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Monthly Archives: September 2019

Rich Brian sounds like he’s in good spirits, albeit a touch raspy. He’s still got a bit of sleep left in his voice. 

“I’m sorry, I just woke up,” he remarks. 

The rapper, whose real name is Brian Imanuel, speaks into the phone from his native Indonesia,a solid 11-hour time difference between us.

The artist, who’s one of Asian-centric label 88Rising’s biggest acts, first amassed a following for his dry internet humor and sarcasm. Today, however, he seems contemplative and earnest ― traits that feel more congruous with his trajectory in music. 

While mainstream (whiter) audiences may not be familiar with his name, the rapper has been deemed an unexpected favorite among Asian listeners and beyond for years, representing a racial group in a genre where they continue to struggle with legitimacy. Now at 20 years old, he’s weeks away from embarking on “The Sailor” North American tour, promoting his recent sophomore album of the same name. His new tracks evidence a more sophisticated, evolved artist compared to the earlier work that propelled him to his prominent place in the Asian hip-hop movement. 

Rich Brian’s rise is, at its core, the story of an underdog. Yet along with the tale’s inspiring elements exist a few cringe-worthy ones in the mix as well.

Since his start in the music industry, Rich Brian tells HuffPost that he’s experienced significant epiphanies that have prompted a sort of rebranding. While the rapper rose through the viral charts, attracting massive buzz in the Asian American community, as well as the greater hip hop universe, for his flows about violence and money under the problematic moniker “Rich Chigga,” he’s learned a thing or two on his musical voyage. 

“Now I’m a lot focused on myself and … the actual message and less focused on the flows and flexing,” he tells me.  

Just a few years ago, the rapper was a home-schooled teen and internet comedian of sorts, who learned English through YouTube and possessed a strong yearning to visit the U.S. 

He’d get his shot, too. In 2016, he released his own music video for song “Dat $tick” under his former name, a fusion of “Chinese” and the N-word. The video went wildly viral, generating millions of streams. Perhaps most remarkable to audiences was that a kid donning a fanny pack and pink polo was, in fact, the artist behind the ratatat flow and voice that hovers several octaves below where one would expect it to be. 

The song skyrocketed his career. He signed to 88Rising that very week, a move that would eventually bring him around the world, including to the States. He also received nods of approval from the likes of Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah, who later appeared on a remix of the song. Many fans in the Asian American fans interpreted the rapper’s virality as a sign that more space had been made for the community in hip-hop. But under an already-problematic name, it was impossible for listeners to ignore the fact that he touted lyrics about a street lifestyle he did not lead and repeatedly used the N-word. Soon, he found himself confronting criticisms of cultural appropriation. 

I used to think that, because I’m a rapper, that’s all I’m allowed to talk about. I’ve realized you can talk about anything. You can literally talk about anything. You can talk about your dog, you can talk about the skies. … As long as you word it in a way that’s interesting and listenable, you can make a song about anything and that’s what I tried to do with this album. Rich Brian on his deviation from his earliest work.

There was, of course, an internal reckoning and by New Year’s Day 2018, the rapper changed his name to its current iteration. As time has gone on, he says his understanding of the genre has expanded. Rap, he now knows, isn’t confined to stereotypes of American urban life he’d played up in “Dat $tick.” This time around, the artist leaned into his authenticity. The resulting album is thick with his own story, heavily drawing on his immigration to the U.S. and others who’ve dealt with the daunting pursuit of the American Dream.

In a sense, growth for Rich Brian has meant going back to what he thoroughly knows. 

“I used to think that, because I’m a rapper, [the stereotypes] all I’m allowed to talk about,” he said of his earliest work. “I’ve realized you can talk about anything. You can literally talk about anything. You can talk about your dog, you can talk about the skies. … As long as you word it in a way that’s interesting and listenable, you can make a song about anything and that’s what I tried to do with this album.” 

Rock fifty stages in all fifty states, bitch. I did it all without no citizenship to show the whole world you just got to imagine. Rich Brian on the track “Yellow.”

The rapper, who moved to the U.S. in 2017, underscores just how radical the act of immigration is several times throughout our conversation. How crazy it is, he says in rumination, to uproot one’s entire life for a future with numerous variables. The gravity of such an act remains misunderstood to most people who haven’t recently immigrated. But as wild as the transition was for him, he says that the internet allowed him to at least familiarize himself with a few pockets of American culture. Those who came decades before, however, didn’t have that luxury. He feels the album is, in part, an attempt to humanize what has often been illustrated in media through policies and numbers.

His single “Yellow,” in particular, is woven from the threads of his own immigrant arc. While the track begins with a tinge of melancholia, mirroring his difficulties moving stateside, it progresses with grand orchestral swells, eventually ending in his personal triumph. 

“Rock fifty stages in all fifty states, bitch,” he spits. “I did it all without no citizenship to show the whole world you just got to imagine.” 

The song’s name is also symbolic of a victory. The rapper told HuffPost that, while the word yellow has been historically weaponized against the Asian community, his song is a hopeful reclamation of the term. 

