Magdalene, the 2019 album by British-pop polymath FKA Twigs, was as exquisite as it was excruciating, nearly every song writhing with the anguish she experienced after a shattering period of heartache, loneliness, and health challenges. Shortly before making the album, she had several fibroids removed from her uterus — small tumors she described as “a fruit bowl of pain” lodged in her abdomen — and went through two intensely public breakups: In 2020, she filed a lawsuit detailing the emotional, physical, and mental abuse she’d suffered when she was with a famous Hollywood actor. Her traumas were splayed out for the world to see, and Twigs confronted such heavy turmoil by shaping Magdalene into a project so visceral and sacrosanct that it felt like bloodletting.
The rawness of her previous work is part of what makes the unbridled avant pop on her new mixtape, Caprisongs, such an epic thrill. Twigs is still excising some pain, but she’s uninhibited and out of fucks to give, choosing instead to center herself, her friends, and her joy as she finds release in sounds pulled from cavernous clubs and euphoric dance floors from London to Jamaica. Throughout her career, Twigs has morphed R&B wisps and electronic abstractions into highly visual concept art, and although the music on Caprisongs is her most buoyant, she doesn’t sacrifice her creative nonconformity or intimacy. She strikes a careful balance, akin to perfecting an arabesque on a razor blade, as she revels in production that’s carefree, cathartic, and completely life-giving. “It’s bronzer in the sink, alco pop on the side,” she wrote in a Twitter post announcing the project. “Friends in the park, your favourite person, that one sentence somebody said to you that changed everything.”
Twigs’ artistry is deeply physical, tied to her athleticism as a performer, so it’s not really a shock that her impulse is to sweat away any badness still lingering in her bones. “Wanna dance you out of my, gotta dance you out of my hips, my thighs, my wrongs, my rights,” she sings on “Tears in the Club,” where she’s joined by fellow pop eccentric the Weeknd. She dives into the dark dubiness of “Honda,” and gathers her girls for “Pamplemousse,” a swatch of chemical hyperpop indebted to Charli XCX and Sophie. Subtle homages to Jamaican dancehall and Afrobeats appear in the slow-wine of “Jealousy,” with Nigerian singer Rema, and “Papi Bones,” boosted by the subversive shapeshifter Shygirl. A voice toward the end of the song marvels, “She lets herself be free and so expressive and don’t give a fuck.”
Twigs edges just to the brink of the mainstream but leaps back into experimentalism before getting too close to ordinariness. She produced the mixtape alongside a few of the industry’s most freethinking heretics, including Arca and El Guincho, and ends up with a prismatic collection of tracks that reinforce her bona fides as more pop auteur than pop star. “Careless,” with Daniel Caesar, could have been a standard R&B duet if Twigs didn’t push her falsetto to the max to mix up the melody and the song’s provocations. Even as the 17-song project starts to drift in the latter half, Twigs makes meandering part of the exploratory process that still turns up refreshing streaks of freedom and inventiveness.
Caprisongs is structured like a real mixtape, complete with the clicks of a “record” button at the beginning of each song. Audio snippets from Twigs and her friends imbue the project with a closeness and a sense of vulnerability that lingers even when she’s losing herself on the dance floor. “I want to be more confident, I really do,” she admits before “Meta Angel” bursts into little micro-choirs, made up of her layered vocals, that reflect the constant chatter she hears in her head. She offers up what’s helped her: Positive affirmations and pep talks from people close to her, are shared and distributed to anyone listening. “Fuck crying over stupid boys who don’t even recognize the worth in themselves,” someone instructs toward the end of “Oh My Love.” Twigs follows each piece of advice to ecstatic ends. And considering the dark, daunting times we’re all living through, seeing her break loose is all the more inspiring.
Let the Green M&M Be Daddy’s Nasty Little Slut
The recent push to rebrand corporate logos to be more inclusive has, for the most part, been a good thing. Making Barbie more body-positive? Great. Renaming Aunt Jemima syrup? About damn time. Yet in brands’ fervent quest to capture youth audiences and capture the woke zeitgeist, they may be going just a little bit too far. Case in point: the slut-shaming of the green M&M.
Essentially, this is what happened: the CEO of Mars Wrigley, the company that makes M&Ms, announced today that it would be revamping the characters to make them more “current” and “representative of our consumer” (presumably, people united by their willingness to ignore the fact that they’re eating shittier Reese’s Pieces). How do they plan on doing this, you ask? By replacing the characters’ footwear.
