End Times Update 4/16/2021: Jake Paul, Kid Cudi, and Police Shootings

Macaulay Culkin and Brenda Song's new baby, Kid Cudi's dress, Colton Underwood out of the closet, and Jake Paul assault allegations.

Every week one of Popdust's disposable clones — grown in a vault deep beneath the Mojave desert — is exposed to the outside world through a relentless feed of news, pop culture, and social media.

The arduous process accelerates their dissolution back into an amorphous clone slurry. But before they go, they leave behind a document of what they've absorbed and what they've learned — a time capsule preserving a single moment in the slow-motion collapse of civilization. An End Times Update...

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Culture News

Was Kid Cudi's "SNL" Dress Ugly?

As men wearing dresses feels less and less revolutionary, men are going to have to step up their game, experimenting with feminine styles with intentionality instead of just shock value.

Kid Cudi in a Custon Off-White dress on SNL

Kid Cudi officially announced sundress season by performing in a dress on SNL as the musical guest on April 10th.

With vaccines on the horizon and spring in full swing, sundress season promises to deliver this year. Easter even delivered sundress-related drama between Selena Gomez and Kendall Jenner after Jenner posted a picture in the same Rodarte floral dress that Gomez wore in her video for "De Una Vez."

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It is hard to imagine music without Drake.

For over a decade, he's been one of the most influential figures not just in Hip-Hop but in music period. He went from a child actor to Lil Wayne's protege to a G.O.A.T. in his own right. Drake's consistency and diversity are what keeps him at the top of the mountain.

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Fragmented Reviews for Every Song on "Yandhi"

An incomplete review for an incomplete album

Kanye West's gospel album Jesus Is King may have been delayed indefinitely, but he's certainly not keeping quiet.

September 3rd saw the release of Francis and the Lights' atmospheric "Take Me to the Light," which Kanye appeared on alongside Bon Iver. On Sunday, Kanye performed with a gospel choir in a church in Jamaica, Queens. And today, nine of his unreleased songs surfaced on the Internet—as iTunes ringtones.

Take Me to the Light (feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West)

In September 2018, Kim Kardashian announced that her husband's next album would be called Yandhi. That album never appeared and was eventually scrapped, or so we thought. But as of today, people can listen to 26-second excerpts of nine songs from the album via the ringtones section of the iTunes store. To own the tracks, you'll need to fork over $1.29 for each.

In the age of streaming and texting, does anyone call each other or use ringtones anymore? It's hard to say what Kanye's up to, but then again, he's been a reliable wild card for years.

There is heavy speculation that the songs were all leaked by someone other than Kanye, meaning that it's possible that these songs reached us illegally. Regardless, this could be the last collection of secular material we ever hear from West, judging by his recent declaration that he'll "only do gospel music" from now on.

So, to match the nature of the brief samples we were given, here's a short, incomplete review of each song:

The first track, "New Body," places a punchy, vintage hip-hop beat and record-scratch sound over a recording of a flute. The song, which features Ty Dolla $ign and Nicki Minaj, leaked in July. Its release comes after Nicki announced her possible retirement from music, so these might be the last bars we hear from either of them for a while.

Kanye West Ft. Nicki Minaj, Ty Dolla $ign - New Body

"Slave Name" places a triumphant electric guitar solo over chill-inducing choral melodies and flickers of electric piano. In its emotional intensity, it resembles the iconic climax of "Runaway" (though it never quite reaches that level of spiritual grandeur, but then again, it never gets the chance to). The far-too-short fragment now available on iTunes appeared in several versions as a leak and samples the song "Wally Wider" by Delicate Stevens.

kanye - slave name (extended)

"80 Degrees" puts a trap beat over synthy flourishes and slurred falsetto vocals. You can make out the statement, "I can walk on the water," which goes well with Kanye's new born-again religious convictions. Kanye previously teased the song in a promo video, but this is the first we've heard of its release since then.


"Alien" is all lush, stratospheric synths and spaced-out woodwinds, which seem to be the defining characteristic of this album. Opening with the line, "I won't let them get the best of me," this song is reminiscent of the wide-eyed aggression of the Graduate. It leaked in full in July, but it's tough to find online, so you might be stuck with the ringtone for now.

