SZA Actually Got Drew Barrymore To Be In Her Video For ‘Drew Barrymore’

On the heels of releasing her stunning debut album CTRL, SZA has shared the wintry video for standout track “Drew Barrymore.”

In the Dave Myers–directed vid (he also helmed Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble”), SZA sings of insecurity and self-worth as she and her ultra-cool friends roam around New York City. From the subway station to the penthouse, they devour pizza, go sledding, rock light-up sneakers, and get naked (literally and emotionally) in a laundromat. At one point, SZA even crosses paths with the song’s namesake, with whom she shares a coy smile. Just your regular day in NYC, I guess.

Watch the video below, and check out SZA’s recent interview with MTV News right here.

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Who Was The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros’ MVP?

Can a Challenge champ possibly beat out a professional athlete in a test of brains, brawn and will? We’ve finally got our answer.

On tonight’s Champs vs. Pros finale, the remaining 10 competitors were immediately whittled down to three teams of two, as CT, Lolo, Gus and Louise were sadly eliminated in one last qualifying game called “No Guts No Glory,” a test of strategy (but really just a test of eating gross stuff). That left Wes/Camila and Cara Maria/Darrell competing for the Champs in the finale against Lindsey/Kam, the Pros’ lone representatives (“That was not how that was supposed to go down,” Louise said after the Champs secured a huge advantage).

While Darrell said he had certain fears about going into the final against two proven professional athletes (Lindsey’s intense competitor’s stare was enough to knock him off balance, he admitted), he still had faith that he could pull out the victory.

“Ain’t nobody gonna beat me in no race,” Darrell said.

And, as Wes pointed out, Lindsey’s partner had a bit of a disadvantage if long-distance running ultimately became a deciding factor in the big race.

“No one the size of Kam has ever completed a final, let alone won one,” Wes said.

At the final race’s get-go, host Victor Cruz pointed out that each competitor would have to have to run the first leg of the race while sporting a heavy vest. Almost immediately, Kam’s handicap was realized, and he couldn’t keep up with his fellow competitors. Consequently, he fell back with Lindsey to third place.

Way out in front, Wes and Camila took an early lead, and after completing a series of staircase climbs with no trouble, they scaled a huge incline as if it were a standard part of their leisurely, nightly stroll. And while Cara Maria and Darrell couldn’t seem to budge out of second place, they stayed focused — at one point, Darrell hurled CM over his shoulders and carried her to a subsequent checkpoint.

For Darrell, who was competing on behalf of the March of Dimes, winning was the only option, especially with the memory of his son’s premature birth on his mind. He noted that his child had survived complications and grown into a healthy kid but that the first few hours in the hospital were horrifying.

And that resolve is precisely what fueled his and Cara Maria’s eventual passing of their fellow Champs team: After performing an army-crawl under a lowered canopy, Darrell tossed another weighted handicap over his shoulder and bounded toward the next checkpoint like the Road Runner.

Still, while the Pros seemed to be miles behind, the game’s final legs seemed to light a fire inside Lindsay and Kam, and once they completed the crawl, Lindsey followed Darrell’s lead, tossed one of the checkpoint’s hulking bags over her shoulders and sprinted onward so that an exhausted Kam could rest.

is-as-fast-as-you-can spaghetti supper.

“Damn, Lindsey,” was all Camila could say as she watched the seemingly docile snowboarder unleash her inner Hercules.

Finally, after climbing up a sky-scraping slide, barreling down into a mud pit and collecting a bag full of puzzle pieces, Lindsey and Kam overtook Wes and Camila, and turned the race into a buzzer-beater. In an instant, Kam went from slow and steady turtle to lightning-quick hare and barreled past Wes and Camila.

For all their efforts, though, neither Kam/Lindsey nor Wes/Camila could bridge the gap that separated their respective teams and first place, and after successfully memorizing Victor’s choice football play — “Trips Right Open A Left Pennsylvania Y Sluggo Wheel” — and reciting it back to the NFL star at the finish line, Darrell and Cara Maria were named the game’s ultimate winners and earned $100,000 for their respective charities (Cara Maria was playing on behalf of the ASPCA).

Both said the victory was especially significant, as the last time they were partners — way back on 2010’s Fresh Meat 2 — they were the first to be eliminated in Exile.

“It was a struggle at first, but my girl came through in the puzzles,” Darrell said.

And the Pros, who finished shortly thereafter, said they were proud of their performances in such a foreign type of contest — The Challenge, they noted, was a whole different ballgame.

