MUSIC

13 of the Most Controversial Music Videos Ever

From Kanye West to Madonna, these gory and graphic clips got people talking — for better or for worse.

Music videos are a perfect opportunity to expand the story of a song.

The best music videos can showcase killer choreography, Halloween-ready attire, or movie levels of cinematic gold; others can spark controversies, no matter how well-intended. Whether centered around copious bloodshed or near-pornographic nudity (sorry, Mom and Dad), there's one thing all controversial music videos have in common: They get people talking.

Here are 13 music videos released over the past 30-plus years that have sparked disputes. Watch at your own risk.

Keep Reading Show less
Music Features

On This Day, MF DOOM Changed Hip-Hop Forever with “Madvillainy”

Let's revisit one of underground hip-hop's greatest moments

"Living off borrowed time, the clock tick faster," MF DOOM raps over the disorderly "Accordion" instrumental.

The eclectic Madvillainy, the underground collaboration between Madlib and MF DOOM, was released on this day in 2004. Over a decade later, it is still one of the most acclaimed and dissected projects in hip-hop history, partially due to the obscurity that shrouded it during its creation from 2002 to 2004. The duo quietly crafted the record while on a trip to Brazil, armed with nothing more than a Boss SP-303, a tape deck, and a turntable. Madlib has always thrived in minimalism (he recently mentioned that 2019's outstanding Freddie Gibbs album Bandana was produced entirely on an iPad), and he later mentioned that the creative process with MF was like pure telepathy. He told Pitchfork, "Everything was spontaneous."

Keep Reading Show less
MUSIC

Your House Can Smell Like Erykah Badu's Hoo-Hah

The neo-soul singer is one-upping Gwyneth Paltrow's intimate-smelling candles.

First, Gwyneth Paltrow wanted to sell us a candle that smells like her vagina (which has since sold out).

Now, R&B legend Erykah Badu is giving Goop a run for their money with her own rather intimate scent, soon to hit the market. It's called "Badu's Pussy," and it's a fragrance intended to smell just like, well, the singer's lady bits.

Since first emerging with her jazzy soul music in the '90s, Badu has become known for her offbeat, at times even occultish aura. But the magic doesn't stop at her spellbinding lyricism. "There's an urban legend that my pussy changes men," Badu told 10 Magazine. "The men that I fall in love with, and fall in love with me, change jobs and lives." Now you, too, can be charmed by the wizardry of her hoo-hah.

According to 10, the scent will be sold in incense form, ensuring that all of your meditation sessions and dinner parties will have the perfectly musky aroma of Badu's crotch. But how to achieve such a distinct odor, you ask?

"I took lots of pairs of my panties, cut them up into little pieces and burned them," Badu added. "Even the ash is part of it." No big loss, though; Badu has been going commando for quite some time. "The people deserve it!"


I wonder if Badu's Pussy will come in a perfume form. I'm sure the strangers I share my morning commute with on the subway would appreciate me smelling like such enchanted genitalia. You can buy the incense from Badu's new online store, launching February 20.

Taryn Dudley

After a year of festival performances and worldwide touring alongside Jazz dignitaries like Kamasi Washington and The Internet, the neo-soul trio Moonchild is finally having their moment.

Voyager was one of the smoothest albums of 2017. It had a slow rise to success, gradually seeping into dinner party playlists and the like, eventually ending up on NPR's shortlist for "5 R&B Albums You Slept On in 2017." The lead single, "Cure," became especially popular and remains the only song able to make a line like "love is a cure for heartache" sound genuine. The single's accompanying video racked up over a million views. "It's definitely exciting," said the band's modest lead singer, Amber Navran. "Three or four years ago we were opening for The Internet, and now we're playing in the same rooms but [as headliners.] It's crazy." The LA-based trio is now gearing up to release Little Ghost, their first release since 2017. Popdust sat down with the group to talk about the recording process, their new tour, and how it feels to be tiptoeing towards widespread fame.

So I remember you mentioned that part of the recording process for Voyager was done at a cabin in Lake Arrowhead. Did you return to the cabin for Little Ghost?

Amber: We did! It was pretty similar. It's just nice for us to all be in the same place when we record so we can bounce ideas off of each other quicker. [The cabin] has been a nice excuse to get away and just focus on the music without life getting in the way.

Tell me about your new single, "Too Much To Ask." It's a pretty calm song and is an interesting choice for a lead single. Why did you choose this song in particular to announce Little Ghost?

