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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    What does Stephen Colbert think about yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality? He came to us straight from his offices at the Late Show to say, "Congratulations, gays." 

    In a video titled "June Is a Lovely Time For a Wedding," Colbert (sans Colbeard) talked about the ruling and the dissenting vote in the Supreme Court. He then zooms in on Justice Scalia's "fiery dissent," and uses a fortune cookie to great effect.  

    Screengrab via the Late Show With Stephen Colbert/YouTube 


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    Northampton, U.K., singer-songwriter Jay Brown isn't pretending that her country flavor is an out-of-the-box asset. Like most of her generation's musicians, she grew up with terrible, shuffle-laden tastes and followed the trail. The difference is, Brown's transparent about it: “Growing up I was a real metalhead; I listened to a lot of alternative and metal music. Sikth, System of a Down, Metallica, and Incubus," she told the Oxford Student. She goes on to tout an affection for Eminem.

    The blender of faded pop ideas helps shape Brown's new single "Green." Check out that aggro guitar intro.

    Jay is the younger sister of British pop star and model V V Brown, and in the rich tradition of Ashlee Simpson and Solange Knowles, her music is darker and more abstract in nature—at least relative to established, older siblings. She may sing about being "jaded and confused," but Jay Brown is a connected force: She played the Glastonbury festival in 2013 and has recorded music with the herbs in Bastille

    But her solo stuff is peppered with intrigue and hope. January's five-song EP My Name Is Her (Pt. 1) is where Brown honed in and found a voice. She'll budget for strings and they don't sound like pointless melodrama but instead like the creaks on stairs. While "We Are the People" lacks lyrical specifics beyond trite and vague themes of societal decay offered up by modern rock wizards in leather, Brown's hard vocals more than suffice.

    The Daily Dot has partnered with Daytrotter to highlight one session a week, which will be available to stream here exclusively in its entirety. In this installment, Jay Brown plays her EP with pomp and vigor.

    For nearly a decade, Daytrotter has been recording some of the best talent around, and now you can stream half of this incredible (and growing) archive, featuring thousands of band sessions, for free—or join for full access and free downloads.

    Illustration by Johnnie Cluney/Daytrotter


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    Amazon’s newcomers list for July is full of perfect summer titles, specifically Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 black comedy Dr. Strangelove and David Robert Mitchell’s visually stunning 2015 thriller It Follows. It’s also a good time to catch up on True Blood and Silicon Valley. You know, your shows. 

    Here are all the titles making their way to the streaming platform. 

    Amazon Prime

    June 30 

    1) Under the Dome season 3

    July 1 

    2) Downton Abbey season 5

    3) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

    4) Drive Me Crazy

    5) The Day the Earth Stood Still

    6) Thumbelina

    7) Bulworth

    8) Heidi

    9) Wayne’s World 2

    10) 48 HRS.

    11) The Bad News Bears

    12) The Brady Bunch Movie

    13) The Butcher’s Wife

    14) Cadillac Radio

    15) Dirty Dancing

    16) Dragonslayer

    17) Flashdance

    18) Friends and Lovers

    19) Harlem Nights

    20) Heaven Can Wait

    21) King Kong

    22) The Odd Couple

    23) Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

    24) Stuart Saves His Family

    25) UHF

    26) The Warriors

    July 2

    27) Annedroids season 2

    28) Glory

    29) Underworld Evolution

    July 3

    30) Dr. Strangelove

    31) Gandhi

    July 5

    32) Extant season 2

    July 10

    33) The Expendables 3

    July 11

    34) Two Men in Town

    July 16

    35) True Blood season 5

    36) Boardwalk Empire season 3

    July 18

    37) Glee season 6

    July 23

    38) The Newsroom seasons 1 and 2

    39) Jim Norton: Contextually Inadequate

    July 24

    40) Hercules 

    July 30

    41) Entourage seasons 1-8

    42) Behind the Candelabra

    July 31

    42) The Skeleton Twins 

    Amazon Instant 

    June 30

    43) Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

    July 3

    44) It Follows 

    July 7

    45) The Water Diviner 

    July 10

    46) Strangerland 

    July 12

    47) The Strain season 2

    July 13

    48) Silicon Valley season 2

    July 17

    49) Married season 2

    July 20

    50) House of Lies season 4

    51) Veep season 4

    July 21

    52) Insurgent 

    July 23

    53) Home Free 

    Ilustration by Max Fleishman


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    YouTube is ultimately the domain of kid consumers, and efforts for reaching them are constantly under development.

    Enter DreamWorksTV, the YouTube arm of the greater DreamWorks, which aims to win kids over not by repurposing already-established winning content and characters, but by breaking new ground.

    “As opposed to us being essentially a marketing arm of a broader media organization, we wanted to create a destination where families and kids can go to have a real engagement with properties and characters they love,” explained head of DreamWorksTV Birk Rawlings. “While I understand why other companies do it that way, we want to grow this as a destination.”

