Daft Punk were a French electronic music duo formed in 1993 in Paris by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. They achieved popularity in the late 1990s as part of the French house movement, combining elements of house music with funk, disco, rock and pop. They garnered acclaim and commercial success and are regarded as one of the most influential acts in dance music.
MGMT () is an American indie rock band formed in 2002 in Middletown, Connecticut. It was founded by multi-instrumentalists Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser. Alongside VanWyngarden and Goldwasser, MGMT's live lineup currently consists of drummer Will Berman, bassist Simon O'Connor, and guitarist and keyboard James Richardson.
Originally signed to Cantora Records by the nascent label's co-founder, NYU undergrad Will Griggs, MGMT later signed with Columbia and RED Ink in 2006 and released their debut album Oracular Spectacular the next year. After the release of Oracular Spectacular Richardson, Berman and Matthew Asti joined the core band in the studio for Congratulations, which was released on April 13, 2010. In January 2011 they began work on their eponymous third studio album. It was released on September 17, 2013, and was released as an early exclusive on Rdio on September 9, 2013. The group's fourth studio album, titled Little Dark Age, was released in February 2018 and marked the end of their contract with Columbia. Beginning in 2019, the duo began producing music independent of a label for the first time since 2006. In late 2019, the two released a new song called "In the Afternoon" as their first fully self-produced single.
Gorillaz are an English virtual band formed in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, from London. The band primarily consists of four fictional members: 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs (drums). Their universe is presented in music videos, interviews, comic strips and short cartoons. Gorillaz' music has featured collaborations with a wide range of featured artists, with Albarn as the only permanent musical contributor.
A Tribe Called Quest was an American hip hop group formed in Queens, New York City, in 1985, originally composed of rapper and main producer Q-Tip, rapper Phife Dawg, DJ and co-producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and rapper Jarobi White. Members of the Native Tongues collective, the group is regarded as a pioneer of alternative hip hop, influencing numerous hip hop and R&B musicians.
Yasiin Bey (; born Dante Terrell Smith, December 11, 1973), previously and more commonly known by his stage name Mos Def (), is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor. His hip hop career began in 1994, alongside his siblings in the short-lived rap group Urban Thermo Dynamics (UTD), after which they appeared on albums by Da Bush Babees and De La Soul. He formed the duo Black Star, alongside fellow Brooklyn-based rapper Talib Kweli, and in 1998 they released their debut album Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, featuring the singles "Definition" and "Respiration". He was featured on the roster of Rawkus Records and in 1999 released his solo debut, Black on Both Sides. His debut was followed by The New Danger (2004), True Magic (2006), and The Ecstatic (2009). About.com listed him 14th on its "50 Greatest Rappers of All Time". His hits include "Oh No", "Ms. Fat Booty", and "Mathematics".
Stevland Hardaway Morris, known professionally as Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, who is credited as a pioneer and influence by musicians across a range of genres that include rhythm and blues, pop, soul, gospel, funk, and jazz. A virtual one-man band, Wonder's use of synthesizers and other electronic musical instruments during the 1970s reshaped the conventions of R&B. He also helped drive such genres into the album era, crafting his LPs as cohesive and consistent, in addition to socially conscious statements with complex compositions. Blind since shortly after his birth, Wonder was a child prodigy who signed with Motown's Tamla label at the age of 11, where he was given the professional name Little Stevie Wonder.
Shawn Corey Carter, known professionally as Jay-Z, is an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. Often regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time, he has been central to the creative and commercial success of artists including Kanye West, Rihanna, and J. Cole. He is the founder and chairman of entertainment company Roc Nation, and was the president and chief executive officer of Def Jam Recordings from 2004 to 2007.
Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), better known by his stage names the Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, or simply Biggie, was an American rapper. Rooted in East Coast hip hop and particularly gangsta rap, he is widely considered one of the greatest rappers of all time. Wallace became known for his distinctive laid-back lyrical delivery, offsetting the lyrics' often grim content. His music was often semi-autobiographical, telling of hardship and criminality, but also of debauchery and celebration.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, Wallace signed to Sean "Puffy" Combs' label Bad Boy Records as it launched in 1993, and gained exposure through features on several other artists' singles that year. His debut album Ready to Die (1994) was met with widespread critical acclaim, and included his signature songs "Juicy" and "Big Poppa". The album made him the central figure in East Coast hip hop, and restored New York's visibility at a time when the West Coast hip hop scene was dominating hip hop music. Wallace was awarded the 1995 Billboard Music Awards' Rapper of the Year. The following year, he led his protégé group Junior M.A.F.I.A., a team of himself and longtime friends, including Lil' Kim, to chart success.
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, better known by his stage name Nas, is an American rapper. Rooted in East Coast hip hop, he is regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time. The son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Jones began his musical career in 1989 as he adopted the moniker of "Nasty Nas" and recorded demos for Large Professor. He was later featured on the 1991 song "Live at the Barbeque" by Main Source.
Lonnie Rashid Lynn (born March 13, 1972), known by his stage name Common (also known as Common Sense), is an American rapper and actor. He debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar?, and gained critical acclaim with his 1994 album Resurrection. He maintained an underground following into the late 1990s. He achieved mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians.
His first major-label album, Like Water for Chocolate (2000), received commercial success. In 2003, he won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for the Erykah Badu single "Love of My Life". His 2005 album Be was also successful and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2006 Grammy Awards. He received his second Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "Southside" (featuring Kanye West), from his 2007 album Finding Forever. His best-of album, Thisisme Then: The Best of Common, was released in late 2007. In 2011, he launched Think Common Entertainment, his own record label imprint, having previously released music under various other labels including Relativity, Geffen and GOOD Music.
Kelis Rogers-Mora (; born August 21, 1979), known mononymously as Kelis, is an American singer, songwriter and a professionally trained chef. At age 14, she was admitted to New York's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where she learned to play the saxophone and won a spot in the Girls Choir of Harlem. After she graduated from high school in 1997, Kelis took on a variety of jobs before landing a backup vocal slot on an album track called "Fairytalez", released by the American hip hop group Gravediggaz. She then began working with music producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, known as The Neptunes, which ultimately resulted in her being signed to Virgin Records in 1998.
Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, also known by his stage name Kid Cudi, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, actor and fashion designer. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Cudi would move to New York City in pursuit of a musical career, where he first gained major recognition following the release of his debut single "Day 'n' Nite", which he initially self-published on his MySpace page. The song went on to become a worldwide hit and served as the catalyst for Cudi to team with American record producers Plain Pat and Emile Haynie, to record his first official full-length project, a mixtape titled A Kid Named Cudi (2008). The mixtape helped Cudi rise to prominence and establish a fan base, and it caught the attention of high-profile musician Kanye West, who subsequently signed Cudi to his GOOD Music label imprint by late 2008.
Cocteau Twins was a Scottish rock band active from 1979 to 1997. They were formed in Grangemouth by Robin Guthrie (guitars, drum machine) and Will Heggie (bass), adding Elizabeth Fraser (vocals) in 1981 and replacing Heggie with multi-instrumentalist Simon Raymonde in 1983. The group earned critical praise for their ethereal, effects-laden sound and the soprano vocals of Fraser, whose lyrics often eschew any recognisable language. They pioneered the 1980s alternative rock subgenre of dream pop.
After signing with the British record label 4AD in 1982, they released their debut album Garlands later that year. The addition of Raymonde in 1983 solidified their final lineup, which produced their biggest hit in the UK, "Pearly-Dewdrops' Drops", peaking at No. 29 on the UK Singles Chart. In 1988, Cocteau Twins signed with Capitol Records in the United States, distributing their fifth album, Blue Bell Knoll, through a major label in the country. After the 1990 release of their most critically acclaimed album, Heaven or Las Vegas, the band left 4AD for Fontana Records, where they released their final two albums.
Aaliyah Dana Haughton (; January 16, 1979 – August 25, 2001) was an American singer and actress. She has been credited for helping to redefine contemporary R&B, pop and hip hop, earning her the nicknames the "Princess of R&B" and "Queen of Urban Pop".
