Cardi B’s New ‘Money’ Video Looks, Well, Like It Cost A Lot Of Money

When Cardi B‘s “Money,” not to be confused with Cardi B’s “Money Bag,” dropped in late October, it was the first taste of new music we heard from Cardi after her debut collection — one of our albums of the year, Invasion of Privacy — dropped in April. And after she’d ascended to utter rap stardom. And after she’d given birth to her daughter, Kulture. It was an Event, and it went hard.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the “Money” video is, likewise, an Event. The biggest, most memeable moment is Cardi breastfeeding what may actually be her daughter in a moment of power for working mothers. In fact, breasts are all over this monumentally expensive-looking video, as is Cardi herself — behind a glass case like a museum artifact, commanding a fleet of highly fashionable women, sitting naked at the piano.

Earlier this week, Cardi appeared in a new segment of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, where the pair sang and danced to her massive hit “I Like It” at a senior center. “I just had a baby and this is how I lost weight,” she says at one point, twisting her torso around to the music. The “Money” video, though, tells a different story, as her moves throughout it must’ve accounted for at least 30 percent of Cardi’s postnatal cardio regimen.

By the end, we’ve taken a detour to pay homage to Cardi’s stripper days, with piles of cash on the stage for full effect, and lingered on her angel-white pair of Beats headphones long enough to get some nice product placement. It’s a hell of a ride.

Watch the dazzling, money-filled “Money” video above.

How SHINee Fans Found Strength In One Another In The Year Since Singer Jonghyun’s Death

By Elizabeth de Luna

In the early evening hours of a Saturday in June, 400 people gathered in silence under an open tent at KCON New York, a convention celebrating the growing global influence of Korean pop culture. At the front of the room, moderator Cortney Marbury cleared her throat. “Before we begin this panel on mental health in K-pop,” she said. “I want to take the first 15 minutes to open up the floor to anyone who wants to share their memories of Jonghyun and SHINee.” A heavy quiet hung over the room until one young woman crept up to the microphone. “SHINee was the first band I ever loved,” she said. “They got me through some really dark moments. I would even say they saved my life.” Heads in the audience nodded in agreement. “So when I saw on Twitter that Jonghyun…” she paused, breathed deeply, and continued, “had killed himself, I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t…” Her voice broke. “It’s been six months and I still think about him every day. No one in my life understands what I’m feeling. Why didn’t we see that he was struggling? What do we do now?”

Over the next two hours, more than 30 fans of influential Korean group SHINee, called “Shawols,” would approach the mic to share similar feelings of grief, confusion, and guilt. Their stories transformed a panel about mental and emotional health into a forum of collective mourning for the death of singer Kim Jonghyun, who died last December at the age of 27. This public outpouring was “completely unexpected but obviously needed,” Marbury said. “It was healing to be vulnerable in a safe space with like-minded people.”

Getty Images

The members of SHINee, from left to right: Onew, Taemin, Jonghyun, Minho, and Key.

Being a K-pop fan outside of Korea can be physically isolating. To support an industry a world away, international Shawols must actively participate in a global digital community, performing almost all of their fan activities — from making friends to waiting patiently for lyric translations — online. Most international Shawols found out about Jonghyun’s death through a personal text, group chat, or tweet. They waited for news to cross time zones, breathlessly refreshing web pages for updates and typing furiously to their friends in other countries looking to make sense of the tragedy.

The recent deaths of American rappers Lil Peep, XXXTentacion, and Mac Miller were heavily covered across Western media, but Shawols didn’t experience the same public mourning. Many expressed that they were unable to properly communicate their pain to family or friends and, without anyone in their life to talk to, buried their sorrow as a means of coping. Kimmie, a Shawol from Georgia, noted that “many fans suppressed their grief because they felt that no one around them understood what they were going through.” It’s no wonder, then, that so many Shawols were openly overwhelmed by emotion at KCON. For the first time, they felt understood.

As a musician, Jonghyun was singular in his ability to write and produce songs for himself, SHINee, and some of K-pop’s biggest artists. As a person, fans describe him as witty, full of life, and compassionate, especially when it came to the struggles of others. Although homosexuality is criminalized in Korea, Jonghyun publicly supported the country’s LGBTQ community. He also was open about his own depressive thoughts in a culture that claims the world’s highest suicide rate among 10-19 year olds. On his nightly radio show “Blue Night,” Jonghyun answered questions from listeners in an attempt to help “set their hearts at rest.” Fans say these displays of empathy made his suicide especially painful. “He was so open with his own struggles,” said What The K-pop’s Amy Leigh, “that when he died, we felt that we lost a champion for ourselves, someone who really understood us.”

