Rapper Pop Smoke Reportedly Murdered In Home Invasion

Rising New York rapper Pop Smoke, who had spent the last year carving out his own path as he also collaborated with hip-hop A-listers like Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, was reportedly shot and killed early Wednesday morning (February 19), TMZ reports. He was 20 years old.

The artist, born Bashar Barakah Jackson in Brooklyn, was apparently at a home in the Hollywood Hills when two men broke in and fired multiple shots, hitting him. TMZ reports the men wore “hoodies and masks” in an apparent home invasion. Pop Smoke was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after being rushed by ambulance. The shooters have reportedly neither been caught nor identified.

In April 2019, Pop Smoke dropped “Welcome to the Party,” a thudding single that showcased his patented husky voice; it was quickly remixed by Minaj and Skepta and became one of the summer’s biggest singles. He followed up his 2019 debut album, Meet the Woo, with a super-sized sequel, Meet the Woo 2, which was released only 12 days ago. It features collaborations with Quavo, A Boogie, Lil Tjay, and more.

Between his two albums, Pop Smoke also hopped on JackBoys, Scott’s showcase he launched at the end of 2019. Their team-up was “Gatti,” a likewise cinematic feast of Pop Smoke’s gritty baritone bars.

He was scheduled to perform at Pharrell Williams’s Something in the Water festival in April. Tributes from those in the music community have begun to hit social media.

This is a developing story. We’ll add more details as they emerge.

The Weeknd’s Newly Single High Has Gone Away In ‘After Hours’

There’s a certain point after a breakup when the newly single high just doesn’t hit like it used to. You can surround yourself with new faces and all, but, you begin to see that ex’s smile everywhere when they aren’t actually there. Memories invade your mind every waking second and you have to smack your hand before you press send on that “I miss u” text.

The Weeknd‘s right here in his new song, “After Hours.” It’s the title track for his fourth studio album and it paints a picture of the mood of the LP. He really, really needs someone to take his phone before he opens up an old chapter that probably should be left in the past.

“After Hours” is about a man pleading for another chance after things have ended on, what sounds like, a sour note. Its energetic and synth-filled atmosphere sounds plucked from the opening credits of a corny 1980s action flick. Instead of matching this sweat-inducing spirit, The Weeknd sings softly about getting back his ex by any means. He sounds emotionally tortured here, pleading with tears in his eyes. “Put myself to sleep/ Just so I can get closer to you inside my dreams/ Didn’t want to wake up unless you were beside me,” he sings so low that it’s almost a whisper. Sheesh. Preferring to sleep just so you can be with your ex in your imagination is a new level of whipped.

Just as you’re feeling sad for him though, he casually mentions on the chorus that it’s his fault that she packed her bags. “I’d give it all just to hold you close/ Sorry that I broke your heart, your heart,” he carols sweetly. Ah, everything makes sense now. Stay far away, ex!

Along with the release of “After Hours,” The Weeknd has shared that the new album of the same name will be out on March 20. Its cover art has also been revealed featuring a bloodied The Weeknd smiling at the camera. It mirrors the styles of the videos for both “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights,” two previously shared singles.

What makes “After Hours” so intriguing is that “Heartless,” which dropped last November and will appear on the album, is a complete opposite of it. On the latter track, The Weeknd snottily brags about not needing a partner. He’s back to his old ways and he loves every second of it. With his wounded wails of “After Hours” now out, it’ll be interesting to hear the journey between the two moods when the LP drops.

Take a listen to The Weeknd’s regret-filled “After Hours” up above.

Billie Eilish Demolished That High Note While Singing ‘No Time To Die’ At The BRITs

Last week, Billie Eilish stunned the world with her dramatic James Bond theme song, “No Time To Die,” which was a giant middle finger to anyone who claims she only whisper-sings. And in case you had any doubt, yes, Eilish can 100 percent crush the song’s sky-high note while singing live. On Tuesday (February 18), she proved as much when she performed the 007 ballad for the first time at the 2020 BRIT Awards.

Eilish — who sparkled in an all-black ensemble after first rocking plaid on the red carpet — was joined by a few special guests onstage. Her brother and collaborator, Finneas, kicked things off on the piano, with Smiths legend Johnny Marr chiming in on guitar. But the real drama came from acclaimed composer Hans Zimmer, who came with an entire orchestra in tow. Together, they gave Eilish’s delicate vocals a spine-chilling arrangement as she hit every — yes, every! — note.

