Music Observer

Kendrick Lamar Releases “N95” Music Video

Photo: Pitchfork

In addition to the rollout of his most recent album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar has released the music video for the album’s song “N95.” 

In the video, in which the 34-year-old rapper co-directed with Dave Free, Lamar is spotted floating above water while reflecting the crucifixion of Jesus pose, escaping a group of men in a cat-and-mouse scene, and doing donuts in a car with Baby Keem, who is the co-producer of the track. 

“N95” is the second new video released by Lamar this month, after “The Heart Part 5.” Lamar stands as the director of his latest music video with pgLang collaborator Dave Free. 

The rapper is distorted into deepfakes of OJ Simpson, Kanye West, Kobe Bryant, Nipsey Hussle, Jussie Smollett, and Will Smith in the visual. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, co-producing a comedy film with Lamar, supervised the creation of the video via their studio Deep Voodoo. 

Lamar revealed the album last August alongside a new website called Oklama, announcing that it would be his last release for Top Dawg Entertainment. 

“I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years,” he said. His promotional statement is like what Michael Jordan said of his legendary comeback fax. 

Mr. Morale is the rapper’s first album after Damn was released in 2017. He snagged a Pulitzer Prize award and a bunch of Grammys for his 2017 album. He spent his years doing LPs alongside numerous projects and collaborations, giving appearances on tracks by Busta Rhymes, Terrace Martin, Sir, and Anderson. 

Lamar has also teamed up countless times with Baby Keem, particularly creating “Family Ties” with his cousin. The artists gained the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 2022 for the track. 

Following his appearance on stage during the Super Bowl halftime show in February, Lamar is scheduled to headline Glastonbury and Rolling Loud Miami this year. 

Lamar is often dubbed one of the most influential rappers of his generation. Apart from his solo career, he is also a part of the hip hop group Black Hippy together with his former Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, and Schoolboy Q. 

He was raised in Compton, California, and started his musical career in his teenage years under the stage name K.Dot, releasing a mixtape called Y.H.N.I.C. (Hub City Threat Minor of the Year) that gathered local attention, resulting in his contract with indie record label TDE. 

Overly Dedicated earned him the beginning of his recognition in 2010. A year later, he independently released his first studio album, Section.80, which contained his debut single, “HiiiPoWeR.” 

Since that release, he has garnered many online following and teamed up with numerous famous rappers. Later, he had a record deal with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment under Interscope Records. 

In 2012, Lamar made his major-label debut with Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, gaining mass recognition and mainstream success.

Robert Pattinson and ‘The Whole Team’ Will Reprise Their Roles in The Batman 2

Photo: EW

After a successful showing of The Batman, Warner Bros said at Cinemacon that Robert Pattinson would reprise his role in its sequel, sporting the iconic cape and cowl of Gotham’s superhero. 

While the entertainment giant didn’t disclose further details, it reveals that co-writer and director Matt Reeves, Pattinson, “and the whole team will be taking audiences back to Gotham in The Batman 2.” 

The 56-year-old director made a brief appearance to express his gratitude to viewers who contributed to the film’s exceeding the $750 million mark at the worldwide box office, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2022. 

“This is thrilling for me,” Reeves said, further stating that he’s a great admirer of the character and “is excited to jump back into this world for the next chapter.” 

Reeves also guaranteed to reveal more information about the movie at another Cinemacon. Therefore, to the bat fans out there, sit tight and relax because you will get what you want. 

The Batman was released on March 2, 2022, featuring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Paul Dano as Edward Nashton/Riddler, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, and Colin Farrell as Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot/Penguin. It is a film based on the DC Comics character Batman. 

The film follows Batman, who has been protecting Gotham City from crime for two years, discovering corruption amid going after Riddler, a serial killer who aims for Gotham’s elite. 

Initially planned to release in June 2021, the film premiere was constantly postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, it garnered quite a good review from spectators, citing performances from actors, cinematography, the direction, sequences, and the storyline. However, it was still criticized for its runtime.

British Recording Studio Pays Tribute to Music Photographers for the First Time in History

Photo: Reuters

London-based Abbey Road Studios conducts its first music photography awards this end of the week, with a solid spotlight on a category that deserves acknowledgment, as per the studio.