Choi Hyuk / Getty Images

The mourning altar outside of a hospital in Seoul in December 2017.

One year later, Shawols are still fighting to support friends continents away, many of whom continue to carry their burden of grief through their daily lives. On Monday evening, Leigh hosted an online memorial broadcast on What The K-pop’s radio station to mark the one-year anniversary of Jonghyun’s passing. It served as a digital memorial service for Shawols who could not make one of more than 40 vigils held across 15 countries and 13 U.S. states throughout the month of December. To understand how the fandom is moving forward, MTV News spoke to six Shawols about how they’ve found strength in one another, online and off, in the year since the idol’s passing.

Warning: detailed descriptions of self-harm, depression, and anxiety.

MADELINE

19, Minnesota

I never felt truly understood as a person until I found SHINee and was able to explore and express myself while connecting with other K-pop fans through my YouTube channel. I was not planning to post a video about how heartbroken I was about Jonghyun’s passing until I realized that, regardless of distance or language, pain and joy are universal emotions and mental health is a universal struggle. Being vulnerable about those things is a superpower.

Courtesy of Madeline

Madeline with her poster from Jonghyun’s first compilation album, The Collection: Story Op. 1.

As international fans, many of us don’t have immediate support or understanding from those around us. I wanted to make a safe space within my corner of the internet to let people know they’re not alone and encourage them to grieve freely. To hear someone say “I feel this way, too,” changes things. So I said, You know what, screw it! I am crying in my room and I am just going to record myself speaking from the heart about what I am going through. I didn’t expect 54,000 people to watch it or 700 of them to comment. People were leaving messages of support, just trying to take care of each other. I think that, in turn, was a way for them to take care of themselves.

In Jonghyun’s case, I think he wanted people to acknowledge the broken parts of him. With that in mind, I ask people how they are a lot more often and give people a lot more space to express themselves. Jonghyun was able to give unconditional love to his members and his fans. That’s something that I always want to emulate through my channel and beyond. It makes me upset to think he thought he didn’t live a life that was impactful. His passing made me realize that everyone leaves a legacy when they die, so it’s OK to give yourself more credit than you think. Regardless of what you achieve, you’re somebody’s child, somebody’s friend. You create a ripple effect.

AURELIJA

27, Lithuania

The day was beautiful and sunny after a recent snowfall. I was in a very good mood and had just made myself some tea when my sister texted me and asked, “Did you hear about Jonghyun?” I dropped everything and went to the internet. I remember reading that he had been found unconscious and kept refreshing the news, hoping that maybe he’d made it to the hospital in time. Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, everything was exploding with rumors but I refused to believe any of them until there was an official statement from someone I could trust. Then, there was an official statement. On Tumblr, some Shawols were harming themselves, and that scared me. I have quite a few Shawol friends around the world, and I messaged every single one of them and said “Whatever it is you’re thinking of doing, don’t. He made his own decision. You cannot do this to yourself.” Thankfully for me, every single one of them replied.

Other fandoms offered their condolences, but one really surprised me. I saw it on Tumblr. The lead vocalist of the group Linkin Park had also committed suicide earlier that year and their fans reached out to Shawols publicly and said, “We know what you’re going through. It’s going to be really hard and we know how painful it is, we’re sending you love and strength.” I was very touched, because our fandoms are so distant. It proved to me that language has no boundaries.

For me, SHINee is love. That’s what they mean to me, and I take a lot of strength from them. They make me want to be a better person, to be a good reflection of a Shawol. Being part of a fandom is almost like being part of a family. You all go through the same emotions together — pride and happiness in the good times, sadness and anxiety in the worst — in very large numbers, all over the world. That’s why, when I saw the thousands of messages from Shawols at Jonghyun’s memorial in Seoul, I said, “This is where our strength is.” The love we wanted to share with each other was immense; it united us.

Courtesy of @aquarieoul

The temporary memorial for Jonghyun in Seoul. Over three months, fans gathered in the space to leave thousands of messages and mementos for the late singer.

Jonghyun’s death made me realize that, as long as you’re breathing, as long as you can get the fuck up and do something, you just have to do it. There are so many people who care about you, there are so many things you have to experience, so many things you have to do, that you can do. I look at the world so differently now. It’s never an option to give up.

CORTNEY

27, Georgia

In 2012, my friend Jasmine and I started a YouTube channel called 2MinJinkJongKey, which is a portmanteau of the names of SHINee’s five members. Our first video was concert footage of SHINee singing “Stand By Me” at Madison Square Garden, and we’ve continued to post SHINee-themed content ever since.