A few minutes after her performance, Eilish won her first BRIT award, for Best International Female Solo Artist. Accepting the prize from Spice Girls singer Melanie C, Eilish first thanked her fellow nominees. “Before I say anything… Lizzo, Ariana, Camila, Lana, you’re the only reason I exist, so thank you guys. You deserve this.”

The 18-year-old then teared up as she thanked the fans in the room for supporting her, especially as she’s weathered some recent tough times. “I felt very hated recently and when I was on the stage and I saw you guys all smiling at me, it genuinely made me want to cry,” she said. “And I want to cry right now. So thank you.”

A bold red carpet look, a show-stopping performance, a big win, and a sweet acceptance speech… now that’s how you crush your first BRITs.

Harry Styles Kept The Tears ‘Falling’ With His Angelic BRITs Performance

Just minutes after Lewis Capaldi serenaded the 2020 BRIT Awards with his heartbreaker of a hit, “Someone You Loved,” Harry Styles made the tears flow all over again.

For his first solo performance at the annual awards show, Styles ditched the brown Gucci suit he wore on the red carpet and rocked head-to-toe lace. He accessorized his angelic, all-white ensemble with matching lace gloves and the trusty pearl necklace he’s been favoring as of late.

As for his song choice, Styles surprisingly didn’t opt for one of his sunny recent singles, like “Watermelon Sugar” or “Adore You.” Instead, he chose the Fine Line ballad “Falling,” which he performed with pure emotion. Yes, hearing him belt, “I get the feeling that you’ll never need me again!” hurts so, so good. Styles even transformed the stage into a pool, with water falling (get it, “falling“?!) from the two pianos behind him. An apt choice, considering the tears that were surely flowing inside London’s O2 Arena on Tuesday.

Styles is nominated for two awards at the 2020 BRITs, including Best British Male, alongside Dave, Lewis Capaldi, Stormzy, and Michael Kiwanuka. His recently released sophomore LP, Fine Line, is also up for the prestigious Best Album prize.

Snoh Aalegra Brings Out The Feels (Again) In Tiny Desk Debut

The first thing you’ll feel is your temples warmly move in circles like someone’s swirling their fingers in a beach’s sand on a sunny day. What comes next is rushing dopamine, sprinting to fill each corner of your skull before its ghost trickles down your neck, raising the thin hairs until they’re erect. These two things are constants when listening to Swedish singer Snoh Aalegra‘s music. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the scene, or a returning fan of hers; you’ll be in a trance after checking out her spellbinding debut on NPR’s Tiny Desk.

With five songs, Aalegra whispered a chill into the air, one that turned the surrounding area into a frigid icebox. Warm and heartfelt soul instrumentals heated things up just a tad. She kicked things off with “Love Like That” and its mellow embrace of looming heartbreak. A song later, she delved into the deliciously slow, funked-out vibe of “Whoa.” All that was missing was Pharrell Williams‘s remix verse. She ended things on an uplifting note that was akin to a rainbow manifesting in the sky after a day of showers. It’ll take a second after it cuts off to snap back to reality after this mind-numbing detour. Don’t get out of the chair too fast.

If you’re interested in hearing more of Aalegra, you can check her out live when she goes out tour in March. Or, alternatively, you can check out her sophomore LP, Ugh, Those Feels Again, that dropped last year.

Check out Aalegra’s out-of-this-world Tiny Desk debut up above.

Justin Bieber Goes Full Nature Boy In Swooning ‘E.T.A’ Clip

Justin Bieber is one with nature in his new video for “E.T.A.” If you’re looking for laptop wallpaper backgrounds, just about any screenshot from it will do. It gets kooky with some wonky cartoon effects that showcase an animated forest, but, for the most part, it’s about the serenity of Earth. If it were a movie, it would be The Hills Have Curves. 

“E.T.A.” is Earth porn. Bieber takes to a mountainside and shows how awesome that the planet’s natural colors are. The greens of trees in the winter have never looked so crisp. Although he sits center frame in most shots, he’s definitely not the focus. Things grow cartoonishly colorful at certain points when an Adventure Land-like filter splashes sweet hues all over the place. It’s a beautiful depiction of nature that makes you want to go outside and experience it in real-time.

The video for “E.T.A.” is the first of a collection of new visuals from Bieber’s new album, Changes, that’s set to drop exclusively on Apple Music. The LP, that came out on Valentine’s Day, is his first in four years that features appearances from artists like Post Malone, Kehlani, and more.