    Launched one year ago, DreamworksTV courts the “36.1% of kids between the ages of 8 and 15” who call YouTube their favorite website. It’s part of YouTube’s kid-friendly app, itself a startup, developing over 50 new programs in the last year, including a mix of animation and live action. Some worked, some didn’t, but overall the channel is outpacing its established competitors. According to YouTube statistic hub VidStatX, DreamWorksTV is outperforming YouTube pages from Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel with 1,287 daily subscribers and 719,256 daily views.

    “Honestly, when I started, I thought we had a borderline impossible task ahead of us,” said Rawlings. “The biggest challenge with communicating with the kid market is you can’t track them. But while that is, compared with doing things for adults on digital platforms, a challenge, I come from traditional television and traditional media, so it’s not as big a loss for me. I’m not used to having that kind of immediate feedback either way.”

    YouTube, however, is full of feedback, chock full of comments from fans who praise the network’s output or offer criticism. For DreamworksTV to develop a new idea, the litmus test is simply, “Is it fun?”

    “We want everything we do to be fun,” Rawlings said. “In terms of the programming and the characters, we want everything to be relatable to a grade-school kid audience. In terms of influencers, in most cases we want their brand and their audience, if not to be kids themselves, to be in a similar space and ecosystem.”

    That yields shows like Songs That Stick, featuring kid covers of pop songs, or LifeHacks for Kids, which teaches how to make edible glitter and bowls out of chocolate—both eminently kid-friendly, but also prime for search. The channel also partners with established AwesomenessTV personalities in a kid-friendly way, like JennXPenn hosting a record-setting program. In the end, it’s about treating kids on YouTube like the savvy consumers that they are, and programming accordingly.

    “They’re YouTube natives,” said Rawlings. “They don't have to fumble their way around it. In our programming and our marketing, if we embrace the platform for what it is, which is ultimately a search engine, kids find the things that they want.”

    Screengrab via DreamWorksTV/YouTube


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    Kanye West took the Glastonbury stage Saturday night for a two-hour headlining performance. The high-profile celebrity was there amid rampant British protest—more than 130,000 signatures adorned a MoveOn.org petition urging festival organizers to cancel his booking—and his set was interrupted by a stage crasher

    And while the gambling market was taking bets on how long his inevitable onstage rant would go, West mostly deferred to his Bible-thick songbook. Though, sure, he also worked in Queen's most iconic rock epic, "Bohemian Rhapsody."

    The festival was broadcast live across England on the BBC. A bad language warning preceded the set and British TV did not censor West's performance. It did, however, struggle to keep up with its closed captioning. The bunlged screengrabs were an instant Twitter hit.

    H/T NME | Screengrab via Music Tv/YouTube


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    While you're trying to decide if you should watch the premiere of True Detective season 2 again because you're just not sure what the hell was going on, there's much more to contemplate on the HBO front. 

    In July, you have to say goodbye to several titles on HBO Now, including Raging Bull and The Grand Budapest Hotel. But that's balanced out by the arrival of Dawn of the Dead and The Maze Runner. Here's the rundown of some of the highlights. 

    New titles: 

    July 1

    A.I. Artificial Intelligence

    The Counselor

    Dawn of the Dead

    For Your Consideration

    The Haunted Mansion

    Inside Man

    J. Edgar

    Lone Survivor

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding

    Reno 911: Miami

    Transcendence

    July 4

    The Book of Life 

    Anina

    July 8

    7 Days in Hell 

    July 11

    Horrible Bosses 2

    Pancho, el perro millonario

    July 13

    My Depression (The Up and Down of It) 

    July 18

    The Maze Runner 

    Tio Papi 

    July 20

    Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson  

    July 25

    The Drop 

    A ritmo de fe

    All titles leaving July 31: 

    12 Years a Slave

    2 Guns

    8 Mile

    Dallas Buyers Club

    Divergent

    Escape Plan

    Fast & Furious 6

    Over the Hedge

    Raging Bull

    The Grand Budapest Hotel

    The World’s End

    Screengrab via FoxSearchlight/YouTube 


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    To be sure: Balls Out is a very, very funny film. Its plot is an age-old one: A ragtag sports team faces off against their super-serious, villainous counterparts. In the vein of Hot Rod or Wet Hot American Summer, it’s a pretty sure bet that whenever your brain is expecting something typical to happen, Balls Out is about to do something extremely surreal (and hilarious).

    But when the Daily Dot caught up with Balls Out producers David Ward and Andrew Lee, it wasn’t to talk about how good it is or its unexpected twists and turns; instead, we talked about how piracy is crippling it.

    They hit the jackpot with a cast filled with Saturday Night Live performers whose collective star power is currently shooting upward, and by getting picked up by MGM/Orion, but those factors make it easy to forget something important: This is an indie film. It was distributed by a major studio, but its funding was an altogether grassroots matter.

