Masego Is A ‘Textbook Gemini’ Who Creates A New Song From Scratch Every Night Onstage

By Kat Bein

Soul and jazz have always been at the foundation of American musical greatness, but Masego wants to put those roots under a bright spotlight. He’s a tall, thin man with a glowing spirit who cut his teeth singing and playing in church in Virginia, but it was the internet that exposed him to the rhythms that would give his songs a modern edge, and it also opened the doors to a lot of cool collaborations. His debut studio album, 2018’s Lady Lady, is turning a new generation onto the subtleties and sensualities of his self-proclaimed “trap house jazz” flavor.

The singer, songwriter, and producer is one lively band leader, and he brought his merry band of musicians to the stage at III Points festival in Miami over the weekend. While jazz legend Herbie Hancock’s notes still echoed from a previous main stage performance, Masego proved the genre has a bright future with rowdy sensualism on the secondary main stage inside warehouse doors. MTV News caught up with Masego just before his show to learn how he stays humble in the face of growing popularity and how music is a window to the world.

MTV News: Have you spent much time in Miami before?

Masego: Yeah, but usually I come do the show, [and then] leave. I’ve been for Art Basel a little bit so I’ve seen a bit of the graffiti. My band’s walking around here somewhere. They schedule things to fit in between. I’m “cool” now, so everything is just whatever to me, but I bring people that have never been anywhere so they’re like, “Yo, I’ve been researching this for 20 years.” That excitement is healthy around me, because it keeps you wack and I wanna be wack. It’s a better thing to be. My drummer, he knows about all the eating spots everywhere. I do old man things by default, just stay in the hotel room, eat oatmeal, and drink tea.

MTV News: Why do you think it’s gotten to that place where you feel less like you want to go out?

Masego: I started out so green and then I matured pretty fast. I’m now functioning in an “ignorance is bliss” type of way. It’s certain things I just don’t wanna know. I don’t want to meet certain people. I don’t want to know the backstory behind some of the world I’ve created for myself. I super love music. I love hanging on my band. I love traveling. I love nature and botanical gardens. I don’t watch the news too much, and I don’t look too deep into bad news about artists. Unintentionally, when you come somewhere a lot, you get into the motions. I think the beauty of bringing other people around you makes you experience it differently. This is my fifth time in Miami, but now it’s my favorite time because I brought my band with me. It defeats the “coolness” that I developed over the years.

MTV News: Talk to me about these bandmates. How long have you known them? Are they from your hometown?

Masego: It’s a combination of virtual [meetings] and having physical jam sessions in Virginia. Some people would just come to my jam sessions and I’d be the host. I can start an idea like that, and musicians’ drums usually don’t knock. They’re usually trash. My drums aren’t trash. I would just combine that talent with something that was better rhythmically — I thought — and that would just attract a lot of people.

I was the first, I think, in my area that kind of got hip to SoundCloud and how it was such a nice community. The drum production there was amazing. The garage from the U.K. and all that? I was so into that, and I would attract people trying to push their musicianship. And then virtually, I would collab a lot over email. Eventually — I’m real random — I just caught up my drummer, who lives in North Carolina, and I was like, you wanna come on tour for a couple days? And he was like, “Yeah,” and I just never let him go home.

MTV News: You mentioned SoundCloud. This idea of sourcing ideas on the Internet — I saw you sourced your latest release artwork from fans.

Masego: I’m a textbook Gemini. I just need variety and I’m random. This woman put me onto that “Radio” song while I was in Australia. I just wrote to it one day, recorded it one day, and I just felt like putting this out. I forgot to make artwork for it because I was moving so fast, and I was like, let me just see if my fans want to do something. I was expecting a bunch of stick drawings and I was gonna make a funny thing. These were like drawn-out, colored, thought out. I had maybe like 24 usable ones. I’m going to keep on dropping alternative art works for a little bit. It’s just fun. With music, we’re so used to the way it’s “supposed” to be done, and I love to just not do that and put more power in the artist and the fans’ hands, because that’s really what’s all about.

MTV News: Where are you creatively right now?

Masego: I’m really just embracing the jam session. I just did like five hours in the studio with my band. We made about 17, 18 songs. It’s something new each time. When I was at J. Cole’s camp, I was walking around taking in all the energy, and then little haikus came to me, little four-bar lines. I came up with all these hooks, and I just stored them in my notebook, and it made writing songs lot easier because I would go back to it. I like creating that way. I love listening to SoundCloud, freestyling a song over it, and then recreating the music over top of that. Voice memoing, a bunch of stuff. I’m just reading my journals, seeing how I feel about certain things and re-approaching how I’ve made music.