“I feel great,” Lindsey said. “I’m really happy that we made it through, and it was a blast.”

“Lindsey was a great motivator and a great leader, and I’m happy that she’s taking $5,000 home for her charity,” Kam added, citing Lindsey’s previous win as team captain.

And though Wes and Camila took home the bronze, they were good sports and said they were surprised by their pleasant team dynamic.

“It was a great experience, and we did this for a great cause,” Camila said. “I’m really proud of us.”

So is Darrell MVP for pushing his team to stay out front, or could it be Cara for coming through as the Puzzle Master? Is Lindsey worthy of top honors for her moment of greatness with the weighted bag, or would she concede to Kam for his come-from-behind sprint? Or maybe Wes and Camila deserve special distinctions for their steady treks through the finale course.

What do you think: Who was the big-time Champs vs. Pros‘ MVP? Share your thoughts, and hang tight for more info on The Challenge XXX, premiering on July 18!

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Prodigy, Half Of Rap Duo Mobb Deep, Dead At 42

Prodigy, the rapper who made up half of New York rap duo Mobb Deep, has died. He was 42.

Prodigy’s publicist confirmed his passing to XXL on Tuesday (June 20). “It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep,” the statement read. “Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”

Born Albert Johnson in Hempstead, New York, Prodigy formed Mobb Deep in Queensbridge with rapper-producer Havoc in the early ’90s. The pair’s debut album, Juvenile Hell, came out in 1993 when they were both teenagers, and they would go on to release the critically acclaimed albums The Infamous and Hell on Earth. Alongside Nas and Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep were key contributors to the sound of hardcore East Coast hip-hop during the ’90s.

After a hiatus beginning in 2012, Mobb Deep regrouped and released a new album, The Infamous Mobb Deep, in 2014. They had performed this past weekend at the Art of Rap Tour in Las Vegas.

Havoc shared a touching tribute to Prodigy on Instagram, publishing a photo of the two of them from early in their career with the caption reading just “Forever.”

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Lost In Translation Is An Insufferable, Racist Mess — Why Would We Expect The Beguiled To Be Any Different?

Sofia Coppola’s latest movie, The Beguiled, is already drawing controversy for writing a slave woman, the source material’s only black character, out of its Civil War–set tale. Opening Friday, the drama departs from both author Thomas Cullinan’s 1966 novel and director Don Siegel’s 1971 film by almost entirely removing the reality of slavery from a story that revolves around it. In a tone-deaf interview, Coppola explained that she was drawn to The Beguiled’s narrative because she’s “always loved the women in the South” — as if black Southern women aren’t also “women in the South.” (White privilege is a trip.) Elsewhere, Coppola has characterized slavery as a topic too big to nail: “In the book there was a slave character … and it was treated in a very stereotypical way,” she said. “It didn’t seem respectful. I thought it was too big of a subject to brush over lightly, so I decided not to have that character at all.” Never mind that the earlier adaptation manages just fine.

You could parse Coppola’s erasure of blackness as a writer and director any number of ways. The Beguiled certainly whitewashes the novel, denies a possible role to an actress of color, contributes to the racial absolution of white women’s role in upholding slavery, and glamorizes what Coppola calls the “super-feminine, lacy worlds” of antebellum femininity. (It doesn’t help that The Beguiled’s set happens to be the same site where part of Beyoncé’s Lemonade was shot.) This is not the first time the director has simplified a story by excising its racial implications. In developing The Bling Ring, Coppola cut the story of Diana Tamayo, an undocumented Latina teen who relied on the thefts for the entirety of her wardrobe, and who risked deportation for her crimes — a situation that complicates the film’s theme of thoughtless, grasping greed. Nor is the Asian-American protagonist, played by Katie Chang, given any sort of interiority by Coppola’s script. (None of the Bling Ringers are, but you’d think the main character would be afforded a bit more than others.) Despite it all, it’s kind of a relief that, in the words of my former colleague Ira Madison III, Coppola stayed in her lane when it comes to race. The last time she focused on racial differences, it was a disaster.

Lost in Translation, the filmmaker’s second outing, launched her career into the stratosphere. Starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson as a pair of Americans who find a fleeting connection with one another in Tokyo, the semiautobiographical feature was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Coppola thus became only the third woman ever to be nominated for a Best Director Academy Award, and she went home with a trophy for her screenplay. At the time, an Asian-American group called for a boycott of the movie, arguing that it “dehumanizes the Japanese people by portraying them as a collection of shallow stereotypes who are treated with disregard and disdain.” The protest went nowhere, partly because Translation’s xenophobia aids the quasi-romance between Murray’s aging movie star Bob and Johansson’s unemployed floater Charlotte, and partly because anti-Asian bias was rarely discussed by the mainstream media in the early 2000s.