Amber: There are a lot of different ideas on the album, and I thought "Too Much to Ask" was a good representation of how we're blending all these different sounds together this time around.

Max: It represents how different this album is gonna be, with the guitar, and the special synths, and it's got a lot of groove to it without being too much in your face, which was really appealing to us.

Andris: We liked the idea of doing something a little more mellow. "Too Much To Ask" really draws you in.


It's really moving. What kind of emotional state were you guys in when you made this song?

Amber: It's about realizing you're in a relationship that isn't being reciprocated. When you start to pick up on the little things that do or don't happen.

Andris: I really like the chords in the song. It skates all around the key of E without giving you that resolving chord, and it has a strong emotional impact because of that.

You guys said that you all became obsessed with Neo-Soul around the same time in college. Now that you're a successful Neo-Soul group, where do you see the genre heading, and what do you bring to the genre as a whole?

Max: It seems like in the genre in general that the lines are fading. There are so many groups with elements of Neo-Soul. I think that's just a product of being in an age with unlimited access to music and information, so people are more all over the map creatively. Overall, though, I think it's a really good thing for the genre, 'cause it sounds really cool mixing soul with folk or anything else. As far as what we offer, we all started out as horn players –

Amber: – and Jazz lovers. We all love Jazz, and with each album, we try to branch out and phase in other music, which is unique.

Talk to me more about how Little Ghost is different than Voyager? Where did the title come from?

Max: Well, we wanted to go with a similar celestial theme. Voyager was based on the space probe we sent out in the '60s. So we were looking up celestial bodies and ended up on a list of nebulas, and Little Ghost stuck out cause it had sort of a human element to it. Nebulas are a collection of stardust from extinct stars, and they're always expanding, so we thought that would be a nice little ode to the album because we are taking all the elements from our previous projects and just expanding on them.

Follow Moonchild on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.

MUSIC

Goldlink Is Authentic and Captivating on "Diaspora"

The rapper's sophpmore LP is the album of the summer

Washington, D.C.'s vibrant music scene is known for its continued evolution. The city served as the birthplace of Moombahton and a continued source of inspiration for Thievery Corporation's experimentation with reggae and lo-fi trip-hop.

It inspired the ethereal melodies of Duke Ellington and later churned out Tank and Ginuwine, the pinnacle icons of early 2000's R&B. Wale, whose continued experimentation with Afropop, R&B, and slam poetry has historically been met with mixed reactions, is credited with being one of the first big mainstream rappers out of the area, and despite his 13 years in the spotlight, he continues to chase versatility, with each of his projects sounding vastly different from the last.

Even so, continued experimentation can lead to issues. Wale was recently accused of cultural appropriation for the Major-Lazer assisted single "My Love," and Moombahton quickly became a dated subgenre as Afro melodies seeped into the mainstream. When Goldlink announced Diaspora, many were trepidatious. For a rapper who was lauded for his experimentation on his debut At What Cost, the project's follow-up appeared to be an attempt to capitalize on past praise, and it was difficult not to worry that the 26-year-old was having a Wale-esque identity crisis.

"I keep my energy calibrated" Goldlink raps on "Rumble," and it's true. Everything about Diaspora is subtle and fine-tuned. Tight wordplay and sophisticated experimentation are sprinkled throughout the album and give way to rewarding moments. Goldlink samples the best of D.C.'s budding Afro-influenced underground acts without raising questions about its legitimacy, while demanding the most out of his eclectic features. While Maleek Berry sounds right at home on "Zulu Screams," WizKid is asked to challenge himself on the lo-fi instrumentation of "No Lie." Even Khalid sounds relatively out of his comfort zone as he takes on mumble rap in his "Days Like This" hook. Despite the 14-track project having 11 features, none of them overshadow the lyrical prowess of Diaspora's protagonist. Goldlink takes plenty of moments for himself, letting loose on "Maniac" and "More" and then reining it in for a quick humble-brag on the album closer, "Swoosh." He goes blow for blow against Pusha T on "Coke White/Moscow" and comes out unscathed, then immediately dives into a relaxed bossa nova experiment with "U Say."


The album ebbs and flows as frequently as D.C. culture, yet Goldlink never gets lost along the way. "I'm committed to the movement, you committed to the wave," Goldlink raps on "Moscow." The album cover, a candid photo shot by Hailey Bieber of Goldlink's love interest, Justine Skye, further questions the idea of identity and diaspora (Skye famously got into an Instagram debacle over identifying as Jamaican despite being born in the U.S.). Like Justine, Goldlink's sophomore effort is authentic and influenced by multiple cultures. Putting Skye on the cover finalizes his thesis: We are each more than just our nationality, and Goldlink is more than just another rapper.