May 14’s award ceremony is a groundbreaking moment for the industry and will pay tribute to emerging and established photographic artists, reaching from live shots to intimate portraits.

The shortlisted pictures – shot last year – involve photographs of singers Billie Eilish and Arlo Parks, artist David Mrakpor, and dancers on live shows.

“Music Photography Awards started as a nugget of idea from one of our team because we see even from our archives that we have at Abbey Road how important photography is in telling the story of what’s going on in a studio or behind the music,” said Managing Director at Abbey Road Studios, Isabel Garvey, in an interview with Reuters. 

“And as we went digging, we realized it was a category that really wasn’t celebrated. So, we decided … with our connections with musicians, with creatives, with the whole industry that actually we were in quite a unique position to mount an award ceremony like this and give these photographers the platform to celebrate all of their work.” 

The show holds open and invited categories: open categories include portrait photography, editorial photography, and artist-at-work.

Eric Johnson, a New York-based photographic artist who has taken pictures of Biggie Smalls, Missy Elliot, and Lauryn Hill, will be granted the icon award for “contribution to the art of music photography.” 

Live music photography, studio photography, undiscovered photographer of the year, and championing scenes and zeitgeist, called the “images that define music in 2021,” are among the awards in the open categories. 

“We obviously know there are a lot of talented music photographers out there, but we weren’t quite prepared for the onslaught of applications,” stated Garvey. “I think we had over 3,000 applicants amongst the open categories.” 

Proficient photographic artists like Jill Furmanovsky are among the awards jury.

“I was impressed there was so much material from a year when we were in COVID, so they couldn’t have been nearly as many situations to shoot music photography as in previous years,” Furmanovsky stated. 

“And yet people were doing it: small gigs or gigs with masks on or people recording in their rooms or their houses and so on. It was quite moving really at times to see that and also historic actually, because it was a moment in time.”

Critics Pour Praises Over Top Gun: Maverick Production and Over all Performances

Photo: BBC

Tom Cruise’s comeback in Top Gun: Maverick acquired endless commendations from pundits, portraying it as a “barrier-breaking sequel” to the initial 1986 installment.

The continuation of the film hailed as probably the best film of the 1980s sees Cruise’s reprisal of his role as crackerjack US Navy pilot Maverick.

It is “as thrilling as blockbusters get,” as indicated by Independent, praising it as a “true legacy sequel.” Meanwhile, The Telegraph depicted it as “absurdly exciting” and “unquestionably the best studio action film in years.” 

Besides Cruise, the film cast includes Jennifer Connolly, Jon Hamm, Monica Barbaro, Danny Ramirez, Val Kilmer, and Ed Harris. Top Gun will be released in cinemas this month.

Divergent Series’ Miles Teller portrays Rooster, the child of Maverick’s past partner, Goose. Currently a pilot himself, Rooster considers Maverick liable for his dad’s demise in a mishap in the first film.

In the continuation, Maverick returns to the Top Gun flying school, presently an instructor who handles the preparation of another age of pilots.

Top Gun: Maverick was at first set to be sent off in 2019; however, it was delayed to permit the team to complete the flight scenes. And afterward, it was deferred again due to the Covid pandemic.

Peter Debruge of Variety expressed that the “barrier-breaking sequel” is a “stunning follow-up,” further saying, “Hardly anything in Top Gun: Maverick will surprise you, except how well it does nearly all the things audiences want and expect it to do.” 

Debruge praised the scenes from a plane cockpit for their precision.

“It’s the most immersive flight simulator audiences will have ever experienced,” he stated. “If the flying scenes here blow your mind, it’s because a great many of them are the real deal, putting audiences right there in the cockpit alongside a cast who learned to pilot for their parts.” 

Robbie Collin of The Telegraph gave a five-star survey of the film, indicating the “play of light and gravity on actors’ faces, and the way the landscapes spin and drop away balletically through the canopy glass puts other blockbusters’ green-screened swooping to shame.” 

“Watching Cruise’s return as Maverick is so outrageously pleasurable largely because the actor himself treats it as pleasure,” he stated. 

