MUSIC

SXSW 2018 | Five Essential Artists You Need To Look Out For

From DUCKWRTH to Porches, we put a list of the ultimate up-and-comers at this years SXSW

Men I Trust, via Everipedia

It's that time of year again. Texas' prime time annual film, art and music festival SXSW is bringing us a well-curated line up of this year's most promising.

Austin plays host to a wide number of artists, all curated and hand-picked from countries around the world. That's always been the beauty of it's 2,000+ official performers - it's all about the connection that music can bring, down to the roots of it. It also hosts interactive conferences, showcases, and exhibitions of just about every type of art medium. There's an unparalleled level of discovery that takes place at SXSW, and with such an exciting lineup of artists from around the world, we're sure there's something for everyone.

We've compiled a list of who's set we're most excited to catch at SXSW 2018.

DUCKWRTH.

via Urban Outfittes

DUCKWRTH. is the latest discovery from south central L.A. who's bringing the ghost of the Prince of Pop back. With a strong influence of Michael Jackson and Outkast, the rapper has invented his own innovative sound in the form of 2017's most exciting mixtape, XTRA UUGLY. There's a charm to this project, with lines like "I just wanna spend my night, with you girl/I just wanna be your type", that is keeping us on our toes anticipating the magic of this set.

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FILM & TV

The 5 films in theaters you really, really need to see right now

Here are our picks in order to be ready for this year's Oscars season

I, Tonya (2017)

It's that time of the year again - the Academy Awards are on this Sunday, March 4th on ABC, and you are nowhere near caught up on your list.

This year's most critically acclaimed films reflect the political and social climate that's been making our heads spin. Hollywood has been caught up in a revealing time with the #MeToo moment shedding light on public revelations of sexual assault by more than a hundred actors, producers, and directors. There has been no other time with a greater need for a woman's voice. The films nominated by the Academy this year reflect that need to understand, to cause a conversation, to inflict change. Director and actress Greta Gerwig is only the fifth female director ever nominated, with the 100% Rotten Tomato-approved Lady Bird.

We decided to highlight some of the most important works nominated at the Oscars still showing at theaters around the nation. Read on to find out our favorites.

I, Tonya

I, Tonya tells the tragic real life tale of figure skater Tonya Harding (stunningly portrayed by Margot Robbie), who was banned from the sport after the 1994 incident with Nancy Kerrigan. The film flows through interviews and testimony by those closest in Harding's life, like Harding's abusive husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), her mother LaVona Fay Golden (Allison Janney), and Julianne Nicholson, Caitlin Carver, and Bobby Cannavale also star.

Annihilation

This Alex Garland-directed film is based on a novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer and stars an impressive cast - Natalie Portman, Gina Gonzalez, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac all play scientists who volunteer to enter "the Shimmer", a quarantined zone where nothing has ever been able to come out. The film was only just released this past week, but it's already breaking box office records and nobody can seem to stop buzzing about it.

Call Me By Your Name

This coming-of-age Luca Guadagnino-directed drama has been mentioned absolutely everywhere for it's stunning portrayal of a 17-year-old boy Ellio (Timothee Chalamet) who falls in love with his father's assistant Oliver (Armie Hammer) in Northern Italy in 1983. It has been critically praised for it's raw intensity, fueled by the actors chemistry as well as the soundtrack created by Sufjan Stevens (who always manages to make us cry when we least expect it).

Lady Bird

Lady Bird (as told and directed by Greta Gerwig) tells a tale that's all too familiar with rebellious teenagers across the world. Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) refuses to go by any other name and longs to escape the confinements of Sacramento. Her family struggles financially, with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) often reminding her that she is not grateful for what she has. The film is a touching and universal story of love between daughters and mothers that transcends time and a lingering sentiment that what we have is worth appreciating before it's gone.

