BbyMutha Doesn't Have Time To Flex

Photo by Lindsey Byrnes

"Some of us are flexers, some of us are finnesers"

When I met BbyMutha at SXSW, she was improvising. She had booked a hotel for herself and her crew at the Omni in Houston, instead of Austin. As it goes with a huge event like SXSW, by the time she realized her mistake the hotels were all booked up and they had to settle for a last-minute alternative: an Airbnb in deep suburbia. But, her inconvenient lodging arrangements didn't stop her from turning up or showing out—and neither has anything else.

One could argue that BbyMutha's entire career, from her descriptive name (she's a mom to two sets of twins) to her growing list of collaborators, has unfolded by happenstance. She wouldn't necessarily argue with that. "I just be chilling," was her frequent first response to my questions. But you make your own luck, and BbyMutha's has come thanks to her innate creativity and ability to innovate as a rapper—without those skills, she never would have ended up tagging along with Earl Sweatshirt for a U.S. tour or heading to Europe this summer for her own. She's authentic—completely herself. Which is why you'll never see her making fake connections, compromising her own identity for the sake of palatability, or chasing a pie-in-the-sky record deal that leaves her financial freedom hanging in the balance. If she was in Mean Girls, BbyMutha would basically never try to make fetch happen. Or, as she says herself: BbyMutha chooses finessing over flexing any day.

Photo by Lindsey Byrnes.

BbyMutha has found herself amongst a peer group that dolls themselves up in Fashion Nova fits, saving most of their glam budget for high-quality lace wigs and designer handbags. You can catch the Chattanooga, Tennessee native in a getup from Hot Topic and you can bet that her colorful tresses are synthetic. And that's how BbyMutha has always been. "I was bullied in high school for a lot of this shit. Colorful wigs? I used to be in the club with 30 different colors in my head," she boasted. Gothic bustiers and cat-eye contact lenses were and still are staples of her look. Part of the finesse she mentioned earlier is building a unique persona and fan base using those alternative vibes. She landed on this descriptor when talking about her swag: "I've always been cute, but weird." BbyMutha's unique style choices are not only a nod to her own imagination, though. They are a big fuck you to the expected behavior of rappers.

In 2019, rappers are all but required to sell fans on a fantasy of extravagant wealth. Flexing comes with the territory. But that's not the game BbyMutha is here to play—mainly because she doesn't have the time or the luxury to do so. I asked the mom-of-four how she bridges the gap between her role as a public figure and the head of her household. She quickly informed that there is no gap. "I just wake up and do this shit," she said, before admitting that she still shares a room with her children, has no privacy, and her house is "raggedy as fuck."

No one who listens to BbyMutha should be surprised by this level of honesty. Lyrically, she uses vibrant, interesting language to describe extremely common circumstances and experiences. Her bars often hit listeners viscerally, like a hyper-accurate meme or tweet might. In this way, she gives an entirely new meaning to the term "mood music."

Things really changed for BbyMutha in 2017, when the video for her single "Rules" went viral and helped mushroom her fan base, thanks to its paradigm-shifting concept. A cautionary tale about exercising discernment in business, friendships, and sexual relationships, the video is full of queer youth being taught these lessons by teacher figure BbyMutha (who identifies as bisexual). It was this early alignment with the LGBTQ community that had her SXSW set packed to the brim with Black girls and gay white men alike chanting along to the hook, "You can't give yo' pussy to a nigga who not used to getting pussy, 'cause that pussy gon' be everybody business." This is classic BbyMutha: rhymes that flow easily off the tongue, and pack a powerful message at the same time. Her latest single "D.I.Y" questions the price of success with this refrain: "If rich 'gon make me sell out like a bitch, then I don't want it. If lit 'gon drive me crazy, fuck it baby. I don't want it."

Still, as good as she is with words, BbyMutha struggled to find the right ones to describe the extreme pressure she feels as she gets ready to embark on her upcoming string of shows, where so much is at stake. She got emotional when I asked her if she was prepared to be so far away from her children for the first time. And that's not her only source of anxiety. She also feels the burden of how many people she's taking care of now. "Some people won't let you forget it," she said with a twinge of sadness. She wants to move her family out of that "raggedy" house, and while she stated up-front that "there's nothing wrong with [living] around a bunch of Black people," she wants her children to live somewhere safe, and now she has the opportunity to do it.

So when BbyMutha tells me, "Everybody is not trying to social climb," I know she means it. She has little time and way bigger fish to fry. Flexing isn't an option. "I want to rap, but I got four kids. So imma just do both of them shits... It does get hard, but we figure that shit the fuck out and keep it going," she proclaimed with a fierce tenacity and the resilience of a natural born finesser. It's one thing to make a living off of real talk. It's another to be a real one. BbyMutha does both.

Video credits:
Produced by: Alexandra Hsie
Camera: Dani Okon + Charlotte Prager
Edited by: Madeline Stedman

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.