“The Star-Spangled Banner,” for whatever reason, is the national anthem of the Divided States of America. No offense to anyone into American flag t-shirts and Toby Keith and whatnot, but the song is seriously one of the most boring compositions in music history. In fact, I like to sneak in a quick mini-nap whenever someone insists upon covering it in public.
At least one bold individual, a Kentucky man by the name of Sean Gray, has decided to lead the fight for an improved national anthem by starting a completely reasonable petition. “It's the current year, 2017, and I think the nation should get with the times and feature Quavo on the National Anthem,” Gray writes on his Change.org petition. “He's a feature on everything else, so why not?”
Signees have provided a multitude of reasons for supporting the petition, ranging from “nut” to “Alex told me to” to “Fuck Donald Trump.” Valid causes, all. At the time of this writing, the petition was less than 500 signatures away from its goal of 1,500 supporters after gaining traction with features in a variety of publications, includingHotNewHipHop.
In a perfect world, which is quite clearly not the world we're living in now, this petition would immediately be sent to a Trumpless White House and/or whoever's in charge of updating the nation's anthem. After no debate whatsoever, a new national anthem would be commissioned featuring Quavo, Travis Scott, Selena Gomez, and SZA over a track of John Mayer doing some of his finest John Mayering with Travis Barker on drums. Production, ideally, would be handled by Metro Boomin and Mike Will Made-It.
Randall “Sickamore” Medford may not be a household name, but if you're anywhere near the rap game you know he's been an integral part of the success of hip-hop heavyweights like YG, Travis Scott, and more.
Now a senior music exec at Interscope Records, Sickamore continues to play a key role behind-the-scenes for established and up-and-coming acts alike, and based on his track record, you'd be wise to bet on what and who he's working with. In our new episode of The Culture, Jinx chops it up with Sickamore to find out how the Brooklyn representative turned his passion for music into a career hip-hop heads could only dream of.
A major turning point in Sickamore's journey can be traced back to his days of selling bootleg mixtapes on Canal Street in Manhattan, which then led to an A&R gig with Atlantic Records at the age of 21.
The jump from hustling to corporate didn't effect Sickamore's drive, who saw the transition as an opportunity to capitalize on something he always believed. “I wanted to show people that you could really be in it. You can be on tour, you can be engaged, you can find records. You can make something,” he explained. “You know how they always have that term for the culture? I understand it, but it's never been a point in my life where it's not been for the culture.”
Sickamore's path hasn't always been on a positive trajectory. Two years after joining Atlantic, he left to start an artist development company and managed Nicki Minaj early in her career. His ambitions spread him thin, though, to the point that he lost Nicki as a client. That moment, while disheartening, helped Sickamore refocus his goals.
Check out the full episode above, where Sickamore talks about building a special bond with YG, how Travis Scott's “Antidote” was initially a freestyle, and also shares a hilarious encounter he had with Drake. DJ Clark Kent and Kyambo “Hip-Hop” Joshua also talk about their experiences working with Sickamore.
Drake and company took to Toronto tonight to put on their eighth annual OVO Fest. The show took place in Toronto and saw performances from Partynextdoor, Majid Jordan, Roy Woods, Dvsn, and the anointed one himself, the ruler of the dominion known as the 6ix, Drake. OVO boss Drizzy also took the opportunity to announce that he is at work on a new album. The project will most likely be out next year.
In the eight years of OVO fest, there have been plenty of surprise guests. Back in 2011, Drake brought out the legend known as Stevie Wonder. The superstar performed a medley of “I Wish,” “Ribbon in the Sky,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” and “Superstitious.” Rick Ross and the Weeknd also performed at the show that year.
In 2014 Lauryn Hill blessed the stage to perform her songs “Ready or Not” and “Lost Ones” and was joined by Drake to perform “Doo Wop” and “Draft Day.” Kanye West was in attendance in 2013 to perform “New Slaves” and “All of the Lights.”
At the first annual OVO Fest, back in 2010, Drake had Eminem and Jay Z come out.
For the latest OVO fest, which took place on August 7 at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Drake did it big by performing atop a replica of Toronto's famous CN Tower, impressively recreating the cover of his album Views. Drizzy also brought out Cardi B, who performed her hit track “Bodak Yellow.” Drake also had previous nemesis Tory Lanez come out to perform his “Controlla” remix. Oh, and if that wasn't enough Migos, Playboi Carti, Travis Scott, French Montana, The Weeknd, Nelly, and Rae Sremmurd all hit the stage at the star studded show.
