As long as we’ve had love, we’ve had to play its game. Think of playing it as purchasing a lottery ticket: You hope for the best, but chances are, it might not turn out well. What happens when you lose so much that you fear to play again? Teyana Taylor answers this question in her new video for “Issues/Hold On.” In the new clip, which dropped Friday (March 15), we follow her apparent marriage to A$AP Rocky in what appears to be the 1970s. It’s a beautiful, cinematic affair — directed by Teyana “Spike Lee” Taylor herself, as the credits reveal — that shows the path to victory in love that we can all learn from. Be persistent.
“Issues/Hold On” is a myriad of afros, platform shoes, and those gigantic records that go to outdated players we no longer know the names of. Cupid has stricken Taylor and Rocky, who peck each other on the lips like nervous fifth graders and smash buttercream icing on each other’s faces while the blinding whites of their teeth shine through the mess. This is the honeymoon phase where losing isn’t on both players minds, just love and how it will stretch eternally. But things change soon enough. Rocky is revealed to be a little flirtatious, and Taylor flips out on him.
Things eventually return back to normal. Taylor’s upset, but she gets over it. Maybe she’s thinking too hard about laughs. After all, laughs are preferable to frowns. But there’s always the threat of infidelity, that another woman will find the warmth in Rocky’s smile that attracted Taylor to him in the first place. Eventually, Rocky is caught chatting a lady up again, and Taylor gets indignant nearly immediately.
As the song plays in the background of this film’s most vulnerable moments, we hear Taylor’s thoughts. She’s hesitant, fiercely protective of what’s hers. As the video’s final scene shows, though, it can all be forgiven — sometimes it just takes a little sex.
Taylor’s K.T.S.E. dropped last year; she released the visual for “Gonna Love Me” with Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah, Method Man, and Raekwon in December and dropped “WTP” in January. Check out the streamy, nostalgic new video above.
Independence is looking damn good on Iggy Azalea.
Last year, the Aussie rapper exited her deal with Island Records to record as an independent artist, and now, she’s given us the first taste of what she’s been working on. On Friday (March 15), Iggy dropped “Sally Walker,” an unexpected spin on the kiddie anthem “Little Sally Walker” that repurposes the lyrics to encourage her girls to “go on, do your thang.”
In the accompanying clip — which was shot in Atlanta and directed by Colin Tilley — Iggy slays at, of all places, a funeral. It’s a morbid but stylish affair that’s just crazy enough to work, especially since the pack of mourners includes RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants Shea Couleé, Mayhem Miller, and Miss Vanjie, as well as beauty guru James Charles. There’s blood, hearses, and gravestones, but also plenty of twerking, latex, and fierce choreo performed on a cemetery lawn.
And just when the “Money“-esque piano line begins to get lodged inside your brain, Iggy switches it up and concludes the video by previewing a hype new song called “Started” that finds her boasting, “I started from the bottom and now I’m rich … You started out hating, now you love my drip.”
“Sally Walker” is the lead single off Iggy’s forthcoming album, In My Defense, which will mark her first release under her joint venture with Empire. In January, she hyped up the project by tweeting, “I’m really proud of my album. It shits on 95% of everything I’ve ever made & its only half done.” She added, “#InMyDefense really is that album that’s gonna make you wanna say fuck you to your own reflection for ever doubting you.”
I fell in love with AJR the first time I heard “Sober Up,” a bittersweet plea to a loved one to help someone “feel something again,” with a whimsical singsong chorus and some help from Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo to bring it full circle as a track that felt like light pining for a relationship from the past. So when I heard “100 Bad Days,” the group’s latest single, I fell for it, too. The indie-pop trio penned a track all about taking the lemons life unceremoniously tosses at you and making the sweetest lemonade you’ve ever tasted – or one killer story about how one of them gave you a black eye. It soars as a reminder that no matter what negativity you face in your everyday life, you can turn it all into something great, or at least become more interested because of the experience. Brighter days are most certainly coming, no matter what you’re going through. —Brittany Vincent
Zacari is the newest face of Top Dawg Entertainment, home to artists like Kendrick Lamar, SchoolBoy Q, SZA, and Jay Rock. His voice is soft yet firm, evident in “LOVE.” from Lamar’s 2017 album DAMN where he floats on the chorus like feathers in a gust of wind. Today, he’s released his debut EP, Run Wild Run Free. With a sole appearance from Lil Yachty, this seven-track body of work looks to showcase the brunt of the singer’s skills.
