blazer as she strolled down the red carpet. "I'm almost done with my sophomore album," she said of the project, which will be executive produced by 9th Wonder and Terrace Martin. "The great thing about this one was I really took my time on it. Most of my projects, I spend in general three months. I spent a year this one." Her second LP, which has a title that she wouldn't name, follows her 2012 debut The Idea of Beautiful. It arrives this summer and includes a feature from Anderson .Paak.

4. Leon Bridges is working on the follow up to his Grammy-nominated debut.

Leon Bridges admitted he was "nervous being around all these famous people" at his inaugural Grammys. "I'm not a famous person at all—I like it like that," he admitted. That's not entirely true though: the 26-year-old had an explosive past year, with his debut album Coming Home scoring a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album and landing him a coveted slot as a performer on SNL. This year looks even brighter for the Atlanta native, as he's already put the wheels in motion for Coming Home's follow up. "I'll definitely be back in probably the fall, finishing out the record," he added. "I've already been writing it. I just need to get in there and record."

5. George Clinton’s grandchildren are to thank for his feature on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.

Lacking his signature dreads for some years now, George Clinton strolled down the red carpet in style, flashing his "Nominated Artist" badge for his work on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly. But his presence on the set's opening song "Wesley's Theory" couldn't have happened without a little help from his family. "My grandkids told me he was the next hot new shit," he said. "I thought 'Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe' was cute. He's the baddest thing out here. It's easy working with him. He's a real artist."

6. You should think twice before asking to work with Thundercat in 2016.

Thundercat was in the house for his credits on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly. As for what's next? "I'm working on my emotional six-pack," joked Thundercat, pausing to take a picture with The Internet on the red carpet. "I just want to be like Tony Robbins man. I'm working on a new album, of course. Me and [Flying] Lotus are still working, as usual. Just open to lots of different options right now." That includes working with L.A.-based songwriter and drummer Louis Cole of Knower, and on select projects: "I'm not trying to get taken advantage of, because everyone wants to work now after Kendrick's album."

7. Rhymefest says he's quitting the co-writing game.

As he walked down the carpet, Rhymefest was all smiles thanks to already winning the Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media as a co-writer on John Legend and Common's "Glory." But the rapper, who’s lent his songwriting skills to Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” and “New Slaves,” is ditching his pen for others to focus on himself. “I’m done doing that,” he explained. His next album Push the World, which drops this summer, features Bon Jovi’s David Bryan, Anthony Hamilton and a song with Common and Jesse Jackson.

8. Flying Lotus was supposed to produce an album for Erykah Badu, and still wants to.

FlyLo was vague about his upcoming work on “film stuff”—he wouldn’t elaborate—but he was quick to reminisce about an ill-fated project with Erykah Badu that he was set to produce in full as of four years ago. “I really hope to do the album with her or something,” said the producer, who was in attendance for contributing to To Pimp a Butterfly. “She goes through these phases of being on the dial and then dips away. I’m down though, whenever she’s ready. I’m with it.”

9. The Grammys say Lauryn Hill skipped her performance with The Weeknd because she didn’t show up on time.

Contradicting a statement that explained that Lauryn Hill couldn’t perform with the Weeknd because of its “last-minute nature,” President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Neil Portnow told a different story. “We did not announce Lauryn,” he said, referring to pictures that were tweeted of the pair rehearsing prior to the event. “That was something that was worked on by The Weeknd, as far as that performance. She did come to dress rehearsal this morning, was there for it, completed it, left the building and then did not get back in time to make the show. I’m sorry that’s the bottom-line, but that’s the truth. That’s unfortunate. I guess those things happen. Disappointing to us, I’m sure disappointing to her. But our intention was, we were ready up until the moment of the downbeat of that performance for her to step on that stage.”

10. Even though he won two Grammys, Chris Stapleton will still write for others.

Country star Chris Stapleton netted two Grammys this year—Best Country album for Traveller and Best Country Solo Performance for the title track—and yet he isn’t going to turn his back on his songwriting roots, which in the past has landed him credits for artists including Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, and Darius Rucker. “I’ve always written songs, that’s a thing that I do,” he told the press room after the show ended. “If someone else has a use for a song, that’s cool. I’m going to write songs and just be a songwriter. That’s part of what I do. It’s all one wheel for me. I’ll never say these are all mine and horde songs. It’s not anything like that.”

10 Most Exciting Things We Learned Backstage At The Grammys