Lil Uzi Vert
At the beginning of 2019, Lil Uzi Vert announced that he was retiring. He was frustrated with his label situation and with the hoops he needed to go through to drop new music. In an Instagram post he said, “I deleted everything I wanna be normal. I wanna wake up in 2013.” This frustration was not exactly new to Uzi, who preferred to release music when he felt like it, instead of adhering to the outdated and often slow release schedule the music industry typically adheres to. After losing his phone while crowd surfing at his own show a couple years ago, he more or less lost the files to an entire album, and decided to just drop some of the songs on SoundCloud instead. The appeal of the instant connection of this method is obvious, and Uzi knows how to write a hit without label interference.
In a just world, we’d have some version of Uzi’s sophomore album, Eternal Atake, by now. It is still extremely odd that one of the biggest rap stars around has released such a small amount of music since the buzz around him began to surge, then surpassed critical mass. Uzi, like Young Thug or Gucci Mane or Lil Wayne, can be extraordinarily prolific, often writing and recording songs faster than a label can figure out what to do with them. It makes sense that he’d want to release songs or albums as they’re finished, without any delay. In the modern rap landscape, artistic evolution happens in plain sight. Process is laid bare. Quantity is conflated with quality, and it doesn’t even matter. Don’t like one mixtape? That’s okay, there’s another one right around the corner.
Which brings us to “Free Uzi,” a song that Uzi’s label, Atlantic Records, says is actually a leak (notably, it’s not currently available on Spotify or Apple Music) — one which Uzi himself is reportedly (and unsubtly) responsible for. (Coincidentally, he promoted the song on his previously blacked-out Instagram at the same time the song leaked and, later, shared an official music video. The song is also currently available on Tidal, which is famously owned by Jay-Z, whose label Roc Nation has reportedly intervened to manage Uzi’s career going forward.) The title is self-explanatory, and the song is a furious three minutes of breathless rapping, a reminder that Uzi’s got an uncanny sense of melody and timing, and is firmly part of the Philadelphia lineage of rappers who are really good at sounding like they don’t really ever need to breathe.
Even without all the label drama and retirement rumors (did anyone really believe Uzi was really going to retire? How many artists in the history of music have actually stopped making music forever after they said they were going to?), “Free Uzi” is a compelling song. It doesn’t feel like a single. It doesn’t have the undeniable hook of, say, “XO Tour Lif3,” but that also doesn’t really matter. Uzi now exists in a rarified space where the demand for new music from him far outstrips the available inventory. His influence looms large enough that a song like “Free Uzi” can take on a sort of instant cult status. The story behind the song means more than the song itself. Luckily “Free Uzi” is worth more than a few listens anyway.
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Billie Eilish When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go
Eilish, 17, has spent the last few years establishing herself as the negation of what a female teen-pop star used to be. She doesn’t play innocent, or ingratiating, or flirtatious, or perky, or cute. Instead, she’s sullen, depressive, death-haunted, sly, analytical and confrontational, all without raising her voice.
On singles and EPs, like her 2017 EP “Don’t Smile at Me,” Eilish’s songs have treated love as a power struggle, an absurd game, and a destructive obsession, racking up more than a billion streams from listeners who apparently share her sentiments. On her Instagram page, which has more than 15 million followers, she is brusquely anti-fashion, swaddling herself in shapeless, oversized, boldly colored clothes and making silly or ghoulish faces. “I do what I want when I’m wanting to/My soul so cynical,” she notes in “Bad Guy.” But that’s just her starting point. While Eilish’s previous releases have featured her flinty, defensive side, her debut album also admits to sorrows and vulnerabilities.
In some ways the album arrives as a continuation, not an introduction. Like her previous releases, it’s the work of a very small, decidedly innovative family team. Eilish writes and records her songs with her older brother, Finneas O’Connell, working largely at home. The sound they have built for her is sparse with instrumentation and large with implication. A typical track uses just a handful of parts, nearly all of them electronic: a bass line, a beat, only enough keyboard notes to sketch a harmony. Eilish sings barely above a whisper, a signal of intimacy.
But at any moment, the tracks are likely to flaunt their artificiality: adding samples or sound effects, distorting her voice, suddenly deploying a big bass drop. “Wish You Were Gay” — a guy is ignoring her, and she wishes he was indifferent to her gender rather than her in particular — starts with just acoustic-guitar chords and her voice, tokens of pop sincerity. But the mix also includes a tittering audience and applause at the end, insisting that the song is archly theatrical. In Eilish’s digital-native universe, it’s impossible to pretend that anything is unobserved or unmediated; everything is self-conscious.
