The Weeknd covers Billboard

It’s The Weeknd’s world right now and the latest big look for him is the cover of Billboard, revealed today.

Also revealed are 5 revelations that tease the cover story and can be seen below. Click here for the full sneak peak and ICYMI below.

ICYMI: The Weeknd BBTM (Album Snippets) | “Tell Your Friends” [Music Video]

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1. He Strives to Make His Mother Proud
Tesfaye dropped out of high school, and moved to downtown Toronto to focus on a career in music. “I couldn’t face her until I made something out of myself,” he tells Billboard, speaking about his Ethiopian-Canadian single mother. “I couldn’t go back home as a nobody.”

2. Michael Jackson Made Him Want to Be a Songwriter… and Get Emotional 
There’s a reason Tesfaye covered Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” (as “D.D.”) on his 2011 mixtape Echoes of Silence. “I got emotional,” he says, thinking back to the first time he read its lyrics. “It’s when I first knew I wanted to write songs.”

3. He Got a Little Nervous When Taylor Swift Brought Him Onstage 
When Taylor Swift brought Tesfaye onstage in July at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium during her “1989” tour stop, he was surprised by the crowd’s reaction: “When she introduced me and the whole stadium screamed their lungs out, it kind of threw me off. I did not expect that reaction.”

4. Topping the Hot 100 Hasn’t Been Easy
“The pop-star life is a new challenge,” Tesfaye admits to Billboard, referencing his whirlwind transformation from shrouded underground star to full-on pop star thanks to moments like collaborating with Ariana Grande on “Love Me Harder” and the No. 1 “Can’t Feel My Face.” Still, he insists his lyrics are based on his life. That includes losing his a Toronto apartment and staying with women he was led to believe were his girlfriends.

5. He Played the Major-Label Game Like a Chessmaster
After The Weeknd’s mixtape trilogy rocketed him to notoriety, the artist wasn’t overeager to sign with a label. In fact, he made the industry work for it. “I think from his perspective it was a chess game,” Republic A&R executive Nate Albert tells Billboard. Tesfaye is with Republic now, but back then, Albert had to chase him down on his home turf of Toronto, while he initially showed little interest in signing. Adds Albert: “The culture has come to him.”

Kendrick Lamar interviews N.W.A.

On the heels of yesterday’s RollingStone cover reveal, the latest pub for N.W.A. and Straight Outta Compton is a doozy.

Kendrick Lamar sits down with N.W.A. for Billboard and they talk for 25 minutes. Need I really say more?

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

The conversation ranges from early days in the studio with Eazy-E, the eternal “bullshit” of the music business and how N.W.A made South Park (and much more) possible.

“N.W.A did a lot more than entertain. They told the truth,” says Lamar. And as Dre explains, “If N.W.A had done it softer, it wouldn’t have gotten the attention. It wouldn’t have worked.” Cube tells Billboard that he believes police brutality remains “the same” today as it did in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

“Ain’t nobody we’d rather have do this interview,” says Cube, 46.

“Have you seen the movie?” asks Dre, 50.

“Not yet,” answers Lamar. “Didn’t want to go to a preview and see it in a privileged setting. Would rather wait for it to come to the neighborhood and see it with everyone else. That way it’ll mean the most to me.”

These are just scattered tibits aside from the sitdown itself. Again, be sure to press play above, if you can only read right now, the full transcript is here. And there’s also some behind the scenes on the cover shoot here.

Kanye’s statement on BBMAs performance

It’s no surprise that Yeezy was upset about how his BBMAs finale performance came off to us at home this past Sunday night. It was heavily censored, sometimes for over 30 seconds, and the cameras captured Ye (and Allan Kingdom and Theophilus London) behind more smoke and pyrotechnics than I’m sure was intended.

Today, we hear from Yeezy… via his rep… addressing the poor performance. Apology accepted, let’s just move on?!

Via Kanye’s rep:

“Kanye West was grossly over-censored at the Billboard Music Awards,” the rep wrote. “Non-profane lyrics such as ‘with my leather black jeans on’ were muted for over 30-second intervals. As a result, his voice and performance were seriously misrepresented. It is ridiculous that in 2015, unwarranted censorship is something that artists still have to fight against.

“Although West was clearly set up to face elements beyond his control during the live broadcast, he would like to apologize to the television audience who were unable to enjoy the performance the way he envisioned.”

h/t RS

Kanye West Billboard Music Awards Performance

Welp… that was all sorts of confusing and disappointing.

Kanye West just concluded tonight’s Billboard Music Awards and for most of us hip hop heads, we kept it on in the background for 3 hours to see ‘Ye shut it down with flames.

Unfortunately, the censors shut him down amidst Kanye’s now customary flames.

‘Ye began with “All Day” and ABC’s censors overreacted to the lyrics with silence for quite literally more than half of the song. It continued as Kanye went into “Black Skinhead” and to top it off, ‘Ye seemingly purposefully stood with the flames and behind some pyrotechnics to only project a silhouette. It didn’t quite work given the smoke and camera’s distance (in fact, the better effect is from Theophilus London’s IG video below… very cool.) Naturally though, Twitter was ablaze (no pun intended) with a high amount of WTF memes. I’m with the masses here — upset at the censors.

But it does beg a couple questions: 1. With the high volume of ‘n’ words, should Ye really be pushing “All Day” to non hip hop dominated audiences (like a telecast for pop music on ABC or even a Bulls game where the percentage is not as much as a Yeezus concert.) And 2. Why go back to “Black Skinhead”? Yeezus is a month shy of 2 years now.