    Pirates tend to think that exposure is, no matter what, always a good thing, but Ward and Lee aren’t finding that to be the case for Balls Out. That argument may have virtue in the music world, as more exposure equals more ticket sales for concerts, which is where those artists make most of their money. For films, however—and especially for indie films—the media itself is the concert, each VOD copy a ticket. 

    When we talk about piracy, we tend to look at how it affects studios and major artists, but the effects on the little people—the indie content makers—tend to get left out of the discussion. And the fact is: Pirating hurts them, and it hurts them a lot.

    As Ward explained to the Daily Dot, “It’s a message that happens every now and again, and it’s a message that I guess is our turn to tell.” He even posted an open letter about the matter to his blog.

    We chatted with Ward and Lee over the phone to discuss Balls Out—and the distinct possibility that this particular film will earn a dedicated cult following but also make it extremely difficult for them to make another one.

    Could you give a little rundown on what’s happening with the film?

    Ward: I think that a lot of people—because we have a lot of SNL cast members, and we got picked up by a studio that everyone’s heard of—they just thought that this was a big Hollywood movie, and it’s kinda like they don’t feel as guilty about pirating it, and downloading it without paying, and it’s, like, ‘Well, this is a movie that was done for a very, very low budget in Austin, Texas.’ We were lucky enough that those people came on board, but we’re still a very indie movie. It turned out well enough that a studio picked it up, but there’s still a lot of family friends, and parents, and people who believed in us that invested that, you know… We need to make money back, so that we get a chance to make another one of these movies in the future.

    Do you think that having a major studio pick you up may have actually hurt you in the end, because people then assumed that you had funding from these guys from the start?

    Ward: I don’t think it hurt us, because obviously, for us… a major studio picked us up, and it helped promoted it. It’s a more well-known movie because of that, now, and the more well-known your film is, the more people are going to want to see it, and then more people are going to download it when it’s easily available—especially full, HD quality copies. But I don’t think it was a negative, per se.

    Lee: People seeing it as a studio film might make them feel better about downloading it, but I don’t think there’s a direct correlation between them distributing our film and other films that they’ve released, too.

    Is the film moving into more theaters over time?

    Lee: We were given a 10-city, 10-market release. They were giving us a week in theaters, to help satisfy premium placement on VOD, but they also released, that same day, on VOD. So you’ll find us both in theaters right now, and on the major VOD platforms.

    Ward: [The film is on] every VOD platform, and that’s mainly what they’re pushing, because they’re not really doing a big theatrical push…. That’s why the VOD thing’s so important, because that is where the plan is to make all the money. But VOD also means that one person gets to buy it on iTunes, and they now have a full, HD-quality copy of the movie that they can now upload to a torrent site, and then everybody else can get it.

    So the theatrical release is essentially an advertisement for the VOD release?

    Lee: I think the theatrical release is more of a tool to—and a requirement from the VOD platform—to be able to get certain kinds of premium placement on their platform. So, because we’re in theaters, we get a big icon on iTunes that says ‘In Theaters Now! And on VOD!’, which has a ginormous photo that scrolls across the top. If you weren’t in theaters, at all, you wouldn’t get that kind of placement. A lot of distributors—who do a lot of digital distribution—they may add on a limited theatrical component, just to satisfy that requirement.

    Regardless of it’s an indie film or a tentpole film, does that hurt things to have those banners? Because that’s, for a lot of people, going to tell them “Oh, there’s a good quality version of this out there to download!” It’s almost like a flashing sign saying “You can pirate a good copy of this!”

    Ward: If you want to pirate stuff, you can find most anything that you want. And it’s also “How good is the quality of it? How easy to find is this?” There’s the argument that’s “Well, we pirate things because of how easy it is; it’s hard for me to get that HBO show,” which is why HBO added [HBO Now], because people were like, “I can’t get HBO, so it’s the only way I can watch it!” So, it’s eliminating that excuse.

    Lee: One of the biggest arguments for piracy is just accessibility. People on the other side of the world, or people even here who don’t have access to the content… they want the content. Some people might even consider buying it, but they just don’t have access to it, whether it’s because they’re not in the right country, or they don’t want to subscribe to all of HBO, and they just want one show. I think, in general, that’s a big argument that the pirates like to hold up. But even if you hold up that flag, it still kinda screws us indie filmmakers. Royally.

    Ward: I would say it’s good, because a lot of people are saying, at the end of the day, as filmmakers, that’s what we want—we just want people to see our movie, and that’s the dream with it—but then there’s also the financial side of it, too. This stuff costs money to do. We’re not a big studio, and we’re not getting the movie funded by product placement. Like, you’re not seeing a Pepsi Cola logo on the Jumbotron…. People actually have to pay for this in order for us to make our money back.