On "Law of Attraction," Wyoming's newest resident begins with a chorus made up of muddled harmonies. It then veers into a rap verse over what sounds like a car door alarm (which has annoyed some fans so much that one made a version without the beeps, though some firmly stand by the beeps). This song was also leaked in full in July and is sometimes called "Chakras/Law of Attraction." It's a seductive collage of futuristic sounds and autotune, the kind of thing that, ultimately, only Kanye could make.


"The Storm" is smooth and glossy, with R&B elements that are almost reminiscent of Drake. "Don't troll yourself," the lyrics say. "Girl you owe it to yourself." Well, that's good advice, but the song itself unfortunately features the late, disgraced rapper XXXTentancion (alongside Ty Dolla $ign), making it somewhat hard to listen to. It does contain the poetic couplet, "We began after the storm inside / leaving then it's just the morning light," but as to whether its lyrical merits outweigh the presence of XXXTentacion (and Kanye's fraught persona, for that matter), that's for listeners to decide.

"We Got Love" features Teyana Taylor. Kanye debuted it on SNL in September 2018, then released the full track on SoundCloud in November, and it can be listened to in full online. It's an ode to success as a protest to struggle. "Love is the new money," goes the chorus—a rallying cry for today's world if there ever was one. A voiceover recording at the end goes, "You can have all the money in the world...but if you can't be a person of integrity while having all these things, then what does it mean? Your value is internal." One would wonder if Kim Kardashian believes this. Regardless, the song seems to indicate the presence of a newly inspired, enlightened Kanye.

Kanye West - We Got Love (Feat. Teyana Taylor)

"Bye Bye" leaked in July (under the name "Bye Bye Baby") alongside "Law of Attraction." It was the third song on an early album tracklist. It's about overdosing, excess, UFOs, and refusing to take one's meds; and in its chaotic energy, it's most similar of ye and the singles that came out last summer.

As songs like "Bye Bye" highlight, Kanye has clearly struggled a lot. If religion is a way for him to make peace with the world and his own mind, and especially if it gets him to renounce his troublesome political viewpoints, we should all be here for it—even if it means that the best we'll get of Kanye West's secular repertoire are 26-second glimpses.

Popdust does not own or endorse any of the audio or videos linked to in this article.


Review | 'Testing' Looks for New Sounds in Hip-hop and Beyond

'Testing' is Eager to Find a New Sound in Hip-Hop, but Not New Ideas.

A$AP Rocky's 'Testing'

The Skepta-assisted "Praise the Lord" is pure hip-hop gold, an eargasm that embodies what Rocky does best: boast about himself.

Like Kanye West, A$AP Rocky is another narcissist, but a pretty one. And he's jiggy—don't forget. Testing is Rocky's I'm-a-90's-boy-with-Harlem-swag-and-model-exes psych-rap album that infuses the same sticky, distorted, feverish psychedelia he explored on At.Long.Last.A$AP.

On Testing, the title confirms the same static friction bellowing under the surface of nearly every song, with Rocky mumbling his most emotional and honest bars; meaning Rocky talks about how hot he is and the occasional adversity he faced on his way to the top, or as he proclaims, "I put New York on the map." Before who specifically, Rocky? His bravado is commendable since no other rapper sounds like him—that much can be said.

But his range is starting to show. Rocky can talk about two things well: his model girlfriends and his clothes. He's not an intellectual; his music isn't the type to win a Pulitzer Prize, though it's emblematic of his style and charisma as a young MC. What he lacks in substance, he makes up for in pure swag. He has the voice of a rapper, a cool and collected braggadocio that excuses moments where he seems incapable of going deeper. He remains on the surface, quite literally summarizing his childhood and rise to fame. The connective tissue between Rocky as a young drug dealer to a Dior-wearing fashion icon is disconnected, leaving the limbs of the album frail and malnourished. The look is there. The vibe is there. Now think of a Rocky who actually tells a story, says something more profound than what hair color and sexual orientation he prefers his ever-growing collection of women.

The Skepta-assisted "Praise the Lord" is pure hip-hop gold, an eargasm that embodies what Rocky does best: boast about himself. The production is clean, sexy, jiggy, and sounds like a 90's banger—everything you'd want in a rap song. Skepta's voice is a delight, his accent adding a rush of energy to the chorus. Rocky samples Moby, an unlikely choice for a Harlem rapper, but it speaks to his eclectic tastes; his vision—he's shown in everything from his music, fashion, and acting—isn't black or white.

