21 Savage Talks ‘Issa,’ Drake, and State of Trap Music on ‘Everyday Struggle’

On today's Everyday Struggle, 21 Savage joins Joe Budden, DJ Akademiks, and Nadeska to talk his debut studio album Issa, why his Drake and Young Thug collab is never dropping, and more. 21 Savage also breaks down the state of trap music and what he thinks about the generation gap in rap. 

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Gunner Stahl Talks Photographing Gucci Mane and Getting Turned Down by DMX | The Culture

In just a few years Gunner Stahl has gone from a name to know in the photography world to being one of the elite photographers documenting some of the biggest names in hip-hop. On top of that, he's also released two photo books, shot a magazine cover, and hosted a number of gallery exhibits.

Even with the rapid success, it's safe to say his biggest moment has yet be captured. In the debut episode of The Culture, Complex's own Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins links up with the 25-year-old photographer to find out how he got to this point, and where he's going next.

Stahl's work behind the lens began at the age of 18 when he bought his first camera. He didn't get into portraits of musical acts until 2014 when he shot Wiz Khalifa after the Pittsburgh rapper had just dyed his hair purple. That moment inspired him to pursue photography more seriously.

Gunner Stahl
Image via Complex Original/Photography by Andy Hur

After a quick stop at a camera shop, Stahl and Jinx hit the studio for a photography session with ATL rapper Rich the Kid. There Stahl highlights the importance of trust between photographer and subject, and reveals his favorite commissioned gig was doing the cover art for Playboi Carti's self-titled debut mixtape.

Stahl also admits he got turned down by a high profile figure: “DMX… got me hyped bro.”

Check out the full episode above, where Gunner Stahl talks about capturing the moment Gucci Mane and Young Thug reunited after Mane was released from prison, and why he's inspired by photographer Chi Modu. Subscribe to Complex to catch more episodes of The Culture, and keep up with Stahl's latest moves on Instagram.

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2 New Lil Uzi Vert Songs Surface as Hype for ‘Luv Is Rage 2’ Builds

My BFF satan works in mysterious ways. This week, the Angel of Darkness blessed us with the surfacing of two fresh Lil Uzi Vert songs. As Luv Is Rage 2 still (!!!) doesn't have a firm release date, new tracks from the esteemed wearer of inverted crosses randomly popping up online will have to do.

“Alone Time” and “Repercussion” surfaced this week, as spotted by HipHop-N-More Tuesday. At the time of this writing, it's unclear where—if anywhere—these tracks will land. Are they Luv Is Rage 2 cuts? Throwaways? An early glimpse at a Lil Uzi Vert x Marilyn Manson collab album that I can only hope will happen? No clue. Stream them both below.

Lil Uzi Vert, despite keeping the Luv Is Rage 2 release date under wraps, has been consistently teasing new music on Instagram:

 

A post shared by @liluzivert on Jul 8, 2017 at 8:21pm PDT

 

A post shared by @liluzivert on Jan 11, 2017 at 8:35pm PST

Previous Lil Uzi Vert sermons “XO Tour Llif3” and “Money Longer” were certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America last month. Both tracks appeared on separate projects, with “XO Tour Llif3” serving as the monster hit from this year's Luv Is Rage 1.5 while “Money Longer”—Uzi's first single—comes from his 2016 project Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World.

As for what will actually end up on the long-awaited Luv Is Rage sequel, no one knows.​ In the meantime, check out DJ Mustard's just-released “XO Tour Llif3” remix and get caught up what we do know about the project below:​

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Floyd Mayweather Responds to Report About Him Owing IRS Significant Amount of Money

On Monday, a report emerged indicating that Floyd Mayweather currently owes the IRS a large amount of money ​due to a lingering tax liability from back in 2015. According to that report, Mayweather has filed a petition in a tax court asking for a reprieve from making any payments to the IRS until after he fights Conor McGregor on Aug. 26, at which time he will have more than enough money to pay Uncle Sam back. The report made it seem like Mayweather would need to liquidate some of his assets in order to pay the IRS right now, which wouldn’t make sense when he can pay them in cash following his fight with McGregor.

