August 21, 2014
Memphis born rapper Cities Aviv has a sound that’s tough to pin down. He uses a mix of genres and rhymes to shake up one noisy cocktail. He lives in NY, where he spends his time making music IRL and blowing off girls via texts, but not on purpose. Cities is complex, which is why it’s great to have him sit down and explain himself. On the latest episode of Everything Is Embarrassing, he reveals why he’s a bad date and what he’d wear to the Grammys.
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The Bullet Shop
August 21, 2014

Like many other contemporary teens, Rainy Milo has incorporated the collage style aesthetic of Tumblr into her persona. Unlike most, however, she’s also managed to leverage that style into a burgeoning music career. The gif-based video for the UK artist’s track “Bout You”, remixed by Great Dane, and recently featured on Kilo Kish collaborator Kitty Cash’s Love the Free mixtape, is a case in point.

“I come from the Tumblr generation, and I was always so amused by the gif videos that people would create of funny, candid celebrity moments or humorous clips from films,” Milo tells us. “Seeing and enjoying these brief moving images inspired me to take the concept but use it in a more serious manner, i.e the gif videos that now accompany my new releases.”

The cherub statue at the heart of the video is drawn from her past, she says.

“Every Christmas, my mum would lay out these place mats which had the famous painting Sistine Madonna by Raphael printed onto them. However, they only included the part of the painting featuring the cherubs, and since then I was always really struck by them. Anytime I saw them in paintings or sculptures they reminded me of Christmas, and I became sort of obsessed with the idea of them being supernatural beings that looked out for humans and how nice that would be. So when I thought of the lyrics, ‘There’s something special ’bout you,’ I tried to think of imagery that was special to me, and of course, when I thought of cherubs I instantly wanted to incorporate one.”

The song is as hypnotic as the looping images, with Milo’s velvety romantic vocals pouring out over a crackling instrumental aura and skittering beats.

“‘Bout You’ describes that universal crush at first sight feeling,” she says of the song. “Those feelings of instantly knowing someone is special without actually knowing them and thinking ‘Shit, there’s something special about you.’”

I was just thinking the same thing.

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The Bullet Shop
August 20, 2014
Photo by Alex Barket
Photo by Alex Barket

Alex Chapman  just released a music video for “Switch Hitta,” a song he wrote about stealing your boyfriend, something the 22-year-old hip-hop artist has some experience with. The song touched us, because we know what it’s like to lust after what we can’t have (talking about you, gluten). Chapman, who’s already been profiled in the NY Times and plays under the name Chapman, DJs a weekly party at Up & Down, that you should hit up if you enjoy losing yourself to dance. We were impressed by Chapman’s “what’s yours is mine” attitude, so we asked him to share some tips on keeping your lovers hidden and your nipples warm.

What inspired your hair in this video? My guess is Pee Wee Herman?
The hair was done by Skii Holder & Marquis Williams, who absolutely killed it. I’m so lazy with my hair normally so it was great to see it take on a new life. I feel like it was meant to bring a classic vibe, a la Errol Flynn. It also reminded me of Superman. The middle part was very Alfalfa, one of the great style icons of our time.

How many boyfriends have you stolen?
I don’t want to say too much, but I will say “Switch Hitta” is very much based on my real life. I pissed off a handful of girls in high school after they’d catch their boyfriends sexting me, but in my defense, I was sorta doing them a favor. Those guys were never straight anyways.

Where’s the best place in town to take a lover?
It all depends. If you’re hanging out during the day, there’s some cute public gardens in Alphabet City that I think are really romantic—I go to them sometimes to read or write songs, but I always imagine bringing a boy there. Night-wise the best place would probably be a restaurant with dim lighting—Lil Frankie’s is my favorite. You can set the mood while at the same time stuffing your face, and since it’s dark they won’t be able to see how gross you are.

Where’s the best place in town to hide a lover?
My apartment.

Where’s the best place in town to break up with one?
Definitely outside, maybe McCarren Park or somewhere that feels open—that way they can’t freak out on you or do anything rash that they wouldn’t want people seeing. Going to a meal or having a drink with the intention of breaking up with someone is so suspenseful. Just cut the cord and get it over with so you can both move on.

What do you want to say to girls who find out their boyfriends are gay?
When gay/confused/closeted guys use girls as a beard, I feel like all they are thinking about is their own protection—from their family or other people who may disapprove, from the world. They might brag about things that never happened and make you look like a slut to their guy friends, but don’t take it personally, they are just trying to be macho. It sucks and is absolutely unfair but at the end of the day you shouldn’t let it get you down.