Check out a teaser for “E.T.A.” up above and take a look at the full thing over on Apple Music.

Lizzo Covers Harry Styles’s ‘Adore You,’ Returning The Favor

Did Lizzo and Harry Styles just cement their status as besties? I think so. She performed an enchanting cover of Styles’s “Adore You” at BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge that was released yesterday (February 17). It’s the mirror image of a similar move by Styles when he shared his own version of “Juice” on the show last year. It’d probably be too much to expect a collaboration of some kind now, right? Lizzo sounds at home in Styles’s world as he does in hers.

Lizzo’s booming cover sounded so awesome live on top of the in-studio percussion. Gripping the microphone, her soulful voice transported Styles’s vehicle into a dimension made entirely of R&B. To sweeten the delicious treat, aside from changing one of its lines from “Oh honey” to “Oh Harry,” she unsheathed Sasha Flute for a one-of-a-kind experience that might convince Styles that he should sign over the rights to “Adore You” immediately. Or, maybe, just release a remix with Lizzo. That would work too.

Styles’s “Juice” cover at the Live Lounge was equally magical when it dropped in December. He gushed over her at the time, saying “I just think she’s amazing. She’s one of the most exciting artists working now for sure. She’s exactly what you want an artist to be, which is themselves.” The pair then got together to perform the song in Miami in January at a Sirius XM event.

Back to Lizzo’s awesome cover performance. She also performed both “Good As Hell” and “Cuz I Love You” with Sasha Flute. In the process, the Live Lounge became the Lizzo Lounge.

Check out Lizzo’s “Adore You” cover up above.

Inside Justin Bieber’s Super-Chill ‘House Of Changes’ Album Release Party

In November 2015, Justin Bieber celebrated the release of his album Purpose with an intimate show at L.A.’s Staples Center, where he performed a few songs, answered some questions, and skateboarded onstage. He was emotional that night, choking back tears while talking about how he had “lost [his] place” in the world for a while.

Almost five years later, Bieber delivered his Purpose follow-up, Changes, and marked the occasion with another special launch party on Friday night (February 14). This time, he took over a private indoor skatepark called The Berrics, just three miles southeast of Staples and situated behind a row of unassuming warehouses. The Spotify-hosted event transformed the airy space into “House of Changes,” billed as a “carefully curated epicenter of all things Bieber.” Everywhere you looked, there was some installation or dessert or piece of merch to discover. So when your eyes would eventually wander over to the small pack of skaters rolling up and down the ramps, it was only with a shocked double-take that you noticed Bieber himself.

The man of the hour was dressed down in a yellow Drew House hoodie and a beanie, grinding and board-sliding around the tiny park and blending in with the pack of fellow skaters whom he would fist-pump after doing some cool trick. His manager Scooter Braun was sitting on a bench watching him, his friend and Drew House co-founder Drew Good was hanging out by a DJ who played Changes over the speakers, and his videographer Alfredo Flores was vibing along to the music while capturing JB on film.

A small contingent of superfans chosen by Spotify were invited to the event, and when they weren’t watching Bieber on his board, they were exploring the immersive, Changes-themed zones that filled the room. Upon walking in, fans grabbed a white t-shirt from the “Off the Rails” portal entry — at each subsequent stop, they could pick up different Changes decals to customize their tees. The “Intentions Room” let fans bring their own written “Intentions” to life in a visual display. On the walls, they penned things like, “Learn to love myself” and “Help others.” Bieber himself even wrote, “My intention is to be the best family man I can be.”

Alfredo Flores

From there, fans jumped into the massive “Plush Pit,” which was filled with human-sized stuffed teddy bears reminiscent of the Drew House mascot, Theodore. Other cute photo opps included the “Changes Motel,” a kitschy rendering of a vintage motel room, and a red-lit photo booth where you could make your own Changes album cover that was then printed and fit into a physical CD case.

On the other side of the skatepark was the “Yummy Banquet,” based on the single’s delicacy-filled music video. A bar served custom cocktails like the vodka-based “Running Over” and the tequila- and mezcal-filled “Yummy.” Dancers in full-body food costumes — a piece of bacon, a bunch of grapes, etc. — shimmied and shook around tables upon tables of frosted donuts, gelatin cakes, and macaroons with smiley faces on them.