Mayweather’s lawyer Jeffrey Morse did a lengthy interview with Fight Hype shortly after the IRS report came out, and he attempted to explain why Mayweather has a tax liability dating back to 2015. According to him, Mayweather “always pays his taxes,” but he also takes advantage of certain regulations that “allow taxpayers to defer their tax liability in certain circumstances.” Morse argued that Mayweather isn’t putting off paying his tax liability because he can’t pay it, but rather, he’s putting it off because the IRS allows it and it allows Mayweather the chance to make more on the money he’s earned by investing it elsewhere instead of simply handing it right over to the IRS. There are people who are skeptical about whether or not that’s actually the case, but you can read Morse’s interview here to get his side of things or listen to his interview below to hear him explain the situation.

Very early Tuesday morning, Mayweather himself also responded to the IRS report by taking to his Instagram account to reveal that he paid $26 million in taxes back in 2015. He told his followers to “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear, especially when it comes to the media in this country,” and he also made it seem as though he doesn’t have any issues with the IRS from back in 2015. It appears to be a slightly different story than the one his tax lawyer told, but it’s clear Mayweather isn't going to lose any sleep over the stories about him that have been circulating over the last 24 hours:

In addition to putting up that post on Instagram, Mayweather did an interview with Fight Hype from his private jet early Tuesday and said that Donald Trump and Bill Gates are the only ones allowed to question his money. He talked about it at around the 2:10 mark of this clip:

McGregor weighed in on the situation late Monday as well, and he, of course, used the IRS report to help add fuel to the fire as far as the upcoming Mayweather/McGregor fight is concerned. McGregor was spotted shopping on Rodeo Drive, and the paparazzi asked him to respond to the report about his opponent. And McGregor was more than happy to use it to take a couple shots at Mayweather.

“That’s gotta sting,” he said. “He shoulda paid his taxes and stayed retired and kept my name out of his mouth.”

It’s hard to tell what the truth is here, but if nothing else, all of this chatter about the IRS and deferred tax payments should make the Mayweather/McGregor press conference on Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles even more interesting than it was already going to be. Look for McGregor to try and use it to his advantage during the war of words that’s sure to ensue, and look for Mayweather to try and use it to remind everyone that he’s got way more zeroes in his bank account than McGregor does. It should be…something.

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The Best Rap Collaborations of 2017 (So Far)

We've shared the best songsalbums, and verses of 2017 so far, but one category we've yet to highlight this year is the rap collaboration. Historically speaking, these records rise to the top when we look back at pivotal performances in years past. Think “Believe Me,” “Otis,” “Pick Up the Phone,” “Cartoon & Cereal.” No need to list off the artists involved; these moments speak for themselves.

There's a good chance a rap collab or two in 2017 joins that pantheon of greatness. With July marking the halfway point, here's a rundown of the best rap collaborations this year has had to offer.


  • Drake f/ 2 Chainz and Young Thug “Sacrifices”

    Whenever Drake and 2 Chainz link up on a track, it's guaranteed to make waves. That said, “Sacrifices” truly takes off thanks to Young Thug's inclusion. Surprisingly enough, this song counts as Drake and Thug's first proper collaboration, and the trio of rappers don't disappoint with slick rhymes on how they finessed their situations into something better. 


  • Wale f/ Lil Wayne “Running Back”

    Wale and Lil Wayne have a history of flipping sports references and metaphors throughout their careers, so it should come as no surprise that they continue it on a record called “Running Back.” The song showcases their chemistry together, along with playful lyricism that makes “Running Back” an enjoyable listen. 


  • Playboi Carti f/ Lil Uzi Vert “Woke Up Like This”

    Playboi Carti only recently started to gain national recognition through “Magnolia” and his self-titled debut project, but if you ask the ATL rapper he's already got imitators in the game. “Woke Up Like This” embodies this narrative, where Carti and Lil Uzi Vert call out those who are jacking their style. Carti and Uzi Vert have linked up a handful of times in the past, and “Woke Up Like This” is their best collaboration yet.


  • Kodak Black f/ Jeezy “Feeling Like”

    “Feeling Like” is a deep cut off Kodak Black's Painting Pictures that details the struggles of making it out of the streets and having a target on your back even when that takes place. It's a sobering performance that shows how well Kodak and Jeezy match up, with the younger act providing his concerns in real time while the veteran ATL native keeps his success in perspective.


