Jupiter Styles Wants To Connect With You

By TJ Kliebhan

For just about every musician, music is more a labor of love than a career, and it will always be that way. Thanks to the internet, recording music on a digital audio workstation and uploading it to a centralized platform like Bandcamp or SoundCloud means it’s never been easier to be a part-time musician, but being a part-time musician who balances full-time work is still far from easy. You wouldn’t know it from following Sean Neumann, freelance journalist, bassist in indie rock act Ratboys, and solo artist behind Jupiter Styles.

Neumann’s constantly promoting his work on social media, whether it’s articles he’s written, music he’s tinkering with, or musings on baseball and wrestling. It’s clear that the Chicago local engages in a balancing act of responsibilities, yet his unwavering positivity makes it seem simple. For Neumann, being a workaholic is a means of survival.

But on Jupiter Styles’s  latest record Ultra St. Opera, which Neumann released last month, he takes a step back to observe how quickly life can pass by and how important things can start to blur and lose shape in the daily grind. The album’s lead single, “Supermodel,” finds Neumann recalling the death of a close friend and how that catharsis of the experience begins to fade as time passes and life’s other demands begin to take effect. You hear this in the first words Neumann sings on the song — “I’m getting scared I don’t remember that my friend’s dead” — immediately announcing itself as one of the album’s essential cuts.

“The song is about someone I worked with and who I saw multiple times a week,” he tells MTV News. “You take those people that you see in your life every day for granted because you see them every day. I remember I was driving, and his suicide was on the news in Urbana, Illinois. It was big news, but the broadcast didn’t say who it was. That kind of thing — you never think it’s tied to you. And then I saw people posting about [him] on social media.”

Throughout the album, Neumann laments how wrong it seems for those feelings of missing someone to fade. “I’m getting scared that my brain is changing in ways I don’t like. Maybe this is something that happens to everyone as we get older, but I wonder if I’m losing who I am,” he says. “It’s stupid and upsetting to miss important things because I’m so focused on surviving to the next day.”

In Neumann’s case, surviving means using his time wisely. Without coming from extreme wealth, being a young indie rock musician demands a devastating amount of time. “My 9-to-5 is pitching news all day, pretty much,” he says. “Maybe I’ll land a story every couple of days, and I spend my time working on that. I do a lot of music work after 5, too. That can mean anything from writing songs to pitching my album, to writing a bio of the album, to digitally distributing the album. Even if I’m on tour though, I’ll continue working in the van while someone drives, or if we’re at the venue, I’ll ask for the Wi-Fi.”

While his lifestyle would probably be hectic for most, Neumann sees every new task as another chance to chase a story, even if he’s just listening instead of telling it. He credits this to his belief that he comes from a family of storytellers. “I grew up sitting around a table with my grandma and she would exchange stories with others,” he says. “I like to tell stories, but I really like to listen to stories. Everyone has a story and I really believe that.” Ultra St. Opera is proof that Neumann has refined his storytelling craft to a professional level.

The 14-song collection — which he wrote and sings, in addition to handling guitar, bass, and keyboard duties — weaves ripping guitar solos and black-metal blast beats with somber acoustic ballads. Crucially, the entire project is connected by a clear themes of loss and change. Neumann excels at taking moments that deal with those themes and hyper-analyzing them into universal stories. This is most evident on what Neumann considers the climax of the album, “Now I’m Here.” The minimal track is carried by Neumann’s exasperated vocal performance where he croons, “I sat at the back of his funeral, late, but I caught the end,” and “I know there are times when I just want to go and be like him.”

Neumann also wrestles with social media’s never-ending assault on self-worth with the track “Haunted,” capturing a common feeling: “Two-thousand fucking friends now / Ain’t a one wants to hear from me.” “Songs should have an openness where you can place yourself in,” he explains. “I think people need to connect to shit or else it won’t hit them in any emotional way.”

