Blueface Is One Of 2019’s Most Promising Stars — His Producer Tells Us How He Got Here

By Trey Alston

Blueface makes punchline-packed music that’s simultaneously bubbly and morose. There’s a gritty feel to its composition, frequently involving the hyperactive, sensational melodies that make California hip-hop the stuff to vibe to in the club. The 21-year-old Los Angeles rapper and Cash Money West signee has quickly carved out his own space in the field with an offbeat flow that sounds like he’s chasing a train that he just keeps missing. Because of it, he became the viral star to close out the end of 2018, and one to watch rise in the new year. And alongside him is Laudiano — the producer behind the beats for “Respect My Crypn” and “Studio,” two of Blueface’s most important songs — whose proximity gives him insight into the rapper’s rapid rise.

Also based out of L.A., Laudiano has been making beats for two years and has worked with the likes of Drakeo the Ruler, Stunna Girl, and Shoreline Mafia. His connection with Blueface came organically. “I contacted him after I saw his video for ‘Deadlocs,’” Laudiano told MTV News. “I sent him some beats and he emailed me back saying he fucked with them. He shot a video of himself in his car rapping to them and we went from there.”

Laudiano entered into Blueface’s world, where unorthodox flows and energetic rhymes are the norm. Blueface is, as West Coast legend Ice Cube noted, “an acquired taste.” For every fan that he attracted early on, he pissed off two more who felt that he was making a mockery of rap. But Laudiano has created the perfect atmosphere for this off-kilter style.

When you look at the results, it’s no wonder the pair has established their camaraderie. Blueface released two mixtapes in 2018, Famous Cryp in June, and Two Coccy in September. “Respect My Crypn” appeared on Famous Cryp and outshined the other standouts “Next Big Thing” and “Thotiana” — two tracks that became popular because of meme-able video moments. Laudiano’s beat — an excessively vibrant, fluid thing with a sticky bass drum — plays a large part in the song’s continued success, blending well with Blueface’s signature style, which Laudiano defines as “smooth player and kind of aggressive.”

“When he hops on my beats, I feel like we got our own drip, like we are LeBron James and Dwyane Wade,” he says.

Even Laudiano admits that, if you blink, you’ll miss Blueface’s rise. “The craziest thing has just been how fast everything has happened,” Laudiano says. “Getting a record on the radio was my goal. Power 106 and L.A. Leakers spun ‘Respect My Crypn’ early and it blew my mind.” Since then, everyone wants to capture Blueface’s lightning in a bottle. He exchanged direct messages with Drake on Instagram, with the latter seeming to angle for a collab. In December, Blueface also revealed that he’s been in the studio with Quavo. And then, there are the memes — the mop, the pants, Blueface’s signature fingertip-lick, eyebrow split shtick — the true measures of viral power and reach. Laudiano’s favorite is the one of Blueface’s Crip walk being dubbed over random songs.

Their latest collaboration is the sensual track “Studio.” When Blueface first dropped the snippet in November, it was an indication of a bold new direction. Laudiano’s latest beat challenged Blueface, finding an iciness that didn’t exist in “Respect My Crypn.” The collaboration came about via an Instagram message from Dnyce of League of Starz, a production duo credited for work with Chris Brown, T.I., and 2 Chainz.

“[Dnyce] hit me on Instagram and said we should work,” Laudiano says. “The next day, I made the beat and sent it over to Dnyce to finish it. Shortly after Blueface released the video for ‘Respect My Crypn’ and I wanted to keep the train rolling so I sent him a pack with that beat in it.” Blueface let the success of his hit simmer before surprising the world with the snippet of the new song. “A month later, I seen that video of him singing to the beat, with my beat tag playing in the background,” Laudiano says. “He hit me saying that it was going to be a hit and I agreed.” After being posted on December 14, the official video for the song now has over 4 million views on YouTube, and 1.9 million more on WorldStarHipHop.

Blueface’s ascent looks to continue well into 2019. It’s much too early to talk about his inevitable studio debut, and Laudiano is quiet about it as well, but ready: “I’ve got to be a part of it because ‘Respect My Crypn’ became his biggest song, with ‘Studio’ becoming his fastest growing single thus far,” he says. It’s hard to believe that, just a couple of months ago, Blueface was another hopeful emcee, but Laudiano’s a key that unlocked potential to be explored in the new year. “We just have been going up,” the producer says. “Our songs started on SoundCloud and now, look, we’re on the radio and WorldStar.”

Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande, And Tame Impala Are Your Coachella 2019 Headliners

If you’ve always been a Coachella holdout, wondering if two weekends in the desert for a music festival were really worth shelling out for tickets, travel, and lodging, 2019 might just be the year that convinces you to pull the trigger already. On Wednesday night (January 2), this year’s headliners were revealed, and they’re massive. Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande will all lead the fest in April.

It’s a historic moment for Grande, who, Glamour points out, becomes only the fourth female performer to ever headline the festival (after Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Björk). And it makes sense: Her most recent album, Sweetener, reached No. 1, and she’s got another album titled Thank U, Next ready to go at seemingly any moment. It doesn’t seem farfetched to suspect it’ll be out come April.

Grande wrote that she was “humbled and excited as all hell” on social media.

Childish Gambino, too, had quite the year in 2018, and it’s hard to believe that this year’s Coachella will mark nearly a year since his Grammy-nominated (and by April, potentially Grammy-winning) “This Is America” dropped.

Meanwhile, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker — who’s spent the years since their 2015 album Currents collaborating with Rihanna, Travis Scott, and Kanye West — teased “new sounds” for the group on social media.

Other scheduled performers include Janelle Monae, The 1975, Solange, Kid Cudi, Diplo, Bad Bunny, Khalid, J Balvin, Billie Eilish, and so many more. Coachella 2019 begins April 12 and closes out on April 21. You can check out the full poster above — and note that passes go on sale beginning Friday (January 4).

EXCLUSIVE: King Princess, Charlotte Lawrence, And Kelsey Lu Score V Magazine Covers To Start 2019

Answering the questions “what’s new” and “what’s now,” Magazine features rising artists King Princess, Charlotte Lawrence, and Kelsey Lu on three covers for the publication’s first issue of 2019.

Named the “Discovery Issue,” the 117th issue of kicks off the magazine’s 20th year by amplifying the voices of celebrities set to take over the world, including the three cover stars, each photographed by fashion photography duo Inez & Vinoodh. Paired with their up-close and personal cover photos, the singers were each interviewed by IRL celebrity friends.

V Magazine

King Princess, who rose to fame in 2018 with her fun and clever debut single “1950,” speaks candidly in the issue about fame with Cole Sprouse. “I see so many people that are famous and successful… but they don’t have love or people,” the 20-year-old singer reveals about her own fear of being in the spotlight. “And that scares me more than anything.”

V Magazine

Bonding with best friend and model Kaia Gerber, 18-year-old singer Charlotte Lawrence confesses her most-played song of all time: “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna. “That will forever be our song,” Lawrence tells Gerber, to which Gerber responds, “You’re the only other person I know who can recite the entire rap verse.”

V Magazine

In conversation with friend and collaborator Dev Hynes, singer, cellist and all-around musician Kelsey Lu gets candid about being scammed in the music industry.

“I started working with someone, and I put most of my trust, and most of my budget, into them. That literally cost me money,” Lu tells Hynes, whom she toured with in 2018. “My lesson was to speak up when that happens.”

The three cover stars are joined by other stars to look out for, human or otherwise, like Charli XCX and Sophia the Robot, in V Magazine’s “The Discovery Issue” hitting newsstands on January 10.

Red Velvet Want You To Be ‘Whoever You Want’ When You Listen To Their Music

On first listen, “RBB (Really Bad Boy)” is a song that really shouldn’t work. It’s a cacophony of sounds, rhythms, shrill ad-libs, complex harmonies, and a whole lot of brass. For a lead single, it’s unapologetically bold and loud — the kind of song that beats you into submission with a powerful “oh my God” straight to your temporal lobes — but that’s what makes it so unabashedly Red Velvet.

