Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Album, Religion, and Finding Himself

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Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. album cover | c/o Interscope Records

 

Kendrick Lamar may be the best rapper out right now at hiding the proverbial medicine in the candy. His latest album, DAMN. has songs that are focused on totally unattractive topics when it comes to their assumed commercial potential: Humility. Loyalty. Integrity. And they’re all touched on as part of his exploration of religion, another touchy subject. Making club-ready, popular Hip-Hop that bangs as hard as DAMN. does while quoting Bible verses in the lyrics is no easy feat. Still, as Kendrick says on “ELEMENT.,” he makes it all sound sexy.

As I marveled at DAMN. over several listens, I wrote about how Kendrick is learning more about himself and the world he lives in with the guidance of Bible scripture for Billboard.

Kendrick Lamar: Making Sense of His World, One Bible Verse at a Time 

Here’s a taste: “The Bible’s influence is immense. For many it functions as their life’s compass, by which going in the right direction means to walk in God’s footsteps and all other paths — at best — lead nowhere. That perspective is what Kendrick Lamar cautiously navigates on his third proper studio LP, DAMN.

Check it out, y’all.

also: Kendrick Lamar, Exposing The Fakes

Kendrick Lamar, Exposing The Fakes

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Kendrick Lamar dropped his new track, “Humble” yesterday. Fans and pundits alike went gaga over it. The verdicts vary but are overall joyous. They’re cheerful hearing Kung Fu Kenny kick bars over simpler Hip-Hop production (it’s an ominous Mike WiLL Made It doing, less intricate than To Pimp a Butterfly’s jazzy musicianship) and, frankly, delighted that the rapper is still talking his shit—clowning junky stars and also those who aren’t honest in their representations of themselves. The messaging in its Dave Meyers-directed video is noteworthy, too. So much so that I wrote about it for Billboard.

Kendrick Lamar Exposes the Fake to Encourage the Real in ‘Humble’ Video

I’m not going to ruin it for you, but I will tease it with the opening paragraph:

As the opportunity to exaggerate our best features and highlight only portions of our lives grows thanks to the magic of Instagram filters and Twitter posts, Kendrick Lamar has noticed what apparently many have yet to: The world — his generation, at least — is shifting away from practicing humility and authenticity. Blowhard fakes are flourishing faster than a showoff can say “Clarendon” or “Send tweet.”

Give it a read. April 7, the release date for Kendrick’s third LP, can’t come soon enough.

A$AP Rocky x Guess Club and Partying at The Standard’s Mmhmmm Room

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A$AP Rocky at Guess Club pop-up | shot by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for GUESS

 

If A$AP Rocky could smoke weed with anyone—dead or alive, he’d pick the King of Pop. He told of room full of media heads this a couple of Fridays ago at the launch of his Guess Club pop-up shop in Los Angeles:

“I would love to smoke a blunt with Michael Jackson. I wonder what his weed-smoking voice would have been. Would it have been high-pitched? I’m upset that he passed before I became famous because I really wanted to be in his presence. I wanted to be in the presence of greatness.”

A$AP Rocky’s Clubhouse Opens With Frank Ocean, Kendall Jenner & More As Guests

That’s really just a fun aside from what was a super fun night out in L.A. I covered the event for Billboard while nabbing a denim jacket and tee from the ‘90s nostalgia collection (which he’s wearing in the shot above). The venue, designed to be a three-story treehouse, had arcade games, tents, booze and stylish partygoers enjoying the function.

After that, my girl and I went to The Standard Hotel West Hollywood for their monthly THIS NEVER HAPPENS party in the Mmhmmm room. It was easily the most fun and best party we’ve been to during our two years in Los Angeles. Great new and old music from DJ Earry Hall.

Oh, and people actually danced, which is an extremely rare sight out here. When we go out, the two of us are usually the only people doing more than a two-step. But we finally stumbled upon a room of folk who like to boogie. It was our first TNH party, but definitely won’t be our last.