Born in Brooklyn but raised in Detroit, she first gained recognition at the age of 10, when she appeared on the television show Star Search and performed in concert alongside Gladys Knight. At the age of 12, Aaliyah signed with Jive Records and her uncle Barry Hankerson's Blackground Records. Hankerson introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer of her debut album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number. The album sold three million copies in the United States and was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). After allegations of an illegal marriage with Kelly, Aaliyah ended her contract with Jive and signed with Atlantic Records.
Santi White (born September 25, 1976), known professionally as Santigold (formerly Santogold), is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Billboard presented her in 2022, saying: "Spanning punk rock, hip-hop, and dance music, Santigold’s singular pen and voice have helped shape the past two decades of popular music".
Her debut studio album, Santogold (2008), received widespread critical acclaim for its cross-genre combining dub, new wave, and hip-hop. The album's second single "L.E.S. Artistes", reached the top 40 in the UK Singles Chart.
Her second album, Master of My Make-Believe (2012), peaked at number one on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart. The album included "Disparate Youth", her highest-charting single to date. She released her third album, 99¢, in 2016, and her second mixtape, I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions, in 2018.
The Roots are an American hip hop band formed in 1987 by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The Roots serve as the house band on NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, having served in the same role on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009 to 2014.
The Roots are known for a jazzy and eclectic approach to hip hop featuring live musical instruments and the group's work has consistently been met with critical acclaim. ThoughtCo ranked the band #7 on its list of the 25 Best Hip-Hop Groups of All-Time, calling them "Hip-hop's first legitimate band."
In addition to the band's music, several members of the Roots are involved in side projects, including record production, acting, and regularly serving as guests on other musicians' albums and live shows.
William Harrison Withers Jr. (July 4, 1938 – March 30, 2020) was an American singer-songwriter and musician. He had several hits over a career spanning 18 years, including "Ain't No Sunshine" (1971), "Grandma's Hands" (1971), "Use Me" (1972), "Lean on Me" (1972), "Lovely Day" (1977) and "Just the Two of Us" (1981). Withers won three Grammy Awards and was nominated for six more. His life was the subject of the 2009 documentary film Still Bill. Withers was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. Two of his songs were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Withers, the youngest of six children, was born in the small coal-mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, on July 4, 1938. He was the son of Mattie (née Galloway), a maid, and William Withers, a miner. He was born with a stutter and later said he had a hard time fitting in. His parents divorced when he was three, and he was raised by his mother's family in nearby Beckley, West Virginia. He was 13 years old when his father died. Withers enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 17, and served for nine years, during which time he became interested in singing and writing songs.
Earl Simmons (December 18, 1970 – April 9, 2021), known professionally as DMX (short for "Dark Man X"), was an American rapper and actor. He began rapping in the early 1990s and released his debut album It's Dark and Hell Is Hot in 1998, to both critical acclaim and commercial success, selling 251,000 copies within its first week of release. DMX released his best-selling album, ... And Then There Was X, in 1999, which included the hit single "Party Up (Up in Here)". His 2003 singles "Where the Hood At?" and "X Gon' Give It to Ya" were also commercially successful. He was the first artist to debut an album at No.1 five times in a row on the Billboard 200 charts. Overall, DMX sold over 74 million records worldwide.
Bad Boys II is a 2003 American buddy cop action comedy film directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. The sequel to the 1995 film Bad Boys and the second film in the Bad Boys film series, the film follows detectives Burnett and Lowrey investigating the flow of illegal drugs going into Miami.
George Lester Jackson (September 23, 1941 – August 21, 1971) was an African-American author and activist. While serving a sentence for armed robbery in 1961, Jackson became involved in revolutionary activity and co-founded the Marxist–Leninist Black Guerrilla Family.
In 1970, he was charged, along with two other Soledad Brothers, with the murder of prison guard John Vincent Mills in the aftermath of a prison fight. The same year, he published Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, a combination of autobiography and manifesto addressed to an African American audience. The book became a bestseller and earned Jackson personal fame. Jackson was killed during an attempted prison escape in 1971. Jackson and other prisoners took hostages during the attempt and five hostages were found dead in Jackson's cell after the incident.