    So you guys are risking your own dollar from the start, rather than having Subway pay for it in the beginning.

    Ward: Look, I get it, people are going to pirate stuff, and I’m not gonna act like I’ve never done it, when I was in college, but they just need to know that, with these small movies... If you like the movie, and you’re quoting it with your friends, there’s value to that, you know? Those people provided some value, and you should consider going and buying it afterward. I can understand torrenting if you assume it’s going to be really bad—“I’m gonna torrent it and watch it for 20 minutes”—but then, if you keep watching it, and you really like it, then you should give those guys a rental or buy it… They spent a ton of time to provide that entertainment for you, and the least you can do, if you were entertained, is to help ’em out.

    Lee: It’s also not just about monetary recoupment, either. I think that’s a big aspect, but it’s also the fact that [we need to be] able to prove our worth to these studios and the people who believe in us… The only way to prove that is through numbers. And when it goes and gets pirated, it’s not showing the studios, in good faith, that we made something good, and that people want to pay for it. And when that doesn’t manifest itself in the right way, it basically hamstrings our careers.

    Ward: And the only number they’re going to care about is dollars. They don’t care if 7 million people downloaded it, but it led to only $10,000. It’s a business.

    Louis C.K. and Thom Yorke are big trend leaders in saying “Hey, I’m putting this out there, and I’m putting my faith in you,” but they’re also kinda just famous enough, and have enough of a dedicated fanbase… 

    Lee: Yeah, I mean, people like those guys have loyal followers who have followed their work and respect all the time and effort they’ve put into it, and they’ve built that following over years and years and years. And so, they’ve earned those loyal fans, and those loyal fans will give back. Those of us who are just starting out in our careers, we’re nowhere close to that. When we make our very first project, and it gets pirated like this, it’s more of a killer than anything, because don’t have that fan base to really support us in that way.

    Balls Out is on the front page of several streaming sites. But the number of seeders has dropped from 4,500 (a tenth of the Game of Thrones finale) to 3,000 seeders over the past three days. Do you think it’s one of those things where any new movie released is going to have a ton of piracy out of the gate, but then it’ll drop off relatively quickly, but the good word of mouth will remain?

    Ward: Yeah, that’s definitely what we hope. And we know that a large majority of the people pirating are probably people that weren’t ever going to pay for it anyway; that’s just facts. And, again, we don’t expect it to stop—we’re not asking it to stop—we just feel that, with indie films, people should just be aware.

    Andrew produced [DMT: The Spirit Molecule], and that got pirated like crazy, and it’s actually caused problems for the director being able to make another movie.

    Lee: Yeah, that movie, ah man… such a disaster. It was so highly anticipated by everyone, because we had worked six years on it. By the time we released it, we had about 200,000 Facebook fans, all waiting to get their hands on it. And when we released it, it just got pirated so fast... Even, like, two years ago, I sat down and looked at a YouTube pirated copy that had 4 million views… If even a fraction of those people were able to contribute to purchasing the film, even in the lowest price range, my director and I would be in a completely different place, career-wise. I promise you that.

    If people actually paid, there would be a lot more content about psychedelic topics, and psychedelic culture in general. And these distributors, and other people, would have hired Mitch [Schultz] to do all these things. So the audience stole that content from themselves, you know?

    Ward: People can speak with their wallets about what they want. Right now, the stuff that makes a bunch of money is… it’s sequels, and it’s franchises of existing things. At the end of the day, the [studios] are going to put their money into the thing that’s going to get them money back, and that’s what people are paying for right now. … People complain about that all the time, you know, “Hollywood’s always putting out franchises, or remakes, or reboots, or sequels,” and it’s, like, “Well, if you don’t want those, you gotta speak with your wallet.” If you want to see different types of stories, and those weirder things, they need to make money. Otherwise, you’re not going to see those at all.

    You can currently download the film on iTunes and most other major VOD platforms.

    Screengrab via Orion Pictures/YouTube


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    BY SAM GUTELLE

    For the past eight months, YouTube has teased its plan to launch a paid subscription service that would run adjacent to the ad-based model that makes up its bread-and-butter. That service is on its way, but according to a new report from The Information, YouTube has encountered a few hitches. The report cites contract-tied TV networks and reticent content creators as a pair of groups who are hesitating to get on board with YouTube’s ad-free plans.

    YouTube’s subscription service would charge users a monthly fee in order to receive ad-free access to YouTube. While YouTube hasn’t yet set a price for this offering, it wants to get its network partners and top content creators on board with the idea, presumably so that it can offer a full slate of content to paying subscribers.

    This task appears to have emerged as a thorn in YouTube’s side. The TV and digital media networks that control the highest level of premium video content on the Internet are in many cases limited by contracts that restrict certain programs to specific platforms (such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime). YouTube, essentially a new player to the subscription video industry, needs to figure out how its ad-free offering would fit into this landscape.