The Shape of Water

This Guillermo del Toro fantasy was bound to be one of the year's biggest films, especially with a name like that. Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) works as a janitor at a secret government lab in Baltimore during the Cold War in 1962. What she discovers in the lab is a half-amphibian, half-human creature that develops a real emotional connection with her. What follows is a story not unlike Toro's Pan Labyrinth, yet just as full to the brim with true love.

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Top Stories

Why Drake's "God's Plan" video is so culturally relevant

It doesn't matter that the rapper filmed himself giving away a million dollars. What matters is that he did.

There's been a conversation revolving around Drake's recently released music video for "God's Plan", currently the #1 song on the charts.

It opens up with a very simple statement: "The budget for this video was $996,631.90. We gave it all away. Don't tell the label." What follows is shots of the people of Miami (particularly around Overtown), as Drake comes into a Sabor Tropical supermarket to tell everyone that their purchase today will be free - he's got it covered.

www.rap-up.com

There's a mother and her son sitting by the boardwalk - the rapper comes by to hand them a wad of cash that, ultimately, changed their entire life in one moment. Drake hands a scholarship check made out to Miami High School, surprises fans unknowingly standing within feet of their favorite rapper, treats an entire department store full of women to whatever they want.

Some say it's self-serving. Some say it's fabricated. Chances are, they're not from Miami. As someone who is, it cannot be overstated the importance of this music video - it just so happens to be one of the greatest cultural documents of the city and it's people, which is always depicted as a sunny beach on mainstream media but in reality faces some very real and harsh poverty and wealth inequality. In fact, Bloomberg reported that Miami has the greatest gap between the rich and the poor than any other metropolis city in the U.S. You don't know just how life-changing it can be to have someone (no matter their name) come up to you and hand you a great big wad of cash if you're not from Miami.

In a time where political divide is so great and optimism so small, it matters that Drake gave away the entirety of this music video's budget. Not only is it incredibly transparent about how much money goes into these big-scale productions, but it goes to show just how many lives can be changed with "just" a million dollars. Let's be real - to Drake, this is chump change. To so many families, this is food, transportation, an education and a roof over their head. The value of that is bigger than you or me. It's not only a charity effort, but a political statement.

Like the Atlantic points out, civil rights icon and musician Harry Belafonte stated in 2012: "one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists … [who] have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, for example." Jay-Z's response? "This is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am. Just like Obama's is." For rappers who have, to quote Drake himself, started from the bottom, the climb to the top is meant to inspire change, to inspire dreamers that all is possible.

i.ytimg.com

While "God's Plan" is making ripples in the entertainment industry, here's hoping that the conversation will inspire more and more celebrities to give away the excess in their bank account. We can only see the good in that.

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MUSIC

Justin Timberlake brings the hits back to the Super Bowl - and Prince?

Last Sunday night, the pop star brought the hits ("Can't Stop the Feeling", "Suit and Tie") but failed to bring any heat

USA Today

Last Sunday night, there was one televised event that no one could take their eyes off, and it wasn't for a good reason - it was thanks to Justin Timberlake's lukewarm halftime show.

There was a solid start with "Rock Your Body", one of his early aughts hits that hasn't aged terribly, as well as renditions of "Suit and Tie" and "Can't Stop the Feeling." What followed was a controversial cover of "I Would Die 4 U", with Timberlake's own vocals as a projection of Prince performing the track engulfed the purple lights. The city of Minneapolis died and lived again, drenching everything in the color purple in honor of the late Prince. With the two pop singers having an infamous spat in the news, many fans were angered and felt like Prince would've hated the tribute - his sister Tyka Nelson, however, has told TMZ that she was pleasantly surprised and felt that her brother would've enjoyed it. Her brother wasn't one to hold grudges, she said.