Racism is often tragically, farcically unoriginal. That’s the main takeaway from my viewing of Lost in Translation in 2017. I counted at least five jokes about mixing up L with R, e.g., “Lat Pack,” “Loger Moore,” and, most infamously, an insistent “Lip my stockings” from a faux-helpless prostitute who flails on the floor screaming for “Hep! Preas!” According to the movie, Japanese sexuality is “weird.” Japanese TV is “weird.” Japanese food is good, but Japanese tastes are “weird.” (Riffing on Charlotte’s injured toe, Bob riffs, “This country, somebody’s gotta prefer a black toe [as a sushi delicacy].” He then apes the people around him: “Brack toe.”) Not a single Japanese person is relatable as a fellow human being. Coppola’s camera also runs through the most banal images possible of “Japaneseness”: geishas, kimonos, Buddhist temples, neon-dominated cityscapes, pachinko parlors, Mount Fuji, flower arrangements. It’s a small wonder that Fodor’s didn’t sue the film for identity theft.

More insulting is the dismissal of contemporary Japanese culture as imitative and clueless — as parroting American culture without realizing what the words mean or why they’re impactful. A Japanese man goes by “Charlie Brown,” but he himself doesn’t know why. Charlotte’s celebrity-photographer husband (Giovanni Ribisi) complains of a rock band’s makeover, “Let them be who they are! They’re trying to make them Keith Richards when they’re just skinny and nerdy.” (Of course there’s a Japanese character who says “lock and loll.” Of course.) Modern Japan, according to Coppola, is the land of inauthenticity. It even infects Bob: He should be doing a play, but he sells out for a whiskey commercial. Writer and filmmaker E. Koohan Paik observed back in 2003, “The Japanese are presented not as people, but as clowns. … The hilarity is rooted entirely in the ‘otherness’ of the Japanese people. We laugh at them, not with them.”

Let’s take a brief detour to note that Lost in Translation is pretty insufferable beyond its racial problems by dint of its central pair. With her full lips and delicate jaw, Charlotte is obviously a stand-in for Coppola, and when the 22-year-old character complains that she’s not sure what to do with her life because she tried being a writer and a photographer and failed at both, I wanted to hurl my laptop at the wall. Only in Coppola’s rarified world would it make sense for an aimless college grad to run into and fleetingly touch souls with a fucking movie star. And the film too often confuses Bob and Charlotte’s “authenticity” with straight-up rudeness. I cringed when Charlotte removes her shoe to show Bob her blackened toe at a sushi counter in front of two chefs waiting patiently to take the tourists’ orders.

If it were released today, Lost in Translation would face much more scrutiny — though I’m not sure it’d be any less of a hit. Whitewashing controversy didn’t hurt Doctor Strange, which costarred Tilda Swinton as a white Tibetan monk (LOL). Navigating (poorly) that PR quagmire, Swinton kept pointing to her femaleness as an overall win for equality, given the scarcity of roles for women, especially older women, in blockbusters. Johansson used the same playbook while promoting her live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation, and now we see Coppola doing the same by talking up the mantle of the female perspective. It’s a mighty cynical move to carry the banner of feminism in order to conceal your racial erasures. And, as growing criticisms of white feminism indicate, it’s not working.

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Summer Beach House: Dos and Don’ts

Illustrations by Juliette Toma

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2 Chainz And Migos Work The Runway In Their ‘Blue Cheese’ Video

Fresh off the release of his fourth album, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, 2 Chainz has dropped a video for the Migos-assisted “Blue Cheese.”

The Atlanta MCs bring the song’s rags-to-riches theme to life by putting on a fashion show in the unlikeliest setting: the middle of the ‘hood. Outside of a trapped-out housing complex, beautiful women stunt in couture on the catwalk, as little kids jump around on old mattresses. 2 Chainz and Migos, meanwhile, dance, flex, count stacks, and generally live their best lives.

Check out the Daps-directed video below.

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Hear Lorde Describe How Frank Ocean Influenced Her New Album

Last year, Frank Ocean returned after a four-year hiatus to release his dynamic second album, Blonde. Last week, Lorde also ended a four-year musical drought to deliver Melodrama, her own sophomore effort. The similarity isn’t lost on Lorde, and as it turns out, there’s a bit of Blonde’s influence on Melodrama.