Since making their debut in 2014, the Korean quintet has been serving up their distinct flavors with powerhouse vocals and boundless personality from members Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy, and Yeri (who officially joined the group in 2015). When it comes to K-pop, it all starts with a concept, and Red Velvet’s artistic DNA is written into their name: Red signals their vivid pop aesthetic with quirky songs like “Power Up” and “Peek-a-Boo,” while Velvet speaks to their moodier, more sensual R&B side, as demonstrated on this year’s acclaimed single, “Bad Boy” (a.k.a. Billboard‘s No. 1 K-pop song of 2018).

It’s this duality — the constant push and pull between fierce and playful, sweet and soulful — that make Red Velvet such a mellifluous treat, especially in a musical landscape that likes to put female artists in boxes. In K-pop, girl groups are often one or the other: sweet (TWICE) or sexy (MAMAMOO), girls who produce perfect pop confections (Girls’ Generation) or girls with attitude (2NE1). But Red Velvet prove that one concept can’t contain the artistry and multitudes that girl groups really have to offer. With “RBB,” the titular lead single off their latest EP, Red Velvet aren’t playing by anyone’s rules, and that’s the point. “We just wanted to show people our confidence,” vocalist Wendy (who was born in Korea but spent her formative years in Canada) told MTV News about the release.

Though intended as a thematic follow-up to “Bad Boy,” the two songs couldn’t sound any more different. On “Bad Boy,” the women embraced their velvet personas with smooth vocals and a lush girl crush aesthetic; “RBB” is campier by nature but sonically more complex, with tight vocal harmonies and erratic ad-libs from Wendy, Irene, and Seulgi.

“‘Bad Boy’ was loved by so many people, so that’s why we came back with ‘Really Bad Boy,” Wendy said, describing the song as another entry in the “Bad Boy” series. “They’re both talking about bad boys but in different ways. This song is about the girl saying, ‘You can go ahead and seduce me, but you really can’t because I’m going to seduce you.’ So the girl has all the power.”

RBB — the album and the song — has confidence in spades. Each of the five tracks (or six, if you count the English version of “Really Bad Boy”) find the women of Red Velvet in full control; they know exactly what they want on the assertive, bass-heavy bop “Sassy Me,” and give in to temptation on “Taste,” a melodic hip-hop song with a ’90s groove.

SM Entertainment

Red Velvet members from left to right: Yeri, Wendy, Irene, Joy, and Seulgi

For Red Velvet, the message of RBB was clear: “You can be whoever you want.” And each track is meant to empower and embolden the listener. “There’s confidence in every song,” Wendy said. “We tried to show people that you can be whoever you want if you just have confidence.” As for which songs bring out their own confidence, Red Velvet unanimously pick “Sassy Me” as an album highlight.

“I like all the songs,” Wendy clarified, before jokingly adding, “because they’re our songs.”

That self-assertiveness and swagger also extended to the recording process. “You have to have confidence while recording because whoever is listening to it has to feel it, too,” Wendy said. “So we tried our best to have a lot of confidence.” Though, it wasn’t always easy, especially when it came time to sing in English.

In December, Red Velvet released an entirely English version of “RBB” — complete with its own music video — for their fans all over the world. “We performed an English version of ‘Bad Boy’ at KCON, just the first verse, and lots of people loved it,” Wendy said, noting how when it came time to prepare for their next comeback, or new release, the group wanted to “give this love back” with an English track. “We know that we’re getting lots of love from people in the U.S.,” she added.

But recording in English had its own challenges for the group. “English isn’t anyone’s first language, and the only one who can speak English in the group is Wendy,” vocalist and dancer Seulgi said, via an interpreter. “So in terms of getting the pronunciation and the nuances right, we got a lot of help from the people around us.”

“The demo was in English,” she added. “So musically, we tried to express ourselves the way that we heard it [on the demo].”

For rapper and vocalist Joy, the hardest part was figuring out which words needed more emphasis. “The pronunciation is a bit sharper in Korean,” she said. “So we had to really think about which syllables to focus on.” (And in case you were wondering, yes, even Wendy has had “oh my God” stuck in her head for weeks.)