Zacari’s been working with the TDE roster for some time now. In 2016, he offered some supporting, weightless vocals to Isaiah Rashad‘s “What’s Wrong” and also Ab Soul‘s “Raw (Backwards).” The chemistry must have manifested itself in the repeated comingling because the following year, Zacari would appear on “LOVE.” that was his true introduction to the mainstream space. His chorus was stunning, acting as a true plea for affection that felt genuine instead of worrisome. The singer told Billboard in 2017 that the song was actually one of the records that he, along with his producer Teddy Walton who produced the track, played for Lamar during their first real session together. Kendrick quietly asked for the record after mulling over it mentally for a few seconds. Little did both of them know that the song would go on to spend 40 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
Run Wild Free features Zacari’s recently released single, “Don’t Trip.” Its submissive drums and hesitant use of melodies make it a unique listen in the R & B space; you can hear and taste the classic R & B inspirations while he thrusts into unexplored territory with his stringy voice. There’s nothing quite like his voice currently swimming around streaming services. It’s easy to see why TDE scooped him up so fast.
Check out his new EP up above.
Anderson .Paak wastes no time. He released his third studio album Oxnard in November. It’s over for that rollout; the ink is dry, the envelope has been sealed. Now, the road to his fourth LP Ventura is open and the first single has been released, “King James.” This funky number gives the world its first taste of what the new album is going to sound like and if this is anything to go off of, it’s time to break out the platform shoes, tracksuits, and velour shirts. It’s time to groove, baby,
.Paak’s raps in an wide smile that shows off his beautiful teeth. Of course, we aren’t in the studio to actually know how he delivers his lines but there’s a warmth to how the slight hoarseness in his voice grips the groovy production that he frequents. “King James” magnifies this intensity on funk, with the shoulder-bopping beat bringing the listener back to the beach shores of the 1970s. There are no phones around, no MacBooks, no annoying smartwatches that people are using to talk to virtual assistants. Just you and the laughs of the crowd around you, soaking in the sun on a warm day in spring. On the track, .Paak shows love to basketball elite Lebron James for his work for the African American community. He also takes the opportunity to acknowledge some problematic issues in the country such as the possible erection of a border wall and the response to the kneeling of Colin Kaepernick.
“King James” packs the excitement for Ventura. .Paak took to Twitter yesterday to divulge to fans more details about the coming LP. It’s going to be a concise affair, clocking in at eleven tracks. There are also some surprising features up there from artists such as Brandy, André 3000, Jazmine Sullivan, Nate Dogg, and Smokey Robinson. The album drops on April 12 so it’s right around the corner. In May, .Paak will be embarking on the Best Teef In The Game Tour with his band, the Free Nationals.
Take a listen to the smart, funky tune up above.
If you think seeing the Sweetener Tour is going to be an affecting experience for you, rest assured Ari’s feeling the same way. In a recent letter to fans, she wrote, “about to embark on my third tour and am for sure deep as fuck in my feelings. … i’m just grateful to be here still. and excited to see you. i’m prolly gonna cry a lot.”
She continued, “a few months ago i told my team i wasn’t even in an okay enough place to tour or work at all and my friends, you guys and this music really saved my life and turned everything around. i’m still healing but i feel a lot lighter as of late and i think this is really going to be such a beautiful time. thank god we are doing this.”
So there you have it — Grande is committed to making this tour a beautiful experience, and you can do the same by singing your heart out when she comes through your city. Happy Sweetener Tour, everyone!
For their first musical move of 2019, Rae Sremmurd put on a united front for the Afrojack collab “Sober.” Together with singer-songwriter Stanaj, the guys have crafted a genre-crossing, party-ready tune that fuses hip-hop, pop, and dance, and that really comes alive in the accompanying video.
Released on Friday (March 15), the fast-paced vid finds the four collaborators partying in a futuristic, neon-lit space. Scenes of them turning up are interspliced with trippy images of human-like figures coming together and finding light in one another. As for the song itself, Stanaj handles the hook, which is all about still wanting to be with someone after the bar closes and the alcohol stops flowing: “Never thought we’d be in love, even when we’re sober,” he belts.
Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee, meanwhile, come through with characteristically energetic verses; Swae raps, “Nobody said you had to live a boring life / No typical shit, we switching up the vibes.” Amen to that.