Ahead of the album’s release, Lorde sat down with New Zealand podcast The Spinoff to break down each of Melodrama’s 11 songs. While discussing “The Louvre,” she explained how Ocean inspired the standout track.

“In this sort of post-Blonde landscape, we can all sort of do whatever we want in terms of instrumentation,” she said. “It’s exciting. I can use guitars and I can get a big, gnarly Flume beat and throw it under water.”

With its dry guitar opening, gleaming synths, and muffled anti-chorus, “The Louvre” is strange and surprising, and follows that ebb and flow — that “big dumb joy,” as Lorde puts it — of falling in love.

“We could’ve just made it a big, easy single because the bonds are there,” she explained. “But it won’t mean as much to simplify the journey, or to force a big chorus. I just felt like I wanted it to feel like how that [new love] feels… the big, sun-soaked dumbness of falling in love. It’s like your whole head is just glue. It’s amazing, but it’s like drugs. … It’s just this big dumb joy and it’s intense — and I feel like the instrumentation in that song helped it get there.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Lorde admitted that she’s already started thinking about her next album. “I think I know what the next record is going to sound like, but of course I have no idea,” she said. “It’s gonna be really different to what I think it is right now.”

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Should Teen Mom OG‘s Farrah Be Maid Of Honor At Her Mother Debra’s Wedding?

Being a member of a bridal party is a special responsibility — and during tonight’s Teen Mom OG episode, Farrah‘s mother Debra revealed her wish to have her daughter play an integral part at her upcoming nuptials to fiancé David.

“I would like you to be my maid of honor,” Debra told Farrah at a group dinner.

“That’s a big deal. That’s a lot of responsibility on the maid of honor, isn’t it?” the 25-year-old responded.

While Farrah didn’t accept or decline the offer, she didn’t exactly conceal her negative feelings about the imminent big day (the future husband and wife are considering an October or November celebration and would like to get hitched in Bora Bora). Later in the installment, while on a family getaway in Key West, Farrah confided in her producer Kristen about her mother’s beau.

“He bothers me so much,” Farrah explained, while adding that he doesn’t greet her and he’s a “creep.” “There’s really no motherf**king efforts on his part.”

But back to Debra’s query — should Farrah stand by her mother’s side and act as the principal bridesmaid? Having her daughter’s support is understandably important for Debra, but Farrah has made it clear that she has concerns about she and David tying the knot. Or is it best for Farrah to politely say “no” to the request even though it will disappoint Debra? Share your thoughtful advice in the comments, and be sure to watch the season finale of Teen Mom OG on Monday at 9/8c.

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Jason Molina’s Long, Dark Blues

Given enough time, all stories become ghost stories. Jason Molina’s started that way, at least according to author Erin Osmon’s new biography, Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost. As a child, the enigmatic singer and songwriter endured night terrors he attributed to meddlesome spirits. He once found an antique coin hidden in the grass after an old man, unseen by the rest of his family, told him where to find it. After a lifetime of making music — beautiful, haunted music in which his voice rings over battleworn guitars like a bell — Molina died in 2013 of complications from alcoholism. He was 39.

Osmon’s book pieces together the impressions Molina left on the people close to him — his siblings, Ashley and Aaron; his wife, Darcie; his former lover, Anne Grady; and the host of friends and collaborators he left behind all over the world but mainly in Bloomington, Indiana, and Chicago, where he lived during his most creatively productive periods. It quotes from his writings and interviews, but Molina feels like a vacancy, a negative space around which the story must trace. Like many biographies of young musicians dead from self-harm, the book adopts certain qualities of a murder mystery. When did the seeds of Molina’s self-destruction begin to germinate, and could they have been halted if anyone knew what was to come?

Though its ending is sadly familiar, Molina’s tragedy has unusual beginnings. He began drinking heavily in his thirties, once his music-making was in full swing, rather than in college or high school like many people with alcoholism. Instead of taking advantage of the music world’s forgiveness of excess, he drank largely in private, and shrouded his habit in shame. He didn’t die because he wouldn’t seek help: Riding with the Ghost’s harrowing final chapters detail his multiple stints in rehab and his multiple returns to alcohol’s gravitational pull. After being discharged from his first in-patient stay, he began drinking on the train before he even made it home.