Neumann pulls off the album’s sound, bigger than anything he’s done yet, thanks to his musical background. A musician since high school, he’s played “everywhere from basements and barber shops to clubs and parking lots,” as his Jupiter Styles bio reveals. His past work with acts like Single Player likewise proves Neumann’s always been able to write full-throttle catchy hooks that can stand next to the late-‘90s and early-2000s rock radio he grew up adoring. But Ultra St. Opera finds him leveling up with a more polished sound than what his previous releases captured. “People always compare me to Third Eye Blind, and I always say that’s probably accurate because I listened to a lot of Third Eye Blind growing up. I’ve started to realize I have more resources. I don’t need to record on the eight-track anymore. Pretty much all of my spare cash goes into music, and so I was more aware of what I can do.”

Neumann’s  Jupiter Styles project greatly benefits from existing in a musical incubator. He’s been friends with Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan of Ratboys, who both play on the album, since high school, along with Chicago rapper/multi-instrumentalist Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. Both Ratboys and Ogbonnaya have seen their popularity grow outside the Chicagoland area in recent years, and with Ratboys, Neumann has played to crowds of over 2,000 people — good numbers for an indie act. He’s set to take Jupiter Styles on the road this month, too, for 15 dates across the midwest. “I’ve seen [Ratboys and Ogbonnaya] achieve something I didn’t think was possible before. I’ve seen them succeed, and it made it real and possible for me. I feel like if I can get people to hear [Jupiter Styles], I know they’ll like it because I believe that the music I make is good. Otherwise there would be no point in putting it out there,” he says.

Whether it’s as Sean Neumann, freelancer, or Jupiter Styles, musical project, it’s clear that Neumann invests in stories. Ultra St. Opera is a collection of real, specific, and yet often universal ones. He sums up this need to surround himself with stories on the album’s closer, “Orbiter”: “Tell me everything that you know, I want to see the way the world goes.” “I still want to sit around my grandma’s table and tell stories with people,” he says. “You can live and go to work and die, or you can seek meaning in this life by connecting with people.”

Kanye West And His Dad Bond Over Gigantic Tires In ‘Follow God’

Kanye West hangs out with his dad in the video for “Follow God” and it’s an awesome reminder that family bonding time makes for great entertainment. The pair crunch snow beneath their boots and vehicle tires as they solemnly drive across snowy terrain in Wyoming. That’s all there is to it – no mechanical and monstrous vehicles, gigantic plush costumes, or green screen motorcycle rides.

The video starts off with a monologue about what it means to be religious. Then the fun begins in a four-wheel offroad vehicle that Kanye and his dad are in, zooming over light layers of snow. Eventually, they shift over to a massive, futuristic-looking vehicle with tires that look bigger than Kanye itself. They eventually hop out of the car and just bop to the music while Kanye laughs, happy to see his dad enjoying himself. The scene ends with a note saying that Kanye has realized that his dad is his best friend.

“Follow God” appears on Kanye’s recently released album Jesus Is KingThe LP features the Clipse, Ty Dolla $ign, and more.

Watch Kanye and his dad have some old-fashioned fun in “Follow God” up above.

Calpurnia, Finn Wolfhard’s Band, Has Split Up: ‘We’ll Never Forget You!’

It’s a sad day for fans of Calpurnia, the band fronted by Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard. The Canadian indie rockers took to Instagram on Friday (November 8) to announce that they’ve decided to part ways after just two years together.

“It’s bittersweet to share this news, but we want to let you know that our time playing together as Calpurnia has come to an end,” they began their heartfelt goodbye, which was posted alongside a black-and-white photo from one of their live shows.

“We are extremely grateful for the support we’ve received over the past few years. What seemed to us like an unimaginable reality came to be, and we have been thrilled to share the ride with you,” they continued. “It’s been an honour and a gift to meet, work with, and play for so many wonderful people. We feel lucky and hugely grateful for the many fantastic opportunities that came our way.”

The band — which also included guitarist and singer Ayla Tesler-Mabe, bassist Jack Anderson, and drummer Malcolm Craig — ended their message on a grateful note.

“We’re all going to be starting fresh chapters in our lives: new projects, new music, new creative ventures, and new experiences to come,” they wrote. “One last giant thank you to our friends at Royal Mountain Records, our manager Bix, our families, and especially our amazing fans. We’ll never forget you!”