    As for the YouTube stars, The Information says they are worried about significantly hurting the ad revenue that makes up a significant portion of their respective incomes. Creators may also be wary of a recent change to YouTube’s terms that could allow the site to set channels to private (and prevent them from showing up in search) if their owners don’t agree to list their videos on the subscription-based service.

    YouTube has often struggled to launch content behind paywalls. A collection of pay-to-view channels did not produce strong results, and the site’s Music Key service, which includes a paid tier, is still in beta after encountering yet another delay. YouTube is believed to be planning a 2015 launch for its sitewide paid subscription service. Will it be able to hit that timeframe? With the recent report in mind, it’s easy to have doubts.

    Tubefilter has reached out to YouTube for comment on this story.

    Photo via Anthony Quintano/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman


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    Every day, dozens of free rap releases hit the Web. These are the moment's most interesting and resonant. This week, a freestyle for every trending topic.

    1) Beatking - Houston 3 AM

    In 2015, hustling for a rap career isn’t what it used to be. Passing out mixtapes in front of record stores doesn’t happen. There are no record stores. Music is all on the Internet, and by the time Houston’s mid-aughts rap scene stopped producing national stars, Beatking had logged on and started clicking. This Web grind has consisted of putting out a freestyle for every trending topic, like he explained over a bulky beat chopped up from the “POP Hold It Down” meme on his 2014 song “Ebola Freestyle.”

    Besides his grind, Beatking makes songs that slap—and he’s got personality to spare. He is the Club God after all. His self-produced tracks are almost all Earth-shattering, bass-filled, and made to move butts. He only produced three songs on Houston 3 AM, however, and I’d have a tough time picking them out without the help of his signature Jaws DJ drop.

    Beatking doesn’t mess around with an intro. The first two songs are some of the hardest on the tape. “Stopped” has, if nothing else, the line “pussy boring like Hobby Lobby,” and “I Got Hoez” is a huge beat among huge beats, over which Beatking busts out a surprisingly quick and deft flow. He’s basically just flexing all over the whole tape like he’s standing in front of a mirror at the gym, with samples spanning from fellow Houston rapper Paul Wall to New Orleans legend Silkk the Shocker and even Brian McKnight.

    Remarkable reference: “For the last 15 years they had me fucked up/Been a beast on the beat since I was 16 jacking off to BET Uncut.” 

    2) DJ Chose - Incaseyouforgot

    DJ Chose is a rapper and producer from Brookshire, Texas, just west of Houston. One of his biggest looks was actually a feature on Beatking’s 2014 Vine hit “Throw Dat Ass,” where he showed all his rapping talents while sounding like an overhyped interviewee on the local news. Chose’s biggest talent is producing, though. He’s created a sound of blissed-out Southern rap, something between champagne on the Trinity Bay and syrup on the French Riviera. His newest mixtape Incaseyouforgot continues that direction with a bit of a psychedelic turn, sounding like he might have been influenced by R&B star Miguel.

    The most Miguel-sounding song is “Drunk Calls,” in which Chose recounts the time he turned down a girl who sent intimate pictures to both him and Indiana Pacer small forward Paul George. In addition, Chose has been adding extra elements to his production while also enriching his songwriting. There are some added musical flares and focused concepts, even when they’re awful like “these hoes for everybody.” It all feels like a marked improvement. “2marro” is an acoustic guitar twerk anthem that isn’t anywhere near as bad as that description sounds. Sometimes the strip club just needs to be reupholstered.

    Remarkable reference:“And we still ain’t had shit/Going to school wearing Shaqs/Or Hakeem Olajuwon when we cop them hoes on sale."

    3) Lil Reese - Supa Savage II

    After gaining widespread attention from his verse on Chief Keef’s 2012 hit “I Don’t Like,” Lil Reese signed with Def Jam Records. The infamous rap label doesn’t seem to have done anything for Reese. He hasn’t put out a proper album nor has he made a song as good or as popular as “Us” since signing. But the Chicago rapper has been releasing music in the form of mediocre mixtapes and collaborations with other rappers in the same area codes—even as some of them have gotten away from the kind of music Reese embodies. Keef, who’s been making rap off the deep end lately, shows up on the weirdest song on the tape, “Brazy.”

    A lot of this tape can blend into the wallpaper of the Datpiff website, but Reese is lacing some of these tracks with double-time flows, and he’s still able to get a hook stuck deep in an ear canal. The guests also help the tape immensely, like his hometown peer Lil Durk’s three appearances. Atlanta rock star Young Thug brings some welcome sugary melodies to the song “Baby.” The most haunting moment of the tape is on “Gang,” where Reese uses fewer adlibs to let bits of silence carry the edge. Like the tape being about five songs too long, Reese can benefit from less as more.

    Remarkable reference:“Just because he don’t smell like tacos don’t mean he ain’t got nachos.” 