I make a song from scratch every show, just to, again, stop the mundaneness of shows. It’s mood-based, because if I feel like giving this guy a solo or changing the song order, that’s what I do. My lighting guy, he’s stressed out.

You got to just continue to make music. What’s the next story you want to tell? And always understand that someone’s gonna start way earlier in your path than you want them to, and that’s OK. Though I almost don’t even want to sing certain songs, I understand the importance of it. It’s almost like you’re an actor or an actress. You dip into that character for that minute and a half or two minutes and then jump back into this one. It helps my mother, too, when I’m talking nasty in my songs, like, “I was just being an actor, like Will Smith.”

A$AP Rocky On Testing And His Rumored Tyler, The Creator Collab: ‘I Was Bullshitting’

By Kat Bein

Miami’s witchiest hour got a lot prettier when A$AP Rocky rushed the Mind Melt main stage at III Points over the weekend. The three-night music festival saw headline performances from Erykah Badu, SZA, and Rocky’s musical bestie Tyler, the Creator, who appeared onstage with A$AP Sunday night (February 17) to scream through energetic renditions of “Potato Salad” and “Who Dat Boy.”

Rocky’s set may have been the wildest moment of the weekend. “Distorted Records,” “Praise The Lord (Da Shine),” and more tracks from his latest album, Testing, brawled through the speakers, but it was the second half of the show, with absolute bangers from “Wild For The Night” to A$AP Ferg’s “Plain Jane,” that incited the most gruesome mosh pits.

The New York City rapper is truly a madman with a high-art addiction. MTV News caught up with the high-fashion rapper and “Babushka” enthusiast backstage before his set to hear about Testing and his favorite new fashion accessory, as well as whether or not that WANGSAP collaboration is still a thing.

MTV News: Welcome to Miami. You’ve been here awhile, right? You arrived Friday to play with Tyler, the Creator.

A$AP Rocky: Yeah, that’s a while for me, man, because, Miami is the fast life. Technically I spent about – I don’t know how many dog years. I spent about two Flacko years here.

MTV News: Tell me about your history with Florida. You have Kodak Black on your last album, Testing.

A$AP Rocky: Yeah man, shout out to Kodak. I always wanted to work with him, but aside from that, I wanted to put him on a song that people weren’t used to hearing him on, like, the textures. I don’t make songs. I don’t make clothes. I don’t make music. I make textures. Everything is a texture and a feeling, right? I mean it’s equivalent to it at least, and opposed to having him rapping and trying to go for a No. 1 hit, I had him crying on the phone, explaining his plight, his devastation while on the jail phone.

MTV News: Yeah. It’s really intense.

A$AP Rocky: It’s just him explaining and expressing how his child was taken away from him, and how he was stripped of his dignity and freedom. People, they just want to hear me talk about how I’ve got 100 bitches. How I fucked 100 dude’s bitches all day. That being said, Florida harvests a lot of great artists. You’ve got to pick and choose who you want to represent you, or who can help complement your body of work.

MTV News: I want to hear the story about you using “Porcelain,” the Moby sample. That album was huge for me when it came out, and that’s not a pop-off song.

A$AP Rocky: We reached out to Moby, and once we finally got the OK from him, he re-sang the vocals. We replayed the instruments. He’s also in the end of the “A$AP Forever” video. I feel like his cameo being so short, it was that artistic value like we’ve been talking about — [as] opposed to just, let my nuts hang and saying, “Oh look, I got Moby in the video.” Just like how people don’t know Lauryn Hill played a big part in the last track on that album with Frank Ocean. It’s not just getting it cleared. It’s people re-singing stuff and all that. It’s appreciated. Shout out Dean Blunt. Shout out Hector Delgado, man. Shout outs Frank Ocean and shout out Miss Lauryn Hill.

MTV News: That’s interesting. I was talking with my boyfriend the other day about how Dr. Dre will create beats out of samples and then get musicians to replay those samples.

A$AP Rocky: I think it just brings some type of depth to it. It’s already deep, but when you really think about how much effort – it took a lot just to make these tracks. You could easily just sing or rap on a two-track or instrumental and call it a song.

MTV News: When people put their human element into whatever it is, whether listeners realize they’re registering it or not, that energy is there.

A$AP Rocky: What you get is what you manifest. What you manifest is what you get.