  • DJ Khaled f/ Chance the Rapper, Quavo, Lil Wayne, and Justin Bieber “I’m the One”

    It may have took 10 albums, but DJ Khaled finally secured his first No. 1 single with “I'm the One.” And to his credit, he put together a lineup that was tailor-made to hit the top of the charts, with Justin Bieber handling hook duties and Chance the Rapper, Quavo, and Lil Wayne delivering their animated bars over a sugar-coated melody. Respect the process.

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Lonzo Ball Knew He Was Going To Be a Laker and (Maybe) Made NBA Draft History

If he was tipped off, he didn’t say. But if Lonzo Ball truly didn’t have assurance from the Lakers that he was going to be the second pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, he felt it in his bones. Or more accurately his feet.

Because sitting in the green room, off to the right of the podium where commissioner Adam Silver announced all 30 first round selections, Ball decided to switch shoes once the Lakers were on the clock.  

Gone where the black hard bottoms he was sporting earlier. Out came a pair of the infamous Big Baller Brand ZO2s that retail for $495. Only these weren’t all black, like the ones that infamously debuted back in May. This pair was gold and purple—Lakers colors. And before Silver could say Ball’s name, he casually slipped on the sneakers because he just knew suiting up for his hometown team was his destiny.

“Just had a good feeling, and changed them five minutes before when they was on the clock, and I'm glad they called my name,” said Ball, in typically understated fashion.

The NBA’s signature fashion event, where 19-and-20-year-old kids get decked out in suits that would put every prom outside of Beverly Hills to shame, usually does not feature any wardrobe changes, other than the addition of a team hat once Silver calls your name. But Ball just might have authored an NBA first when he switched shoes in the middle of the draft.

Magic Johnson and the Lakers got their point guard of the present and future, one ESPN’s Jay Williams told us Wednesday could be “transcendent.”

Ball told Complex he changed “when [the Lakers] had the pick, right after Markelle” Fultz was chosen first by the Sixers. The Ball family had them hidden “right under the table” and Lonzo “had a feeling” he was about to be next selection. And that’s when he slipped into something way more comfortable and way more marketable than a pair of black dress shoes.

And really, Lonzo rocking a brand new colorway of the ZO2s was arguably one of the more interesting subplots to come out of the NBA Draft that didn't revolve around the Jimmy Butler trade to the Timberwolves or the prospect of Phil Jackson asininely shipping Kristaps Porzingis somewhere. Because the top part of the draft didn’t veer far from most projections. It was short on suspense and very predictable. 

Fultz went to the Sixers. Lonzo to the Lakers. Jayson Tatum to the Celtics at No. 3. Josh Jackson to the Suns at No. 4 and De’Aaron Fox, the guy who was rumored to be ahead of Ball on the Lakers’ draft board about a month ago, went to the Kings at No. 5.

In the end, LaVar Ball, with his swagger on a hundred, thousand, trillion at Barclays Center, could do his damn thing, talk his talk, and most especially walk his signature walk. His son was drafted to the only team he ever wanted him to play for, the team he predicted months ago would wind up with his son. LaVar proved to be a prophet.

Lonzo Ball LaVar Ball Green Room NBA Draft 2017
Image via USA Today Sports/Brad Penner

The man behind Big Baller Brand was surprisingly absent as Lonzo made his way through the arena's bowels, talking to reporters, taking part in NBA sanctioned obligations, and getting hounded by little kids for autographs. Usually, new draftees are paraded all over the arena with their handlers and based on how hands-on LaVar has been, it wasn’t out of the question to expect him to tail his son. But maybe it was by design that he didn’t, or maybe it was just happenstance that papa Ball had to stick around with the rest of his brood and babysit the younger LiAngelo and LaMelo while Lonzo basked in his crowning achievement of his 19 years of existence.

We didn’t really get to witness the bragging and boasting of LaVar afterward, which would have been gold. But he got what he wanted, what he predicted. And we, as NBA fans, got what was basically expected from the darft.

With the rest of the top 10 relatively bereft of drama, Lonzo winding up with the Lakers was arguably the biggest draft-specific story of the night. Lakers exec Magic Johnson got his point guard of the present and future, one ESPN’s Jay Williams told us Wednesday could be “transcendent.” Predictably, Lonzo was about as emotive as a robot, barely smiling or acting like a giddy teenager you’d expect most kids in his position to be.