Ever since I made that song, It’s cool to feel like ‘yeah, I’m yellow. It’s tight.’ Rich Brian

“I was so inspired to write about how I felt in the moment and be as honest and vulnerable as I can,” he said. “This is something that I’ve never really talked about before. This could be a really big thing because I have such a big platform and a lot of [fans] from Asia or just like Asian American kids. This is the perfect platform and perfect time to do this.” 

“Ever since I made that song, It’s cool to feel like ‘yeah, I’m yellow. It’s tight,’” he says. 

Nowadays, the rapper seems adamant about preserving his own, uncorrupted story and honoring his fans. And that is, conceivably, why he isn’t particularly concerned with earning the seal of approval of mainstream gatekeepers of the music industry ― places where Asian hip-hop artists have traditionally felt absent.

When it comes to Asian rappers, few have reached the annals of hip hop history or even just earned the validation from major label execs. MC Jin, who famously became the first Asian American solo artist to sign to a major label, achieved the feat decades ago. Such few solo acts have followed since that Jay Park’s signing with Roc Nation in 2017 was heralded as an inconceivable, awe-inspiring move. When it comes to the big awards shows like the Grammys or the Billboard Music Awards, Asian faces are almost negligible in the best song or artist categories. 

In Rich Brian’s case, many were confounded by the rapper’s absence from XXL Magazine’s Freshman Class, an annual list of rookie hip-hop artists on their come up who’ve generated significant buzz. 

He’s not ignorant to the racial disparities in the industry, either, though. However, he’s optimistic and feels that by making music and refusing to shy away from his identity, minds could change. 

“It’s definitely a fact that there are people who haven’t accepted us for sure. It might just be something that takes time, something that I’m constantly working really hard to try to change. This is why I do what I do,” he said. “Our goal is just to come out in a really powerful way to the point where people can’t ignore it. At the end of the day, if the art that you’re making is good, people have no choice but to pay attention.”

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It makes lazy people like me work out. That’s the genius of the Peloton bicycle. All you have to do is Velcro on the shoes and you’re trapped. You’ve eliminated choice and you will exercise. Through a succession of savvy product design choice I’ll break down here, Peloton removes the friction to getting fit. It’s the leader in a movement I call “pushbutton health.” And this is why I think Peloton will be a big success no matter what short-term investors do when it IPOs this week after raising $994 million in venture capital.


The bike

Basically, Peloton is a $2,300 stationary bike with a tablet stuck to the front. The $40 per month subscription unlocks thousands of live and on-demand video cycling classes, where instructors positively yell at you. When you think you’re tired already, they look into your eyes, tell you “you got this,” the soundtrack crescendos, you crank up the resistance and you pedal harder at home. The resulting endorphin rush is addictive, and you find yourself persuading friends they need a Peloton too.

That viral loop, which adds to its 500,000 subscribers, is how Peloton plans to raise ~$1.16 billion going public this week at an ~$8 billion valuation. Its revenue doubled this year as it began to dominate the connected exercise equipment market, though losses quadrupled as it burned cash to become a household name. But after riding 110 of 150 days I’ve been home since buying its bike, I’m confident in the company. Whatever it invests now to build its lead will likely be paid back handsomely by its increasingly handsome customers who can’t bear to clip out. Here’s why.


Peloton classes are recorded in front of a live studio audience of riders

The brilliance of this bike

The Shoes – Usually the activation energy to start a workout requires dragging yourself to the gym or suiting up to face the elements outside. That can be daunting enough that you rarely do. But once you slip into the Peloton bike shoes, you can hardly walk normally, which means you can hardly procrastinate. You’re home, so you don’t even need clothes. Just a few Velcro straps and you’re over the hump and resigned to exercise.

The Clips – Home gym equipment reduces the barrier to entry but also the barrier to exit. You can tell yourself you’ll keep doing push-up sets or squats or jumping rope, but you can stop any time. Yet after you’re clipped into the Peloton bike, you’re almost assured to keep pedaling until the instructor gives you that end-of-ride congratulations.


Just put the shoes on and you’ll exercise

The Schedule – You can get a sweat in just 10 or 20 minutes going hard on a Peloton. Combined with zero commute, that means you’ll practically always be able fit in a ride regardless of how busy you are. No more “I don’t have time to make it to the gym so I’ll just skip out.” When my calendar gets crunched or I dawdle a little before deciding to ride, classes as short as five minutes ensure there’s no weaseling out.

The Instructors – I wish I had these coaches to motivate me through sorting email. Peloton’s 20+ instructors range from hippie-dippie gurus to no-nonsense trainers that fit your personality type. You find yourself craving your favorite’s special brand of relentless positivity. I burn far more calories in a shorter time than exercising solo because they inspire me to push a little harder or they slow their countdown to add a couple all-out seconds to the end of a sprint. They’re even becoming celebrities, with bankers lining up for selfies during Peloton’s IPO road show. Sick of them? You can always Scenic Ride through video of some of the world’s prettiest bike paths.


Peloton instructors (from left): Alex Toussaint, Emma Lovewell, Cody Rigsby and Leanne Hainsby

The Intimacy – You’re eye-to-eye with those instructors as they stare into the camera and out of the giant 22-inch Android screen bolted to your handlebars [Update: Not an iPad. I was being facetious]. That generates intimacy despite them broadcasting to thousands. Even in person, a SoulCycle coach across the room can feel farther away. You’re mostly guided by audio cues, but their gaze compels you to perform. Peloton almost feels like FaceTime, and that’s a sense of connection many long for more of these days.