    4) Lil Mouse - In Gunna I Trust

    Lil Mouse is yet another rapper from Chicago. But while Lil Reese is 22 years old, and even Chief Keef is 19, Lil Mouse (relevant to his name) is still just 15. He actually was thrust onto the national spotlight at 12, when his song “Get Smoked” and his dancing in the video was shared by everyone and their momma. The song itself got the second-biggest look possible in rap (behind a Drake remix) with Lil Wayne using it for his Dedication 4mixtape. And Mouse’s dance with a band of cash became immortalized as the “money dance.”

    Mouse has kept rapping though, even as Chicago drill music has moved into the rearview. He’s almost an old-head purist at this point, having not finished puberty nor looked to evolve his sound. Mouse still has the energy that his local rap scene once had at its height because he is the age of those first-wave drill artists. His music also comes off as blunt as one might expect from Mouse’s age, even if the content is almost uniformly gun talk.

    Remarkable reference:“VVSs all in my watch can’t tell the time it’s blinging/Pulled up to the party with a four and a two-liter."

    5) Ice Billion Berg - Live House Session

    Florida is technically part of the American South, but it might as well be its own region–especially the peninsula, where the further south it is, the further away from the South it is. This is borne out in the region’s rap music, where Miami has never had the same sound of Atlanta or Houston or New Orleans. Dade County rapper Ice “Billion” Berg stands out in that way, as someone more concerned with rapping-ass rapping than turning up the club and throwing bands.

    His newest mixtape Live House Season is his first since 2014’s Damage Is Done. Berg is always focused on the mic, but this is a pretty relaxed affair, with mostly breezy beats and simpatico features. He gets the loosest on beats that are outside his lane, like the chopped-up version of Dr. Dre’s “Next Episode” or the instrumental for Teena Marie’s “Square Biz.” That latter beat in particular, for his “Square Bricks (Freestyle),” brandishes how well Berg can rap and keep up with the beat, calling back to his star performance on Trina’s fantastic 2012 song “Beam.” Ice Berg might be the best rapper rapping with no essential song or project, but as he declared during the outro of the last song on the tape, he ain’t going nowhere.

    Remarkable reference: “And like the short esé from Next Friday I tell them hoes in my party."

    Screengrab via CSharp_C3ENT/YouTube


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    Usually clicking on a Rick Astley clip means you're about to endure another rickroll, but this time around its four minutes and 37 seconds of pure funk.

    Astley pulled out the Bruno Mars hit "Uptown Funk" at Let's Rock London, an '80s-themed festival, over the weekend. Not at all stuck in the '80s himself, Astley looks amazing in the clip.

    Perhaps its time for a Astley renaissance, or at least a duet with Mars. 

    Screengrab via Pop Monologues/YouTube


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    The United States may now have marriage equality, but as John Oliver reminded us on Sunday night, there's still a long way to go until full equality—especially for the transgender community.

    Transgender Americans face widespread discrimination, transphobia, disrespect, being barred from using the proper bathroom, bullying at all ages, being banned from the military, harassment at the DMV, and, for many (including public figures), questions about their genitalia. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee once said that he would have pretended to be a girl in order to shower with girls in high school.

    “Transgender people have a gender identity that differs from the one they were assigned at birth,” Oliver said. “And that gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation. Gender identity is who you are, sexual orientation is who you love. Some transgender people do undergo hormone therapy or sexual reassignment surgery as part of their transition, some do not. And interestingly, their decision on this matter is, medically speaking, none of your fucking business!”

    If you end up on the anti-civil-rights side of this issue, Oliver said, it won't end well for you. Just like the last time.

    Screengrab via LastWeekTonight/YouTube


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    Transparency is the name of the digital advertising game, and one Vine star took that to a very literal level in a partnership with Sony. Vine star Zach King, also known as "Final Cut King" for his inventive use of video tricks, strapped a camera to his back and a screen to his front. That's how you get this see-through torso.

    King wore a chest harness backward, attached to a Sony Action Cam and wired to the screen up front to live project his surroundings. He's previously partnered with companies like Red Bull and Friskies to promote products to his 3 million Vine followers. This latest brand deal is part of Sony's "Never Before Seen" series, which enlists filmmakers to create using their cameras, in a push to capture the GoPro audience, whose YouTube videos often translate to viral success.

    H/T Tubefilter | Screengrab via Sony Action Cam/YouTube


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    A new Shia LaBeouf video is enrapturing the Internet, and this time he's not screaming, he's freestyle "rapping": 

    It's not clear when this was shot or where LaBeouf is, but he makes a Transformers reference during his middling freestyle to give it a personal angle. However,  his freestyle might not be that original

    On Sunday, emcee Pri the Honeydark called out LaBeouf in an Instagram post, saying the actor "straight stole bars from the song "Perfectionist", written, recorded and performed by my ANOMOLIES crew members @invincibledet and @helixxwashere in 1999!" 