In a post-show interview with Jimmy Fallon, Timberlake gave some insight into his decision to perform a Prince tribute. ""It's a moment for me, if I'm being quite honest, because he's always been the pinnacle of musicianship for me," Timberlake said. "When we decided that the serendipity and synergy that we would be in Minneapolis and that, you know, he's such a special thing here, aside from what he is all over the world, I just felt like I wanted to do something for this city and something for him that would be the ultimate homage to what I consider the GOAT of musicians." He explained how they acquired the footage: "We got the actual vocal stems from 'I Would Die 4 U,' the actual recordings, and then we got uncut footage from his performance of it in Purple Rain, and somehow, some way, by the grace of probably Prince looking down on us, it synced up. It was like this crazy serendipitous moment. I just wanted to use that opportunity to do something special for this city, but most of all, for my favorite musician of all time."

Critics have panned this performance, accusing Timberlake of "phoning it in" with a mediocre catalog. To that, I riddle you this - Timberlake's half time show was never going to be great because his discography is, aside from a crowning gem here and there, mostly empty and forgettable. There was nothing of substance being said here. The New Yorker's Amanda Petrusich brought up a good reasoning for this: "As dancers flooded the field, Timberlake eventually made his way into the stands. He cajoled a child into filming a cell-phone video with him. Many more phones turned in his direction. For someone so aware of the way news travels now, his performance was oddly benign—expert, sure (in his decades of pop stardom, Timberlake has never been anything less than expert), but eerily un-self-aware. In 2018, eyeballs do not necessarily equal adulation. It seems fitting that the last thing Timberlake said, before sprinting away, his forehead glinting, was "Super Bowl selfies!" In the end, that was all that mattered."

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MUSIC

Five of our most anticipated releases of 2018

From Cardi B to Arctic Monkeys, we're eagerly on the edges of our seat for these upcoming efforts

It's 2018. It's a new year of blank slates, blank canvases, and eagerly awaiting the next round of fresh new sounds from artists who have been MIA, somewhere in recording studios.

That's not to say 2017 didn't bring us some serious artistry (and now overplayed loops), though. With a year that was made up of powerful political punches (DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar), understanding the times and trials of young women of color (CTRL by SZA), and getting to know the difference between being alone and being lonely (Flower Boy by Tyler the Creator), there was a lot of moving self-discovery, personal realizations, and the growing pains of growing another year wiser. That's why, despite the troubled times, we're looking into this year with hope and optimism, knowing that the music that is created out of a deeply political time is all what we need to keep moving forward.

We've compiled a list of some of our most anticipated releases, all due out sometime this year.

Arctic Monkeys - 'TBA'

After years of anticipation, Arctic Monkeys just announced their first live gig in more than four years at this year's Firefly Music Festival. The English band has been MIA, working on album no. 6, with resounding confirmations from varying sources (including the band's own Nick O'Malley, with an article from For The Ride stating "Nick found time for the track day before recording began on the eagerly anticipated sixth album, started at a secret location in September. The new album will be out next year because 'if it isn't, we've got problems'"). Besides their confirmed appearance this June, it seems like we don't know much else, but it also seems like it won't stay that way for long.

MGMT - 'Little Dark Age'

When psych duo MGMT released their first confirmed single "Little Dark Age" earlier this year, we were seriously impressed by it's new direction - the goth grittiness, which features vocalist Andrew VanWynGarden lamenting "I grieve in stereo / the stereo sounds strange / I know that if you hide it doesn't go away", sounds just as new and refreshing with each loop. Since then, the band has released supporting singles "When You Die" and "Hand It Over", with confirmations that the record will feature collaborations with Ariel Pink and Connan Mockasin. "We felt like we had reached a flow, it was the sort of chemistry, the kind of magic feeling we had when we started the band," said Ben Goldwasser. Release date is still TBA, but the New Yorker suggests it will drop sometime in February.