Courtesy of Cortney

After Jonghyun passed, I asked KCON if I could host a panel that would honor his memory and give attendees information about mental health. I was super nervous because I didn’t know how people were going to react to a panel like that. He didn’t die in a car accident; he killed himself. That hits in a totally different way. But as soon as we allowed the audience to share their memories, we saw how badly Shawols needed a safe space to talk. It was hard for some people to share, but it seemed like they could breathe freely again after speaking their truth. Losing Jonghyun was tragic but it’s a tragedy we can learn from. If we can save someone by talking about his suicide, that’s what’s most important.

I, myself, have experienced the same kinds of thoughts that Jonghyun did. In early 2017, I was in a really bad mental place. I planned to attend two of SHINee’s U.S. tour dates and then commit suicide, but something in me changed after seeing them in concert with other Shawols. There is no greater feeling than looking around a room of thousands of people and knowing you’re all there because of your love for the same thing. SHINee and Shawols reignited my fire; I decided I wanted to live.

Courtesy of Cortney

This handout was produced by the organizer of a local memorial Cortney attended in Atlanta, days after Jonghyun’s death. The back includes emotional health resources.

SHINee saved my life, and they continue to set an example for me and other Shawols as we heal. Their strength and vulnerability in the months after Jonghyun’s death helped us pick ourselves up and continue on as a fandom. In that way, they truly fulfilled the meaning of their name, “one who receives the light.” I will always be grateful to them for sharing their light with us.

JOSEPHINE

27, Sweden

In 2011, my first boyfriend cheated on me, and I remember thinking that no one would ever love me again. In that lonely time, I found SHINee and their music. They gave me a new community of online friends from all over the world. I was happy and had a reason to live again. I became an admin for SHINee fan pages and groups on Facebook, and sometimes stayed up chatting with other Shawols until five in the morning. To this day, Shawols are some of the best people I know. I found a new family in them.

I saw the news that Jonghyun had killed himself on Facebook and remember praying that it was a cruel joke. I stared at the screen for the longest time before I managed to click the link to the news report. The rest of the day is a blur. It felt weird to be so sad about someone I didn’t know in real life; it felt like a member of my family had died, like a part of my life and hope was gone. I don’t have any friends in real life that like SHINee or K-pop, so I went online to Facebook and YouTube. Shawols were there for each other, even from across the world. Everyone felt the same pain and most of us didn’t have people in our lives who could understand why we were heartbroken. I had been feeling depressed for a while before Jonghyun died, but I lost my strength to fight that day.

Courtesy of Josephine

Josephine’s tattoo matches one Jonghyun got to honor his second studio album, Poet|Artist, which was released posthumously on January 23, 2018.

Just last week, I reached out for professional help and will have my first meeting on the one year anniversary of his death. I don’t know if that’s a positive sign or a cruel joke from the universe. I got his neck tattoo on my own neck as a tribute to him. It feels like I have a piece of him with me and gives me strength to not give up. I know Jonghyun didn’t want to die. He wanted the pain to go away and didn’t get the help he needed. I am getting that help and will fight every day to get better, to keep living for him and the other members of SHINee, and to make them proud.

PEACE

20, Maryland

Around this time last year, I was going through a hard time with my mental health. A verbally abusive relationship had put me in bad depressive state, and I had distanced myself from the things that made me happy. The morning Jonghyun died, I was on the train to work in D.C. and saw a message about his hospitalization in a Twitter group chat. Rumors on Twitter spread so fast these days, so I scrolled through my timeline to see if what I was hearing was true. I didn’t see official news, just tweets saying “I’m so sorry to Shawols.” I hopped on Instagram and saw YouTubers and Korean celebrities posting messages about his passing. It was then that I realized I was crying and that everyone on the train was staring at me.

After that day, I pushed his death out of my mind until forcing myself to process it, for the sake of my mental health, several weeks later. I became a Shawol after watching Cortney and Jasmine’s SHINee reaction videos on their YouTube channel 2MinJinkJongKey, so it felt right to me to view their video about Jonghyun’s passing. Watching them talk about it was the closest I had come to speaking to another person about my grief.

I tried to participate in a group chat where Shawols spoke openly about their mental health. There had been a outbreak of people wanting to kill themselves in the community, so I was trying to be there for others. In the end, though, I was still not in a safe mental place and had to leave those chats, too. There’s only so much you can express in a digital forum like that. It was only when my Shawol friend Madeline gave me a call that I physically spoke with someone about how I was feeling and began to heal.

Courtesy of Peace

A supportive group chat message from a Shawol.

To this day, I haven’t shared what I went through with my parents. I’m thankful that I had Shawols to support me instead.