This distinction is pretty negligible for the male characters (CNN goes into detail about the changes, but frankly they are men, and thus I don’t really care). For the female characters, however, the changes are apparent and formidable. The brown M&M’s heels have been lowered to a more sensible Alexis Neiers-esque kitten heel, while the green M&M’s signature go-go boots have been swapped out for non-descript white sneakers, the kind that Melanie Griffith’s character in Working Girl changes into on the subway to signal she’s a Girlboss with a head for business and a bod for sin. Let the river run, ladies! (Mars Wrigley did not immediately return a request for comment.)
For those familiar with the iconography of the green M&M, this change is nothing more than tectonic. I imagine it is similar to how the people of Wittenberg must have felt watching Martin Luther nail his 95 Theses of the Protestant Reformation to the church door. But it is also a major error on Mars Wrigley’s part, because the green M&M being a dirty slut, as signified by her iconic white go-go boots, is precisely what has engendered her a devoted fan base, particularly among similarly libidinous women and gay men who have embraced the character. Consider, for instance, this ad where she does erotic ASMR for no reason other than to give the male M&Ms a massive boner, then feigns ignorance at the impact her performance has. Can we, or should we, attempt to put a cap on such virulent, untrammeled female sexuality? Can you stop the wind from blowing? Can you prevent a dog from vomiting after eating too much cheese? Can you keep Twitter libs from being self-righteous about adhering to COVID protocols? No, you cannot.
The green M&M has spent decades building her brand as a horny, sexy bitch, and for what? For her creators to give her Larry David footwear in the name of feminism? For Mars Wrigley to give themselves pats on the back and big fat fucking raises at the next corporate retreat in Palo Alto? Guess what: the green M&M is a feminist, and she’s a dirty slut. We are real, and we exist, and we refuse to tolerate this disgusting attempt at erasure. We are given so little, and we have tolerated so much. Let the green M&M keep her go-go boots. Let her get blackout and suck dick in the bathroom at Acme on a Wednesday. This is what we want. This is what we deserve. This is what she deserves.
Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, the Who Lead 2022 New Orleans Jazz Fest
Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, the Who, and Willie Nelson are among the headliners who will perform at this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest, which — after two years of Covid-canceled festivals — returns to the Big Easy from April 29 to May 8.
The Black Crowes, Luke Combs, Jimmy Buffett, Lionel Richie, and Erykah Badu are also among the top-billed talent, with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Death Cab for Cutie, Norah Jones, Randy Newman, the Avett Brothers, Dawn Richard, Kool & the Gang, and dozens of New Orleans legends — from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to Big Freedia and Dumpstaphunk — on the deep lineup.
— New Orleans JazzFest (@jazzfest) January 20, 2022
This year’s lineup also includes Ziggy Marley performing the music of his father Bob Marley, a “Newport All-Stars” tribute to that fest’s late founder George Wein, Cee Lo Green leading a James Brown tribute, plus sets from Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Asleep at the Wheel, Melissa Etheridge, Buddy Guy, Billy Strings, Ludacris, and more.
Nicks, Foo Fighters, and the Who were all among the headliners for the 2020 Jazz Fest that was canceled by the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic; the 2021 Jazz Fest — which featured Foo Fighters alongside the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, and Dead & Company — was scheduled for the next spring, but that too was postponed to the fall and ultimately canceled due to the Delta variant.
Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, and Playboi Carti Headline Return of the Smoker’s Club Fest
A new festival is on the way for rap lovers. On Thursday, the Smoker’s Club announced the return of its hip-hop festival with Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, and Playboi Carti as the April 30 musical event’s headliners.
The Smoker’s Club Fest, set to be hosted at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino, will also see the likes of Schoolboy Q, Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz, Ferg, Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies, Dom Kennedy, Yung Lean, Lupe Fiasco, Rico Nasty, and Wale, among others.
— The Smokers Club (@TheSmokersClub) January 20, 2022
“WE’RE BACK,” the music festival wrote alongside its tour poster and stacked lineup. Tickets for the festival go on sale Monday, Jan. 24, and start at $223, while VIP entry for the music event costs $409. The event will be hosted by the Smoker’s Club founder Shiest Bubz.
The 2021 iteration sees the return of many of the same artists featured on the 2018 lineup, which saw Khalifa, Cudi, and Schoolboy Q as headliners. Hosted on April 28 and 29 in Long Beach that year, the lineup featured artists such as Isaiah Rashad, Ty Dolla $ign, Dom Kennedy, Lil Skies, and the late Mac Miller.
During Rolling Loud last December, Cudi teased a new album in the works. “I have Entergalactic coming in the summer, and I wanna drop another album before that,” he told the crowd. “I got some tasty surprises and I’m really excited about all this new shit, this new music, to give to you guys.”
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