As K-pop and Korean artists gain visibility and credibility in U.S., the cultural barriers that once prevented these global artists from cracking the Western market are being shattered one milestone at a time. Releasing bilingual songs, or separate English versions, is becoming increasingly popular for K-pop acts, and Red Velvet’s global approach to music is paying off. This February, the group will bring their RedMare world tour to the States. The five-city trek across the U.S. — including two sold-out stops in Los Angeles — is a major flex for a Korean girl group. In fact, the last K-pop girl group to tour in the U.S. was Apink in 2016.

“If you listen to all of Red Velvet’s albums you can tell that Red Velvet is a group that has a lot to offer,” leader Irene said. And arguably it’s this variety that appeals most to the masses, transcending language altogether. With their distinct vocal charms and tight harmonies, no two Red Velvet songs sound the same — and while “RBB” may be a divisive entry in the group’s discography, you can’t say it isn’t 100 percent them. Which other group is going to serve horror movie visuals and turn a classic B-movie scream into a perfectly pitched whistle note?

Perhaps Wendy put it best when she said, “The more you listen to our songs, the more you won’t be able to resist.”

Lana Del Rey’s New Song Title Is So Long It Won’t Fit Here

Lana Del Rey didn’t let 2018 escape without pointing us in the direction of her next creative endeavor: a Jack Antonoff-produced album called Norman Fucking Rockwell that features two atmospheric new songs. The first, “Mariners Apartment Complex,” was a gauzy, Mazzy Star-type slow burn with an excellent hook (Lana singing “I’m your man” in deep Leonard Cohen breaths), and the second was a 10-minute acid odyssey called “Venice Bitch.”

Next week, she’s planning to release her third NFR single, and from what she shared on social media late Tuesday night (January 1), it’ll be just as moody. It’s called “Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have — But I Have It.” (Almost as long as I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It!)

It’s hard to hear much past Lana’s lyrics here, so there’s no confirmation yet whether this will be a rainy-day walk by the crags or a psychedelic journey like the previous two songs. But one standout moment is that she rhymes “debutantes” with “white yachts,” which seems right.

Her accompanying caption reveals a plan to release the song on January 9. Lana also revealed she’d “finished a short book of poetry I’ve been writing over the last 13 months that I’ll be putting out later.” She also alerted fans that she’d have to miss some upcoming shows that will presumably be announced soon.

“In the meantime though I’d like to apologize in advance for upcoming cancellations of shows you’ll be hearing about,” she wrote. “I wish I could fulfill those obligations but I won’t be able to.”

Still, with Norman Fucking Rockwell, a new poetry book, “Hope Is a Dangerous Thing…,” and potential new vlogger energy all on the horizon, 2019 is already shaping up to be Lana’s year. Check out the song’s clip in the IG post above.

SnowGlobe 2018: Leven Kali Talks His Upcoming EP and Working With EXO, Skrillex, and Usher

By Kat Bein

Palm Studios has a real cool cat in singer, songwriter, and producer Leven Kali. The former golf star gave up the green for a new kind of swing about four years ago, and he’s never looked back. That’s not to say he gave up every kind of green, though. His soulful, breezy style is suited for the smokers out there, from sunny California to chilly Lake Tahoe, where he tore up the main stage at SnowGlobe Music Festival this past weekend.

His music has brought him to Korea, to sushi with Usher and Skrillex, and to a higher state of creativity with his friends and live band, The Moon. He’s got a ton of new music planned for the start of 2018, and MTV News caught up with Kali to hear about his wild sonic journey around the world.

MTV News: You brought a lot of energy to your set. This is a different environment from Southern California.

Leven Kali: It was crazy, because literally the last time I was outside, I was in Puerto Rico. I’ve been in the airport for like 15 hours trying to get back. My girl’s family has roots in Puerto Rico, so I went out there with her and her people. We just kicked it for a few days on the beach, then got smacked in the face by the airline and now I’m here, but it feels so good to be here.

MTV News: I read that you were a Division I golfer before you decided to pursue music full-time. What made you give that up and dive in?

Kali: I was always in music. My mom is a musician, my dad is a musician, all my uncles and aunts are musicians. My senior year of high school, I committed to play golf in college, so I didn’t have to apply to colleges. I had that whole year to fuck around and just get ready for college, but I ended up doing music that whole year with the homies. We were making songs about parties in high school, making fun of kids and whatever, but then it turned into like, “Damn, these songs are kinda good, even though they’re jokes,” and it just built from there.