Rae Sremmurd’s appearance on “Sober” comes as the duo appears to be gearing up for an exciting year. In an interview last week, Swae said that their fourth album is on the way, and he’s gearing up to drop a solo album as well. But before that, the guys will join Tyga, Zara Larsson, City Girls, and Lil Baby as performers at MTV Spring Break. Maybe they’ll even have a live performance of “Sober” on deck — anything could happen!
Ariana Grande had to skip the iHeartRadio Music Awards on Thursday night (March 14) to continue prepping for her Sweetener Tour, but she did give fans the next best thing: a pre-recorded performance of the thank u, next standout “needy.”
Grande’s performance came after her Sweetener collaborator Pharrell introduced “needy” as being Ari’s “next big hit.” And judging by her intimate rendition of the echoing number, he may be right. Grande’s feathery vocals were boosted by a gorgeous (and all-female!) strings section, and, to absolutely no one’s surprise, she basically sounded exactly like the studio version of the song.
Pharrell was also on hand to introduce Grande as the recipient of the Artist of the Year award, commending her for persevering after so much personal turmoil and giving fans “the best work of her career.” He added of her 2018 accomplishments, “Who else could pull off a run like that?”
The singer, for her part, accepted the award in an abbreviated acceptance video, clutching the trophy and saying, “I am so honored. I will sleep with this tonight.”
Ultimately, Grande’s performance of “needy” gives fans a solid teaser of what’s ahead on her hotly anticipated Sweetener Tour, which kicks off on Monday. The wait is almost over!
Taylor Swift made a rare public appearance at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on Thursday night (March 14), and she took the opportunity to poke some fun at all those new album rumors.
The singer was on hand to accept the trophy for Best Tour, honoring her massive Reputation Stadium Tour. After a sweet intro from Maren Morris — who praised Tay’s “electrifying talent” — Swift acknowledged the haters and doubters who wanted to see her fail.
“I think one of the most wonderful things about the way that this whole tour turned out, is that for the entire six months leading up to the first show, every headline that I read about the tour was, ‘This is going to be a massive failure, this is going to be a flop tour,'” recalled the “Delicate” singer, who sparkled in a colorful romper and pink tresses. “And it really did wonders for my self-esteem. It was really great to hear people saying that I was going to be playing to nearly empty stadiums.”
Of course, that was the furthest thing that happened, and Swift explained that people’s predictions mean nothing when there’s an “unforeseeable factor involved.” “And in this case,” she continued, “that unforeseeable factor was my fans. I honestly owe everything in my life to you. … You’re the only reason why this tour wasn’t a massive failure and why it ended up being the highest-selling tour in U.S. history.” (Flex, Tay, flex!)
Before she left the stage, Swift also addressed all that #TS7 speculation by telling her loyal fans, “I love your passion, I love your attention to detail, I love how much you care. I love seeing all the things you’re posting online, and I just want to let you know that when there’s new music, you will be the first to know.”
As stunning as Troye Sivan and Lauv‘s “i’m so tired…” is, the love-scorned bop almost sounded very different. As the guys recounted in an interview with MTV News last month, they originally recorded a bridge for the song that they previewed for fans on Instagram Live, before ultimately scrapping it for the studio version.
Well, guess what? It appears that bridge isn’t lost in the ether after all. On Thursday (March 14), Troye and Lauv released a live, “stripped” version of “i’m so tired…” that features the long-lost bridge in all its dreaminess. In the intimate video, they harmonize over the simple melody, letting their voices melt into one another’s as a sole keyboard backs them.
“Somebody cover up my ears / Somebody save me from my heart / Somebody take me far from here / And rip the speakers out my car,” the bridge begins. “‘Cause I’m ready to love you / Or I’m ready to lose you / But I can’t wait here any longer.”
On Twitter, Lauv hyped up the new rendition of “i’m so tired…” by writing, “me n @troyesivan shot a stripped version of i’m so tired & included the bridge THE ORIGINAL IS SHAKING.” He’s not wrong!
Lauv explained to MTV News last month, “We were on Instagram Live and we played the bridge, so a lot of people are like, ‘release the version with the bridge!'” At the time, the guys also joked that they should get “So Sick” crooner Ne-Yo to hop on the bridge… but this new version definitely suffices with just the two of them.