KIMMIE

40, Georgia

I am a bit older than most K-pop fans. I’m married and have three children who love the genre. That shared interest has brought us closer. Before discovering SHINee, I had been in a depressive rut for a long time. Suddenly, I was happy again and making lasting friendships with other Shawols, in addition to connecting with my kids.

Courtesy of Kimmie

Kimmie’s family dog, Jamong. “Jamong” means “grapefruit” or “short-legged person” and was a nickname given to Jonghyun by SHINee members Onew and Key.

I especially identified with Jonghyun. When you have depression, you can recognize depression. I listened to his nightly radio show “Blue Night” every single day for three years. He felt like a brother, like a friend; it’s a connection that’s difficult to explain. When he died, I went through a period of shock. When somebody brings that much light into your life, especially after such a dark period, you don’t know what to do when they are gone. My work suffered, and I ended up seeking therapy and was diagnosed with PTSD. I have been very open about my grief — it’s OK to feel those things when someone you care about passes away. I was lucky that my family understood. My kids and I spoke about how it affected us, and my husband brought me Kimchi stew in one hand and a box of Kleenex in the other when I was in the depths of my emotions.

It hit many of my Shawol friends hard, too. I stayed active on social media to be there for others in the community and was worried when some of them disappeared for a while. The cruel irony of online friendships in that you form relationships with people around the world but have no way of getting in touch with them if they don’t respond to your messages. Luckily for me, they did eventually write me back.

Courtesy of Kimmie

Kimmie’s tattoo (which reads, “You did well, Jonghyun”) is a phrase commonly used by Shawols in messages of mourning. It’s said in response to a line from Jonghyun’s suicide note: “Just tell me I’ve done well.”

During that time, SHINee served as the main source of strength for us to move forward. In February, I attended the group’s concerts at Tokyo Dome. I had never been out of the country before, but I felt the need to be there. Those shows allowed us to process the tragedy as a community. It was the saddest event I have ever been to, but it was comforting to be with other people who were feeling the same way. When I inevitably began to cry, a sweet little Japanese Shawol standing next to me put his hand on my shoulder and asked, in his best English, “Are you OK?” Later, when he was crying, I gave him my tissues. These are the kinds of beautiful people that SHINee and Jonghyun brought into my life.

Though we miss him, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have loved him.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, there are ways to get help. Find resources at www.halfofus.com or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK for a confidential conversation.

Sasha Sloan Tells Us How She Wrote ‘Older,’ A Sad But Hopeful Song About Divorce

On Instagram, 23-year-old singer and songwriter Sasha Sloan is @sadgirlsloan. Her two EPs are titled Sad Girl and Loser. Before she dropped the latter at the end of November, she posted a steely selfie with the caption, “my ep comes out in less than a week i hope it doesn’t suck lol.” That self-deprecation is integral to her persona, likely both a natural extension of her actual personality (low-key and pensive, but friendly) and the fact that she first gained exposure through a viral Reddit photo where she was the butt of the joke.

Aided by a strategically placed SoundCloud link in the comments, that online fame led to songwriting opportunities in Los Angeles and eventually a chance for her to showcase her own voice. A few years (and day jobs at a coffee shop and a gym) later, she’s helped write songs by Louis Tomlinson, Steve Aoki, Tinashe, and Charli XCX. Perhaps most notably, Camila Cabello’s “Never Be the Same,” which she also worked on, blends the lyrical vulnerability and skeletal beat found on her own tracks. But it’s the midpoint of Loser — a plaintive, confessional piano ballad called “Older” — that shines a most direct light onto the person lurking behind those songwriting sessions, winking album covers, and tweets like “who’s coming to see me in march?? plz come so my self esteem doesn’t get lower than usual lmao.”

“Older” doesn’t package any of its sentiments with a quick “jk.” Instead, Sloan opens it starkly in medias res: “I used to shut my door while my mother screamed in the kitchen.” The verses bring the song’s real-life inspiration, the dissolution of her parents’ marriage, sharply into focus. Before long, though, Sloan adds her own found wisdom on the chorus, proclaiming, “The older I get, the more that I see / My parents aren’t heroes, they’re just like me.”

“I’ve been trying to write that song for a really long time,” Sloan recently told MTV News. “I’ve always been trying to write about my parents’ divorce because it’s such a crucial part of my life, but I never wrote it right. It was always too bitter.” One listen to “Older” reveals the opposite: a careful, loving study of a messy situation, viewed both from the center of the storm and from a safe distance years later. Here’s how it came together.