MTV News: It’s been a wild couple of years for you.

Kali: It has. I was in college, and I went to Korea to do songwriting for K-pop bands.

MTV News: You did a song with EXO.

Kali: Yeah, we did “Love Shot” for them when I was out there. They released it this year, and it’s been going crazy for them. Those moments and experiences made me feel like I should definitely jump all the way into this.

MTV News: What was it like to work with K-pop artists?

Kali: You know how a lot of music and entertainment culture starts in America and reverberates into the world? When I went there in 2013, 2014, they were just starting to really grab on to hip hop in more of a trap sense. They’ve been loving R&B, but they wanted me to work with the younger artists to teach them swag culture. Some of them were incredible. You can tell that they’re obsessed with the culture. They would tell me about not being able to see girls and do certain things, and that was mind-blowing. They’re picked at, like, 12 or even younger [to be K-pop performers], but it was still happy. It wasn’t negative. They definitely wanted to be better. They want to learn. They’re in the studio in the middle of the night every night. Dedicated, for sure.

MTV News: And last year you did some work with Usher and Skrillex?

Kali: I was in the studio of this place called Record Plant. It’s a big studio in L.A., and Skrillex and Usher were having a session. This was probably a year or two ago now, but at Record Plant, you’ve got to imagine, you walk into the studio, and there’s literally Razor scooters with license plates on them that say, “Skrillex,” “Ty Dolla $ign,” “A$AP Rocky.” It’s a fun place. Skrillex and Usher were together at that moment when I walked into the room. They’re two of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and we just had a creative click. Some of the stuff we made ended up on Skrillex’s OWSLA project. The Usher songs are in the vault right now, but it was cool. Usher took us to dinner at Nobu in his Wraith. It was surreal — and he really is one of the best singers. You know when someone walks into the booth behind the mic, and they do their little chants before they start going? His warm-up is insane.

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

MTV News: What’s it like producing and writing for other people as opposed to yourself?

Kali: It’s dope. In the beginning, I saw myself as a producer and a writer, and I would make music that people thought would only work with me. That’s sometimes a struggle, trying to send songs to people but it’s like, “Damn, you should just put this out yourself.” But I’d much rather be with somebody. Instead of writing for people, I like writing with people. Sometimes it works when you send somebody a track and they send back a verse, but it’s always way more special in-person.

MTV News: You released a couple short EPs this year in quick succession. Why break it up like that?

Kali: It’s 2018 — or 2019. Why not do some new shit? It’s interesting, because it seems like this cycle of time. Before records were a thing, people put out one or two singles. I don’t think that it’s a perfect cycle, but I think there’s things contributing to it being like that again. People have short attention spans, and sometimes three songs go together and they don’t work in a project. I have a plan to put out an EP this year, and then I might drop little packs. I might do an album. Whatever the people want.

MTV News: Talk about the next EP.

Kali: This will be the proper EP length, like seven songs. To be honest, I have so many songs. My hardest problem is how to get it all out in a cohesive way. It’s a better pressure.

MTV News: You recently released a pretty cool music video for “Too High.”

Kali: First off, shout out Na’Kel Smith and Buddy. It means so much more when you do stuff in the room in-person. That song was a perfect example of that. I had the first part of that record already done. I linked up with Na’Kel and Buddy came through. We all smoked a ton of weed, and it was super chill. We’re all actually friends. I met Na’Kel when he pulled up with a mutual friend literally in a shopping cart. Buddy I met at Coachella. You can tell that we’re actually friends on the record, which is probably why it’s cool.

MTV News: Are there lessons you’re taking from 2018 into 2019?

Kali: If you don’t grow every day, you’re tripping. Do things. I’ll sit on stuff and deliberate, and deliberation is the death of progress. Deciding on a place to eqt, or deciding what music to put out. If you start doing something, you’ll build on that, and you’ll make it special no matter what. You just have to start. Put it in motion, and then it’ll become how you make it.