This video seems like a fashion editorial that got kinky behind the scenes. I especially appreciate the notes on what you’re all wearing. As a fashion pro, why do you think so many men dress boring as hell?
The notes were (the director) Minister Akins’ idea, to create an editorial in motion. It’s one of my fave aspects of the video for sure. I feel like most guys are inherently lazy. They’d rather wear a simple look and feel secure in that then put in the work to do something exciting or eccentric. I think also guys are sometimes afraid to step out of their comfort zone style-wise.

Where do you see menswear going?
To the future. People like Luar Zepol, LPD NY, Telfar, Hood By Air—they all seem to create stuff for this alternate society, this sort of utopic, industrialized, athletic aesthetic. It reminds me of The Matrix or that movie Equilibrium. Athletic warrior-wear. All those brands tend to maintain a minimalist vibe, which I love. I like things to be very simple, strong and well-cut, which I’m sure is reflected in the video.

What’s a fashion dealbreaker on a date?
A fedora. Or a bowler cap. Some things you just can’t look past.

Your party at Up & Down is really hot but the AC is way too cold. What advice do you have for someone who wants to dress slutty and chic but doesn’t want their nipples to fall off in the club?
It is a bit chilly in there. My primary advice would be to drink yourself warm. Also capes are very cool. I love a frozen nipple though, very chic, I feel like you would kill that look.

Anything you wanna plug?
My new EP Progress Report will be out probably at the end of next month. I’m working with a bunch of cool people  and I’m really proud of the music I’ve been making with them. I think people will see the growth. I’ll be doing more live shows and DJ sets in the fall. Just keep an eye on me.

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August 19, 2014

Juicy J is in New York and his itinerary is packed. He flew in to appear on BET’s 106 & Park and flew right back out to join Taylor Gang affiliate Wiz Khalifa on his Under The Influence Of Music Tour and to celebrate the release of Wiz’s Blacc Hollywood. Juicy has his own thing going on too. His fourth solo album, Pure THC: The Hustle Continues, is slated to drop next month, and it already boasts the single “Low” with Nicki Minaj, Lil Bibby and Young Thug. The Three 6 Mafia co-founder is really tightlipped about the project. His music might be a party, but when he discusses the process it’s all business. That’s probably why his career spans longer than most artists’ lives. Check out what the king of all things trippy had to say.

What has the process been like putting together this next project, Pure THC: The Hustle Continues?
It’s been great. I’ve just been working with different producers. So it’s been good. I love making music, doing different and new stuff. Taking it to that next level.

It feels like you’ve been super “hush hush” about this project. You dropped the first single “Low” out of nowhere. We all were a little more prepared when Stay Trippy dropped, but this time feels more mysterious.
Yeah, I’m keeping it a secret. I like to surprise people. That’s what I’m doing with this album. I never told anybody I had a record with Bibby or Young Thug or Nicki Minaj. The day before I dropped it, I was like, “Yo! Guess what?” And a lot of my fans on Twitter were like, “What?” I was like, “I’m dropping a new single tomorrow with Lil Bibby, Young Thug, and Nicki Minaj.” They couldn’t believe it. That’s what I’m doing. I’m shocking people.

Do you think you might pull a Beyoncé and just randomly drop it on iTunes at midnight one night?
Ya never know! I doubt it, but hey… If the fans and the timing and the music is right, I probably will. I probably would. Who knows?

You always identify as being a producer first, so how is it working with other producers on your projects? Do you feel like you just want to jump in grab the reigns on the production?
I love what another producer brings to the table, like a new sound. I love working with these new and up and coming producers. I feel like they’re the future. They hold the inspiration and the ideas for what the new sound is going to be, so I’m always looking to see what’s next. I feel like everyone adds their own flavor to everything.

Well you’re never one to shy away from newer talent. Putting a guy like Bibby or even Young Thug on your first single says a lot. You take a chance on people.
Yeah, that’s what it’s all about. The talent will outshine the name. A guy like Lil Bibby will come on my single — he killed that last verse, just killed it — everyone was like “Who is that? His verse was hard!” That’s what I like to do; I make people talk. I feel like that’s my way to keep ‘em talking, keep ‘em interested.

Which part of your earlier career groomed you for this superstar status. Was it Three 6 Mafia?
Well all of this really happened so unexpectedly. I was on my own, making mixtapes on my own. It popped off, and I’m runnin’ with it. Why not? I still got love for [Three 6 Mafia], I was one of the dudes who started the group. I’m Three 6 Mafia until the day that I die. Nobody can ever take that from me. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. If they wanna get back together to do another album, I’m down for whatever. I’d still do my solo thing as well, because it’s a good thing. I worked hard for it. It’s only right to give the people both sides: the group side and the solo side. I enjoy it.