The Pavlovian Response – Your brain quickly begins to associate the sounds of Peloton with the glowing feeling of finishing a workout: The rip of the Velcro shoe straps, the click of clipping into the bike, but most of all the instructor catch-phrases. You get hooked on hearing the bubbling British accent of “I’mmmm Leeaannne Haaaaainsby” as she introduces herself, Ben Alldis’ infectious “You got 5, you got 4…” countdowns or Emma Lovewell reminding you to “Live, learn, love well.” That final “namaste” followed by wiping down the bike and jumping in a cold shower forms a ritual you’re inclined to repeat.


Eye-contact with the instructors creates an intimate bond

The Soundtrack – Popular songs are more than just a pump-up accompaniment to Peloton classes. Your pedaling pace is often pegged to the tempo, with sprints starting when the beat drops. As your legs tire, you feel obliged to maintain your speed so you don’t fall behind the drums. You can even search classes by music genre and preview each’s playlist. Peloton has paid out $50 million in royalties for its music, and faces $300 million-plus in lawsuits for copyright infringement. But having the best tunes to bike to might end up worth the penalty because it helped Peloton race ahead in a lucrative market.

The Bike as Decor – Most home exercise equipment ends up in a closet or as a clothing rack. By designing its bicycles for beauty, Peloton coerces you to place them conspicuously in your home. You might have seen the hysterical Twitter thread parodying this practice, but it’s funny because it’s true. You’re a lot more likely to ride it if it’s central to your home (ours is between our bed and the doors to the veranda), and you’ll be embarrassed if visitors ask about it and you haven’t hopped on recently.


“A good place for your Peloton bike is between your kitchen and your living room facing the cactus garden so you always remember virtual spin class” –ClueHeywood on Twitter

The Network Effect – Many of these smart product design moves could be copied by competitors. But by amassing a community of 1.4 million members to date, Peloton benefits from social features and economies of scale. You can ride together with pals over video chat, send each other digital high-fives or race and compare achievements. Each friend that joins Peloton is one more reason not to sign up for a competitor. The whole concept of virtual personal training is being legitimized. And the cost of producing more classes gets spread wider as membership grows.

The Shared Accounts – Peloton has even built in a way to feel noble about your sanctimonious proselytizing about how it “jumpstarted your metabolism.” Each $39 on-bike subscription allows unlimited accounts on up to three devices, so you can hook up some friends if you convince them to buy the big-budget gadget.


High-five fellow riders as you virtually pass them

The Growth Hacks – Peloton streaks are for adults what Snapchat streaks are to kids: a clever way to reward consistent usage. But beyond the achievement badges displayed on your profile, you’ll get in-ride leaderboards full of people to proudly pass, progress bars to fill by pedaling and kilojoule output high scores to beat. Peloton makes exercise a game you want to win.

The Shoutouts – Yet Peloton’s most explicit levering of our psychology comes from the in-class name-drop shout-outs instructors give. Whether mentioning the screen names of a few participants at the start of a session or congratulating users hitting their 50th, 200th or 500th ride, the recognition pushes people to join the dozen live-streamed classes each day that add urgency to the on-demand catalog. Proof it works? People strategize to ensure their 100th ride is a long live class to maximize the chance of a shout-out.


A free cult shirt after your 100th ride

The ‘Transcendence’ – Peloton minimizes the isolation from working out at home. In fact, its whole product enables people to feel “glamorous” and “manifested” yet nonchalant in ways going to a sweaty gym or using a personal trainer can’t. It’s like being able to buy a little piece of the smug satisfaction and in-group affiliation of going to Burning Man. That’s why the company even sends you a free “Century Club” t-shirt when you hit your 100th ride. You’re meant to feel cool sharing that you “Peloton,” using the startup’s name as a verb.


Conspicuous Self-Actualization

Still, Peloton has plenty left to optimize. There’s room to expand use of its camera to offer premium one-on-one coaching, head-to-head racing, group video chat with friends and augmented reality filters to make people feel comfortable on screen and take shareable selfies. A wider range of intense but short classes could appeal to overworked professionals who picked Peloton precisely because they don’t have an hour for the gym.

Novelty could come from celebrity guest instructors, or themed classes for pre-gaming for a night out, fans of a particular artist or songs about a certain topic. And it should definitely have some iconic sounds like an om or singing bowl chime that play before each class to center you and after to release you.

Most excitingly, the Peloton screen has the potential to be a platform for exercise-controlled gaming and apps. Whether pedaling to escape zombies chasing you or piece together a puzzle, maintaining an output level to keep your cross-hairs locked on an enemy plane as you dogfight, or making a garden bloom by growing each flower during a different interval, Peloton could evolve riding to be much more interactive. Apps could offer training simulators for different sports focused on sprints for basketball or marathons for soccer. Or just put Netflix on it! By opening up to outside developers, Peloton could build a moat of extra experiences competitors can’t match.