Collin then, at that point, called attention to the “smooth and shockingly moving plot,” portraying the film as “Dad Cinema at its eye-crinkling apogee: all rugged wistfulness and rough-and-tumble comradeship, interspersed with flight sequences so preposterously exciting and involving they seem to invert the cinema through 180 degrees.” 

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Times’ Justin Chang’s review read: “A lot of consideration and calculation have clearly gone into this long-aborning blockbuster sequel, insofar as Cruise [one of the producers] and his collaborators have taken such clear pains to maintain continuity with the events, if not the style, of the first film

Top Gun: Maverick is a longer, costlier and appreciably weightier affair, and its expanded emotional scope and heightened production values give it a classy, elegiac sheen; it’s like a hot summer diversion in prestige-dinosaur drag or vice versa. As a rare big-budget Hollywood movie about men and women who fly without capes, it has a lot riding on it.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar Says She Reciprocates Billie Eilish’s Crush on Her

Photo: EW

In an Instagram story, Billie Eilish said that her childhood celebrity crush was Sarah Michelle Gellar for her iconic portrayal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This news has fans thrilled, and they can’t wait until more info about this new pairing becomes available. 

The 20-year-old iconic singer was born when Buffy died for 147 days and was resurrected. By this time, Gellar has already been featured on three covers of Entertainment Weekly, proving that age is just a number. 

When Gellar found out about Eilish’s adoration for her, she shared the singer’s story in an Instagram post.

“I’m dead. That’s all,” Gellar, 45, said. “I’m not a child anymore, but I totally have a crush on @billieeilish. Ok … now that’s really all.” 

Many celebrities shared their thoughts on Gellar’s post, agreeing with Eilish’s sentiments. Jordan Fisher, widely known for his role as John Ambrose in To All the Boys, confessed, “Ohhhhh, I never told you you were one of mine.” 

The post gathered more interactions as Eilish saw that the actress recognized and felt exactly how she was feeling; she then posted in her Instagram story, “Um oh my god.”

SMG also celebrated this month as she held her birthday with a small Cruel Intentions co-stars reunion with Selma Blair and Ryan Phillippe before a cheeky painting showing Phillippe’s famous butt scene from the teen romantic drama.

Top Gun Sequel Top Gun: Maverick to Feature New Lady Gaga Song “Hold My Hand”

Photo: Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Lady Gaga has been confirmed to release a new song this Tuesday, May 3, titled “Hold My Hand” for the new Tom Cruise movie Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to 1986’s Top Gun.

“Hold My Hand” is produced by Gaga and BloodPop®, with additional production from Benjamin Rice. 

The movie version will also feature additional production and score music by Harold Faltermeyer and Hans Zimmer.

On social media, Lady Gaga wrote: 

“When I wrote this song for Top Gun: Maverick, I didn’t even realize the multiple layers it spanned across the film’s heart, my own psyche, and the nature of the world we’ve been living in. I’ve been working on it for years, perfecting it, trying to make it ours. I wanted to make music into a song where we share our deep need to both be understood and try to understand each other—a longing to be close when we feel so far away and an ability to celebrate life’s heroes. I’m so grateful to Tom and Hans and [director Joseph Kosinski] for this opportunity—and it’s been a beautiful experience working with them. Me, BloodPop, Ben Rice and everyone else who worked on it with us are so excited to share it with you. This song is a love letter to the world during and after a very hard time. I’ve wanted you to hear it for so long. And I’m so excited to give it to you on May 3. ‘Hold My Hand.’

🎶 But if you decide to

I’ll ride in this life with you

I won’t let go till the end 🎶”

Lady Gaga’s has previously won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Shallow” in A Star is Born and was nominated for Best Original Song at the 2016 Oscars for “Til It Happens to You.”

Lady Gaga collaborated with Tony Bennett last year in Love for Sale, the Chromatica remix album Dawn of Chromatic, and a 10th anniversary edition of Born This Way. She also recently performed Love for Sale songs at the 2022 Grammy Awards. 

She will finally go on tour for Chromatica starting July.

Top Gun: Maverick hits theaters on Friday, May 27.

Joey Bada$$ Reveals Newest Album 2000 and Summer Tour

Photo: Pitchfork

In addition to the new single “The Rev3nge,” Joey Bada$$ will release a new album named 2000. It is set to be rolled out on June 17 through Columbia Records. 