Cardi B - 'TBA'

Ever since the booming summer success of "Bodak Yellow", Cardi B has become a household name. What everyone's been wanting to know? What she'll do next. Her upcoming debut LP has been topic of much conversation, with many questioning if it can live up to it's own hype. However, with the recent release of "Bartier Cardi", you can rest assured that Cardi still has a lot of bars to spit and just as much money to flex. In her cover story with Rolling Stone, she discussed in-depth what the process has been like. "I got six, seven solid songs that I like, but I wonder if a month from now, I'm going to change my mind. It's not as fun to do music," she says. "My mind doesn't flow as free 'cause I have so much on my mind."

My Bloody Valentine - 'TBA'

My Bloody Valentine, having only three albums under their belt since 1988, still know how to keep us on our toes. While no exact details are confirmed, the band has been hard at work in the studio, having said that their next effort will likely be seven or eight tracks and expected to clock in around 40 minutes. "In some respects, some of it is a bit straightforward. The MBV album that we did in 2013 feels more meandery and not as concise. This one is like if somebody took that and dropped some acid on it or created a dimensional clash or something. It's more all over the place… The record I am making now is not so much about death and change as freedom of the soul," Kevin Shields told Rolling Stone.

Interpol - 'TBA'

You've seen Interpol tour their debut album Turn On The Bright Lights for it's 15th anniversary extensively. So what gives? While the release date is yet to be confirmed, it's safe to say that a new record is underway, as they've been performing a new and shiny track by the name of "Real Life." Interpol last delivered one of the most exciting albums of 2014 with El Pintor, so we're eagerly awaiting what comes next.

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Top Stories

Kendrick Lamar and SZA drop a new banger "All the Stars"

The new track is fresh off the soundtrack for the upcoming Marvel film Black Panther, overseen by the duo

Record label mates Kendrick Lamar and SZA have dropped a fresh take titled "All the Stars", according to Top Dawg Entertainment.

The track is a part of the soundtrack for the upcoming and highly anticipated Marvel film Black Panther, which Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment president Anthony Tiffith will be overseeing selection of songs for the film as well as other means of collaboration - "All the Stars" was created specifically for the film. Black Panther, which is set to be directed by Ryan Coogler (best known for his 2015 film Creed), is easily one of the most anticipated films of the year. "Marvel Studios' Black Panther is amazing, from its cast to its director," Lamar said in a press release. "The magnitude of this film showcases a great marriage of art and culture. I'm truly honored to contribute my knowledge of producing sound and writing music alongside Ryan [Coogler] and Marvel's vision."

All the Stars is quite a gift from the two Grammy-nominated artists. Lamar kicks off the adrenaline-pumping beat with a verse like, ""Tell me what you gon' do to me / Confrontation ain't nothin' new to me / You can bring a bullet, bring a sword, bring a morgue / But you can't bring the truth to me." SZA adds to the flow by singing her own infectiously catchy chorus: "This may be the night that my dreams might let me know / All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer." It's a light and triumphant ode to love overcoming all, as per usual with major motion pictures. This is a notable move from the universe of Marvel, which isn't usually known for it's emphasis on music curation - however, who better to pick then Lamar and SZA themselves?

Other powerful artists who curated the soundtrack for a major picture, who have paved the way for how to do it successfully, include Jay-Z for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby - which included a hauntingly eerie track, "Young and Beautiful" by Lana Del Rey, that was stuck in just about everyone's head in 2013. Pharrell is also known for his work for 2015's Dope, which had a focus on 90's hiphop and gems from Nas and A Tribe Called Quest. Solange Knowles, who is not a newcomer to this ballpark whatsoever, was a consultant handpicked by Issa Rae for her highly successful show Insecure, which also broke some gems like "Just Sayin/I Tried" by the Internet onto the big screen. Not to mention - who can forget the highly successful - and highly marketed - star-studded soundtrack for the Hunger Games, which featured gems by Lorde, CHVRCHES, and Tinashe?

Black Panther: the Album will feature 14 songs and will be released on February 9. Until then, we'll be keeping this song on loop.

courtesy of Movieweb

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