But at least he was rocking the freshest kicks in the house, the ones nobody else was wearing or could get their hands at the time, the ones that he can most definitely afford now that's he's a Laker. 

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Young Thug Proclaims Himself ‘The New ‘Pac’

Young Thug dropped his Beautiful Thugger Girls album over the weekend, with the release seemingly coming out of nowhere. Late Saturday, Thugger gave a brief explanation for the timing of his release via Twitter.

“I dropped E.B.B.T.G on 2PAC'S bday because I'm the #newPAC,” Young Thug wrote. “I feel like I am the thug he didn't get to become #SoImGoinFinishWhatHeStarted.”

From Max B calling himself “Biggaveli” to Kodak Black releasing Lil B.I.G. Pac, and Troy Ave naming an album NuPac, there are several examples of artists invoking the name of the late Tupac Shakur to promote their projects. 

June 16 marked not only the late Shakur’s birthday but an official Tupac Shakur Day recognized by Oakland, California Mayor Libby Schaaf. One can point to a rather direct correlation between Shakur’s frequent practice of calling himself a thug and using the acronym T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. and Young Thug’s rap moniker. 

However, many took issue with the statement. Shakur fans and Young Thug supporters found themselves clashing in Thugger’s mentions after he posted the tweet.

This wouldn't be the first time Thugger has name checked one of his influences. Jeffery was peppered with the rapper's inspirations, with artists like Swizz Beatz, Wyclef Jean and Kanye West working their way into song titles. Young Thug’s Beautiful Thugger Girls is available for purchase and streaming now.

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Joe Budden and DJ Akademiks Debate Who’s a Bigger Star: Future or Young Thug?

On today's Everyday Struggle, Joe Budden, DJ Akademiks, and Nadeska run through the day's hottest topics including Tory Lanez dropping racks, 6lack dissing a Twitter follower, Lil Wayne dissing Birdman, and much more. The star conversation continues with a hearty debate about Young Thug and Future and who has more star power at the moment. 

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Trending Topics: DJ Carnage on Donald Glover, Young Thug, and Game of Thrones

DJ Carnage is a name equally respected in dance and hip-hop circles. He's an established name on the live festival circuit, even starting his own, RARE, in Orlando. That's where he met Young Thug, and the two linked up for an EP that's coming soon. Carnage's other upcoming collaborations are no less impressive—Lil YachtyMigos, and Meek Mill are among those who have recently blessed a Carnage beat, and the results are massive. 

Those tracks are on the way, but when DJ Carnage stopped by the offices, we wanted to talk about the here and now. For the latest episode of Trending Topics, we asked the artist about that Thug EP, the many talents of Donald Glover, and what it takes to enjoy a festival the right way. Watch Carnage's Trending Topics above, and check out last week's cut with Ryan Hemsworth below. 

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A Recent History of Kanye West’s Music Leaks

Truth be told, music leaks every day, and while some artists' pre-release material might move the news cycle for a bit, no one can dominate a conversation quite like Kanye West. Over the years, his leaks have become the thing of legend, with entire sections of the internet dedicated to cataloging the build-up of new Kanye music, watching it evolve from demos and pre-release material to the finished product (or, in the case of The Life of Pablo, the songs' evolution).

This is something to ponder as we try to figure out what his most recent leaks will end up being. Boasting features from Young Thug, Migos, and ASAP Rocky, the songs have been teased for over a year, with no clear cut indication on where they'd end up. Judging by Kanye's leak history, we might not even get the same songs that we heard this week.

Let's look back at Kanye West's leaked track history in recent times.

May 28, 2010: No one man should leak all that “Power”

Long before we knew what a powerhouse of an album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy would turn into, Kanye fans were just hoping he was on his way back toward traditional hip-hop after 2008's 808s and Heartbreak.

When “Power” leaked in the spring of 2010, it was all the evidence we needed to declare Kanye was back. There weren't a whole lot of changes in the song in the time between the leak and the album's final release, but the initial product was so good that it didn't really matter.

May 31, 2013: Q-Tip introduced us to “Mama's Boyfriend”

A track by the name of “Mama's Boy” had been rumored amongst Kanye fans for years, and was allegedly rapped a capella at the Facebook offices during the promotional tour for MBDTF. It didn't end up on the album, and a fake version would eventually surface on the internet in 2011.

