Dominic Lawson

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UK artist Dominic Lawson introduces the music video for "Wrap," while he finishes his debut EP.

Explaining how the visual for "Wrap" came about, Dominic Lawson says, "I knew I wanted the video for 'Wrap' to be all performance. We shot the video in Manchester, using R&B go-go dancers, Beyonce's 'Dance 4 U' music video, and '90's streetwear fashion, as reference points for the choreography, minimalist set design and silhouette visual shots." Josh Wharmby's sexy choreography and Lawson's R&B/soul-flavored voice infuses the video with sensuality.

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Brent Faiyaz's New Album Is Haunting and Mildly Concerning

The singer's sophomore LP is a candid reflection on how elusive happiness can be.

Vulnerability has remained Brent Faiyaz's greatest asset, and on F*ck The World, there is no shortage of it.

The budding R&B crooner who modestly sang about how things could always get worse ("As long as I pay rent/ I don't even whine 'bout my paycheck") has since garnered a relative amount of fame, partially thanks to big-name co-signs from Drake, Tyler, the Creator and the self-proclaimed "King of R&B," Jacquees. So now, he has a different kind of problem. "Spent like ten thousand, twenty thousand, thirty thousand, forty thousand," he lists off on "Clouded," before going on to describe how he had sex with a girl in his bedroom closet cause he "doesn't give a f*ck about it."

But vanity doesn't sit well with Faiyaz; after all, this is a guy who penned a song titled "First World Problems/Nobody Carez," and he finds it hard to indulge in the perks of fame without feeling guilty. "Do you know what makes this world go round?" he asks on opener "Skyline." The answer remains elusive, as his question appears genuine.

It's ironic that in Faiyaz's most disconnected personal moments he's able to put forth his most coherent artistic work. "Been Away" is vibrant and alive, and "F*ck The World" is the equivalent to lighting a joint on a dreary Sunday afternoon. Faiyaz's penmanship is at its best when the clutter is cleared away. Minor flexes like "Took a trip to London just to hear how they talk" ring loud and clear, and questions like "Who can I love when they tell me I can't love myself?" are poetic when Faiyaz asks them.

Faiyaz remains as candid as ever, and his moments of braggadocio are minor shrugs, as the singer admits none of it makes him happy. "I've been down, but I hope to make it out" he sings on the outro. Whether there's a light at the end of this tunnel has yet to be seen. Brent Fayiaz kinda thought fame was the answer. "I can't help but feel like I don't give a f*ck," he sings. "Might just take this sh*t and blow it up."


Roddy Ricch's Victory Over Justin Bieber Means More Than You Think

The hot 100 victory shows a massive cultural shift.

"Stream Yummy by Justin Bieber," 21-year-old Compton emcee Roddy Ricch tweeted last week.

Roddy Ricch - The Box [Official Lyric Video]

The tweet was in response to a brewing controversy surrounding Bieber's promotion of his new single, "Yummy." "I'm doing everything I can on my end," Bieber says with his mouth full of food in a now-deleted Instagram video. "Let's go, go stream it right now…" he says as he takes a massive bite. "I really want this number one spot. It'd be fire." The video, which is a misophone's worst nightmare, was seen by many as an unethical promotion. It was followed by a slideshow laying out the specifics of how to stream "Yummy" and get it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. "Don't mute it! Play it at a low volume. Let it play while you sleep," read one slide.

Five years ago, Bieber would have decimated the charts with a song like "Yummy." It's short, melodic, and has just enough of a Hip-Hop/R&B edge to stand out amongst mainstream songs. Some may even call it a "bop." But a lot has changed since Bieber owned the radio. As kids learn to survive within the unraveling socio-political fabric of the world, singing "girl you got that yummy" doesn't seem as relatable as screaming, "I WON'T EVER SELL MY SOOUULLL!" Crooning about marital coitus doesn't get kids as pumped up as the idea of putting a $100,000 bounty on George Zimmerman. As a result, a comparatively unknown rapper, Roddy Ricch, is topping the charts instead of Bieber.

Ricch's "The Box" is an absolutely magnetic rap song. Crammed with clever ad libs, Young Thug-inspired trills, quips, and vocal flourishes. Featuring an infectious, internet-ready hook, the track thrived on Tik Tok and ultimately rose to number 1.

But no one expected "The Box" to go where it did, not even Roddy himself. "Start Wit Me," an equally charismatic track featuring Gunna, was promoted as Roddy's lead single back in December and has all the makings of a hit rap record. With the twiddling flutes, the quick rhymes about women and fame, and Gunna's infectious bars, it was formulated to be a hit. But in 2020, it's clear that young listeners are starved for authenticity. "The Box" is angry and driven, while "Start Wit Me" is bouncy and jubilant, in comparison "Yummy" is just plain corny. In addition, Ricch's album Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial was the first rap debut to top the Billboard 200 in over 15 years. "[Many people] get so wrapped up in this industry sh*t they forget what the point of making music was," Ricch told Complex back in December. "Make that sh*t for the [people] who are going through it. Make that sh*t for the [people] who really need to hear this sh*t."