    The all-female Anomalies rap crew formed in the late '90s and featured Pri, Helixx, and Detroit rapper Invincible, among others. Apparently the rip-off starts around the 0:40 mark. 

    Sure, much of rap music is borrowed and/or sourced from other people's samples, but this wouldn't be the first time LaBeouf's been accused of ripping someone off.  

    H/T Watch Loud | Photo via DoD News Features/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    The BET Awards on Sunday featured the usual onslaught of forgettable awards tethered to bombastic performances from the age’s most brilliant and intense artists. Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs reunited his monstrous Family for a Bad Boy anniversary medley; Alicia Keys’s duet with The Weeknd moved mountains; and Janet Jackson descended from her billionaire husband’s ivory tower to collect hardware for the arbitrary Ultimate Icon: Music Dance Visual Award. 

    Lost in the shuffle, 19-year-old formerVoice contestant and Vine star Avery Wilson showcased his range and talent with a stunning rendition of new single, “If I Have To.” Or at least the first 90 seconds or it before BET faded to commercial.

    “If I Have To” has a Sam Smith ceiling and sneaks past all of Smith’s corpus as a pop song. It packs Titanic-grade schmaltz—a song that sounds like it could be about undying devotion or inconsolable loss or Jesus. (I think it’s about Jesus.)

    It could work with any number of R&B singers, but Wilson’s scorned high notes evoke instant waterworks. There’s sorrow and dramatics, Wilson’s is a voice that can act. 

    As a Web star, Wilson has more than 1 million Vine followers. It’s a space where he routinely shows what he can do. 

    Go ahead and bet on Wilson’s tremendous upside. 

    Screengrab via AveryWilsonVEVO/YouTube


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    This article contains sexually explicit material.

    Model Chrissy Teigen pushed the limits of Instagram’s nudity policies yet again with her latest post.

    She shared the NSFW photo for her shoot with W Magazine on Instagram Monday. The caption read, “Honored to be in the company of such gorgeous women!” while thanking the people involved.

    As of presstime, Teigen’s photo is still up on Instagram.

    It’s not the first time Teigen has posted an Instagram photo featuring nudity. A 2013 nude photo she posted after drinking some wine was deleted, but one from last year of her and her husband John Legend where Teigen is wearing a sheer top is still on the site.

    Instagram has always banned nudity on the site and has been accused of censorship by people who felt their photos were wrongfully taken down or their accounts banned, but it updated its nudity policy in April to allow photos of post-mastectomy scarring and breastfeeding; nudity overall would still not be allowed.

    We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.

    It’s a policy that many, including Miley Cyrus, Chelsea Handler, Rihanna, and Scout Willis have protested, with the #FreeTheNipple movement sparking a feature film.

    Screengrab via Lip Sync Battle on Spike/YouTube


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    Do you remember that time when Chris Farley made SNL a destination for comedy fans? When he created characters that are still referenced today? The new documentary I Am Chris Farley explores the actor's life, his troubles with addiction, and the characters that endured past his 1997 death. 

    The first trailer for the documentary, directed by Brent Hodge (A Brony Tale) and Derik Murray, features interviews with Bob Odenkirk, Adam Sandler, Molly Shannon, and Farley's brother Kevin, as well as home videos and footage from pre-SNL improv performances. While many know his characters and movies, the doc also explores his issues with drug addiction and the pressure of fame. As Odenkirk says, "You can't walk around being funny all the time."  

    The film debuts in theaters on July 31, Spike on Aug. 10, and VOD on Aug. 11. 

    Screengrab via redwrens/YouTube 


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    Last night on Jeopardy!, host Alex Trebek offered a very Canadian take on the lyrics to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song. And, well, it's a little better than last year's rap. This guy is never out of character.

    Trebek's vanilla flow is good for a chuckle, but this guy still holds the title for best Fresh Prince troll. 

    H/T Uproxx | Photo via marabuchi/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) 


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    YouTubers with an itch for superhero stories are getting the chance to work with the true superhero of the comic industry, Stan Lee, thanks to a partnership with the worldwide YouTube spaces.

    YouTube’s World of Superheroes is a global program across the YouTube Spaces in Los Angeles, New York, London, Tokyo and São Paulo, that allows select YouTubers access to specific superhero-themed sets and green-screen projects allowing their actors to leap tall building with a single bound—or fly, thanks to the magic of camera tricks. Twelve creators worked with Lee’s POW! Entertainment on their projects, with six lucky creators having direct consultations with Lee, who said he was looking for “originality” and “a sense of suspense” in the scripts for which he’d give feedback.

    “We are always looking for a fresh angle, for a type of character that we haven’t seen before,” he explained during a visit to the YouTube Space L.A. in June. “As you can imagine, it’s more and more difficult to find that. But as I tell the people we deal with, it has to be either a new power, or a new problem that we haven’t come up against before, or a new setting. I’m not going to tell you how to do it, because I don’t want any competition!”