"Hun43rd" is a dizzying kaleidoscopic vision of what rap could become if artists were willing to deviate from sounds traditionally heard in mainstream music. It's oddly beautiful as a composition: It grates at the ear, right before it drops into a woozy, luminous bubble where Rocky details the rhythm and spirit of his Harlem neighborhood. Those moments feel and sound so good, you forgive Rocky for his botched attempts at enlightened political discourse ("My newest President a asshole / I guess that's why I'm leaving turd stains.") Our political climate is certainly disappointing, but it shouldn't cause incontinence. Go see someone for that, Rocky.

The feature roster on this project is impressive: Frank Ocean, T.I., Diddy, Tyler the Creator, Kid Cudi, FKA Twigs, and several others lend their voices, creating a performative fabric around the album, a weird collaborative project that lacks heart in the songs that need it most. "Purity," is a strong close and maybe a look into a new Pretty Boy Flacko, one who has something more to say.

Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.

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To Be Young, Emo, & Black

MUSIC | The rise of "Emo Rap" and the artists who paved the way.


"Now keep in mind that I'm an artist, and I'm sensitive about my s**t!" -Erykah Badu

For many years, crying wasn't allowed in Hip Hop. The genre birth in the gritty streets of the South Bronx has been the epitome of bravado and machismo. So much to the point that it's often been under fire for its presumed promotion of misogyny & homophobia. However, in the last 9 years or so, there has been a renaissance of Hip Hop acts being more "expressive" in their music and fashion choices. Gaudiness and ego are still at the forefront, and "F**k B**ches, Get Money" is still the mission statement for a lot of street poets. But certain artists have found a way to pull back the proverbial curtain and show us how they really feel once the champagne stops pouring and the honeys aren't twerking.

A large part of today's hip-hop is a far cry from yesteryear's boom bap and rapid fire deliveries. Rappers are more on the melodic side conveying emotions in songs that are capable of being mistaken for ballads. These songs consist of themes such as heartbreak, paranoia, and fear which are leading causes of anxiety and depression. A topic that in and of itself is taboo in the African-American community. Modern day rap fans enjoy the music on a sonic level. They also identify with the content. Not only has the new style of music crossed-over into mainstream culture, but it's the overall temperament of a generation and maybe even a race.

At one time, Rock and Roll music was the vessel for angst and frustration. But with today's crop of rappers being dubbed as rock stars, there's not much of a difference between Iggy Pop and Lil Uzi Vert depending on who you ask. People of color on a large scale may not have been able to vibe with the music but they've identified with what it represented. The feeling of being alienated by society, despising authority, and marching to the beat of your own drum is synonymous with both rock culture and living in the inner city as a minority. So who is responsible for this new wave of moody brooding melanin enriched millennials? Let's take a brief look at some of the Forefathers of The Feels.

Kanye West

Kanye West during the "808s & Heartbreaks" periodHypebeast

Since day one, the Chicago rapper/producer has never been at a loss for words. From his views on former President George W. Bush to his recent gripes with the fashion industry, Kanye has always worn his heart on his sleeve (or on his lapel as pictured above). His first 3 albums "College Dropout", "Late Registration", & "Graduation" all raised the bar for hip hop in regards to musicality, but they also boasted the same cliches found within the culture. It wasn't until the sudden and shocking death of his mother and the release of his 4th album "808s & Heartbreaks" that the world got a glimpse at a vulnerable man that we assumed was virtually indestructible. Gone were the tongue in cheek braggadocious raps and sped up 70s soul samples, on "808s..." Yeezus disciples got eerie minor chords, heart pounding drums, and vocals filled with sadness and reflection that were dripping in auto-tune. Initially, the album received a lot of criticism from die-hard fans of the man who once went by the moniker the Louis Vuitton Don. Eventually, the album would go on to be a cult classic and inspire of generation of artists to follow.