SnowGlobe 2018: Sofi Tukker Discuss Their ZHU Collaboration and ‘Treehouse’ Grammy Nom

By Kat Bein

Fresh off a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic Album for their 2018 debut Treehouse, New York electro-pop duo Sofi Tukker brought a vibrant heat wave to SnowGlobe Music Festival in Lake Tahoe. Though the multi-lingual group normally has a raucous live show, some last-minute travel hassle left them without much of their gear. Undeterred, the duo quickly adjusted to perform what it called a “rave set,” a hybrid DJ-live situation that brought one of the most high-energy sets of the weekend to the festival main stage.

Singer Sophie Hawley-Weld ran up and down the stage dressed as a glowing snow princess in white furs and delivered a pitch-perfect vocal performance, while her partner Tucker Halpern manned the turntables. Both party animals dove into the crowd before the show was over, and they even dropped a few, new unreleased songs. MTV News caught up with the cool kids backstage to hear all about their massive 2018 and when we might get to hear some of those new songs in full.

MTV News: I saw online you’ve got a song coming out with ZHU in a couple weeks. How was it working with him?

Sophie Hawley-Weld: Yeah, it was really fun. It was really organic. We walked into the studio and just wanted to see what would happen and then it just flowed really nicely and we ended up making a weird song.

Tucker Halpern: It’s kind of fun. It definitely has both our personalities in it. It’s a little funny and dirty for ZHU, I think — like in a sexual way.

MTV News: You guys were just in Portugal, right? You did a video for “Energia.” It was your first time in Portugal?

Hawley-Weld: We flew in from Japan, and I remember just feeling so fucked up, but in a good way. It was such a trip, because we woke up and all of a sudden we were in Portugal. We met Pabllo [Vittar] for the first time during the shoot for the video, and we had the best day ever. We were kind of delirious.

Halpern: It was a giant love fest. It was so much fun. We got to dress up in crazy outfits and run around the most beautiful city in tuk tuks, and we were filming a documentary, and all of that got intertwined with the video.

MTV News: Tell me about this documentary.

Hawley-Weld: I don’t think we’ve announced that at all.

Halpern: It’s not really an announcement. We’ve basically been filing stuff for the past couple of years on this crazy traveling journey. Hopefully that will become something.

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

MTV News: You guys draw a lot of inspiration it seems from your travels. Where recently have you been inspired?

Hawley-Weld: Our new music is all over the place, because we’ve been all over the place, so it makes a lot of sense. One of the things that we’ve been most inspired by is just the crowds — meeting and building community. We’re really inspired by making music that feels like it takes up that space, so our music, it’s a little bigger and it’s a little more epic. We thirst for that feeling in the live show, to just have that togetherness in this epic way, so that’s been a really big thread of inspiration.

Halpern: Different cultures around the world and different communities react differently to different things, different types of music, and they like to move different ways. Our minds have been opened up so much. I feel like we’ve been making a lot of music lately, and I’m really excited about the new stuff that will be coming out pretty soon. It’s just all different eras, all different genres, all different parts of the world.

Hawley-Weld: We’ve also gotten to collaborate with so many people. One of the most exciting things ever: We collaborated with the band Bomba Estéreo who have honestly been one of our favorite bands for awhile.

Halpern: We’ve met each other a couple times at different things, and both were really big fans of each other. We finally just made the perfect thing.

Hawley-Weld: It’s in Spanglish and Portuñol, which is Portuguese and Spanish together. It’s a really fun combination of us.

MTV News: I’ve got to congratulate you guys on the Treehouse nomination.

Hawley-Weld: It feels crazy. It’s definitely not like we’re writing music being like, “Oh, is this gonna get us a Grammy nomination?” It’s like, “Do we love this music? Does this make me feel happy and come alive?”

Halpern: Do I want to show this to everyone? If you don’t, then something’s wrong.

Hawley-Weld: But then it’s really cool that we’ve got this nod on top of loving it already.

Halpern: We did a lot of weird things on that album and took a lot of risks, did things that we didn’t really know if people would like but we liked it. It is a cool affirmation that it’s respected by someone at least. There’s also so many awesome electronic and dance music artists out there, and so many genres that don’t get represented in awards like that that we respect, also.

MTV News: Anything you want to say about what you’ve learned in this last year and are taking with you into the next?