Rainsford and I: Mullets, Music and Hopes

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RAINSFORD | shot by Frankie Marin

 

The special thing about working with a new artist is that you’ve got the chance to introduce them to an audience they didn’t have before. When I was shot an email about Rainsford with a few links to her music, I liked enough to try to do something on her. She’s got an indie pop feel with hints of R&B.

Rainsford on Her Manifesting Pop Stardom and Fitting Fashion In, Too: New Face, Fresh Style

And because she’s big on fashion with a model and acting past, I knew she’d be a perfect fit for Billboard‘s New Face, Fresh Style section. We met up for a chat before her show at Hi Hat for a talk about everything—from growing up in North Carolina to getting a haircut she initially didn’t like two weeks ago. As shows from new acts usually are, her concert was a short 30-minute go with a solid Whitney Houston cover and a taste of her forthcoming EP. Rainsford’s got a ton of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing her progress.

Give it a look here. It’s Rainsford’s first proper music story. If she continues on her path, it probably won’t be the last.

Fun Facts About Peter Dundas, the Man Who Designed Beyonce’s Grammy ‘Fits

The big question that came from the 2017 Grammys is why Beyonce’s Lemonade lost Album of the Year to Adele’s (great, just not as great) 25. And while there are several, extremely obvious probable answers to that, what’s for certain is that Beyonce was one of the night’s biggest winners when it comes to fashion.

5 Things to Know About Beyonce’s Grammy Designer Peter Dundas

In total, she worked three looks and officially launched former Roberto Cavalli creative director Peter Dundas’ eponymous line. To those who frequent sites like Vogue and Business of Fashion, Dundas’ is a super familiar name. But for everyone else, he just had his big break days ago.

Those that identify with the latter are in luck. For Billboard, I wrote a short piece listing a few things one should know about Peter. He designed Ciara’s wedding dress last year, dressed old muse Kim Kardashian and more. Give it a look here.

Tommy Hilfiger, Models Joan Smalls, Hailey Baldwin & More Talk Music Backstage at L.A. Fashion Show

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Gigi Hadid with Tommy Hilfiger | c/o of Tommy Hilfiger

 

It’s kind of crazy that I had to move from New York City to Los Angeles to attend my first proper fashion show. Tommy Hilfiger’s TommyxGigi Spring ’17 outdoor showcase at Venice Beach here in Cali’ last week was top notch—from the production to the models to the man himself.

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Joan Smalls & Yasmin Wijnaldum backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger show

 

For Billboard, I went to the show to cover the vibe behind and in front of the curtains. Backstage, I stopped models like Hailey Baldwin, Joan Smalls and Sara Sampaio to talk about music and why they’re such bigs fans of Hilfiger’s (Fun fact: Joan Smalls loves 6lack’s “Free,” Baldwin’s a Rihanna stan). Apart from them, I also spoke to with Tommy and his friends Scooter Braun and Kris Jenner, who sat across from me in their front row seats.

Behind the Scenes with Hailey Baldwin, Joan Smalls & Kris Jenner at Tommy Hilfiger’s Tommy x Gigi ‘Music Fashion Festival’

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Hailey Baldwin backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger show | c/o of Tommy Hilfiger

 

The feel backstage was pretty chill and relaxed. If anyone was at all nervous, it was well hidden behind dances to Migos and laughter. Hilfiger handled several quickie pre-show interviews like someone confident in the product he was about to put on sale. And the show was flawless. Not one flub. Not one model trip-up. Bohemian dresses. Crop tops. Dope swimwear. All wins.

To kick off fashion week @tommyhilfiger show in LA #tommynow #tommyXgigi

A post shared by Sara Sampaio (@sarasampaio) on

Bringing tastes of New York Fashion Week to L.A. is a trend I hope only becomes more popular among the elite couture and ready-to-wear houses. I know Vetements, Rachel Zoe and Rebecca Minkoff bounced to the West Side for their shows this year, too. Los Angeles is slowly becoming a place to be for the fashion world and as someone who won’t be leaving LaLa Land soon, I’m welcoming all fly and chic comers.

Check out my Billboard piece here.