Xavier Guerra/MTV News

A Joint And A Hotel Room

It began in a hotel room in Germany. Sloan and her pal Danny Silberstein had just secured a joint. “We smoked it, and he just started playing this guitar riff,” she said. “I was like, whoa, that’s really dope. I feel like writing right now.” In about 10 minutes, the pair had etched out the song’s first verse, a pre-chorus, and its main hook in the chorus. Sloan typically starts writing lyrics, then works on the rest of the song, ensuring she’s constructing a good story.

With “Older,” the story was simple and sad. Her impending 24th birthday got her thinking about how her “very foreign” father (“he’s kind of like Borat”) had watched her mother give birth to her at that age. She thought about how her mother worked toward getting advanced degrees while trying to raise her. And she built a song around it with Danny.

“We both looked at each other, really emotional. I was like, I think I really like this, but I can never tell if it’s good,” she said. The only thing to do was wait a while.

From Voice Memo To Finished Version

Armed with a demo recording from the hotel room, Sloan was in no rush to finish the song. In fact, spending even a few minutes with her reveals that she’s not in much of a rush to do most things. She takes her time walking around a room, moving deliberately. But she knows when to strike. “I’m the master of ‘it’s done,'” she said. “I’ll spend time on lyrics, but if I get something I love, I don’t second guess it. You always have that feeling when it’s not totally there yet, and you push through that.”

Sloan called Danny to her place back home to smoke hookah and work on refining it at their own speed. She estimates it took about two months, with most of the time spent narrowing down the lyrics to the second verse. Once it felt right, she enlisted her producer, frequent Major Lazer collaborator King Henry. “I finish a song and I hand it off to a producer like, make it work,” she said. When she sings it live, her crowds almost always connect with it. She takes that as a good sign.

Breaking The Rules

In its final form, “Older” cycles through melancholic piano chords and Sloan’s solemn but wise voice, delivering the story taken from her own life. Despite her past work with other artists, it wouldn’t have made sense coming from anyone else, and she seems convinced that “pop singers don’t want” such specificity anyway. Early in her career, an A&R bigwig told her the “pop rules” she was to adhere to during songwriting sessions: No songs about growing old; only songs about dancing and being young forever. She appreciates the twist of “Older” resonating as it has.

Perhaps predictably, Sloan doesn’t necessarily feel the thrust of the industry machine toward making a proper album any time soon. Too much pressure, she said, so maybe another EP, or maybe some further tinkering with her own sound. Whatever she wants, really. In the meantime, she’s played “Older” for her mom, now an English teacher, who lovingly labeled it “realistic fiction.” She doesn’t talk to her dad much, but she feels like her music has brought them closer together.

“‘Older’ is also just an appreciation song to them, maybe in the most back-handed way of all time. But it was, OK, I get what you did for me now,” she said. “I get to live a pretty fucking dope life now because of that.”

Albums Of The Year: The Magic Of Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour

The center of Kacey Musgraves‘ dazzling Golden Hour, an album you will be listening to for the rest of your life, hardly lasts more than a minute. On its fifth song, “Mother,” she wanes poetic over a lonely piano about shouldering the weight of the world. “I’m just sitting here,” she sighs, “thinkin’ bout the time that’s slipping, and missing my mother.”

Then: “And she’s probably sitting there, thinkin’ bout the time that’s slipping, and missing her mother.”

It’s an expanding seed of nostalgia that makes anyone feel impossibly small, one that stunningly captures the very essence of love and loss, the unyielding march of time, life and the stifling insignificance of it all. It’s Golden Hour‘s quietest moment, one that underlines the album’s biggest question: What do you do when you fear the worst is coming?

“I’m the kinda person who starts gettin’ kinda nervous when I’m havin’ the time of my life,” Musgraves confesses on “Happy & Sad,” struggling to be content with a good feeling. But Golden Hour is not dragged down in its uncertainty. In fact, it’s remarkably bright, a sprawling landscape of psychedelic piano and guitar, rooted in country with fusions of bluegrass, pop, and disco, never raising its voice and hardly altering its soft tempo across 13 songs. Its weaving motifs — of flowers and magic, of rivers and skies, of blinding color, glowing light and the darkness of the unknown — lace it together tightly, building a timeless encapsulation of feeling everything and nothing all at once, of feeling everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

On Golden Hour, Musgraves very gently pines over biggest, tiniest, most patient, and urgent moments, all with an assured air of peace and acceptance. Whether she’s ditching a beau on “Space Cowboy” (“When a horse wants to run, ain’t no sense in closing the gate”), or falling in love again on “Butterflies” (“Now I remember what it feels like to fly”), there is no one feeling stronger than the other. The result is a lush depiction of our often awful planet and the still-wonderful things within it. It’s hopeful without being naive, melancholy without inspiring pity. Even as it weaves through moments of questioning existence, the album’s title track — written as a love letter to her husband, fellow country singer Ruston Kelly — is its most full-throated acceptance of the way things are in the wake of what has been and what will be. “You set my world on fire,” she acknowledges, “and I know, I know everything’s gonna be alright.”