Mercifully, Q-Tip freed what sounds like a final version of the song titled “Mama's Boyfriend” while lecturing at the Red Bull Music Academy in 2013. The upbeat snippet didn't sound like it would have fit on MBDTF, but at least it was finally confirmed to be a real track.

Aug. 12, 2014: Someone recorded “All Day” on their phone

The fight to be first on the internet is real, and it was part of the reason “All Day” hit the streets long before the scheduled release date. The leaked version was reportedly unfinished, and Kanye claimed to continue working on the song until March 2015.

Despite the shoddy quality and incomplete nature of the original “All Day” leak, it managed to rise to No. 1 on Billboard's Twitter Trending 140 for five hours. That's the power of Kanye in a nutshell.

March 11, 2015: Kanye thinks Kim Kardashian is “Awesome”

Kanye first played this song for a Met Gala crowd way back in 2013, but it took another two years—and a stolen Kanye laptop—for this song to hit the internet. “Awesome” is believed to be a salute to his wife, Kim Kardashian, but the response to the song was nothing like the title.

Fans have warmed up to Kanye's use of Auto-Tune over the years, but things went into overkill on this one. “Awesome” was never released officially, and maybe that's for the best.

April 11, 2015: Kanye's got the “Midas Touch”

Dropping seemingly out of nowhere, this gold-themed song was speculated to be a reference track for Rihanna, in the same vein of her song “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Her name is all over the track, and Kanye was working together with Rihanna at the time, with their song “Four Five Seconds” releasing months prior to the “Midas Touch” leak.

That's all speculation, however, because there has been no indication since the leak about what the song was supposed to become. Consider this a partially-unsolved mystery.

Jan. 21, 2016: Miley Cyrus hops on “Black Skinhead”

Kanye loves boasting about his ability to mix untraditional combinations of artists—call him Kwa-li or Kwe-li, he'll put him on songs with Jay-Z—and putting Miley Cyrus on a song called “Black Skinhead” certainly qualifies. Cyrus sang lyrics from Tears For Fears' “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” while West switched up the delivery of his lyrics, mixing in Travis Scott vocals alongside a toned-down inflection.

Mike Will hinted the song was in the works dating back to 2013, and hopefully you took advantage of the leak when it finally emerged, because it's a difficult track to hunt down these days.

Feb. 18, 2016: Reddit user releases a whole lot of Pablo tracks

The Life of Pablo is more of a “living” album than a traditional release, and one rambunctious Redditor thought he'd join the creative process for Kanye's latest solo album. Just days after Kanye released Pablo, original or demo versions emerged, including the original version of “Wolves,” full versions of “Waves” and “Fade,” and new tracks like “Only One,” “New Angels,” and a remix of “All Day.”

Kanye wasn't shy about telling the public he had a whole lot of unreleased music in the vault during TLOP, but he didn't comment on this particular leak.

March 31, 2016: Apple Music accidentally leaks “Saint Pablo”

Rappers are always happy to tell you when a record label or third party screws the pooch, and Kanye had a case to make when “Saint Pablo” leaked in early 2016. Ye's link up with Sampha was accidentally posted on Apple Music for a few hours in March, taken down, and then eventually added to Pablo in mid-June.

It wasn't an unknown property when the tech giant let it fly—Kanye had been performing it at shows prior to the leak—but come on, Apple. You only had one job!

Oct. 6, 2016: A Young Thug-assisted version of “Famous” hits the net

Kanye's controversial Pablo track came under fire for targeting pop icon Taylor Swift, but an unreleased version of the song that surfaced later in 2016 changed the formula entirely. Rihanna and Swizz Beatz' vocals got dropped from the track in favor of Young Thug, and West name-dropped his ex, Amber Rose, rather than firing shots at Swift in the track's intro.

The Kanye-Thug collaboration sounded like it was unfinished, but I guess we'll never know—we're still waiting for an official release of this one.

June 4, 2017: Collaborations with Young Thug, Migos, ASAP Rocky, and Travis Scott surface

Individuals behind a site called Music Mafia allegedly hacked Drake's Twitter and afterward were able to get their hands on two songs from Kanye—”Hold Tight” featuring Migos and Young Thug and “Euro (Switch Hands)” featuring ASAP Rocky—as well as a preview of another track with Travis Scott. 

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