The biography’s final chapter includes a quote from Henry Owings, a friend of Molina who accidentally broke the news of his passing before the musician’s label, Secretly Canadian, had a chance to issue a statement. On his website, Chunklet, Owings wrote, “Jason leaves behind him an enviable body of work that will be continually rediscovered because what Jason wrote wasn’t fashion. It was his heart. It was his love. It was his demons. And ultimately, it brought his life to an end.” I sympathize with the impulse to map the tragedy of Molina’s life onto the tragedy in his songs, many of which carry in them the kind of bone-hollowing despair that can only come from someone who has thought deeply about death. But I don’t know if it’s his songs that killed him. I think of Leonard Cohen, who stared darkness in the face until his death last year at 82. I think of Lou Reed, who survived all kinds of hell that he thought he wouldn’t. Their demons seemed no less hungry than Molina’s, and yet they spent several more decades with them on earth.

More than the echoes between art and suffering, Riding with the Ghost casts light on the fragility of the common responses to demons like substance abuse and suicidality. The resources we have are better than nothing, but it seems there is no safety net wide enough for all the darknesses that can overpower a life. Besides some early notes on his drinking, Osmon doesn’t let alternate timelines shadow the very real story of Molina’s life. Little time is spent dwelling on how things could have been different; instead, she honors the loss felt by those who loved Molina, and the difficulties and joys he brought to their lives. He appears here not as a doomed troubadour marked for death from the start, nor as an innocent corrupted by the music industry. He is a whole person, despondent and ecstatic, funny as hell and insufferable, marked by flaws and great beauty.

The anecdotal details from Riding with the Ghost are what ring most vividly, exposing a side of Molina that rarely came through in his melancholic music. His first date with Darcie was a trip to the supermarket, and he kept putting a whole turkey in the cart behind her back as a prank. He identified as a witch, cast spells and carried totems, and marked his guitars with the Southern Cross for protection. He talked a lot of bullshit, though he might have thought of it as merely adding color to his stories. He had unhealthily obsessive relationships with women, and was known to stalk a college girlfriend around the Oberlin campus. He didn’t speak a single word until he was 3, when he uttered his first sentence in full, a question: “Don’t you think the trees get tired of standing all the time?”

For those who knew Molina as I did, only through the music he made with the projects Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., the weight of his full ghost bears down heavily. But Riding with the Ghost also enriches his songs, illuminating their characters in their own words and supplying context to the places they were set. I felt haunted by the book on several occasions. I had no idea that Molina’s masterpiece, the 2003 Songs: Ohia album called The Magnolia Electric Co., had been recorded a mile from my last apartment in Chicago, at Steve Albini’s famed Electrical Audio studio. I’d ridden past its birthplace on my bike often. Osmon also notes that when Molina’s body was discovered in his studio apartment in Indianapolis, there was a pot of spinach and chickpeas still on the stove — the same dish I’d made for myself the weekend I read the book.

Maybe these are coincidences, but I prefer to hold them more like magic. Molina no doubt thought of his songs as spells — one of his albums, a tour-only release, was entitled Protection Spells — and their effects reverberated concretely through the world. Toward the end of his life, after he disclosed to his fans that he had been struggling with substance abuse, Molina received hundreds of letters of well-wishing from strangers. Darcie opened one envelope in particular that was especially beautifully decorated. It was from a woman who found The Magnolia Electric Co. in the midst of an abusive relationship. She listened to it over and over, and eventually gathered the strength to leave her partner while pregnant with his child. She survived and gave birth, and she named her daughter Magnolia.

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Drake Bell Says He Wasn’t Invited To Josh Peck’s Wedding

Are Drake Josh costars Drake Bell and Josh Peck no longer brothas? According to Bell’s tweets from over the weekend, the answer is yes. When Peck got married Saturday (June 17), Bell wasn’t invited. Awkward.

“When you’re not invited to the wedding the message is clear,” Bell wrote. “True colors have come out today. Message is loud and clear. Ties are officially cut. I’ll miss you brotha.”

Peck tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Paige O’Brien around one year after their engagement went public. His Grandfathered costar John Stamos celebrated with them, as well as Vine star (and former Drake Josh extra) Jason Nash.

For fans who watched Bell and Peck grow up together on The Amanda Show and Drake Josh, this is a giant bummer. Their characters’ friendship was integral to Nickelodeon in the early 2000s. Whether they were hugging it out or falling victim to their sister’s savage pranks, they always made us laugh.


But don’t feel too let down, Drake. It looks like Oprah wasn’t there either.

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