MTV News: What are you manifesting right now? What’s up with the “Babushka” track? I saw a kid out in the crowd, all day he’s been wearing it. People are shouting it out.

A$AP Rocky: I want to encourage more people to wear babushkas. Babushka boy.

MTV News: What inspired it in your own life?

A$AP Rocky: When I got this scar right here. I was skateboarding. I was on the half pipe. Just so you know, I’ve got a new story for everyone who I tell about this scar.

MTV News: So it’s shrouded in mystery, and now a babushka.

A$AP Rocky: But the babushka came because I didn’t want to reveal the scar yet.

MTV News: What’s going on with your collaborative project with Tyler? Is that still in the works?

A$AP Rocky: Nah man, I was bullshitting. Fuck Tyler [laughs].

MTV News: You did show up to his set on Friday though.

A$AP Rocky: Yeah, we did “Telephone Calls.”

MTV News: Is there anything else you want to say or mention?

A$AP Rocky: Shout outs MTV. I used to be part of the staff over there, so shout outs to my ex-comrades and ex co-workers. Hope everybody’s well over there. Shout out the world, shout out to music lovers and music makers across the board. I just hope I stay pretty forever and my spirit stays beautiful.

MTV News: Inside –

A$AP Rocky: And out!

Shawn Mendes Channels Elvis With A ‘Hound Dog’ Cover, Hip-Thrusting Not Included

Aside from flexing his abs for a new Calvin Klein campaign, male model Shawn Mendes also took some time this weekend to make some sweet music. Or, more accurately, to cover some sweet music. The Canadian crooner was part of the star-studded lineup for NBC’s Elvis All-Star Tribute, which involved a bunch of musicians you’d expect for a tribute to The King — like Blake Shelton and John Fogerty — and a lot that you wouldn’t, including Mendes, Jennifer Lopez, and Post Malone.

All randomness aside, Mendes nailed his solo rendition of Presley’s “Hound Dog,” flexing his falsetto and looking sharp in a red silk jacket. What he lacked in lip-curling and hip-thrusting, he made up for with undeniable charm.

The “In My Blood” singer also joined Shelton, Malone, Carrie Underwood, and Darius Rucker for a version of “If I Can Dream” that was just crazy enough to work. While Mendes put a little growl into his voice, Posty left fans all shook up with his impressive pipes.

The Elvis All-Star Tribute also included performances from Alessia Cara (“Love Me Tender”), Ed Sheeran (“Can’t Help Falling In Love”), and J. Lo (“Heartbreak Hotel”). See all of the performances on NBC’s website.

Kehlani And Dom Kennedy Confront The Ashes Of A Bad Relationship On ‘Nunya’

Kehlani is the complete catch; she is beautiful, has a sharp tongue, and can sing softly enough to calm even the most violent storm. To have her and lose her has to be a fate worse than death. Her latest release is “Nunya,” an angry message to a distraught lover – a morose, indifferent verse from Dom Kennedy is his rebuttal – about leaving her the hell alone. Don’t let Kehlani’s soothing singing style fool you; this is a rant, not a ballad.

“Nunya” is a little slower than the energetic, feisty Kehlani that the world is used to. Even though it’s a little slower and smoother, Kehlani’s lyrics are daggers. Here’s a plot synopsis: before the events of the song, Kehlani was in a relationship with a man who decided to get friendly with other women. After finding out and leaving, she finds someone else and, of course, here comes the bad guy snooping around. The song is a confrontation of sorts, a climax to the boiling frustration that she’s felt from the entire situation.

“You put on a show/’Cause you don’t want the world to know/That you lost a girl who got it on her own/ It’d be good for you to let it go, let it go, let it go,” she sings, drawing blood with each slash of her tongue. It’s clear that her sneaking ex woke up the long-dormant dragon. Kehlani lets her ex know that her new man has more money and, well, girth than him. Kennedy comes in at this point and gives his own perspective on the situation. He acknowledges his wrongdoing and comes to the realization that he messed up. Yeah buddy, you messed up big time.

“Nunya” appears on her upcoming mixtape While We Wait that is set to drop on Friday. The project will also include her previously released tunes “Nights Like This” and “Butterfly.”

Listen to the agency-claiming tune “Nunya” up above.

Tierra Whack Thinks Having No Siblings Makes Her Partner A Monster On ‘Only Child’

Tierra Whack is more than a breath of fresh air in the rap space; she’s an ice-cold sip of water from an artesian well that tastes like, well, water, but is cleaner, smoother, and healthier for the conscience. For her latest endeavor, she’s found a way to tie together two unlikely topics – an unfaithful other, and, surprisingly, having no siblings. Thus comes “Only Child,” an examination of what having no brothers or sisters does to a person’s character.