While albums in the streaming era aren’t always made to be heard as a whole, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” traces a clear arc: from bravado to melancholy. Early in the album are songs like “You Should See Me in a Crown” — an ominously assured, sustained and then slamming claim to power — and the mocking, music-hall flavored “All the Good Girls Go to Hell,” as well as “Xanny,” a ballad that disdains the trendy overuse of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. But with a stretch of songs near the end of the album, Eilish turns to thoughts of grief, suicide and loneliness.
“Bury a Friend,” with a pulsing, nervous undercurrent and sampled screams, veers between mourning, lashing out and self-destructive thoughts. “Ilomilo” has a briskly plinking, near-ska beat, but it worries over a suicidal friend: “I might break/If you’re gonna die not by mistake.” In “Listen Before I Go,” a glacial piano ballad with looming reverberations, the narrator herself is suicidal; “Sorry, can’t save me,” she warns, and sirens at the end suggest the worst. It’s followed by the whispery “I Love You,” a hovering, hesitant confession: “I don’t want to, but I love you.”
Siegfried and Roy
Siegfried & Roy tiger handler says the real cause of 2003 mauling was covered up
Few will forget when a white tiger viciously attacked magician Roy Horn in 2003 during Siegfried & Roy’s Las Vegas show.
The attack ended the careers of Horn and his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, as an audience of 1,500 watched 400-pound tiger Montecore bite Roy and drag him offstage.
The explanation has always been that Roy suffered a stroke, and the tiger reacted to protect him.
Now, trainer Chris Lawrence has spoken out to The Hollywood Reporter, claiming Roy himself is to blame for the accident.
In a long interview, Lawrence says Horn was spending too little time with the tigers before shows, eroding the bond between animal and performer.
“Many of the handlers thought that Roy was treating the cats more like props than he was respecting them for who they were,” Lawrence explains to THR. “That can only work as long as there are no variables, which is impossible considering that you’re dealing with a living, thinking animal.”
Lawrence, 45, has been diagnosed with PTSD and says he is recovering from alcohol abuse, night terrors and suicidal thoughts. He tells THR he’s speaking out now to set out the facts before a planned biopic Siegfried & Roy reportedly have in the works.
The night of the accident, Oct. 3, 2003, was Horn’s 59th birthday. Because the audience was filled with Horn’s friends, the handler says he persuaded Horn to perform with the impressive Montecore.
“This moment haunts me to my core and plagues me with overwhelming guilt,” says Lawrence. “I actually talked Roy into using the tiger that would ultimately maul him and end the most successful stage show in the history of Las Vegas.”
He says Montecore was quickly off his mark in the performance and into “uncharted waters.”
“What Roy did was, instead of walking Montecore in a circle, as is usually done, he just used his arm to steer him right back into his body, in a pirouette motion,” Lawrence says. “Montecore’s face was right in (Horn’s) midsection. By Roy not following the correct procedure, it fed into confusion and rebellion.”
When the tiger bit at Horn’s sleeve, Lawrence made a move to intervene, tempting him with raw meat. The trainer grabbed Montecore’s leash, and the tiger managed to knock both men down.
“I vividly remember thinking, ‘Here he comes,’ and I experienced all of the things that you hear about prior to your death,” he recalls. But the tiger was only interested in Horn, dragging the unconscious performer off the stage.
Horn was rushed to the hospital and survived multiple surgeries. Now 74, he has difficulty walking and talking, which a 2005 USDA report said was the result of a crushed windpipe and damage to an artery carrying oxygen to Horn’s brain. Lawrence said the investigators never received his statement detailing his version of events.
The show was immediately shut down.
Lawrence says he believes Horn has never been confronted about his role in causing the attack and has been shielded from reality.
“It would’ve had to be a private moment with Siegfried, if Roy had asked,” the handler says. “Nobody else would’ve approached him with the hard truth.”
Lawrence worked at the Secret Garden, a small zoo on the property of the Mirage that houses big cats, until three years after the incident, but says he quit because of guilt over Horn’s injuries and his increasing discomfort around animals.
“It’s been 15 years, but I live it every day and every night,” he says. “It’ll never leave me.”
Emeraude Toubia • Prince Royce • Shadowhunters
Prince Royce & Emeraude Toubia Get Married in Secret Wedding
The Dominican bachata crooner and Mexican-Lebanese actress have tied the knot, according to an exclusive cover story published by People en Español on Friday (March 29).
The words “introducing Mr. & Mrs. Royce” are printed in large type on the magazine cover that shows a photo of the newlyweds in their tuxedo and wedding dress. More details of their big day is revealed on the cover. “After eight years of dating, Prince Royce and Emeraude Toubia said ‘I Do’ in an intimate and ultra-private ceremony in the heart of Mexico.”
The news came as a big surprise for their fans. See the beautiful photo below.
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