Small and fearful as we are, Golden Hour realizes that nothing ever erodes the reality of true love, of finding peace within ourselves, of marveling at just how beautiful this place really is. On the floating “Oh, What a World,” Musgraves is awestruck by the magical fate that brought us here, but plants her boots firmly in front of the one she shares her space with. “These are real things,” she affirms of the love and feelings beating in her heart, fleeting and ethereal as they may be. “Oh, what a world,” she proclaims. “Don’t wanna leave,” she repeats, knowing that at some point in time, we all must.

JoJo Just Rerecorded ‘Leave (Get Out)’ And ‘Baby It’s You’ For Our Nostalgic Thrill

JoJo‘s Instagram bio reads, “!!!!!!!!!,” and that’s exactly how her fans are feeling right now. The singer is celebrating her 28th birthday today (December 20), but she’s the one giving us the best present ever: new music. Or, more accurately, old music made brand new again.

On Thursday afternoon, JoJo began flooding her social media accounts with rerecorded snippets of her beloved throwback hits. Among the batch are fan-favorite tracks from her 2004 debut album, JoJo (“Baby It’s You,” “Homeboy,” “Weak,” “Never Say Goodbye,” and, of course, “Leave (Get Out)”), as well as 2006’s The High Road (“Let It Rain,” “Like That,” “A Little Too Late,” and the title track).

To hear a taste of what she’s whipped up, check out these killer snippets from “Leave” and “A Little Too Late,” featuring her grown-up vocals:

JoJo’s creative birthday gift is a welcome treat for fans, but it’s also a way for her to prove she’s triumphing against her nagging label issues. Her first album is not available on streaming services because of her former label, Blackground Records, which kept the singer locked in a seven-year contractual bind. In 2016, she vented in a Facebook post, “To say I’m sad and frustrated that this album is no longer available on iTunes and Spotify because of my previous label is a massive freaking understatement. That was such an important time in my life and set the foundation for the career I’m building brick my brick.”

Over the past few years, JoJo managed to release a few mixtapes and EPs, and eventually dropped her third album, Mad Love, via Atlantic Records in 2016. Just as she used those projects to work around Blackground’s road blocks, she’s doing the same thing by rerecording JoJo and The High Road. And our nostalgia-loving hearts are forever grateful.

Meek Mill’s ‘Trauma’ Video Paints A Cold, Vivid Picture Of His Life

Meek Mill has returned bigger and bolder since his release from prison earlier this year. The rapper’s recently released album, Championships, serves as the epilogue to a tough chapter in his life marked by legal battles, and at the heart of the project is “Trauma.” On Thursday (December 20), Meek released that track’s unnerving visual, which paints a cold picture of the traumatic experiences he’s faced.

In the Will Ngo-directed clip, a young Meek (played by his own son Papi) writes a letter to his deceased father. The Philly MC also appears in the present, reflecting on his vivid memories of street life and all the trauma it encompasses: drugs, violence, police raids, and even death. And, as he raps, the struggle is far from over.

“How many times you send me to jail to know that I won’t fail?” he asks. “Invisible shackles on the king, ’cause shit, I’m on bail / I went from selling out arenas, now shit, I’m on sale / Them cold nights starting to feel like hell.”

The video for “Trauma” follows Meek’s previously released clip for “Intro.” Both tracks appear on Championships, which arrived on November 30 and debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart. Next up, Meek will keep celebrating his wins on a U.S. tour kicking off in February 2019.

Travis Scott Says He And Kylie Jenner Aren’t Married Yet — But It’ll Happen ‘Soon’

Very few people had a better 2018 than Travis Scott. The 26-year-old rapper’s third album, Astroworld, hit No. 1, propelled by the song-of-the-year contender “Sicko Mode,” featuring Drake. He threw a hometown festival in Houston where carnival rides were just as integral to the performance as the music, and took those mechanical feats on tour with him. His girlfriend (or wife?), Kylie Jenner, gave birth to their daughter, Stormi.