Didn’t you also read books about David Geffen and the music industry at the library when you were a little kid? You were grooming yourself for all of this.
My mom was a librarian and she used to bring home books. I used to tell her to check me out every book about music. I wanted to learn about every aspect of the business-side. I always wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t want to come in blind. Beyond the music, I wanted to know about the publishing, producers, I wanted to know everything about it. When I was twelve or thirteen, I told my mom I wanted to prepare myself for when I got into the music business so I could know everything about the ups and downs. I wanted to make a career out of it. Some kids grow up and want to be a basketball player, some want to be doctors or lawyers. I wanted to be a musician. I actually wanted to be a singer, but rap came across my path. I always wanted to be a producer though, since Day One.

Do you think you’d put out a singing project?
I was going to but…I wanted to make an alter ego or something. I can’t sing at all, but I can write songs. I was thinking of putting out a project, but I didn’t want to put my name on it. I thought nobody would accept me if I was singing.

Is that alias project still in the cards?
Nahhhhh. I mean I can write some songs. I can’t sing at all. I tried, but I can’t [laughs]. I wrote some songs. I mean I wrote the hook for “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp,” the Academy Award-winning song. I wrote the hook and had Taraji [P. Henson] singing on it. It’s in me and I can write songs, but I can’t sing it myself. Writing songs comes to me naturally. It just happens; I can’t really explain it. I woke up at 3AM this morning and just started spitting a flow. It was crazy [laughs].

You’re nominated for an MTV VMA for Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” but let’s backtrack to your first big win at the Oscars with Three 6 Mafia for “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp.” Tell me about that night.
I was nervous. Very nervous. I thought we were gonna lose, because we never won anything. I couldn’t sleep. I have never been in a situation like that in my entire life. It took the group to another level. We were just used to selling records out of the back of our trunks. Our music was underground; never hit the mainstream. But once we won that Academy Award, it reached the mainstream. Anytime I win anything, I’m gonna jump and shout. I don’t expect to win anything.

What keeps you so humble?
At the end of the day, I don’t take anything for granted. You could be here today and gone tomorrow. You could be on top, the Number One guy and the next day Number 100. And it happens, so I stay to myself, stay in the studio, and stay true to me. I’m not in the mix. I lead a private life that has nothing to do with my music. I think people are more interested in my music than what I’m doing. I take it one day at a time. That’s what it’s all about.

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August 19, 2014

“The song ‘Merchandise’ is just a feeling about walking in the financial or shopping district of your city; busy people, money, consuming consumers, window shoppers, bags, facades,” David Loca, aka Part Time, explains of the track from his new cassette H.F.M., out today via Plastic Response Records.

Like most of the songs here, it’s a synth-pop track imbued with warmth amid the lo-fi 4-track and Casio keys trappings, that he recorded years ago, and is releasing for the first time on this collection. Part Time is in the midst of a U.S. tour that brings him to Glasslands on 9/4 and Cake Shop on 9/5.

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August 19, 2014

Wearing your The Smiths influences on your sleeve can be a tricky thing for a band to pull off. Irrespective of the quality of the songs themselves, you never know if you’re going to catch a Morrissey acolyte in an accepting or dismissive mood (so mercurial!). But when it came to my first few listens to Unbloomed, the new LP from Johnny Aries (also of The Drums), it was love at first listen.

The opening title track weaves “The Boy With the Thorn In His Side” guitars into a “How Soon Is Now?” architecture. “Bodybag” is a mournful crooner pulled straight from a 1950s Hollywood fever dream, while “This Grave Is My Bed Tonight” bounces on a “This Charming Man” beat and bass line. You could have a field day playing spot-the-reference throughout, “Ambulette” and “Sweet and Tender Hooligan” for example, although Aries, an admitted Morrissey fan, says he owes some of his songwriting to Roy Orbison too.

“I saw an old lady being carried out an ambulette one day and It reminded me how lucky I am to have full use of the human body,” Aries tells me of that song. “This song is from her perspective, but it also resonates with me.” Sounds familiar. As does do his notes on “Bodybag” (“I think about my own mortality, and that of those around me a lot. It’s a sad song, because we all end up in one of those bags”), and “Human Nature” (“This is about assessing ones behavior, good or bad, but mostly bad. The conclusion is that we are all pigs.”

“It’s something of a parting shot towards England and my old life,” he’s said of the record, and his move from the UK to New York. “Some of the songs are me lamenting things I’ve done, but some are also about letting go and looking toward greener pastures.”