The latest album’s launch dates are close to the mixtape 1999 release 10 years ago, which brought him wider recognition. He then released Rejex in September 2012 and Summer Knights in July 2013.

His debut album B4.Da.$$ was launched in January 2015. In 2016, he made his television debut on USE Network’s Mr. Robot. All Amerikkkan Badass, his second album, was launched in April 2017.

He has also revealed a North American summer tour with Capella Grey. Check out the dates below. 

Joey Bada$$:

07-01 Boston, MA – Big Night Live

 07-02 Montreal, Quebec – MTELUS

 07-03 Toronto, Ontario – Rebel

 07-06 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts

 07-07 New York, NY – Terminal 5

 07-08 Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore

 07-09 Norfolk, VA – The Norva

 07-10 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade Heaven Stage

 07-12 Chicago, IL – House of Blues

 07-13 Minneapolis, MN – The Fillmore

 07-15 Denver, CO – Mission Ballroom

 07-17 Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex Rockwell

 07-19 Portland, OR – Roseland Theater

 07-20 Vancouver, British Columbia – Vogue Theatre

 07-21 Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo

 07-23 San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom

 07-24 Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades

 07-26 San Diego, CA – House of Blues

 07-27 Santa Ana, CA – Observatory

 07-28 Los Angeles, CA – The Novo

Joey Bada$$ is known as Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott by birth. He is an American rapper, singer, and actor from Brooklyn, New York City. The 27-year-old is a founding member of the hip-hop collective Pro Era. 

His fame started when he posted a YouTube video of himself freestyling in October 2010. The video was uploaded to hip hop website World Star Hip Hop and captured the interest of the president of Cinematic Music Group, who later became his manager. 

In 2012, Joey and Capital Steez posted a YouTube video for “Survival Tactics” through their channel “PROfckingERA,” which samples the 2000 Fold song by Styles of Beyond of the same name. 

February 2012 saw Pro Era launch their debut mixtape titled The Secc$ Tap.e. MTV News then featured Joey’s verse from the video on a RapFix Live episode in March 2012; he later appeared as a featured guest on Sucker Free after a month. 

After those little start, his success kept coming – albums and collaborations.

Post Malone Releases New Song “Cooped Up” With Roddy Ricch

Photo: Pitchfork

Post Malone has launched a new song entitled “Cooped Up,” featuring Roddy Ricch. It’s the most recent preview of his new album Twelve Carat Toothache. Malone stands as the producer of the single with his constant collaborator Louis Bell. 

“Cooped Up” is the second single Post Malone has released from his upcoming album, after “One Right Now” with The Weeknd. He previewed other new songs on his Instagram Live not long ago, such as team-ups with the Kid Laroi, Doja Cat, and Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold. 

Twelve Carat Toothache will be released on June 3. It launches after Post Malone’s 2019 studio LP Hollywood’s Bleeding. Malone told Billboard that the latest album expresses “the ups and downs and the disarray and the bipolar aspect of being an artist in the mainstream.” 

This weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live will feature Post Malone as a musical guest, his debut on the show, with Selena Gomez hosting it. 

Born Austin Richard Post, Malone is an American rapper and singer-songwriter famous for his introspective songwriting and vocal styles. He usually blends genres and subgenres of pop, hip hop, R&B, and trap. 

His stage name was acquired by putting his birth name into a rap name generator. 

The 26-year-old started his music career in 2013 as an independent artist and gained popularity with his 2015 debut single, “White Iverson,” which ranked number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100. 

Malone then inked a recording contract with Republic Records and launched his debut studio album, Stoney, in 2016. One of the album’s songs is the diamond hit single “Congratulations.” The album broke records, remaining on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for 77 weeks. 

Beerbongs and Bentleys, his second album, launched at the top ranks on the US Billboard 200 and broke numerous streaming records. It had the Hot 100 number-one singles “Rockstar” and “Psycho” and received a nomination for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 2018. 

The third number one, “Sunflower,” was the promotional and lead single to the soundtrack for the MCU film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It was on Malone’s third album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, which earned Malone the second number one. 

The second single also reached number one rank and broke records, remaining on the top ten charts for 39 weeks on the Hot 100. 