With the strengths and opportunities of its core product, Peloton is poised to absorb more of your fitness time and money. It’s already branching out with yoga, meditation, lifting, bootcamp and jazzercise classes you can do standing next to your bike (or without one) on its $19 per month app. Its second gadget is a $4,300 treadmill.

From there it could break into more of the “pushbutton health” business. I categorize these as wellness products and services that rely on convenience instead of your will power. Think delivery health food instead calorie-counting apps that are a chore. My pushbutton regimen includes Peloton, six salads per week dropped off in batches by Thistle, monthly packages of Nomiku vacuum-sealed meals that RFID scan into its sous vide machine and a Future remote personal trainer who nags me by text message.


It’s easy to get hooked on the positivity

Peloton could easily dive into selling meal kits, personal training or a wider range of workout clothes to compete with Lululemon. If it’s the center of your fitness routine, the company could become a gateway to new health products it owns or partners with.

I’m bullish on Peloton because I’m betting people are going to stay busy, lazy and competitive. It offers the effectiveness of a spin class but with scheduling flexibility. It removes every excuse for staying on the couch. And in an age of visual communication where many seek to share both the journey to and the destination of an Instagrammable body and the discipline to get there, Peloton provides conspicuous self-actualization through consumerism. Plus, finishing a ride feels damn good.

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Lindsay Lohan is in kind of a weird place. After being one of the biggest movie stars of the early 2000s, she’s all but been banished to pursue random AF careers in the Middle East. After several years of failed relationships and business ventures (remember her candle line? Neither do I), what does she still have? Tbh, 2019 has been a rough year for her. Her club in Mykonos has closed, she lost her reality show along with it, and she was tragically not cast as Ariel in the live action Little Mermaid, despite her thirsty attempts on Twitter. But now, she’s finally making a return to something she was actually good at once upon a time: music.

Earlier this month, Lindsay Lohan released her first song in over a decade, and it’s kind of a bop. It’s called “Xanax,” which makes sense, because artists are always told to sing about what they know. The track was written with Finnish singer-songwriter ALMA, (who’s low-key one of my favorite artists), who has also co-written most of Miley Cyrus’ recent songs. No, Miley didn’t write “Slide Away” by herself on a yacht in Positano, that’s not how pop music works.

“Xanax” has a slow-burning tropical vibe, and the lyrics seem like they’re ripped straight from Lindsay’s life. She sings about how going out gives her social anxiety, but whoever she’s singing about is like Xanax to her. The lyrics are actually a little heartbreaking, because I tend to forget how much sh*t Lindsay Lohan has gone through in her life. She’s never had a normal life, and she’s obviously kind of f*cked up because of it (as many child stars are). Sadly, Lindsay hasn’t put the song on iTunes or any streaming services, but I would definitely have it on my Sad Boi Fall playlist.

Basically, I’m really vibing with the song, but the music video that Lindsay Lohan posted on IGTV yesterday is… different. First of all, it’s not really a music video. As Lindsay describes it in the caption, it’s “a compilation of vignettes of life.” Okay, so really this has more in common with a bat mitzvah montage than the kind of videos Taylor Swift and Beyoncé are making. She also tagged the wrong ALMA in the caption, because of course. Whatever, she hasn’t done this whole music thing in a long time, so I’ll cut her some slack.

In the bat mitzvah montage, we see random men skateboarding, heavily filtered selfie videos of Lindsay (seriously, that yellow filter is a crime), a still photo of Lindsay with the Ken Burns effect, and a lot of footage of Lindsay shaking hands with with men in suits and women wearing head coverings in a place that looks like a desert. While the whole thing feels really disjointed, I desperately need to know more about these people Lindsay is meeting with in a parking lot. Are these foreign dignitaries? Refugees she’s screamed at? Dictator princes that Lindsay might potentially be dating? I have so many questions.

And then, the video ends with a random man in a hoodie talking about how “Becky is such a bitch.” WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? WHO IS THIS MAN? And who is Becky?? Is this a random TikTok that LiLo thought was funny, or does she know this person? Lindsay, you gotta help us out with this, because I need so much more information. In her IGTV caption, Lindsay spews some bullsh*t about “family, love, the process of moving forward and letting go of the past,” but I really just want to know who all of these people are.

I’m excited to see if Lindsay keeps up with the new music, because I genuinely do like the song. But for the next single, let’s put together an actual music video, k? In any case, here’s the audio version on YouTube, in case you want to listen to the song on repeat, but can’t handle the bizarre visuals of the video.

Welcome back, pop star LiLo, we missed you!

Images: lindsaylohan / Instagram; LindsayLohanVevo / YouTube

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(CNN)We’re divided by culture as much as politics. The roots of red state vs. blue state tribalism reflect the different ways we live in rural and urban America. But while these divides run deep, they are also simplistic stereotypes that are reinforced by ignorance and insults.