It only makes sense that the artist’s year would conclude with a probing new Rolling Stone cover story, where he makes sure to spend serious time talking about his love for Jenner, an avowed fan of both Tim Burton and Wes Anderson movies. “Me, I hate cameras,” Scott says. “I don’t like people in my business. Going into a situation like that, you’d think it would be a whole public fest. You never know. ‘Maybe she’s into all the photos, or worried about this and that.’ And then you realize motherfuckers is normal as possible. I realized what really mattered to her, which is none of this shit. She’s the coolest motherfucker of all time.”

In it, he talks about originally hoping Stormi would be a boy and the subsequent elation that came from becoming a father nonetheless. (“Life is fire, bro,” he says.) There’s a great scene where he nearly crashes his Lamborghini trying to meet Jenner before she takes off on a plane. (He makes it; they eat pizza.) His inner circle remains close, including a videographer named White Trash Tyler and a high-school friend, who recollects Scott “freestyling, clowning, roasting on everybody at the cafeteria lunch tables.” It’s vivid.

The piece is centered around a visit Scott makes back to Houston, to his grandmother’s house. He talks about letting fans rush up onstage when he plays, something he says he does to honor his brother, Marcus, a huge music fan with autism. “I bring these kids up out of heart, because I know my brother would freak the fuck out if one of his favorite artists invited him up,” Scott says. “I’m thinking of Marcus every time.”

And because it’s 2018, he talks briefly about Kanye West in light of his mentor’s wild, potentially toxic year supporting President Trump: “He’s definitely hit me up about it, and I’ve told him, ‘Man, you got kids looking up to you, feel me?'”

There’s also a great nugget revealing James Harden contacted Scott’s manager to see if they could push back Scott’s headlining set at Astroworld Fest so he could see it after the Rockets game that night. (He made it for “Sicko Mode.”) And naturally, there’s talk about what’s next in his relationship with Jenner, to whom he says he’s definitely not married yet: “We’ll get married soon. I just gotta sturdy up — I gotta propose in a fire way.”

Read the full story and take the ride over at Rolling Stone.

Albums Of The Year: ‘Dirty Computer’ and The Liberation of Janelle Monáe

By Clarkisha Kent

On April 26, 2018, Janelle Monáe came out as pansexual. I remember because I practically sh-t myself as I frantically let one of my editors know that I wanted to write about it. I needed space to digest what this announcement meant, considering that it had come only one day before the release of her third album and “emotion picture,” Dirty Computer.

What is a Dirty Computer? As Ms. Monáe told Beats 1’s Ebro Darden in April: “Songs one, two, three, four — that’s the reckoning. That’s the sting of being called n—-r for the first time by a white person,” she said. “Feeling the sting of being called bitch by a man for the first time. Feeling the sting of being called queer or a f—-t by homophobic people. It’s a reckoning and dealing with what it means to be called a Dirty Computer.”

Those first songs — “Dirty Computer”, ‘Crazy, Classic, Life”, “Take A Byte”, and “Jane’s Dream” — stay with you, adorning your ears with defiant guitar chords and bombastic synthesizers. Dirty Computer‘s first act serves as one’s reckoning with self and how one’s self contends with the world around them — a world that might not readily accept them. The subsequent act contends with what this reckoning is like when you are an “other.” And the final act wrestles with the fear that accompanies you when you have to confront that reckoning with your own truth.

This spirit of reckoning, of simultaneous anger at having had to hide oneself and of a cheeky jubilation that one no longer has to hide, is what sixth track “Django Jane” is all about. “We ain’t hidden no more, moonlit n—a, lit n—a!” is what Jane declares (in obvious nods to Monáe’s turns in critical and commercial smash hits Hidden Figures and Moonlight). And in the same song, she reminds us of the lines she’s had to toe her entire career: “Remember when they used to say I look too mannish?” It’s a callback to and callout of the sheer confusion many expressed for Monáe’s earlier affinity for nicely-pressed suits. “Make Me Feel”, an incredibly funky song where you can practically feel the presence of her mentor and friend Prince, serves a similar purpose here, too, albeit in a more colorful fashion. In a vibrant display of sexual freedom and openness, Monáe sheds the constraints of her former persona and, at one point, humorously shuffles between sexy love interest Ché (Jayson Aaron) and even sexier love interest Zen (Tessa Thompson) under what has become lovingly known as “bisexual lighting.”

In short, this is where Monáe re-introduces herself as… herself.