Stay tuned for the silver lining to come of this performance: the next Kanye stream of consciousness.

http://streamable.com/e/ifw9

A couple tidbits via Theophilus London…

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before we started ye prayed "no more tv shows after this" #Amen 🙂

A photo posted by @theophiluslondon on

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Elsewhere in the night, the only other performance you have to see is Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” which featured viral violinist Lindsey Stirling to add a fresh touch to the melody. I dug her addition and the Paul Walker tribute video in the back at the very end. Why did Wiz have to turn up like that at the end? I would have preferred a classic pose it out moment.

I grasp for straws for more must-see highlights from the BBMAs. There’s really only J. Lo & Rita Ora left, ha!

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A$AP Rocky covers Billboard

With At.Long.Last.A$AP now confirmed for a May 12th release, A$AP Rocky will be popping up all over the place and most recently on today’s reveal of the Billboard cover and accompanying story. The latter is pretty interesting and copied below.

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1. His Taste in Music Will Surprise You
A$AP Rocky admits he’s only skimmed Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly: “I got about two songs I liked.” On the other hand, he can’t stop talking about all things psychedelic, especially rock and trip-hop. For inspirations, he name-checks Portishead, Massive Attack, Thom Yorke and “old ’60s psychedelic shit” like the Kinks and the Stooges. At one point, he breaks into singing Cream’s “Free” and calls T. Rex’s Electric Warrior “perfection.”

At. Long. Last. A$AP. collaborator Mark Ronson once asked Rocky if he had heard of Tame Impala. “He looked at me like I was crazy,” Ronson tells Billboard. “[He] proceeded to play me a chopped-and-screwed remix that he made of [the band’s] ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.’ He played me a lot of amazing music that I had never heard of.”

2. But Rest Assured, He Has the Respect of the Hip-Hop Game
Since breaking through in 2011, A$AP Rocky has down a masterful job of balancing his left-field taste with money-making, mainstream acceptance. His 2013 debut album Long. Live. ASAP has sold over 518,000 copies to date and featured killer posse cuts like “Fuckin’ Problems” with Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar.

“We’re both into a lot of obscure things that guys from our environment aren’t normally into,” Danny Brown tells Billboard. “What I love about him is he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He knows what he wants and doesn’t compromise for anyone.”

3. When it Comes to Fashion, He’s Fine With Being a Little Alt
By now, A$AP Rocky’s fashion exploits have been well-documented. He’s collaborated with Raf Simons and Jeremy Scott and when he explains his personal taste, he gives the impression that he’s original enough to make a lasting impact. “I don’t like doing anything anyone else is doing,” he tells Billboard. “If leather’s popular this year, I’m just going to have to go with suede. If you want to consider my shit alternative, so be it. I just look at it as eclectic.”

4. He’s Breaking Into Film on His Own Terms
Rocky made his film debut playing a small-time drug dealer in Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope, a smash at Sundance in January. Although he calls it “an amazing movie,” he’s taking his time in choosing his next project. He scoffs at his own past as a dealer and thinks the Dope character is “too typical” for a rapper. “I want something that gives me more of a challenge and is less cliched. Until I find something that feels right, I’m going to stay my ass off the big screen.”

His favorite film right now is Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. A grid of stills from the film adorn a wall of his apartment, and he says it’s been serving as inspiration for a short film accompanying the new disc.

5. He’s Found Inspiration in Losing One of His Closest Friends
When A$AP Yams, aka Steven Rodriguez, died in January of an accidental drug overdose, the entire A$AP crew was obviously devastated. Rocky was particularly shaken up, as Yams was the seasoned hip-hop veteran who’d groomed him since he was just out of his teenage years. At the time of his Billboard interview, Rocky had been logging nightly studio sessions, trying to finish an album his mentor conceived before his death. “He left his notebooks, he left his blueprint. His album’s f–ing -incredible. I want to finish what he started.”

Wiz Khalifa “See You Again” new #1

“Uptown Funk” has finally been dethroned.

It took 14 weeks, but Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ infectious hit has slid down the charts in favor of Wiz Khalifa’s Furious 7 contribution and Paul Walker tribute. Not that “Uptown Funk” is a bad choice, I actually like the song like the masses, but that 14 week reign is pretty impressive (and good for the 2nd longest run in Hot 100 chart history.)

I’m just happy that it was overtaken by the touching “See You Again” that I have grown a fan of since seeing it as the fitting background in Paul Walker’s tribute at the end of the film. The music video does the franchise justice as well, so ICYMI, watch the video to the new #1 song in the country below (AND, UPDATE: His performance of the song on Ellen.)

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Childish Gambino on the creative process

Childish Gambino was just featured in a new interview with Billboard and the focus was on the creative process, especially amidst a flurry of different projects that Gambino is involved in. From acting, writing, recording, and touring, Gambino does it all and provides a little insight into how he’s such a good multi-tasker. Salvador Dali then makes sense as a chief inspiration. I’m sure all of us can relate to multi-tasking in some ways… I feel do whatever works for you, whether it’s blending it all together or just focusing on the one thing.

Here’s an excerpt and more from the interview here*:

How I Work
“In my house, I have an empty room: I have my studio there, a whiteboard with the Atlanta scripts, a canvas for painting and all my albums and DJ equipment. I wake up every morning and I start grabbing things — spray-painting the walls, recording, writing. They’re all connected for me. It’s all about trying to get to the bottom of what being a human is.”

My Multihyphenate Hero
“Once for spring break I went to St. Petersburg [Fla.], which is wack, but I wanted to be around old people. (Laughs.) And there’s a Salvador Dali museum there. I wrote a postcard to myself that said, ‘Never forget Dali.’ He would paint, do sculpture, ­architecture, film, photography.”

*Billboard also says Gambino is recording for his third studio album!