Whack’s sing-songy voice leaks between the well-worn cracks of hip-hop and R&B, landing firmly in the middle for her refrains, choruses, and random words and phrases of her verses. “Only Child” is darker than the goofy atmosphere, created by the bubbly beat — that blots youthful energy like blotches of paint in the back end — initially lets on.

The tune’s focus is a self-absorbed, narcissistic, only child who refuses to treat the rapping siren right. She slurs her words at times, clearly cuts them at others, as she reveals what’s on her mind to this jerk; of her lengthy list concerns, refusing to defend her honor, giving her syphilis (yikes), and being hypocritical stand out as reasons that we, the audience eavesdropping on her scene-stealing monologue, would want to join her in shaking our heads in shame. “Every move you make, man, I swear it seem suspicious / Lyin’ through your teeth, so I don’t rush to give you kisses” is an especially pointed punch, a gut check that’s as plain, and honest, as a fed-up lover could give.

Many of the criticisms levied at her partner also reveal what she believes an “only child” acts like; they don’t think of anyone but themselves, they can be spiteful, and they refuse to share anything. Of course, not everyone’s like this. Tierra Whack has two younger siblings herself, so maybe something like this comes from her own experiences dealing with others.

This conversation-starting record hopefully means something is around the corner to follow her excellent debut album, Whack World, that dropped in 2018. Her breakout LP consisted of 15 one-minute songs across rap and R&B’s colliding dimensions, throwing aspects of pop culture – both past and present – in a blender. The resulting solution came packaged with a 15-minute film accompaniment that consisted of an explosion of colors, theatrics, and mind-bending originality that collectively announced her as a one to watch.

With the release of “Only Child,” Whack has proven that she’ll always remain in power. Check out “Only Child” – the attack on solo children – above.

The Parlor Mob Let Loose The Dragon Energy In ‘House Of Cards’ Video

The Parlor Mob, a rock outfit from New Jersey that is the first artist signed to Britannia Row Recordings (a label imprint under BMG launched by Frank Ocean’s frequent collaborator Malay), have unveiled a dynamic new video for “House Of Cards” that’s all about the energy, instruments, and camera work. It premiered on MTV today (February 19), but you can catch the clip in full below.

“House Of Cards” came out last year and its fiery energy catapulted it directly into 2019. The accompanying visual, in order to live up to the wide-eyed frenzy of the tune, had to match it in intensity. The good news is that it not only does this but surpasses it.

The video takes place in an empty warehouse, where the exuded energy bounces off the walls like lasers. The five-person collective bounces and swings with an electric groove, the chemistry evident in the collective fierce grin etched across their faces. They aren’t the only ones having a blast performing the hair-raising number; the camera operators are as well, doing their best to give viewers an indication of the thunderous atmosphere. We see a plethora of slo-mo shots, blinking camera cuts, and close-ups of the instruments rattling and shaking as they get pounded into oblivion. It’s like watching a dragon’s nostrils flare and spew out waves of blue flames.

If you need any kind of energy to get you through the day, consume this instead of Red Bull. The band is also prepping to go on tour in April.

Check out the video again up top for that necessary extra shot of adrenaline.

Julia Michaels And Niall Horan Recall The Heights Of Relationship Ecstasy In Corden Duet

Julia Michaels brought Niall Horan to The Late Late Show With James Corden for an immensely soothing performance of “What A Time.” The duo’s chemistry was on full display in the intimate performance of the tune recalling past fiery love.

“What A Time” is all about the memories of a powerful relationship and reminiscing on the better times. On the powerful duet’s chorus, Michaels sings “I think of that night in the park, it was getting dark / And we stayed up for hours / What a time, what a time, what a time,” and it provides the stage backdrop for the experience at Corden. Michaels sits on a park bench traversing the landscape of her memory before Horan comes out and joins in on the intense recollection. The pair dance in and out of each other’s grasps, at times embracing the warmth of the other’s touch and at times preferring to give the audience a taste of the energy radiating from the stage. It ends with a fuzzy hug between the Michaels and Horan that brings the viewer back from the depths of post-relationship stress disorder, putting a lid on a mesmerizing singing and acting performance from the singers.