Calpurnia formed in 2017, initially starting out as a cover band that played tunes by Pixies, Twin Peaks, and Mac DeMarco. Eventually, they began writing original music and put forth their debut EP and only release, Scout, last year.

As we mourn Calpurnia’s breakup, revisit the band’s 2018 interview with MTV News below.

Bop Shop: Songs From Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, HAIM, And More

It’s no secret that melodic rap, thanks to artists like Travis Scott, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan, has become the most dominant form of hip-hop. For the last four years or so, the subgenre grew into the genre, with rappers often attempting to replicate more successful melody pushers to diminishing results. The kerfuffle around “mumble rap” never evolved into a discussion about this newer, more popular sound, probably because melodies drive radio, and artists like Juice WRLD have successfully blurred the line between melodic rap and singing in bold new ways. Outside of this longstanding bubble is RonSoCold, something of a singularity, who raps in melodies in a twisted way.

It’s hard to explain his breathless chant and how his lines all end on the same note. His beat choice is stellar and random, finding perky, vibrant video game-recalling special effects sprinkled over pummeling 808s that box you into a corner. His latest release, “Sharktale,” that picks you up and whisks you into a medieval, 2D-style dungeon crawler. This vast atmosphere underscores RonSoCold’s unique take on melody every time he resets his register and goes on another run. It’s something that you can sing in the shower guilt-free. —Trey Alston

Jacquees Wins In The Court Of Love In Soapy ‘Fact Or Fiction’ Video

Relationships tend to end with raised voices and partners storming out of rooms with tears streaming down their faces. But what if it was all a little more civil and professional?

Jacquees — the Georgia-bred, self-anointed King of R&B (as his new album title declares) — answers this question in his soapy new video for “Fact or Fiction.” The plot is simple: He sets up a legal battle with an ex about his infidelity. She just knows he’s been up to no good, so the pair go to court to officially separate. But as Jacquees recently told MTV News, at the heart of the clip is something larger: “It’s a video about fighting for your love.”

The visual, airing all day on MTV channels today, is an admittedly cheesy yet completely endearing clip that ends right before they make up, but you just know that everything is going to be OK in the end. Over the course of its runtime, we see Jacquees repeatedly thrust into questionable, flirtatious situations. His ex, who wasn’t around but probably heard a couple of rumors, believes that he was unfaithful to her.

“The video shows that I wasn’t, so that’s why she comes back at the end,” he said in an interview that MTV News will roll out in full soon. Though it ends with him being found not guilty and a smile breaking across his face, we don’t get to see the aftermath. It’s possible that the newly reunited couple went out for a bite to eat, followed by the world’s longest cuddling session.

Jacquees released his sophomore studio album, King Of R&B, today (November 8). It features artists like Young Thug, Summer Walker, and more. Take a look at his “Fact or Fiction” clip — the one he called “the best video I ever shot” — above.

King Princess’s TV Debut Was A Bouncy Aerobic Workout To ‘Hit The Back’

King Princess has many moods. She can swagger, like she does on excellent single “Prophet,” and she can melt hearts, like on the brilliant narrative she spins on “Homegirl.” She can shred on the guitar, and she can command an upright piano with the best of them. But the young artist (born Mikaela Straus) can also just lead. That’s what she did in her her U.S. network TV debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday night.

Onstage at the Ed Sullivan Theater, Straus opted out of rock-star moments for a highly danceable rendition of “Hit the Back,” a soulful dance-floor standout from her recently released debut album Cheap Queen. That’s not to say she didn’t look like a star — she did, and she is — but KP kept the performance grounded in her raspy vocals, disaffected stare, and endearing movements instead of theatrical flourish. The whole thing felt like a party.

What’s cool about this is seeing Straus liberated from an instrument and with plenty of room to bounce around around her band, which she does. She also runs up and makes a red platform her own, especially with how her hips sway. (The camerawork here is very agile, giving the performance a lot of energy, but as one YouTube commenter demanded, “The camera should be focused on her hips.”)