Country music comes from the heart of rural America. But it is both a cruel and stupid mistake to dismiss it as hillbilly music. It is a cross-pollination of different traditions that has evolved over more than a century. It’s the sound of Saturday night and Sunday morning, a music of love and loss. And like jazz, the subject of an earlier series from Burns, country music is an authentic American art form.
The series is arguably the best documentary series Burns has made since his initial epics on the Civil War and baseball. Burns weaves a coherent story from disparate parts, using iconic characters like Hank Williams, the self-destructive “Hillbilly Shakespeare,” and Johnny Cash, the “Man in Black” who managed to be both a traditionalist and counter-culture icon, as narrative anchors.
    But it’s the interweaving stories that make the series an eye-opening journey. If you’re only an occasional listener of country music or someone who dismisses the genre entirely, you’ll be fascinated to hear the hardscrabble origin stories of early stars like the Carter Family and Jimmie Rogers. All American music is a cross-cultural gumbo, but you might still be surprised to learn about the black musical influences on country’s earliest evolutions.
    If that seems too Sepia-toned, there are lessons about the power of authenticity in art and life to be taken from Willie Nelson, who ditched the star-making assembly line of Nashville for Austin, where he stirred up a new scene and a popular subgenre, Outlaw Country. There is a slice of redemption in the racism that Charlie Pride, one of the few black country stars, confronts and then transcends through the power of his voice and unlikely advocates at the Grand Ole Opry.
    Dolly Parton is a study in self-creation, overcoming snickers and doubts to become an iconic singer songwriter. Dolly not only got the joke, but flipped it on her critics when she said, “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb. And I’m not blonde either.”
    Country music is about relationships and so it’s fitting that the series includes the great love story between Marty Stuart and Connie Smith, the father-daughter relationship between Johnny and Rosanne Cash and the doomed love of George Jones and Tammy Wynette that produced enduring songs out of the wreckage.
    Ultimately, the music is the medium. And if you think you know country music through a passing acquaintance with honky-tonk bars and whatever comes up on the radio during long drives, you’ll quickly realize what you’ve been missing.
    The defiant dirge of Waylon Jennings “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” is the essence of punk rock. Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” and even Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA” are proto-feminist anthems. Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and Townes Van Zandt’s much-covered “Pancho and Lefty” are pure poetry. Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s reimagining of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” fuse gospel and country into the equivalent of four-minute symphonies with their precision and ambition.
    Country music’s reputation as a reactionary soundtrack doesn’t hold up on close scrutiny either. Sure, anthems like Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” may have resonated with crewcut audiences with lyrics like “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee,” or “We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street.” But they did not represent the artists’ own reality: the ex-con later expressed his regret for writing the song, and turned to weed and grew medical marijuana in California in his later life. Bluegrass musicians joined rockers in playing Vietnam war protests, while the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s intergenerational country sessions were a metaphor for healing from the late 60s.
    But as always, it was Johnny Cash who walked the line most effectively, opposing Vietnam while playing for the troops overseas, bringing Bob Dylan to a country audience and accepting an invitation to the White House to play for Richard Nixon while rejecting his request that he perform a cynical conservative song called “Welfare Cadillac.”
    Instead, Cash played his tune “What is Truth” which honored the rebellious questioning of the younger generation against the conservative confines of their parents. The President had to accept the defiance with a grin plastered across his face.
    As with any distillation of a major theme in American life, there will be debates and quibbles as well as questions of inclusion. With hundreds of interviews, the story stops at the turn of the century and brushes over some of my personal favorites like Lyle Lovett. But then part of the purpose of a documentary like this is to establish the tributaries of tradition that get expanded and combined when a new crop of American originals like Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves or Sturgill Simpson come along.
    There will be other inevitable complaints from the self-appointed culture police. A new version of looking down at country music as being the music of poor white folks is to dismiss it as a soundtrack to white privilege. Among other things, this willfully ignores the painful and relatable role of class in American life, choosing to focus primarily on the wound of race, which has been a core theme of Burns’ work.
    That’s why I was gratified to see a tweet by none other than Chuck D of Public Enemy calling the documentary “amazing” and saying “for those MCs and fanatics in hip-hop that relish the power of lyrics…this is a can’t miss in the knowledge of music.”

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      And that’s the thing: for all the interesting differences and dramatic details of various musical traditions in America, we’re all part of the broader song. Understanding requires empathy. And by reaching out beyond our respective divides we not only bridge differences, we create something new and vibrant, mirroring the creative leaps that characterize American music.
      That’s the American alchemy that Ken Burns brings alive in this latest chapter of his American epic. He is one of our greatest historians, illuminating the past and present while guiding us to a shared future.

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      Missing Mandy Moore like candy? Well, she’s finally back with her first new song in a decade. 

      The Emmy-nominated actress is taking a break from leaving you in a puddle every week on “This Is Us” and returning to her roots as a singer. On Tuesday, Moore released her single “When I Wasn’t Watching” and an accompanying music video off her forthcoming seventh album, which will arrive early next year on the Verve Forecast label. 

      “When I Wasn’t Watching” is Moore at her most authentic, bridging her pop influences and contemporary folk music tastes into an emotionally grounded but upbeat exploration of self-discovery.

      “My favorite version of me disappeared /Through longer days and shorter years,” she sings on the track. “So where was I when this was going down?”

      “The idea of diving back into music after so much time and personal change was really intimidating to me for a while,” she said in a statement to People about the song. “But then I finally realized: I’m the only person who can make this move. It all has to start with me.”

