Ta’East Breaks Down Every Track On His ‘Okay, I’m Ready’ EP

Photo by Nick Walker

Let’s get personal

Ta'East, hip-hop's freshest new voice, has been making a name for himself in the underground scene for quite some time. With the release of 2012's The Popular Stranger and 2013's Sonata, he played along as the underdog while working with some of the biggest names the industry has to offer (Travis Scott, Hit Boy, and B.J. The Chicago Kid to name a few!), but things are different this time. Ta'East is older and ready to leave his mark now more than ever with his latest EP, Okay, I'm Ready. 

Born in Kentucky, but raised in Oceanside, California, it wasn't always easy for the rapper who worked a nine-to-five job while simultaneously working on his music. He quit his job and was later evicted, but his struggle serves as the inspiration for his sound.

"At one point, I was just broke. I would look at my account and I would have $13 to my name, and I wouldn’t get paid until next Wednesday," he says. "That’s why I think I sound so aggressive in my music. That comes from a place of frustration—being an underdog, getting out of that valley, and climbing to the top.”

Now is his time to step into the spotlight and with Okay, I'm Ready, and if one thing is clear, it's that there's no stopping Ta'East. “People are like, you never gave up,” he says. “You have to understand, I come from nothing. And I think by showing face, if I open my mouth and tell you my story, you’re going to look at me, and be like ‘I can do that.’ The same way I looked at Hov and thought, ‘I can do that too.'"

Stream the whole EP and read the breakdown for each track, below. 

"Go Off"
"Go Off" was originally a reference [that] Hit Boy, Cairo, and myself worked on to shop to a few artists. I had the idea for the hook so we went in writing verses for it. It didn't end up getting placed with anyone so we revisited the beat as I was working on Okay, I'm Ready. I tweaked the hook a little and wrote new verses that catered to the way I was feeling at the time. I wanted to do something that paid homage to the influence The Notorious B.I.G. had on me while showcasing the artist I've become today. Since the drums had such a gritty feel, we went back and dirtied the track up even more with some distortion on my vocals. We wanted it to feel like I was rapping over a two-track to give you a raw, nostalgic feel. The second half of "Go Off" actually came while wrapping the EP. I had a lot of things on my mind that I wanted to put down at the time, so one day Cairo hopped in the car and told me he had just made the beat in 15 minutes, played it for me, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

I've never felt like I've thoroughly expressed myself until I put this one down. It comes from a place of frustration and exhaustion. There was a time when I was traveling far for a job, from L.A. to Anaheim, when I moved to the city in 2013. I was waking up and breaking my back to make it to work on time, living check to check, but I knew I would become that person I'd always wanted to be. I was relentless in getting closer to my dreams and felt like I was getting to a point that I may have to do it by any means necessary. Cairo had always wanted to sample something from a movie, so it was instant when he heard the eeriness of the strings in "Under The Skin." Sonically, this was one of the harder songs to rap on, but I was up for it. I wanted to challenge my delivery to rhyme words that normally wouldn't rhyme. I was listening to a lot of Eminem at the time and I heard him do an Irish accent on the Relapse album so I went for a fake Jamaican accent on "WithTheShit" as well as "72-10" to show more skill and see how far I can stretch my vocal ability. 
This one is special to me because it was one of the first songs we did for that EP that solidified the sound that we've been building for eight years. "72-10" was a reaction to the things that happened to me over the last three years, but through reassurance and empowerment. I wanted to remind myself and everyone like me in my generation of where we came from and the things that influenced us while focusing on the positive. There's a very uplifting chant in the hook that is disguised in 808s and a sense of urgency in the sonics you can't quite put a finger on. It's a masterpiece. 
"N Word"
"N Word" has a lot of layers to it. It's pretty self-explanatory but it goes in so many directions. It's a rollercoaster in a sense because it starts out with "everybody wanna to be a nigga, but nobody wanna to be a nigga." There's a dosage of commentary on today's society and how much hip-hop has become the new pop culture of America while realizing the capitalism that comes with that. On the second half of the song, I wanted to speak on the stigmas of rappers and the backlash hip-hop has received over time. It's a moment of reaching for understanding. We're all products of our environment and we reflect our influences. The genius behind it is the layering... the trap elements with the violins, Malik Yusef's insight, the style of Young Lyxx and his lyrical content, as well as the two styles I approached the song with. The original version had a spoken word sample from a Def Poetry Jam special. We couldn't get the sample cleared so my engineer reached out to a few people to get ahold of Malik Yusef and he gave us some gems. 
"LYLA" came from a place of vulnerability. I was in the darkest point in my life in the summer of 2015 with a number of things including some relationship issues, so I channeled that energy into a positive space. I was alone one day thinking about the perfect woman, thinking of everything I was looking for in a woman, so I came up with a storyline and was inspired by some of the women I admired most. I wanted to pay homage to Aaliyah and the influence her and Timbaland had on my overall sound—the same way I did with Biggie on "Go Off." We wanted a dark, cinematic feel, but with some of the elements of today's sound—that's why it's lead by 808s. I wanted to challenge myself again with melody, so I used my vocals to the best of my ability. Cairo reworked this beat at least 10 times to get the feel at 100 percent, then Preston came in toward the end and added some soul that took it over the top. 
This is my audio version of a Ted Talk. "Twenty|Twenty" ties the EP together as far as every emotion and mindset I've expressed throughout. I had to go through those things to get to this point of enlightenment and wisdom. Manifesting is a huge part of my life so I wanted to put a song full of mantras out into the world—somewhat of a prayer. We knew this was the beat with the most bounce to make your head crack so I went with an aggressive delivery. We wanted to give it more character so we added two bridges: one with melody, and one with a bounce to showcase both me and Cairo's versatility. I channeled my inner Swizz Beats at the very end and wanted to come with a cool chant that would get you hyped, yet still inspire you. 
Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes

Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video]

Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.

Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.