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Natalie Prass Is Looking To The Future In Her Brilliant New Album

Music
Photo by Tonje Thilesen

‘The Future and the Past’ is out today

When Natalie Prass was in middle school, she auditioned to be in a pop band. The people in charge asked her why she wanted to be a singer, and what she wanted to do with her music. Her response: “Well, like Lenny Kravitz, I wanna make the world a better place, I wanna unify people.” Prass is coming good on her prediction in 2018 with The Future and The Past, the follow-up to her critically lauded, self-titled debut, as well as leading the charge for a Lenny Kravitz reappraisal at the same time.

This nearly wasn’t the record we were going to get from her. Another was in the pipeline, but then 2016 happened, and Trump got in. Confronted with a world of uncertainty, Prass began to consider her own position in the mix and responsibility as an artist. She scrapped the record she made, booked studio time, and started again, splitting from her record label in the process: “To me, it was like, I have no other choice, I have to do this, I have to at least try to say something. I know a lot of people are probably sick of hearing about politics and divisiveness, but I feel like complacency and silence and ignoring things got us here in the first place.”

It feels like music is reckoning with Trump en masse now, but the protest music being released sounds different than that of past eras. Prass asks: “Why’s it just this kind of folk-Americana that is okay for people to be political?” And yeah, the image of the protest singer in popular consciousness is a person with a guitar, singing a folk song—Bob Dylan. Joan Baez. Pete Seeger. Problem with this image is: It’s a lie. It’s always been a lie, but these icons are so prevalent that they’ve swallowed up the fact that political music has never been specific to one genre or one era, with some of the greatest protest songs coming from Billie Holiday, Public Enemy, and Bikini Kill. And protest music is something a lot of people are reclaiming right now, not least Prass: “I’m just taking a cue from people I have so much respect for, Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone and Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, and all these Brazilian artists, Caetano [Veloso] and Gilberto [Gil], talking about their culture and talking about their country and what’s happening socially, doing the hard work of putting themselves on the line so they can, like, energise people. People need that shit. People need to hear it.”

The result of taking these cues is a record that feels grounded in the here and now, whilst leaning on funk, Motown, and '90s R&B rhythms. First single, "Short Court Style," shuffles and grooves, with electric piano and slick guitar licks and whoops and hollers throughout. It’s a total jam, on which she sings: “For all we know, oh the world is trying to show us where we first went wrong.” Heavy motifs or examinations of the world as it is aren’t so much Trojan-horsed into the tunes as they are woven throughout them, and since Prass is as skilled a musician and arranger as she is a songwriter, you have to look closely to spot the pattern, which again comes as a product of influence: The only type of music I could listen to when I was going through all of this was gospel. It was the only thing that was cutting through to me, that made me feel human again and made me feel any sense of happiness. Gospel talks about life’s struggles, but you always feel like it recognizes these struggles and that you can overcome them. I needed that energy with the music I was making, so I thought there must be other people out there who needed that energy, too.”

The album’s other single so far, "Sisters," is the one that most obviously reveals this Gospel influence, with a choir of backing singers singing the refrain: “Keep your sisters close, you gotta keep your sisters close.” When talking about returning to the studio to make the record, this was one of the songs that came immediately, and it carries this urgency and ferocity with it. “I wanna say it loud for all the ones held down, we gotta change the plan, come on nasty women,” she sings. It’s probably Prass at her most didactic, but it cuts right through to the heart of what the whole album is about. I needed songs that would help me break through all the despair I was feeling,” she tells me. “I wanted songs that would feel like a hammer that would break down all of that.” 

On the album’s other real defining track, "Ship Go Down," Prass sings, “You know it’s crazy to see a ship go down,” and that’s kinda what the past few years have felt like. You’re watching this tragedy happen and feeling like it’s so massive, that you can’t do anything about it. Or rather, that you should have already done the things that needed to be done to stop it. You should have seen that iceberg coming.

If anything is to characterize this new wave of political pop music, it’s the feeling that it is reaching out from artist to audience. They are not speaking for us, but they are speaking to us, sharing all the confusion and anxiety that so many of us have been feeling. Natalie Prass is doing that, looking to the past to try and draw a map for the future. Musically, politically, personally. She has the ability to reach through the music and make sense of what’s going on, and make you feel better about it.

The Future and the Past is out today

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Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube www.youtube.com

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Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

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Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale youtu.be

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

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Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.

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