      Moore entered the pantheon of pop princesses with her 1999 debut album “So Real.” She went on to release a handful of popular singles throughout the early aughts like “Candy,” “I Wanna Be With You” and “In My Pocket” and five more albums that pushed her beyond the boundaries of bubblegum pop and into a more grounded, adult sound. 

      Her sixth studio album, “Amanda Leigh,” which spawned the lead single “I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week” in 2009 was the last we heard from Moore besides a 2017 cover of the Little Feat track “Willin” on the “This Is Us” soundtrack. 

      The actor has previously credited her break from music to her tumultuous marriage to musician Ryan Adams, which lasted from 2009 to 2016, describing him as psychologically abusive in a New York Times report earlier this year alongside six other women with their own stories about Adams’ allegedly manipulative behavior. 

      Moore, who’s since married Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith, said that “music was a point of control” in her relationship with Adams.

      “I want to make music,” she told the outlet at the time. “I’m not going to let Ryan stop me.”

      And, if you are wanting, well, more from the singer-songwriter, she is reportedly set to drop another new single before the end of the year.

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      Brooklyn hip-hop star Tekashi 6ix9ine testified in court that rapper Cardi B has ties to a street gang, but her record company is denying any connection at all.

      On Thursday, 6ix9ine (real name Daniel Hernandez) told the court that Cardi B was a member of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, but insisted he didn’t copy her by including gang members in his music videos, according to Page Six.

      “I knew who she was. I didn’t pay attention,” he testified under cross-examination.

      Cardi B performs on the first day of Music Midtown at Piedmont Park on Sept. 14, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images for Live Nation)

      Cardi B’s record company, Atlantic Records, quickly denied she was a member of the Bloods to Billboard.

      However, the rapper herself confirmed to GQ earlier this year that she was a member as a teen and said, “It’s almost like a fraternity, a sorority.”

      She added though that, these days, she “wouldn’t want a young person, a young girl, to think it’s okay to join it.”

      HuffPost reached out to Atlantic Records for clarity but no one immediately responded.

      Earlier this year, 6ix9ine pleaded guilty to federal weapons and racketeering charges, but agreed to cooperate with federal authorities against the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods.

      On Thursday, he was asked if his testimony in the case was to help the government or just his chances of getting a lighter sentence.

      “Little bit of both,” he testified, according to Page Six.

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      The first of the month is a tricky time, because on the one hand, I’m getting paid, but on the other, my rent is due. Luckily, my rent check doesn’t manage to find its way to my landlord until around 9am, which is four hours after my direct deposit hits, so I’m rich for approximately four hours. It’s the little things. Anyway, let’s be real, we all love the start of a new month because it means new Netflix content, and by content, I mean the ninth season of Shameless and about 100 other shows/movies. An updated Netflix homepage is always exciting, but it’s especially so in September, because it will give you something to do when your friends ask if you want to go apple picking and you realize you’d actually rather rip your eyelashes out one by one. Seriously, if Instagram didn’t exist, would anyone over the age of seven go apple picking?? I digress.

      Because Netflix is adding more content to their platform than my sister-in-law to her Instagram story during her bachelorette weekend, I’m going to save you some time and let y’all know which shows/movies are actually worth watching. Full disclosure, after admitting that I thought Tower Heist was a quality film back in the day, I’ve since been accused of having bad taste, so take this list with a grain of salt. Here we go!

      ‘American Psycho’

      Honestly, I blame my test in men on this movie. Like, why couldn’t Patrick Bateman be ugly? If you haven’t seen this movie, now is your moment, because it’s early 2000s amazing. To sum it up, American Psycho is a documentary about mental health. Jokes! It’s a thriller that, tbh, is pretty funny because it’s basically Bruce Wayne’s life if he didn’t become Batman. Does that makes sense? All in all, this is a great movie for any occasion and if any of your friends protest, they should not be a part of your life. That’s all I have to say. 

      ‘The Walking Dead: Season 9’

      Look, zombies just aren’t my thing. Sorry if that offends anyone. Obviously this show is good, though, since it has almost as many seasons as Friends! If this also doesn’t sound like your jam, maybe this helpful description from IMDB can change your mind: The Walking Dead tells the story of the months and years that follow after a zombie apocalypse. It follows a group of survivors, led by former police officer Rick Grimes, who travel in search of a safe and secure home. Well? Are you sold?


      I mean, is there a movie better than Superbad? Anyone? Bueller? What I love most about it, aside from the period pants scene, is the fact that none of the stars were that famous when it was made. Like, Bill Hader had played very minor parts in a bunch of sh*t I’ve never heard of, Jonah Hill’s only claim to fame (kind of) was the teen version of Adam Sandler’s creepy son in Clickand two roles before her stint on Superbad, Emma Stone guest starred in an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & f*cking Cody. My mind is truly blown. Anyway, the fact that this movie is so amazing even though it stars Michael “Whiney Boy” Cera essentially playing himself is a tribute to quality films everywhere. If the whole McLovin storyline was taken out, this movie would be like a more realistic version of Project X. My point is that Superbad is a great example of a perfect movie. Watch it.