MUSIC

To Achieve Gender Equality in Music, We Need More Female Producers and Musicians

When women aren't writing, producing, and playing their own instruments, when they're singing words they don't believe in, or when they're feeling uncomfortable around all-male recording and production teams, how could they be making their finest work?

Fact: 21.7% of artists in the music industry are women*.

Additional fact: only 2.1% of music producers are women.

Recently, there's been a lot of discussion about the lack of female representation in the music industry, but there's been less emphasis on the startling lack of female producers. This has to change, because in order for women to achieve real equality in the music industry—not just illusory representation in the form of overt sexualization and commodification—they need to be producing their own music.

They also need to be playing their own instruments, working their own sound systems, and signing artists to their own labels. In short, more women need to be taking control of their work.

In a recent interview, producer and artist King Princess stated that "it's tough out here for women who have a vision, and I think that the most important realization I came to in music was that I need to be the person responsible for my vision. I need to hold myself responsible and learn this shit. It's not hard, it's just daunting to be a tech god."

Miquela interviews King Princess | Coachella 2019 www.youtube.com

She's right. Many women, for whatever reason, find themselves deterred from production, resigned to the idea that only men can adequately mix and master their tracks; but, in order to totally take control of their images and sounds, women need to hold themselves accountable and learn.

After all, just because a woman sings in a band and poses for press photos does not mean that her success is a victory for women on the whole. Women have been featured as vocalists in front of all-male bands since time immemorial, propped up as pretty faces while men rail on their guitars, fiddle with the levers on their soundboards, and pull the strings of the entire situation.

Plus, female frontwomen—especially in the commercial cover band industry—are often held to disturbingly sexist standards. Just look at the ads for artists on Craigslist and you'll notice that many of the calls for female vocalists specify that the candidate must be "in good shape" or even "slim," a disturbing and archaic requirement that throws the standards and requirements that haunt the music industry in stark relief.

This isn't to say that all female frontwomen are nothing more than pretty faces. It is to say that if we want to achieve gender equality in the music industry, underrepresented parties need to take up space not only behind the mic but in all aspects of performance and creative development.

First and foremost, female producers would create space for many female artists who might have otherwise been deterred from pursuing music. After all, recording studios and concert halls are dark, intimate spaces where sexual assault occurs far too often, and it's impossible to know how many women have left music industry due to bad experiences at the hands of men who feel they have the power to take advantage of them. Earlier this year, a bassist named Ava revealed that she quit the music industry because of abuse she received at the hands of Ryan Adams when she was underage; and her story is far from an isolated incident. According to The New York Times, Ava "never played another gig" after "the idea that she would be objectified or have to sleep with people to get ahead 'just totally put [her] off of the whole idea' of being a musician." Her experience is not an isolated incident.

This is a tragic but all-too-common story. But if more women were to take up production, claiming these traditionally masculine spaces as their own and creating safe environments for young female artists, who knows what kind of alchemy could occur?

As things are now, the lack of female producers—and the concurrent number of female artists who have left the industry due to assault and intimidation at the hands of powerful men—could explain why women have been so underrepresented on end-of-year lists and in awards circuits. Plus, even if you do remain in the industry, it's quite difficult to create work that's true to your vision if you're not writing and producing at least part of it. (Rihanna can do it, but then again, Rihanna is an ageless superhuman, so that argument is irrelevant). Many pop songs with female vocalists—especially the kind that are getting pumped out by increasingly desperate LA's producers—were clearly not written by their singers, and so they're weighed down by a kind of synthetic detachment. When women aren't writing and producing, and when they're singing words they don't believe in, how could they possibly be making their finest work?

The same is true for instrumentalists. Though there are millions of extraordinary female musicians, a video of the top 10 greatest female guitarists features only a few female shredders and mostly includes songs with vocals, whereas every man in the top 10 is shown shredding on their rather phallic axes in full-on rock god mode. As long as women aren't shredding, their rock music is simply not going to be as effective as Mick Jaggers. (On the other hand, whether we really need more shredding is a topic for another discussion).

Top 10 Female Guitarists of All Time www.youtube.com


Top 10 Guitarists of All Time (REDUX) www.youtube.com

Of course, this definitely isn't to say that women can't rock—they can and do. Many women have annihilated all expectations and gender norms, despite impossible odds, using their traumas as rocket fuel. Courtney Love transformed her anger and pain from a 1991 assault into the song "Asking For It," and she's been destroying sexist expectations for her entire career. The entire Riot Grrl movement was dedicated to bucking gender norms and bringing unruly, powerful women to the fore.