Post Malone is one of the highly esteemed music artists with more than 80 million records sold. He has snagged 10 Billboard Music Awards, three American Music Awards, one MTV Video Music Award, and has been nominated for the Grammy Awards six times.

Louis Leterrier to Replace Justin Lin as Director of Fast X

Photo: EW

Louis Leterrier is on standby to drive Fast X to completion. 

Only a week following Justin Lin’s resignation as director of the Fast & Furious’ 10th main installment, Universal Pictures pointed out that Leterrier was the replacement, according to EW. 

Although no formal contract has been signed yet, the 48-year-old French filmmaker would contribute much action experience to the franchise. 

Among the films he directed are two Transporter movies (with Jason Statham, a Fast family member), The Incredible Hulk, and Clash of the Titans. In addition, he worked on Netflix’s Lupin and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance in a more recent direction. 

Last Tuesday, an announcement from Lin and Universal said that he had made the “difficult decision” to step down as a director of Fast X, which had merely begun shooting. But he is still part of the film as a producer. 

“Over ten years and five films, we have been able to shoot the best actors, the best stunts, and the best damn car chases,” stated Lin. 

“On a personal note, as the child of Asian immigrants, I am proud of helping to build the most diverse franchise in movie history. I will forever be grateful to the amazing cast, crew, and studio for their support and for welcoming me into the Fast family.” 

Fast X is set to show in theaters on May 19, 2023, with the several of the most prominent personalities in show business: Statham, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Sung Kang, Nathalie Emmanuel, Brie Larson, Jason Momoa, and Charlize Theron. 

In 2014, it was announced that the franchise would have around three more films after Furious 7. And in 2020, they revealed that the main series, The Fast Saga, would end with a tenth and eleventh installment.

Stranger Things’ Joe Quinn Talks About the Season 4 Villain

Photo: Netflix

Stranger Things 4 is Game of Thrones season for the Duffer Brothers. Coincidentally, there are numerous veterans from the fantasy drama among the cast – one of many is Joe Quinn. 

He is not as widely known as Kit Harington or Emilia Clark; however, he contributes to the fame: Quinn portrayed a Winterfell soldier laughing in disbelief at Arya Stark (Masie Williams) when she had a little reunion with her sister in the last season. 

“It was such good fun,” the actor said of that cameo in an interview with EW. “I was a big fan of the show. It was fun to have a sword and be in Winterfell. I remember thinking that was quite cool.” 

Fans will be recognizing Quinn’s face more after the release of season 4 of Stranger Things this coming May 27. He comes to the town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the critical character of Eddie Munson, a lover of heavy metal and leader of the Hellfire Club, Hawkins High’s Dungeons & Dragons crew that involves Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). 

“I don’t think it’s a part-time gig,” Quinn states of Eddie. “It’s a real lifestyle.” 

Stranger Things is a totally different beast than Thrones. Rather than dragons and dire wolves, Quinn’s handling “Demogorgon.” However, in the scope aspect, the two are pretty comparable. 

“Some of the stuff that we got to do…” he states before pausing, “… that I can’t talk about, was great.” 

“There was one sequence in the woods. It was a night shoot. We got there, and the whole forest was lit up. It was so thrilling. There’s some sequences in it that are just…” he pauses once more. “It’s going to be massive, I think.” 

Although some of season 2, divided into two parts, are set in a California suburb and a Russian internment hub, the Hawkins environment is a blend of “David Cronenberg genre horror and Scooby-Doo,” Quinn continues. “It’s weird. There’s this group of kids in the face of adversity and trying to get through it, but it’s dark.” 

That ambiance radiates from the new demo-bat in town: Vecna. While the actor can’t talk about the details, we can figure out a few things. Vecna is the name of an infamous undead warlock from D&D who became so powerful he turned into a deified. 

Eddie might be the D&D expert in Hawkins. So it is no shock that he’s primarily involved in the peculiar happenings concerning this creature from the Upside Down. 

“The big threat in this season is a real wink to the great horror baddies of the past. I think people will really respond to it,” said Quinn. 

Stranger Things season 4 Volume I will air this coming May 27, with Volume II releasing July 1 on Netflix.