      ‘Shameless: Season 9′

      Emmy Rossum in Shameless is legit my spirit animal. She’s obv the definition of a hot mess, but I love her for it. Remember that time she left her cocaine out and her toddler brother subsequently had a bad trip and she ended up in jail for approximately one week? Same. This show is very complicated and has as many layers as it does members of the Gallagher family, so explaining what it’s about is kind of hard, but I’ll try. There are six kids and one deadbeat dad, Frank Gallagher, living the good life in the South Side. You know how when you rewatch Game of Thrones, you temporarily lose your mind when you realize that Arya, Bran, and Joffrey (ew, bye) were all legit children when the show started? Shameless is like that. And that is the only thing that Game of Thrones and Shameless have in common! It’s a great show because it’s funny and dramatic, so if you want to laugh and cry a the same thing, Shameless is for you. 

      ‘Hello Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea.’ 

      There is only one person who can get away with a title like this, and her name is Chelsea Handler. There isn’t much info on this, so I will say what Wikipedia, my most quoted source in college essays, said about it: “Hello Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea is an upcoming 2019 documentary directed by Alex Stapleton and starring Chelsea Handler. The premise revolves around examining the concept of ‘White privilege,’ the societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people.” A little racy for the times in which we live? Seems that way, but knowing my girl Chelsea, she’s going to make it funny. 

      ‘Surviving R. Kelly: Season 1’

      Like “Trapped in the Closet”, the R. Kelly documentary has a few parts. The similarities end there, aside from their involvement with R. Kelly. The documentary is a very vivid detailing of the sexual abuse allegations against the rapper/singer/alleged sex cult leader, so watch at your own risk. It’s obviously a very timely documentary considering the #MeToo movement is still very relevant, and it got amazing reviews. This is a must-watch.

      ‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’

      Truth be told, I cannot handle anything even remotely scary. Don’t believe me? I couldn’t make it through Pirates of the Caribbean three years ago when I was 23. So you can imagine just how many times I sh*t myself when a friend forced me to watch the Asylum season of this show over Memorial Day weekend. It was f*cking terrifying, and I can’t picture just how gut-wrenching the other seasons are. I refuse to watch them, but here’s what I know about Apocalypse: It revolves around some sort of nuclear explosion and is a crossover between seasons one and three of this godforsaken show. I started to read the Wikipedia episode summaries, but got too freaked out after the third one, so all I can tell you is that the apocalypse happens and the prettiest members of society are chosen to be saved…for now. K. 

      ‘My Sister’s Keeper’

      If you want to cry and never stop, watch this movie. It’s based on the Jodi Picoult book about a teenage girl, Kate, with a fatal cancer diagnosis. Not to worry, her parents try to save her by designing their third child, Anna, to be medically compatible with her dying sister so that doctors can take her blood, bone marrow, organs, happiness and give them to Kate. Just fun sister things! As you can imagine, this movie is sad af and Cameron Diaz deserves an award for it. I haven’t seen it since it came out 10 years ago (f*ck, I feel old), but the two things I remember about it are the fact that the movie ending is the complete opposite of the book ending, and that Kate had a v promising future as a professional scrapbooker. Did I just ruin the whole movie? My b. 

      ‘Eat, Pray, Love’

      I’m just going to say it: this was no one’s favorite movie, because we expect Pretty Woman energy from Julia Roberts at all times. She’s kind of whiney in this “watch me find myself while I blow all my money on exotic journeys” story. It’s the kind of movie you’d watch if you’ve already seen all you’ve wanted to see on Netflix, but it’s only 9pm and you need to watch something. I respect her food choices and the blond hair, but that’s about it.

      ‘The Great British Baking Show’

      I better speak for all of us when I say HELL F*CKING YEA, FINALLY! If you are not watching The Great British Baking Show, I literally don’t know what you are doing with your life. Here’s how I describe this show to literally everyone: it’s the opposite of every American cooking competition show. Everyone is nice to each other, there is no sabotage (in fact, the contestants know ahead of time what the challenges will be so they can practice at home), and the format of every episode is exactly the same. It’s incredibly wholesome content, and a 10/10. Starting August 30, new episodes will drop on Netflix every Friday.

      To end on a sad note, there are a few gems leaving Netflix this September. Batman Begins will bid us adieu, which I guess is okay since we get another prime Christian Bale movie?  The best disney cartoon, Hercules, will also be peacing out in September and I am genuinely bummed about it. After just a few months, Magic Mike will be body rolling off Netflix and hopefully onto Amazon Prime or Hulu because I am not ready to say goodbye to him yet. Music & Lyrics, Mulan, the opposite of Titanic AKA Revolutionary Road, and The Hangover are also leaving Netflix to go apple-picking this September. It’s been real, but I’m very much down for the new shows/movies to stream!

      Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (6)

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      The camera adds ten pounds — and maybe even a few inches!

      It’s been over three years since we saw those pics of Orlando Bloom paddle-boarding in the nude and discovered

      During a recent interview with Howard Stern, the British hunk said with a smirk:

      “It is really not that big. Things are expanded on cameras with a big optical lens. It is an optical illusion.”

      Hmmm… why do we have a hard time believing that?