If Justin Bieber wants to be on top in 2020, he's going to have to give the kids what they want: social awareness, authenticity, and a beat that stands out amongst the crowd. If he can't do that, perhaps Bieber's reign over the music world is finally at its end.


BJ The Chicago Kid's "1123" Is an Underappreciated R&B Gem

While 1123 doesn't make as many grand gestures as its predecessor, the album's trimmed hedges give it mainstream listenability, while offering just enough idiosyncrasies to make it sound like something new.

In January 2017, 24 million people watched as a young crooner named BJ The Chicago Kid stepped up in a clean navy blue suit to sing the national anthem.

America watched with dread as Obama gave his final speech as the 44th president of the United States. Breaking from tradition, he delivered it at McCormick Place convention center in his hometown of Chicago rather than at the White House. BJ's rendition of the "The Star Spangled Banner" was as passionate as it was mournful. "As soon as I was off, I turned around and said, 'What just happened?'" the Motown singer later recounted of the experience. "Like, that's when reality set in. My hands were shaking like I was getting ready to sing, but I already sang."

BJ—real name Bryan James Sledge—appeared on stage as a stranger to many, but the singer's 2016 major label debut, In My Mind, had just been nominated for a grammy. BJ himself had received four nominations in total. His breakout project was met with critical acclaim and came at the tail end of a difficult 15-year grind for the singer. True mainstream fame has still eluded him, but he's always had a notable presence in most respected circles. He is a regular aid in TDE and has worked extensively alongside every member, as well as Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Anderson .Paak, Dr. Dre, and Anthony Hamilton.

Many call him a revivalist and a trendsetter, though BJ has never embraced titles and says he doesn't even listen to the radio. "I love what music is, but I just know who I am," he told Beats 1 Radio. His sophomore effort, 1123, likely won't achieve the attention it deserves, as it was overshadowed by the debuts of YBN Cordae and Chance The Rapper's latest, but its release alongside such mainstream heavy-hitters confirms that BJ truly tunes out the gossip and stays focused on the music.

While 1123 doesn't make as many grand gestures as its predecessor, the album's trimmed hedges give it mainstream listenability, while offering just enough idiosyncrasies to make it sound like something new. Anderson .Paak's rapping sounds especially silky alongside old school DJ scratches and BJ's illuminating voice. "Playa's Ball" makes the most out of Rick Ross's deep growls, while "Worryin' Bout Me" pushes Offset's bravado into a slightly new direction. The record is not without its snag—"Rather Be With You," and "Close" never truly achieve lift-off—but BJ's talent is electric. And while 1123 is not a genre-bending masterpiece, it's eclectic enough to remind us that BJ has already achieved monumental success and that mainstream fame is soon to follow. When it inevitably arrives on his doorstep, it will have been on his terms.



Ryélle Grapples with Heartbreak in "Last Call" Music Video

The R&B singer struggles with love and lack of closure in her latest music video.

After the successful release of her 2018 single "Swim," R&B singer-songwriter Ryélle is back to share a cautionary tale of love and heartbreak in her latest music video for her song "Last Call."

The single, which is heavily inspired by Drake's "Marvin's Room," tells the story of a drunken lover trying to reach their significant other to no avail. "This song was actually written over three years ago, but the storyline is pretty timeless," said the singer. "Every girl can relate to this and the frustration of dealing with a guy who is just not good for them."

The video begins with a subtle fade in on Ryélle and her lover eating together at a long wooden table. Viewers then come to realize that this is an emotionally charged memory for the singer, as she begins to sing about her former love and how the tear stains in her clothes won't come out. Despite her best efforts to ease her pain with alcohol and quick dalliances, she still finds herself giving her ex a "last call." Ryélle's signature smooth and sultry vocals take an especially emotive turn to deliver lyrics like, "They say not to mix love and liquor, but I've had both."

"The video was easy to come up with since the song tells its own story," said Ryélle. "We shot for 16 hours straight, overnight at that! But not by choice. We got kicked out of our first location and spent hours looking for a new one. In the end, it worked out and I'm very pleased with how we told the story. I hope this song can serve as a strength to anyone in a similar situation."

The visuals display Ryélle's vulnerability as she grapples with the need for closure and her yearning to be closer to the object of her affection. The video concludes with an open-ended shot of the singer lying in bed with her ex before fading to black.

Check out Ryélle's latest music video "Last Call" below!

Ryélle - Last Call (Official Video)