Check out some clips from the eighth annual OVO fest below.
Lollapalooza 2017 wrapped up Sunday night in Chicago's Grant Park, capping off a four-day marathon of memorable performances. Ahead of Justice's closing set on the Bud Light stage Sunday night, Big Sean hit his Mike Carson-designed stage for an energetic cruise through his increasingly stacked catalog.
A post shared by BIGSEAN (@bigsean) on Aug 7, 2017 at 8:50am PDT
Sean and Scott last appeared together on DJ Khaled's Grateful single “On Everything” alongside Rick Ross.
Sean released his biggest album yet, I Decided, back in February. The album has maintained some serious legs on the charts thanks to a marathon of singles and videos, including “Sacrifices” featuring Migos. The “Sacrifices” video was first released as a gift to fans who made a physical album purchase, with Sean informing them in May thatthey had been given access to an app that allowed them to get a look at the video before anyone else. Shortly after, the video was made available on YouTube.
This year's Lollapalooza lineup also featured Chance the Rapper, Run the Jewels, Lorde, Blink-182, Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Majid Jordan, Arcade Fire, Charli XCX, Joey Badass, Rae Sremmurd, and so many more. Catch pro-shot footage of Majid Jordan performing “Her” and Wiz Khalifa running through “Young Wild and Free” below.
In 2013, Tyler Ross, a Canadian videographer, was working as a garbage man to make ends meet. “That was shitty,” he says. “I was shooting videos part time but I wasn’t making enough money to survive.” Over the course of the past three years, he paid his dues—interning and helping out whoever he could with shoots—and eventually got the opportunity to work with Kanye West. “Kanye’s such a legend,” he says.
Ross, better known by his Instagram moniker WhiteTrashTyler, was born in Nova Scotia, a Maritime province in Canada near the Atlantic. The son of two school teachers, he started shooting skate videos with his friends as a hobby. But it wasn’t until he began helping an old roommate make YouTube videos that he decided he wanted to pursue a career as a videographer. “I realized it was something that I was passionate about,” says Ross, who declined to give his age.
After graduating from college with a marketing degree, turning down an office job at a tobacco company, and a short stint as a garbage man, he booked a flight to L.A. to pursue his dreams. “I knew I wanted to do something more creative,” he says. He slept in hostels on Fairfax Avenue and on friends’ couches, and made connections and assisted anyone who needed help shooting or editing videos. “I learned everything when I was in L.A.,” he says.
In his first ever interview, Ross talks about what it’s been like capturing candid moments of West and Scott, working with other big-name artists like Drake and 21 Savage, and what’s next for him.
How did you get the name “WhiteTrashTyler”?
I feel like WhiteTrashTyler is an extension of me. When I tell people I'm from Nova Scotia, the first thing they say is “Where the hell is that?” They expect me to be some hick from Canada. So I think it's funny to just roll with that assumption that people have about me. That irony is amazing.
How did you start working with Kanye West?
I met Gabe from [Los Angeles-based group] UZi and he was making music and directing videos at the time. I was sleeping on his couch and would just help him with whatever I could. Then when Ian Connor started creative directing for [Kanye West’s clothing line] Yeezy, he told ‘Ye, “You should have people filming this stuff using a VHS camcorder.’ So Kanye brought Gabe in, and Gabe asked me to help.
How would you describe your style? You use VHS right?
I shot using a mini DV camcorder and VHS camcorder when I was younger. I like using VHS cameras because they remind me of home videos, and people are always more comfortable around it. But I definitely love mixing formats. Through my work with Gabe I’ve been using VHS but I’ll still shoot HD stuff outside of that. It’s just become a blend of the two. Sometimes I’ll be shooting and pull out a different camera and just see what happens.
What inspires you?
A lot. People and the conversations [I have] with those who I meet. People from different cultures and walks of life. I'm lucky to be working around high-level artists. Everyone who’s in the room usually has some kind of story of how they got there, so that in and of itself is really inspiring. I’m inspired by reinventing something that was made in the past and making it more modern. For me, pushing the needle forward is not getting stuck in only making music videos. It’s about taking everything I've learned and pushing projects to a higher level. I feel like everyone at some point in their life is told you can do anything, and it's true, but you really have to believe it or you have to see it to really believe it. If you really want to achieve something, you'll find a way to do it.
To what extent were you working with Kanye West and for how long?