      Confession or not, Lando went on to joke about the dramatic censoring of his manhood in the pictures. He laughed:

      “The publicist called to say, ‘That is not the worst of it. First of all there were pictures with a block over it.’ And you make some jokes like, ‘Have you got a black box big enough to cover it.’ …And then you suddenly realize somebody is going to uncover the black box because they are going to be paid enough. It’s a triple whammy – photos, black box, then no black box.’”

      We’ll take the no black box, please!

      Orlando was a bit cockier about his dick when he first addressed the images in April 2017. While appearing on Nick Grimshaw‘s BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show, the Carnival Row star joked that he “broke the internet” with the pics, adding:

      “It’s been talked about so much I’m over it already. My poor son! He’s got a lot to live up to… I broke the internet.”

      He sure wasn’t size denying back then!

      As for Katy, the pop star previously joked she had a “lot of therapy” over the incident, telling Australian KIIS FM’s Kyle and Jackie O in June 2017:

      “He asked me if I wanted to be [naked] and I was just like, It’s one of those things where I was like, ‘Oh nah.’ … You know when you’re dating someone sometimes, it’s exciting to be like, ‘Oh should we try and make out over here in this place?’ Or what have you, and I was just not in the mood [to get naked]. I saved it for the boat!”

      The Roar songstress also joked the Lord Of The Rings actor ditched his trunks because he was “just trying to show off for all the people back at the shore.”

      We guess getting engaged made him a wee bit humbler. Still, we’ll never forget what we saw!

      [Image via AKM-GSI/WENN]

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      Our sweet, sweet Miley Cyrus has had quite the summer. First, she dealt with a tumultuous breakup with husband Liam Hemsworth, where rumors of his drug and alcohol abuse and rumors of her infidelity spread like wildfire. Soon after, she went on a twitter rant for the ages, listing a slew of things she’s been criticized for in her recent life, from getting fired from Hotel Translyvania for licking a penis cake to “probably having more nudes on the internet than any woman in history,” but swore up and down that she didn’t cheat. Then, Liam officially filed for divorce in August after less than a year of marriage, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

      We all rejoiced when we thought Miley rediscovered her happiness with Kaitlynn Carter, as the two lived the hot girl summer Meghan Thee Stallion was rapping about. They were both fresh off of high-profile marriages, and they seemingly were always holding hands all over the f*cking world, from yachts off the Italian coast to backstage at the VMAs. In the early days of September, the two seemed to be getting more and more serious, with sources telling People they were living together, Kaitlynn wearing an “M” engraved ring, and more PDA than a couple of high school seniors who are about to graduate and go to different colleges. Then, like expired alka seltzer, the two fizzled out in about two god damn seconds, ending things on September 22nd—talk about a summer fling!

      I think we can all agree that we just want Miley to be happy, and some time alone is exactly what I would recommend to a friend who went through two serious relationships in a matter of two months. It seems Miley agreed, because according to her Instagram, she’s on the vacation of a lifetime with her one true love: her dog Bean.

      View this post on Instagram

      Bean + MC = 4EVR 🖤🌄🖤🌄

      A post shared by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

      This dog no doubt lives a life with more riches than most of us can even dream of. I imagine he eats milk bones off silver platters and has someone that scrapes his butt on the carpet so he doesn’t have to do it himself—I’m not jealous of a dog, you’re jealous of a dog. The two are apparently in Lake Powell, which is partly in Utah and partly in Arizona, and wholly some place that I would happily be buried.

      Here’s Bean on a kayak with his mom:

      Traveling influencers are somehow now a thing, and apparently the ways to become one are to either have rich parents, be Dean Unglert from Bachelor in Paradise, or be the incredibly lucky dog of Miley Cyrus. Here’s a little taste of what Bean Cyrus has been up to over the past few days. And remember, I’m definitely *NOT* jealous of this dog.

      I mean…are you f*cking kidding? I’m about to buy a dog costume and pull some sh*t like that 22-year-old who pretended to be a toddler to get adopted. It seems like Miley is finally in a healthy and loving relationship, and this one won’t f*ck it up on her.

      View this post on Instagram

      Beanie takes Powell 🛶⛰🏞

      A post shared by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

      It seems her mom and sister are on the trip as well, so Bean must fit into the family seamlessly—some people have all the luck! Regardless, Miley looks great, Bean looks even better, and whoever is the next non-four-legged companion for Miley better watch themselves, because Bean is some stiff competition. Literally who needs a man (or woman) when you have a fur baby like that? No one, that’s who.

      Images: mileycyrus / Instagram

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      Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello just kissed off their critics.

      Answering fans who dissed their kissing, the celebrity singing couple posted a video late Wednesday showing them making out. (See it below.) The tongue exchange is tongue-in-cheek, but still, wow.

      Mendes begins the video by explaining that they noticed social media insults about them kissing “like fish.”

      “Yeah, it really hurt our feelings,” Cabello said.

      “We just want to show you how we really kiss,” Mendes added.

      Then the two go at it in an over-the-top spit-swapping sesh that draws a laugh from Cabello.

      The internet may never recover.

      Buzz about the two picked up after their “Senorita” music video dropped months ago. But Wednesday’s steamy post is the duet that many have probably been waiting for.

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