Hole With Kurt Cobain - Asking For It www.youtube.com

Plus, some of our greatest, most innovative (and most criminally underrecognized) guitarists and songwriters have been women—take Big Mama Thornton, the original writer of Elvis's "Hound Dog" who received precisely zero of the royalties he received from it; or Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose work was a fundamental precursor to rock and roll; or anyone on She Shreds' list of 50 Black Guitarists and Bassists You Need to Know. So, so many female greats—women of color in particular—have been wiped from history or are just beginning to receive their due.

Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog www.youtube.com

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Didn't It Rain www.youtube.com

Similarly, though they comprise a tiny percentage of the whole, there have always been female music producers. The problem isn't that they don't exist, but that they're not recognized, argues producer Ebonie Smith, citing many who are doing excellent work but who are not receiving adequate acclaim. These include WondaGurl, the teenager who produced Travis Scott's "Antidote" and part of Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail; Nova Wav, who produces for Kehlani; Nicki Minaj's producer DJ Diamond Kutz; and hundreds of others.

Things seem to be moving forward, at least. Initiatives like Smith's Gender Amplified, Inc. are encouraging women and nonbinary people to take up production and music tech. In terms of instrumentalists, a recent Fender study found that roughly 50% of guitars purchased in 2016 were bought by women or girls; and with publications like She Shreds elevating the voices of diverse female guitarists and bassists, we'll most likely be seeing a whole new generation of players rising from the ashes, the angry cries of their foremothers ringing in their ears. For some, that generation has already arrived—for example, LA Mag recently published an article with the self-explanatory title "Women Are Saving the Electric Guitar."

The Way Ep. 5: Cherry Glazerr's Clementine Creevy Teaches "I Told You I'd Be With The Guys" www.youtube.com


Studio Politics Featuring Ebonie Smith - EPISODE 1 - "ALL IS GOLDEN, GIRLS." www.youtube.com


Gender Amplified Mix Sessions: Georgia Anne Muldrow | Part 1 of 3 www.youtube.com

Still, as of now, the statistics show that far too few of the instrumentalists, composers, conductors, and record label executives who occupy positions of power are female. Of course, women are not at fault for their own historical marginalization. For a long time, women have been quietly discouraged from railing on guitars, instead advised to sit quietly at pianos or to sing prettily while men did the work. Plus, the tour and studio life often wasn't viable for mothers (though naturally, it's always been perfectly acceptable for fathers). The dearth of women in the music industry is the project of age-old systems of sexism and classism.

But things are changing. Sexism still exists, but with women comprising roughly 50% of the workforce, we can no longer use sexism as the sole excuse for why there are so few female producers. On the whole, as a society, we've moved past second-wave feminism, wherein the only goal was to get women into the workplace. But in the realm of music producers, it's like we're still living in the 1950s, when it was radical for women not to want children. Women—as well as men—are to blame for the lack of female producers in the modern era.

Perhaps the issue stems from mindset. "What the experiences of women reveal is that the biggest barrier they face is the way the music industry thinks about women," said Professor Stacey Smith, whose studies generated a report called 'Inclusion in the Recording Studio?' Smith writes, "The perception of women is highly stereotypical, sexualized and without skill. Until those core beliefs are altered, women will continue to face a roadblock as they navigate their careers."

After all, production requires a unique combination of attention to detail, technological savvy, artistic vision, and brash fearlessness. You can learn literally endless amounts about how to produce, how to mix and master and EQ every fiber of every note; but ultimately, production is taking shot after shot into the dark. It's about believing in your own ability to hear and shape the music into the form you want it to be in. It's about taking control, the kind that will remain largely unattainable to women as long as the aforementioned perceptions exist.

Hopefully, someday this dissolves and we all realize that we're all floundering in the dark together. Maybe someday we'll all understand that gender is a fluid concept, and the ability to create art is one of the things that binds us together as human beings.

But that is not the world we live in. And until that world exists, we desperately need more women behind the mixing board.

*This article recognizes that trans and nonbinary people have often been more erased and marginalized in the music industry to a much greater extent than cisgender women.


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


POP⚡DUST | Read More...

Lana Del Rey, Billie Eilish, and the Sexist Backlash Against Female Sadness

Release Radar: New Releases to Ring In Taurus Season

Ryan Adams Was the Tip of an Iceberg