After a quick fake-out ending, KP and her crew slip into a disco coda that allows us all to savor the song a bit longer. It’s nice. She also stuck around for a bonus online performance of her arrival single “1950” where she plays guitar. You’ll have to watch to see if she shreds or not.

Queen Cheap is out now on Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records. King Princess is on tour in North America now and currently tearing it up.

Get to know more about her via a 2018 sit-down interview with MTV News right here.

A$AP Rocky Is Returning To Sweden For The First Time Since His Assault Conviction

A$AP Rocky is returning to Sweden next month.

On December 11, the rapper will perform at Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe. It will be his first time returning to the country since being arrested and convicted of assault in July. Some of the proceeds are set to go to the local charity FARR, which is the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups. Tickets are set to go on sale on November 12 at 10 AM local time.

A$AP Rocky and two other men were charged with assault on July 25, following a filmed confrontation that occurred in Stockholm in June. He was jailed and released on August 2 ahead of the Swedish court’s ruling. He was convicted by the Stockholm District Court and given a conditional sentence that involves a probationary period of two years, damage for the victim “for violation of his integrity and pain and suffering,” and repaying legal expenses to the state.

Since coming home, A$AP Rocky has released the video for “Babushka Boi” which follows A$AP Ferg, Schoolboy Q, and Rocky himself robbing banks in ridiculous getups.

Lil Baby Is Kind Of Humble-Bragging, But, Then Again, Not Really, In ‘Woah’

Lil Baby‘s wallet meets the height requirement to ride on a roller coaster at an amusement park. The wealthy (after rich, then wealthy, there’s wealthy) rapper likes to give fans the inside scoop on how he makes bragging an art form so he’s graciously released a new single named “Woah” that’s the king of flexes. By centering a song around an ad-lib, Lil Baby makes it that much more of an earworm. So while you’re swallowing spoonfuls of envy soup, you’ll be anxiously reciting each and every word, aching for just a slice of this pie.

The average price range for traditional metal braces is anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000. Now imagine not needing any dental corrective work but somehow having $100,000 in your mouth in the form of fancy denticles. That, my friends, is rich. Lil Baby cackles about his bottomless pockets over an exhilaratingly fast beat, all the while exclaiming “Woah!” on the chorus as if even he can’t believe he has this kind of money. But then he clears it up with “Work hard and determined/ It’s safe to say I earned it,” which he delivers with a smirk and, presumably, him popping his own collar in excitement.

Lil Baby dropped the video for “Out The Mud” with Future in September. In August, he channeled Scarface with DaBaby for the video for their collaboration, “Baby.”

Listen to Lil Baby’s humble-bragging (it’s arguable if it’s even humble at all) up above.

Ho Ho Ho From The Jo Bros! Jonas Brothers’ Festive Bop ‘Like It’s Christmas’ Is Here

Twelve long years after Jonas Brothers gifted us the certified holiday jam “Girl of My Dreams” — which featured memorable lyrics like, “You can take this awesome scarf my grandma made for me!” — the boys are back with another festive bop.

This time around, the brothers Jonas have unwrapped “Like It’s Christmas,” a loved-up tune about finding that special someone who makes every day feel like a holiday. “Feelin’ like the first thing on your wish list / Right up at the top,” they sing, before joyfully declaring, “You make every day feel like it’s Christmas / Every day that I’m with you.” Throw in a finger-snapping beat, falsettos, and some horns and sleigh bells, and you’ve got an instant Christmas classic.

“Like It’s Christmas” arrives after Kevin, Joe, and Nick teased the tune earlier this week with a drawing of them grinning and wearing Santa hats. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Nick revealed that releasing a new holiday song was a “dream” of theirs.

“That’s a great feeling to try to have one of those songs that can live on. Holiday songs, Christmas songs are that vehicle in a sense,” he said. “We leaned into the classic sounds of Christmastime while giving a new beat and new feel. We’re excited for people to hear it.”

The new single marks yet another milestone of JB’s comeback, after the band gave us a new album, Happiness Begins, a candid documentary, and an ongoing world tour. Their reunion is truly the gift that keeps on giving!