Halpern: I think something that feels even better than the crazy accolades is believing in a friend, someone who you think really deserves it, and helping them and seeing their career start to evolve. That’s been one of the best feelings, because we started this thing called Animal Talk, which is an artist collective, party, and record label. It’s just been amazing to see that sort of thing grow, and it’s a total arm of Sofi Tukker — sort of an extension of the world we’re building — but it’s really not just about us.

Hawley-Weld: It’s pretty cliché, but its cliché for a reason. The more you give, the more you receive; or, the more you make it about other people, the more internal satisfaction you get.

SnowGlobe 2018: Duckwrth Talks The Punk Music That Inspired His Creative Rise

By Kat Bein

If a ball of kinetic energy came to life, donned oversized overalls, and braided its hair, you might call it Duckwrth. The rapper, visual artist and all-around performer has a vibrant sound and enthusiastic attitude that defies categorization and smashes expectations. Raised in South Central Los Angeles, he hit SnowGlobe Festival’s Igloo stage backed by Oakland-bred band mates, and though he faced Lake Tahoe’s 40-degree chill, he jumped, jived, and wailed across the stage until he dripped with sweat.

In 2016, his I’M UUGLY mixtape brought his rowdy spirit under a spotlight, and this year saw Duckwrth spread his wings to fly toward greater, funkier, more soulful heights. Freshly toweled and clothed in a dry Iron Maiden long-sleeve, Duckwrth caught up with MTV News to chat inspirations, always daring to be different, and how he plans to chase his dreams into the new year.

MTV News: That was a fun show. I loved the energy from all of you guys; I want to know where you got your moves!

Duckwrth: What moves? I just be freestylin’, going for it. I have no dance moves. I can two-step!

MTV News: You don’t think you’re dancing, but there must just be something about the act of performing that unlocks whatever this alter ego is inside you.

Duckwrth: Exactly, because I’m not going to do that shit in regular life… but you put me on stage, and I’m gonna go crazy.

MTV News: How long have you been performing in your life? Is it something you’ve done since you were a kid?

Duckwrth: I would say so. I was in the choir when I was younger and stuff like that. Being in front of people, using my voice. I’ve been doing that for a minute.

MTV News: When did you realize you could keep people’s attention?

Duckwrth: In college. I was doing little small shows, and I always see people’s eyes get all pearly, and I was like, “OK cool. Tight. I guess I’m good at this.”

MTV News: Your sound is very eclectic, and you pride yourself on being somebody who doesn’t limit themselves to one genre. Who was first giving you punk records and metal records? Your dad was a musician.

Duckwrth: Yeah, but it wasn’t him. It was this shorty that I was crushing on in high school. She was listening to punk. I liked this other girl, and she was listening to rock, but she was more into emo — Green Day, My Chemical Romance — and I was like, “OK, this is cool.” But then this other girl was listening to The Casualties, Minor Threat, and shit like that. She was wearing all the t-shirts, and I was like, “Dude, she’s so tight, and her t-shirts are hella tight. Let me check these songs.” I listened to them, and I was like, whoa, and then I found Bad Brains and that was it.

MTV News: You just released the “Soprano” video, and it seems like you were aiming to make a statement with it.

Duckwrth: It’s up to self-interpretation. I’m just showing a mirror, what the look is, what the sound is, what’s popular, and just showing a mirror, see what people feel about it.

MTV News: I’ve read also that you’re particularly fond of the video-making process.

Duckwrth: It’s my closest chance to be a director or producer. Being able to have a thought in my brain and have it come to life, that’s a trippy feeling. To be able to look back like, damn, that all started with just like, I was like sitting on the toilet for way too long, and this good idea came in my brain and then it became a full-fleshed idea.

MTV News: So you’re pretty hands-on with the treatments?

Duckwrth: Oh yeah. I draw it out. I write it out. I get pretty deep in it. For these past videos, I cleared up my whole wall in my apartment, and I drew out all the characters. For “Fall Back,” I had a long, red ribbon, and I had me on one side being pulled by the red ribbon and I had all the other — we call them “hype beasts,” the dudes that are painted white. They’re on the other side pulling me. I drew that all out and storyboarded a good amount of it. So it’s tight to be able to really get in depth. But it’s for me, my challenge is to make a directer see what’s in my head. That’s the hardest thing ever. The closest you can get sometimes is maybe 80 percent to what you really wanted. So my goal is to at least in 95 percent of what I imagine in my head.

