Culture News

"Pokémon Legends: Arceus" Could Be the Perfect Pokémon Game

The world of Pokémon has been begging to get the open-world treatment.

This week Nintendo and Game Freak announced some major news in the world of Pokémon gaming.

The anouncements came at the P25 event, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the original Gameboy RPGs, Pokémon Red and Blue.While the fact that an animated Post Malone headlined with a cover of Hootie and the Blowfish's "Only Wanna Be With You" made bigger headlines, fans of the franchise had a lot more to be excited about.

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Music Features

Post Malone Talks New Album, Courtney Love, and COVID-19 on Nirvana Livestream

"I'm really proud of the music we're making. I'm having a lot of f*cking fun and I'm really excited to put something new out for you all to listen to, I suppose."

"I'm trying to put it out as soon as I f*cking can," said Post Malone, who has apparently been spending his quarantined days polishing his third album at home. "I'm really proud of the music we're making."

Post livestreamed covers of Nirvana songs this Friday and peppered the show with asides like that one. The performance featured additional efforts from Travis Barker of Blink-182, bassist Brian Lee, and guitarist Nick Mack. The whole set was a benefit for the United Nations Foundation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund; with Google's help, they raised $3 million.

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Did you know Post Malone was a huge Nirvana fan?

While the rapper and the iconic 90s band share little in terms of sound and style, their attitudes couldn't be more similar. Both Posty and the late Kurt Cobain's band have songs that rail against the state of society, delve into personal anxieties, and generally give a voice to a portion of a generation that feels left behind.

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MUSIC

Is Post Malone OK?: Why We've Been Conditioned to Worry About Young Rappers' Health

After his unusual stage behavior worried fans, the "Rockstar" rapped insisted he's not on drugs. But the concern is valid.

Post Malone has said that the title of his debut album, Stoney, is a nod to "Stoney Maloney," a nickname he received when he used to smoke weed almost daily.

With nine Top 10 hits to his name since 2016, the 24-year-old artist, born Austin Post, has become one of today's most beloved rappers. He raised concern recently, however, when he appeared to be acting strangely during recent performances, leading fans to believe he might be abusing drugs or alcohol. Videos spread on Twitter of Post fumbling around on stage, his eyes glazed over and rolled back in his head.



Post addressed these concerns at his concert last Friday in Memphis, Tennessee: "I'm not on drugs and I feel the best I've ever f--king felt in my life," he assured the crowd emphatically. "That's why I can bust my ass for these shows and f--king fall on the floor and do all that fun s--t. But for anybody that's concerned here, I appreciate the love and the support, but I feel f--king fantastic and I'm not doing drugs."

Post is hardly the first rapper to reference substance abuse in his songs. His 2017 hit "Rockstar" references former AC/DC frontman Bon Scott, who died of suspected alcohol poisoning at the age of 33, while he reveals on 2018's "Better Now" that "everything came second to the benzo." As listeners, we can't always confirm which lyrics are autobiographical, but considering the unfortunate string of young rappers who have died due to drugs or gun violence over the past few years, the worry surrounding Post's behavior isn't just warranted—it's a knee-jerk reaction that we've been conditioned to execute.

In late 2017, the highly influential emo rapper Lil Peep died at 21 of an accidental overdose of fentanyl and Xanax. Less than a year later, Mac Miller also died of fentanyl, which he took by accident thinking it was oxycodone; he was 26. Following a harrowing allegation of domestic abuse, Florida rapper XXXTentacion was assassinated at age 20, months before Miller's death. Late last year, less than a week after turning 21, "Lucid Dreams" hitmaker Juice WRLD died after a seizure that was caused by toxic levels of oxycodone and codeine in his system. "He was a gentle soul, whose creativity knew no bounds, an exceptional human being and artist who loved and cared for his fans above everything else," Juice's label wrote in a statement. Then, just last month, Brooklyn drill rapper Pop Smoke—positioned to be hip-hop's next big thing—was murdered in Hollywood at age 20. The list goes on and on.