Kid Cudi

Mr. Solo DoloHip Hop Early

Your resident hipster would say without any hesitation that there would be no "808s & Heartbreaks" without Kid Cudi. He has been herald as the godfather of Emo Rap. In fact, it was his breakout mixtape "A Kid Named Cudi" that landed him a deal with Kanye's label GOOD Music and has since collaborated with Kanye on various projects lending vocals and doing some writing here and there. His debut album "Man on the Moon: The End of Day" introduced the world to a style that had only been own and operated by the Cleveland native. His first major single "Day N' Nite" was inspired by the death of his uncle whom he was at odds with before his passing. "My uncle that I lived with passed in 2006. We were actually beefing because he forced me out the house when I didn't have another situation set up, so I was bitter. I never apologized for it, and that kills me. That's why I wrote "Day 'n' Nite." Cudi's discography is filled with albums and songs that showcase his deepest regrets and fears that have garnered a fan base of loyal supporters who feel they are also not of this planet. He may not have had the same overall success as his mentor, but he's definitely the match that lit the fuse.


The Light Skinned Keith SweatIdolator

Say what you want about Aubrey Graham. But you cannot deny the roll he has been on since he's stepped on the scene back in 2009 with his monumental mixtape "So Far Gone". Not only did it introduce the world officially to the Canadian child actor turned Hip Hop phenom, but it put a spotlight on a style that has been attributed (also highly debated by many) to Mr. OVO himself. Drake took bars and ballads and blended them in a way that has not only turned the genre upside down but has led to a slew of carbon copies as well. He's often been mocked and insulted by hip-hop purists for being too "soft" given his nonthreatening Great White North disposition and his pandering to the opposite sex on songs like "Best I've Ever Had" & "Marvin's Room". But what was once looked at as a "weakness" has now become the status quo. Drake has set the standard for not only Hip Hop but Pop Music as well. Drizzy can still spit with the best of them, but he's made a killing off of serenading his various allusive lady friends. His song "Hotline Bling" reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won 2 Grammys for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Performance. Remember the dude you laughed at for being nice and sweet and then he wound up stealing your girlfriend? That's the same guy who's been on the Billboard Hot100 for almost a decade now.

The Weeknd

The Starboy GQ

Ok so he may not be "hip-hop", but the man born Abel Tesfaye possess as much swag as any rapper. Another Canadian-born sensation in his own right, The Weeknd gained notoriety back in 2011 releasing his debut mixtape "House of Balloons". His follow-up efforts "Thursday" & "Echoes of Silence" were released later that same year. With a voice that flirts on the line of being both melodic and chaotic, The Weeknd's content isn't for the faint of heart. Hard drugs, hard love, and the feeling of being on top of the world but still feeling low are reoccurring images that exist on each of these bodies of work. The Weeknd would eventually land a major label deal in 2012 with Republic Records and has since collaborated with top-tier rap acts such as Future, Nicki Minaj, and his fellow Torontonian Drake. The Weeknd has also become one of the premiere acts in Pop Music. He's been featured on songs with Ariana Grande, Daft Punk, and Lana Del Rey. He was also featured on the soundtrack to the film "Fifty Shades of Grey" with his song "Earned It". The Weeknd has definitely ushered in a sound that wasn't meant to succeed in the mainstream given its content. But seriously, who doesn't like a guy who pops pills, drunk texts you, and wants to have a quickie in the bathroom at your local club?

Emo rap seems to be the top of the pops in today's music climate. But it also carries a very refreshing message in an ironic way. It speaks the sentiment that it's no longer taboo to speak on your insecurities as a man. It also provides a safe haven for artists who may have been labeled as outcasts in their formative years giving them a platform to unite other people who share their plight of awkwardness. From a racial standpoint, it may be indirectly lending a voice to issues that have gone unresolved and untreated in the black community due to the stigmas that come with them. It's breaking down doors, erasing labels, and abolishing preconceived notions on what it is to be depressed. Of course, not everyone agrees. Whether it be the actual displeasure with the music itself or the people who are making it. Hip Hop purists and people, in general, may look down on the newer artists calling them "weirdos". This just speaks to the inability of men of color not being able to express themselves in a way that doesn't warrant backlash in some form or fashion if it's not the norm. So if you have red braids with beads on the end them or if you're singing a song about all of your friends being dead. Just know that the guys listed above made it possible for you to be you.

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