MTV News: In 2018, you released mostly singles, but in the years before that, you released some bigger projects. Are you working on something bigger for 2019? What’s in the works?

Duckwrth: Definitely. I’m gonna drop an EP early, and then drop my first commercial LP closer to summer if not the summer.

MTV News: How long have you been working on that one?

Duckwrth: Philosophically? Since 2013. It’s something that when you put it on, you automatically feel good. It’s called Super Good. It’s very simple: You put that shit on, and you feel good. I actually produced [and] recorded a whole ‘nother album that will never come out, but this would be the baby from that project.

MTV News: As this year comes to a close, it’s very natural to reflect on the things you’ve learned and the experiences you had. What has 2018 meant for you?

Duckwrth: I’ve never done so much international traveling in one short time span. That was crazy. My whole brain, it opened up so much. I added so much color to my palette. Manifestation is real. I’m a walking, living example of that. My career is an example of that. My success now and in the future, what I’m going to be able to obtain, and be able to create and deliver, that’s all going to be via walking through faith and manifestation. This year was a very big answer to the question. 2018 was a whole answer, and I’m like, fuck, wow. So now it’s just continuing to walk in faith, knowing what I want to do, my whole purpose with music and art.

MTV News: Is there anything else you want to say or mention, or anything that’s important?

Duckwrth: Eat produce. That shit is everything. Fruits and veggies, yo. A lot of people be having hard times when they’re older because they ate shitty when they were younger. Eat some fruits and vegetables. It’ll change your life.

Lady Gaga Got Choked Up While Performing ‘Shallow’ For The First Time: Watch

Over the weekend, Lady Gaga launched her Las Vegas residency show, Enigma, and to absolutely no one’s surprise, it was a creative spectacle for the ages. Amid a slew of costume changes and larger-than-life set designs, Gaga flew through a 21-song setlist that included fan favorites like “Born This Way” and “Bad Romance,” as well as a poignant cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans.” Perhaps most notably, her set included the first live performance of “Shallow,” her Golden Globe-nominated anthem from A Star Is Born.

Making her way to the piano, Gaga gave a heartfelt speech to the audience. “For a really long time, I felt so misunderstood about the way I dressed, the way I talked, my attitude,” she said. “They thought it was shallow. But this shit is deep as fuck.”

Gaga got visibly choked up during the song’s first verse, but carried on in stunning fashion after some encouragement from her Little Monsters in the crowd. Together, they belted that sky-grazing chorus, giving “Shallow” the explosive debut performance it deserves. Check it out below.

Gaga’s Enigma show on Friday (December 28) marked the first of 23 dates. She’s also set to perform nine additional shows called Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano, which kicks off on January 20 and includes stripped-down renditions of her songs. Perhaps she’ll even whip up a jazzy reimagining of “Shallow” for us to fawn over.

21 Savage Has A No. 1 Album For The First Time Ever

21 Savage has finally arrived.

Of course, he’s been around for (what seems like) a long time now. His two Slaughter mixtapes dropped in 2015, and a year later, he scored a bit of a breakthrough on Drake’s “Sneakin” as well as via a superstar collab with Migos, YG, and Mike Will Made-It. His biggest push yet was “rockstar,” the 2017 record-smashing, Grammy-nominated team-up with Post Malone that culminated in a massive singalong with Aerosmith at the 2018 VMAs.

But his true arrival — the one at the top of the chart — is here now: His second album, I Am > I Was, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, giving him his first top-charting album ever.

The album racked up 131,000 equivalent album units in its first week of release, Billboard reports, and features uncredited guest appearances from Travis Scott, Post Malone, Childish Gambino, Offset, and others. 21’s 2017 debut, Issa Album, hit No. 2, and his Without Warning collab album with Offset and Metro Boomin hit No. 4.

It’s a big deal for 21, an artist whose carefully executed unknowability has helped propel him into mainstream ascendence. No word yet if Drake was the only one to get him a gift to celebrate his latest milestone.