For a little over a year, I was documenting events that were going to be used for his other projects. I helped shoot and edit the “Famous” video. It was an inspiring experience because I had been working for [Kanye] for around six months before anybody even knew that I was doing anything with him. The “Famous” video was the first thing that came out that people were like, “Oh, shit! You worked on that?” I remember we were finishing up the video right before the premier. We were literally exporting the file while we were in the car on the way to [The Forum]. When we walked into the arena, Kanye’s music was playing and I was just like, “Shit! This is gonna be packed in an hour and everyone’s going to watch this video.” That was a surreal moment.
What did you learn most from working with Kanye?
The importance of collaboration. The true magic is finding the right people to bring into the room and create with. Before, I was just always trying to learn how to do something else so I could add it to the project. But Kanye was like, “If I want to build something, who’s the best person in the world that I could learn from or that I could bring in to create this?” The magic is connecting the dots, bringing the right minds together to build it. For me, that was my favorite part of filming him. The way he spoke to people that he had just met to convince them to be part of a project was inspiring.
I feel like I just went to school with Kanye and now I'm like, “How do I take everything I've learned and start developing my own mood board?” I hope that I'm always learning and developing myself. If you're not trying to achieve better then what's the point? Something might seem like a long process but that extra day, that extra week, that extra month you put in… 10 years from now, you’ll be happy you went the extra mile.
You posted an amazing video on your Instagram of Quavo riding a horse. What was that about?
That was in Calabasas. These people were just walking their horses down the street and Quavo—I don't think he'd ever been on a horse before—was like, “Can I ride it?” [laughs] And they're like, “Yeah, I guess.” He got on it and he was a natural. It was pretty amazing to me. I was like, “What the hell is going on right now?” I just started filming it.
You shot some of the footage of interactions between Kanye and Travis that wound up in Travis’ La Flame documentary. Tell me about that.
Travis was about to put out La Flame but he knew I had filmed him and Kanye together a bunch of times, so they asked me what clips I had. So I sent them a little reel of different shots that I had. After Kanye approved them, they added some of it in the documentary. I shot Travis testing Kanye’s [floating] stage for his Saint Pablo Tour, Travis gifting Kanye a watch, and Travis in the crowd at the Saint Pablo shows.
What’s your favorite moment so far from being on tour with Travis?
He had a show in Houston and his mom surprised him with a visit from his old teachers. That was special because Travis said he was basically failing one of his classes but his teacher really loved him and believed in him. She basically passed him because she knew he was a special kid. His mom was crying. That happened right before he went on stage. Being able to see people’s growth and hear stories like that is pretty special.
What was the energy like at The Criterion in Oklahoma City when Travis performed “Goosebumps” 14 times?
That crowd was insane! They broke the stage barrier hours before Travis even got there. Everyone had to be evacuated to fix it. Kids were raging in the streets, there were cops everywhere before the show even started. They didn't want me to film ‘cause every time the kids saw the camera they started chanting Travis’ name and rushed the doors.
You helped edit Future’s “Use Me” and “My Collection” music videos. How did that happen?
That was through my mentor and good friend Nick Walker. He’s an amazing director; he’s someone who doesn’t have a huge following on Instagram but, to me, he’s one of the most talented people I've ever worked with. There have been moments where I was like, “What the fuck am I doing out here [in L.A.]?” You never know what you're going to be working next week. He’s always been someone who has encouraged me to keep going and gives me projects to do. One day, he approached me and was like, “I'm doing these videos for Future. I want you to edit them.” I would go to his office and edit those videos with him. I also edited the FKA Twigs mini-doc, Baltimore Dance Project, and Freddie Gibbs’ “Pronto” video.
What’s the end goal from here?
I don't really want to have an end goal. I hope that I'm always hungry to figure out the next thing or inspired to feel the need to always be creating something. That's the goal.
Although Nike went on to release multiple colorways of the SF Air Force 1, the model made its debut at last year's ComplexCon. Nike made the sneaker available at their installation in a few colorways. They also dropped an all-white version that was exclusive to ComplexCon. According to sneaker stock market StockX, pairs have sold for as much as $573, but now you should be able to find a pair for around $300.
Bape x Travis Scott/Big Sean/Kid Cudi/Complex T-Shirt Collection
Bape also brought some exclusives to ComplexCon. The brand dropped three Baby Milo graphic T-shirts featuring Big Sean, Kid Cudi, or Travis Scott, as well as a graphic tee that combined the ComplexCon logo with Bape's iconic ape head logo. The tees were a hot commodity at the convention. In fact, Bape had one of the longest lines at the convention center because of these shirts. If you weren’t able to make it out to Long Beach last year you'll have to pay anywhere from $114 to $500 to cop now.