These deaths are affecting the landscape of drug use in the rap scene, making such substances (thankfully) less fashionable. Still, to Gen Z listeners, the quick succession of these losses has illustrated the brevity of life for their idols. As The Guardian wrote just days before Pop Smoke's assassination, a generation of young rappers is dying. To worry about Post Malone's health and possible drug use isn't unnecessary alarm; it's understanding that, if Post were abusing drugs and not getting the help he needed to recover, he could very well die. For young rap fans, it's not a death that would be easily reckoned with.

Historically speaking, rappers will always be at risk of dying young. But due to SoundCloud rappers like Lil Xan and Smokepurpp popularizing narcotics, the ways in which they most commonly die have changed. In the '90s, we had "Crumblin' Herb" and "Gin and Juice"; this era's fallen hip-hop stars have brought us tracks with titles like "16 Lines" and "Oxy." Rap fans raised on SoundCloud weren't yet born when Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. were both murdered in separate drive-by shootings (they were 25 and 24, respectively), and the mythical "27 Club" that boasts members like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse now feels like a trivial, bygone trend rather than a warning. These days, the most famous rappers who overdose don't even make it to 27. If Post Malone really, truly is drug-free, hopefully others will follow his lead before we lose an entire generation of hip-hop stars.

Hott LockedN just dropped "Fake Beef," a collaboration with his label boss, 2 Chainz.

The release was accompanied by a visual directed by Paige Harmon. It's the latest of the #TRUsday singles, which have dropped every Tuesday since the start of 2020 in the lead-up to the release of 2 Chainz' label T.R.U.'s mixtape, No Face No Case.

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T.R.U., which stands for The Real University, is a label founded by legendary Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz in 2019. It "posits a platform for personal success while providing a home to a rising vanguard of hip-hop talent from Atlanta's various zones," according to the press release.

With No Face No Case, T.R.U. has brought together a huge variety of rising and established talents, including Sleepy Rose, Skooly, Quavo, and more to create an intoxicating and heady collaboration, perfect for late nights and filled with equal parts rage and effortlessly undeniable star power.

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Listen to the full mixtape here:


New Releases

Justin Bieber's "Changes" Is Corny and Uninspired

Justin Bieber plays it safe, and sounds insecure as a result.

Justin Bieber is a married man now, and that's changed him, so he wants to sing about it.

That's the thesis anyway, but on the pop star's first album in five years, literally called Changes, Bieber refuses to dissect the tumultuous year of marriage he had in 2019, and instead settles for vague, tepid anecdotes about how he's "diggin" the way his wife "feels on his skin."

"Just trying to occupy my mind so that I don't go looney over you," Bieber sings, seriously on "E.T.A." "Thank you, yes, you're less than five minutes away from me. In your arms, rubbing on your face," he croons over an acoustic guitar. The 16-track mammoth is stuffed with lethargic sketches of sex and more sex, only broken up by a little bit of making out. While electro R&B fits Bieber like a glove, the production is so thinly-veiled that each track becomes indistinguishable from the next, and Bieber somehow makes emboldened love sound like poorly curated slam poetry. "Flowers open when they feel the sunlight, Moonrise, tide change, right before our eyes," He sings on "Habitual." "Aggressive but softly, you place your lips on my lips." While the sentiment is undoubtedly genuine, the result is pedestrian R&B that moves at the pace of a cardiac monitor. There are moments of fleeting vulnerability, but they are sung as brief whispers, and never lead anywhere meaningful. "Never thought I could ever be loyal to someone other than myself," Bieber sings on "All Around Me" before retreating back into his surface-level cocoon – "guess anything is possible with your help!"

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R&B has always been Bieber's cruise-control. Raised as Usher's apprentice, it has remained a sound the child-star could rely on and easily navigate in times of trouble. But his 10-part YouTube series and the relentless and inappropriate promotion of "Yummy," advertised a Bieber fully ready to re-enter the spotlight and reclaim his throne. Then why does Changes sound so safe? Why is it so diluted, and why is Bieber so scared to talk about anything other than how "yummy" his wife is?

Changes sounds less like a proclamation and more like a scared little boy tip-toeing back into a world he's afraid doesn't want him anymore. In hindsight, the vicious promotion of this album all makes sense. Bieber feels insecure about his place in the genre he used to dominate, so instead of taking a modicum of creative risk, he's released a project destined to dominate the charts solely because it's "what the kids are listening to these days." The result is a project as corny and insecure as he is.