“What A Time” comes from Micheals’ latest EP, Inner Monologue Part 1 that came out in January. The project also includes her collaboration with Selena Gomez, “Anxiety.” Last year, Michaels’ music appeared in two films – “In This Place” in Ralph Breaks The Internet and “Heaven” in Fifty Shades Freed – and she collaborated with Trippie Redd (“Jump“) and former lovebird Lauv (“There’s No Way“).

Watch the fond performance of “What A Time” above and be prepared to get in your feelings.

Meghan Trainor Used Her Real Wedding Footage For New ‘Marry Me’ Video

Wedding-themed pop music videos are nothing new — everyone from Beyoncé and Mariah Carey to Demi Lovato and P!nk have played blushing brides before. But none have felt quite so intimate and personal as Meghan Trainor‘s new video for the aptly titled Love Train ditty “Marry Me,” which features footage from the 25-year-old’s recent nuptials.

The singer and former Spy Kids star Daryl Sabara tied the knot back in December, and — as captured in the new video — it was quite the lavish affair, featuring more string lights than you’ve ever seen in your life. We see all the familiar staples of a solid wedding video: the bride and groom getting primped and ready, Meghan’s dad walking her down the aisle, she and Daryl sharing their first kiss as husband and wife. Then it’s on to the reception, where roses and disco balls fill the room, Daryl and his groomsmen put on a silly performance, and the newly married couple eventually ditch their formalwear in favor of customized sweats.

All the while, Meghan’s ukulele-backed wedding song — which she actually walked down the aisle to — sets the mood: “‘Cause I love you, wanna give you my whole life / And you love me, you say you want me as your wife.” Awwww!

John Legend Deals With The Horrors Of Daily News In ‘Preach’ Video

John Legend‘s new video is a tough watch that is heavy on both thematic content and grandiose vocals. “Preach” should come with a trigger warning; what you’ll see here isn’t nice stuff, but it’s necessary. If you think that it’s too much after watching it, remember that these kinds of situations are happening every day and all across the United States.

Legend’s bravery enables us to see reenactments of these serious news stories to help us have discussions about what we’re facing and what we can do to collectively facilitate change. Take a look at the video below.

“Preach” is a video that tackles contemporary social issues that come across our Twitter feeds and push notifications. We see Legend in bed with his wife Chrissy Teigen and it becomes clear that the singer feels like something’s just off. Indistinct chatter feels the air before he finally gets up to go and see what the noise is. From there, things get serious.

The video follows four separate stories through its runtime: a mother and daughter separated at the border, a child bringing in a large weapon to school to presumably start a mass shooting (later, we see children running out of a gym), a tense police situation involving white cops and black men that ends with one being shot while another records it on camera, and the funeral of a young black child followed by protests for justice. As these situations play out, Legend sings about the cyclical nature of the news and how these same things keep happening. He talks about the pain being all he sees, so, accordingly, this video is a reflection of that reality.

In January, Legend was one of the only musicians to appear in Lifetime’s documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly that aired in January, applying the same level of social responsibility that exists in “Preach.”

Little Mix’s ‘Think About Us’ Video Stars Butterflies, Shirtless Dudes, And Ty Dolla $ign

Little Mix are singing a song of ice and fire in their new video for “Think About Us.”

Each girl gets her solo shine in the video, beginning with Perrie waking up in a colorful field of butterflies, followed by Jade channeling Queen Elsa in the snow and ice. Jesy and Leigh-Anne, meanwhile, score the steamiest set-ups, cozying up to shirtless dudes as they sing, “You put your hand on my waist / And then you pull me close / Boy, I promise I won’t let go.” The scene was apparently extra-special for Leigh-Anne, as her hunky co-star is IRL boyfriend Andre Gray (she joked, “I mean we’re not used to an audience but my boy did good!”).

On Instagram, the group hinted that the set-ups in the video were inspired by lust (Leigh-Anne), new love (Perrie), ice (Jade), and passion (Jesy). After braving those elements, the four girls come together at an all-white rave with Ty Dolla $ign, who adds a loved-up verse to the group’s LM5 banger.

Little Mix’s “Think About Us” was directed by Bradley & Pablo, the duo behind Dua Lipa’s equally steamy “Electricity.” Speaking about the new vid with MTV UK, they explained that they wanted to focus less on choreography and more on “super polished” shots and “candid moments.”

They added, “The initial concept was based around the idea of recreating emotions and sensations that you experience in a relationship that may be lost in a future where certain kinds of intimacy are no longer possible. This idea is reflected in the set which sees contained environments within an industrial space where these things are simulated.”