Anti Social Social Club x Undefeated ‘Paranoid’ Hoodie
One of the most hyped drops at ComplexCon 2016 was Anti Social Social Club's collaboration with Undefeated. The two brands released limited edition T-shirts and hoodies in two different colorways—one for each day of that weekend. Right now, the hoodies are on Grailed for roughly double the retail price, with resale value ranging from $140 to $225.
Anti Social Social Club also raffled off 24 pairs of their “Get Weird” Air Force 1 Low collaboration. Unfortunately, those will cost you a little more. There is currently a pair listed on Grailed for $4,000.
Takashi Murakami x ComplexCon Merch
Retail Price: $40-$120 Resale Price: $58-$400
Takashi Murakami was responsible for the overall design aesthetic of the first annual ComplexCon, and he also released some exclusive merch for the event. Pillows, tote bags, and clothing were all up for grabs. The Murakami merch booth had one of the longest lines at ComplexCon, and select items were on eBay and Grailed for up to a few thousand dollars immediately after ComplexCon 2016. Now, this stuff can be a little harder to come by, but there are a few select items like hats and flower pillows on Grailed for anywhere from $58 to $400.
Murakami and Complex have continued their partnership leading up to ComplexCon 2017. Select merch is available here.
The SF Air Force 1 was not the only shoe that Nike debuted at last year's ComplexCon. The sportswear giant also debuted a highly-anticipated collaboration with ASAP Bari'sVLONE. Only five pairs were raffled off to those who copped a VLONE T-shirt. One of the original pairs was even resold on eBay days later for $91,600. Although the sneaker is still being resold for $1,800 on the resale market, according to StockX, Nike has since cut ties with Bari following sexual harassment allegations stemming from the release of graphic video footage.
In the newest episode of Pigeons & Planes' What Had Happened Was, Atlanta producer Zaytoven recounts a musical collaboration that unfortunately never came to fruition.
Zaytoven explains how a studio session in Atlanta with Gucci Mane quickly escalated after a prank was played on the unsuspecting rapper. Having fun is great and all but if you learn anything from the video, it’s that you should know when playing too much, is well, too much. Check out the hilarious video above to see what exactly went down. Hint: It involves flour.
Luckily, it seems like Gucci was able to get past the incident as the pair have since worked together. If you missed it, check outZaytoven and Gucci Mane do a stripped down set for NPR’s Tiny Desk performance series.
Gucci released his latest album The Return of East Atlanta Santa, his tenth studio outing, back in December of 2016. The album boasted features from Drake, Travis Scott, Bryson Tiller and production from Metro Boomin, Southside, Mike Will Made It, Murda Beatz, Zaytoven, and others. Gucci will also be hitting the road alongside The Weeknd for his Legend of the Fall Tour.
What Had Happened Was premieres every Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. ET on P&P.
Lil Uzi Vert’s much-anticipated album, Luv Is Rage 2, still (can we italicize the word “still” any harder than that?) hasn’t dropped, despite a growing demand for the project. But the good thing for Uzi fans is that there hasn’t been a lack of new Uzi music so far this summer.
The titles for the songs haven’t been confirmed, but a SoundCloud user snatched up all five of them and packaged them together under the titles, “Walking Around With a Band,” “Bag” (which features Young Thug), “Let You Know,” “Loaded,” and “Pet.” You can listen to them below:
Initially, the belief was that the five songs were cuts from Luv Is Rage 2, with many fans assuming it meant the album was probably going to drop sooner than later. But early Monday morning, Uzi took to Twitter to reveal that the songs will not appear on the project. He said he’s going to be “coming way harder den dat” on the album in reference to the new songs:
Y'all thought them songs was on luv is rage 🙄 we coming way harder den dat 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔊🦇2®
In addition to the five songs that premiered on Shade 45, Uzi also performed a new song called “I Got The Work” during his set at the Flyover Festival in Bonner Springs, Kansas over the weekend. You can watch him perform it here:
Rap music has a long, long history of taking inspiration from rock-n-roll. There are highlights like Run DMC’s cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and low points like Lil Wayne’s “rock” album Rebirththat might come to mind. There is no shortage of links between the two genres musically.
But recently, we have seen more and more rappers taking cues from the rock-star lifestyle and look, not just the music. Acts like Travis Scott, Playboi Carti, and even Migos have added subtle and not-so-subtle rock flourishes to their already eclectic personas and musical style. However, the 2017 rapper who seems to have taken the most cues from rock-n-roll has to be Lil Uzi Vert.