Unbloomed is out on August 26 on Frenchkiss. Aries performs at Pianos on that night.


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August 19, 2014

I get emails every day from publicists about their clients premiering new music videos. My usual reflex is to delete those emails without checking out the video, because who has time, right? But this morning one of those emails caught my eye:Screenshot 2014-08-19 at 10.22.24 AM

Okay publicist, you have my attention. Not only did HAIM put out one of the most enjoyable debut’s in recent memory, last year’s Days Are Gone, “My Song 5″ was a stand out track from that record, and I happen to enjoy Kesha, Grimes, Big Sean, A$AP Ferg (who raps a verse), and more. ‘More’ turns out to be SNL‘s Vanessa Bayerwho once taught the HAIM sisters how to be better, and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. It’s not always easy to tell what’s going on here, besides a recreation of a Jerry Springer-esque talk show with Bayer as the host, but the fun everyone’s happening is infectious.

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The Bullet Shop
August 18, 2014

It’s one thing to record a song and have regular people like it enough to listen to a few times and share it with some of their friends. That is what happened to Atlanta artist ILOVEMAKONNEN. It’s another thing to have Drake like it so much that he just had throw down a guest verse on it. This also happened to ILOVEMAKONNEN. His breezy jam “Club Goin’ Up On a Tuesday” was already a favorite when it was posted to his Soundcloud one month ago. But then Drake, who’s always tries to spotlight lesser-known musicians, got a hold of it and liked it so much that he just had to lay down an opening verse. ILOVEMAKONNEN detailed how it went down to Noisey:

OVO reached out to me about ten days ago and were like, “Yo, we like your music, we like that “Wrist” song.” This was OVO Brian. I don’t remember if he mentioned Drake, but he said something like, “We’re fucking with your shit. We’re going to holler at you soon.” So I was like, “Cool.” So two nights ago, everybody is blowing my phone up, people from Warner and shit, and they’re like, “Yo, send me that ‘Club Goin’ Up’ so we can get a remix—we’re trying to do a big play and do something for you.”

He then goes on to describe the exact moment he found out:

I didn’t hear it till it was out. It was crazy. I didn’t hear it till it was on the net. Me and my friends were all together and we listened to it, and I was just like, “This isn’t real. This isn’t real.” And I heard my chorus and shit and I was like, “Yeah, Drake’s not on this.” And then he jumps on and is like, “Squad goin’ up,” and I was like, “Oh fuck, it’s Drake!”

And now, thanks to the magic of YouTube, we have video of that exact moment. This is what it looks like when an unknown musician finds out that the one of rap’s biggest stars is really, really into your shit and your life is about to change and stuff.

And here’s the full version of the song.

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The Bullet Shop
August 18, 2014

The internet ground to a halt earlier this evening while Taylor Swift commandeered our attention spans for the premiere of her new video “Shake It Off.” Frankly, I found the whole thing pretty distasteful, given that there are so many other important things going on in the world right now, like a new Charli XCX song being released.

Nonetheless, Taylors gonna Tay, as they say, and in this case that means your girl traipsing effortfully through a series of differing personas like most people try on socks. Really expensive socks, with a major corporation’s marketing budget behind them. Here’s Taylor the ’80s b-boy, and Taylor the ballerina, Taylor the cheerleader, and Taylor the underwear-owner. All of the classics. Taylor the Lady Gaga even makes an appearance.

And, just in case you worried that we might be able to make it through a major pop star’s new video without renewing the Tweriking-as-cultural-appropriation discussion, you’re in luck, because we’ve got ample room to navigate there too.

Elsewhere: Does Taylor affect a clumsy dork persona? She does.

Does Taylor mug for the camera like its gaze is a life raft and breaking eye contact will cause her to drown? She does.

But, most important of all (I think), does Taylor write and perform a catchy-as-hell song that’s going to be in your head for the foreseeable future? That too.

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The Bullet Shop
August 18, 2014

Interpol just dropped the second single for their upcoming album El Pintor (you can watch the video for the first one here), their first album in four years. Titled “Ancient Ways,” the song is instantly recognizable as Interpol and has Paul Banks singing about the burdens of institutionalized tradition. “Oh, fuck the ancient ways” is a ballsy way to start out a track, and the ensuing build up of guitars into a roaring climax is an even bolder way of following it up. Part catatonic, part volatile, “Ancient Ways” reminds us that even after a long hiatus, Interpol’s sound remains as consistent and refined as ever. El Pintor comes out September 8th.

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