    YouTube is a chance for Lee and his company to tackle the universality of superheroes head-on, which he theorizes is just a progression of the worldwide obsession with fairy tales.

    “Almost everybody loved fairy tales when they were young—tales of witches and monsters, all kinds of things that are bigger than life,” Lee explained. “You get a little older and you can’t read fairy tales anymore, but then along come superhero stories. To me, they’re like fairy tales for older people. They have all those elements of wonder and things that are bigger than life. This is a worldwide thing; this isn’t just America. The nice thing is that YouTube is in a position to satisfy this craving for this sort of thing all over the world.”

    With all the fresh ideas coming in through YouTube creators, Lee joked that he’d happily steal ideas from “anyone, anywhere,” and he had plenty of praise for the digital space.

    “YouTube has become like a major movie studio. People want to do things at YouTube because they know those things will be viewed all over the world,” he said, before jokingly calling the platform his competitor.

    For the YouTube projects, Lee will continue his tradition of surprise cameos.

    “I’ve done three cameos already,” he said. “One of them is the funniest one you’ve ever seen: All I had to do was shrug. But I did it magnificently. The other two I can’t tell you; you have to tune in. I never thought I’d become a cameo specialist.”

    More videos from the creators will roll out on YouTube through August. The project is another milestone in a unexpected trajectory that’s seen Lee’s influence stretch from comic pages to global phenomenon.

    “It’s unbelievable, actually, and of course I never expected it to happen,” Lee said. “When we were doing these comic books years ago, we were just hoping the books would sell so we could keep our job and pay the rent. And all of a sudden these characters have become the biggest thing in movies, and movies are like the biggest thing in the world. It’s still hard to believe, really.”

    Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)


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    For a man who hates dealing with the media, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch sure doesn’t mind appearing on late-night TV. And that includes Monday’s appearance on Conan in which the often-surly Lynch who still manages to showcase his charisma jumped into a makeshift end zone filled with Skittles, his favorite candy.

    And as per usual, Lynch grabbed his crotch, a move that's gotten him fined multiple times by the NFL, while falling into the rainbow-coated sweetness. Take a taste of the video below.

    We know that Lynch loves Skittles because, when he was a kid, his mom used to reward him for scoring touchdowns with that always-nutritious snack. But why does he enjoy giving himself a hand so much while scoring touchdowns?

    A snippet of the conversation between the host and his guest:

    O’Brien: “You get fined a lot for grabbing your crotch—that looks like a ballet move right there. In the early days, after I would tell a really funny joke and grab my crotch, NBC at the time said, ‘You can't do that.’ But you have shown the way for how all of us should act.”
    Lynch: “I put it out there, man. I got in a lot of trouble for grabbing my ding-ding.”
    O'Brien: “Yeah. You call it your ‘ding-ding’?”
    Lynch: “My ding-ding.”
    Andy Richter: “You probably shouldn't use the phrase ‘put it out there.’”
    Lynch: “It is what it is. I’m grown now, you know what I’m saying. I grew up. You’ve got to grab your ding-ding.”
    O'Brien: “Sometimes, a guy has to grab his ding-ding. I think that’s a line that will never be repeated.”

    None of this, though, changes the fact that the Seahawks lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl because, instead of handing the ball to Lynch from the 1-yard line with the game on the line, Seattle called for a pass from quarterback Russell Wilson, which promptly was intercepted.

    There’s no question, though, that if the end zone was filled with Skittles, Lynch, with the ball or not, would have found a way to win the game all by himself.

    Screengrab via Team Coco


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    Boss Bitches of History, the newest educational, entertaining, and slightly NSFW show from Wisecrack, is ready to teach the world just how important female contribution is to society, and it’s doing so in the most boss way possible.

    The show’s two hosts, Sovereign Syre and Ela Darling, are both adult performers and writers with a passion for history. Darling holds a master’s degree in library science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is a virtual reality entrepreneur in the adult space. Syre has an master’s of fine arts in creative writing and a background in sociology.

    The series kicks off with two videos: one focused on Marie-Josèphe dite Angélique, a slave who set half of Montreal on fire to protest her owner selling her to an island plantation in the 1700s, and one that showcases a more widely known “boss bitch,” Cleopatra. The clips feature Darling and Syre explaining the historical context interspersed with modern references to keep even the most history-averse on the edge of his or her seat.

    “As soon as I saw Thug Notes, met Jared [Bauer] and we started developing a show, I knew this was going to be an awesome collaboration,” Syre said via press release. “I’ve always wanted to do something with history, and the show is the perfect outlet.”

    The show joins Wisecrack’s slate of educational and entertaining series like Thug Notes and Earthling Cinema. New episodes will air bimonthly.

    Photo courtesy of Wisecrack


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