Whether it is his highly regarded single “XO Tour Liife”(which is tagged as alternative rock on Soundcloud), insane stage dives at live shows, or even posting videos online of himself jamming out to Paramore in the car, the 22-year-old has made it crystal clear that he is inspired by rockers of the past and present.
Most of all, he’s doing his best to look the part. His constant, unapologetic blurring of the traditional lines between men’s and women’s fashion can definitely be credited to rockers like David Bowie or Iggy Pop. These artists helped pioneer rock’s androgynous style, wearing makeup and skin-tight leathers and embracing more feminine movements in their performances.
A post shared by Lougotcash (@lougotcash) on May 13, 2017 at 12:20pm PDT
Earlier this year, Uzi was roasted by the masses for rocking what has now become an infamous fit. Up-and-coming New York rapper Lou Got Cash posted a photo on his Instagram alongside Uzi, who was donning a low neck, distressed sweater from Faith Connexion, a spiked choker and a Goyard purse-looking satchel, and the internet’s floodgates opened, questioning his masculinity and his place within the rap community.
How did he react? Like any rock-star would. This past May, he showed up to the the Billboard Music Awards in a $2,400 women’s Valentino white see-through blouse, telling the haters during his interview with Sway Calloway, “They never felt these fabrics before.” No matter what he wears, Uzi just simply doesn’t give a fuck what you think about it.
For a lot of Uzi’s inspirations, look no further than Marilyn Manson. Uzi has declared his fandom for Manson numerous times. Perhaps the most blatant instance of this was during an interview with Nardwuar back in 2016: “At age 27, I will leave this Earth for this man right here—the Pale Emperor,” said Uzi, referring to a Manson tour poster Nardwuar gave him.
Manson has always been a style icon in his own right. His all-black goth wardrobe, accented with leather whenever possible, and makeup were a uniform for rebellious teens in the late ‘90s. Manson left a mark on high fashion too: He appeared in a campaign for YSL back in 2013 and performed at Stella McCartney’s Pre-Fall show in 2016. More recently, Manson’s style legacy lived on with 2016’s rocker tee trend, as the likes of Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, and, of course, Uzi have all been seen rocking his old merch.
A post shared by IF & Co. (@ifandco) on Apr 16, 2017 at 7:39pm PDT
But Uzi is someone who takes this inspirations further—rocking an old tour T-shirt isn’t enough. He’s repeatedly said that he was inspired to get his first set of platinum grills when he saw Manson donning a pair in his “Dope Show”music video. And check out his own custom Ben Baller chain—an iced-out, spiked choker chain with a blinged-out Marilyn Manson face pendant.
The chain is a perfect example of what Uzi has been able to do with his fashion. He’s takes clear inspiration from the rock-star aesthetics of the past, while adding a fresh hip-hop spin to the equation. He is stepping away from the traditional idea of what a rapper is supposed to dress like, perhaps more than we’ve ever seen before.
It is this self confidence and nonconformity that have allowed Uzi to make his style more than just a sideshow. He said it best in a 2016 interview with Global Grind: “I am a rock-star. I am rage.”
A new Partynextdoor and Quavo collaboration surfaced online. The track, possibly called “Team,” was spotted by HipHop-N-More Tuesday. The track is believed to feature production by Murda Beatz, i.e. the same dude who gave us Drake and Travis Scott's “Portland” and the underrated 2 Chainz single “It's a Vibe.”
The track was first teased by Quavo on Instagram back in March 2016:
A post shared by QuavoHuncho (@quavohuncho) on Mar 26, 2016 at 7:52am PDT
Another Partynextdoor track, possibly called “It's Simple,” also appeared online this week.
Partynextdoor and Quavo previously collaborated on “More” and “Cuffed Up” in 2016, both featuring production by Murda Beatz.
Partynextdoor just released his Colours 2EP with producer G. Ry at the top of this month. In an interview with Complex shortly after the EP's release, G. Ry outlined the importance of the Colours project. “These EPs are important to us because it's the canvas for me and Party to showcase our talents differently than what the fans are used to hearing and to the style of music people are hearing from other artist's at the time,” he said. As a producer, G. Ry added, it's his job to ensure new songs “sound differently” while still being able to sonically coexist.
Quavo is also expected to release an untitled collaborative project of some sort with Travis Scott soon. Though details of the project remain scarce, Scott told a Birds Eye View crowd earlier this month that he and Quavo had been hard at work in the studio.