Which is perhaps the biggest statement she could possibly make thus far. It serves as a nod to her Black and queer fans that we should give ourselves permission to be ourselves, but also as an admission that she was afraid to give herself that space in the past, on previous albums like The Electric Lady and The ArchAndroid where we saw her adopt the alter ego of Cindi Mayweather. Monáe talked at length about how Cindi, her android persona, represented the “other,” how she greatly related to being “the other,” and how it helped her cope with entering her chosen industry as a different type of “other.” An “other” that defies, while paying homage, to others that preceded her. It makes her switch here, in Dirty Computer, that much more enthralling. Monáe reintroduces herself here as Janelle (or, rather, Jane 57821, per her emotion picture), someone who defied all your expectations coming into the industry; a queer Black woman who loves women, men, and everyone in between, and the same woman who probably inspired you to look up “pansexual” in the dictionary for the first time in your life.

Still, that isn’t the last impactful thing Monáe does with this album. There’s something about Monae’s contentment with the fact that she is a Dirty Computer, someone who society has deemed too eclectic to function and has decided that she should be “cleaned.” Yet, she’s still here. She persists. This persistence, to exist as one is, is also Monáe’s unique vision for America; she says just as much in “Americans” when she sings “love me for who I am,” a message compounded upon by the line “I’m not America’s Nightmare, I’m the American Dream” that she belts in “Crazy, Classic, Life.” It illustrates, once again, that all her marginalizations, differences, and everything that makes her “dirty,” is uniquely, painfully, and inseparably American.

To put it plainly, Dirty Computer is a masterpiece. I don’t use that word lightly, but what else do you call such a full body of work? It uses Monáe’s love for science fiction to gift us poignant visions of contemporary love, self-love, and acceptance infused with just the right touch of Afrofuturism, but also offers a harrowing warning of what our futures may hold if we don’t fight people like our country’s current president, a man who has bragged about his ability to “grab [women] by the p*ssy.” What do you call an album that declares that if we are boxed in and made to abandon the most amazing parts of ourselves — our Blackness, our queerness, or non-binaryness, etc. — in order to live a conforming life, then that life is not worth living at all? That to forget ourselves, and what makes us special, would be to essentially die?

You call that album a masterpiece.

Janelle Monáe didn’t just use this album as an opportunity to liberate herself from the limitations that the industry had placed her one. In liberating herself, Monáe liberated many of us as well. And thus changed the course of her career, as well as pop culture, forever.

Tove Lo Worked With ASL Interpreters To Make Accessible Music Videos For Her Entire Album

Tove Lo just made 2017’s Blue Lips more accessible to deaf communities by dropping a playlist of American Sign Language interpretations of every song on the album.

In an announcement posted to her social media, the “Talking Body” singer explains her partnership with Amber G Productions, an agency for ASL interpreters at live music events. Each of the 12 ASL videos videos features an interpreter performing the songs from the album.

Back in 2015, the founder of Amber G Productions, Amber Galloway Gallego, interpreted for Tove Lo at Lollapalooza. After multiple of her interpretations at the festival went viral online, MTV News spoke with Galloway Gallego about the importance of accessibility for deaf music fans.

“[Artists] have to care about their deaf community, too,” Galloway Gallego said in 2015, “because those are also ticket-buyers; they are also fans. The deaf concertgoers, they want to also have access.”

And while Galloway Gallego herself does not interpret in any of the Blue Lips ASL videos, her agency’s vision that “music is more than words” is clearly evident in the playlist. The performances are emotional, sensual and exemplary of Tove Lo’s musical style, not just her lyrics.

Check out the full playlist, and Tove Lo’s announcement in ASL, below.

Watch Cardi B Preview A Hard-Hitting New Song: ‘Guess Who, Bitch?’

Amid all the, uh, invasion of privacy in her life lately, Cardi B has blessedly channeled her frustration into new music. The “Money” rapper has been hard at work on the follow-up to her debut album, and late Tuesday night (December 18), she took to Instagram to reveal a taste of what’s to come.

In the clip, Cardi lic-syncs along to an unreleased song in front of a soundboard. Unsurprisingly, her bars are as vicious as they are witty: “I’m pressed pressed pressed pressed pressed / Cardi don’t need more press / Kill ’em all put them hoes to rest / Walk in bulletproof vest / Please tell me who she’s gone check, Murder C and Cardi made a mess / Pop pop, guess who bitch? / Pop pop, guess who bitch?”

At this point, there are headlines about Cardi pretty much every day, so it makes sense that she’d reference her growing notoriety in her new music. Putting her marketing savvy to use, she also tagged Fashion Nova, the clothing company she has a collection with.

Cardi’s new clip comes after a weekend full of drama — her estranged husband, Offset, crashed her headlining set at L.A.’s Rolling Loud, making a grand gesture to try to win her back. It didn’t seem to work, but Cardi heroically came to Offset’s defense anyway.

Meanwhile, there’s no confirmation about where Cardi’s hard-hitting new verse may end up, but here’s hoping we’ll hear the full track soon.