Alfredo Flores

Every now and then, I glanced back over at Bieber, who remained skating, smiling, occasionally busting out a little dance move, and consistently looking happy and comfortable. Unlike that Purpose event almost five years ago, the evening felt authentic and relaxed — there were no tears, probably minimal nerves, and zero pressure for Bieber to “perform.” As he tells us on the new album, he’s been “going through changes”; he’s wifed-up, got a mustache, and feeling healthier. Last night made it clear: the changes are good ones.

Vincint Sang In Secret, Then In Choir — Now He’s Belting Out The Feeling

By Daniel Head

“Heartbreak dance music” is how Vincint, the Philadelphia-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter describes his music. His ecstatic, high-energy pop gives you, in his words, “the feeling of having your heartstrings pulled while your ass can’t stop moving.” It’s a means to move with joy through your pain.

His new EP, The Feeling, out today (February 14), is a journey of grappling with the waves of emotions during heartache. The power of Vincint’s voice — first in the spotlight in 2018 on Fox’s singing competition show The Four — and the infectiousness of his performances make you feel each pang and triumph. It’s something he wrings out of his own experiences and the ones of those closest to him.

After Vincint wrote The Feeling’s final (and title) track, his mom asked, “How do you feel now that it’s finally done?” He responded, “I feel upset and lonely, but also so joyful and so emotionally driven to give this to people because I think it’s going to help them because it really helped me,” he told MTV News. His mother replied, “That’s the feeling,” and thus, The Feeling was complete.

After a secret show at SoHo’s Gospel collective space in New York City, MTV News sat down with the budding superstar to unpack it — all the love and loss, and his music’s intersection of grief and joy.

MTV News: Give me a little bit of your start. Did you know from the beginning that you wanted to sing?

Vincint: My dad was a singer, and so that was the reason that I got into all of it. He had a gospel group called Christian and Gospel Singers. And they were always in my house, always singing, always drinking. It was wild. But it was my first introduction into music, and so that was the door opening for me. I was a shy kid, so I didn’t tell anyone that I could sing until I was maybe seven or eight. And my dad happened to bring me to a choir audition.

MTV News: Wait, so where were you singing up until that point? Were you just whispering in your room?

Vincint: Yeah, I would be in the back of my dad’s Cadillac and I’d be humming along to the radio and he’d [hear and] then I would stop. It seemed just very stressful for me. Just a lot of people looking at you all the time. It’s not my thing. Well, it wasn’t.

MTV NEWS: Yeah, I was going to say, it’s a little different now.

Vincint: But he brought me to a choir audition and I was singing the solo for this all-boy choir in Philadelphia and the whole room got quiet. And then I was like, oh. And If I could do that, maybe I’ll do that forever. And so that kind of kick-started everything. I started writing songs when I was 12. They weren’t great, but they were songs.

I looked into Berklee [College of Music] and I told my parents that I applied to maybe three or four colleges, but I only applied to two. I applied to Berklee and I applied to [University of] Notre Dame and I got into both, but I told them that I got into one so I could go to the one that I wanted. And so I went to Berklee and that’s where my musical mind kind of opened up… and kind of molded my pen in the way that I think about love and depression and anxiety and everything. I kind of found my voice in college.

MTV News: When you’re writing, do you write as the experiences were happening or are you calling back on a relationship or what was going on in a friend’s life as you wrote it?

Vincint: “The Feeling” was the only one I called back on. Usually for all of these songs, I was walking around and I put it in my phone and every day something new would come. Another instance was with “Save Myself.” I wrote with Brandon [Colbein] and Ryan Hartman and the producer Tidal, and we were sitting and talking about how labels were trash, how every time we’ve gone for a deal, they’ve just kind of tried to take control of us, and we’re like, I’ll do it myself. So songs come from different places. I was writing the EP, but I lost my dad, and that is a big part of a lot of the songs. Like in “Simple,” he’s a huge part of that song for me.

MTV News: Is it safe to say that you and your passion and goals have been met with various barriers because—

Vincint: Of course. It’s because of the way that I look, my sexuality, sometimes my gender because pop is for pop girls. I’ve been in situations where, because of my sexuality, it’s not even a conversation that I can be a part of something. That’s unfortunate because you’re missing out on something great because of a fear that it may not be accepted by a mass amount of people when you’re wrong.

I was on a television show. Most of my fan base is not gay men. It’s 20- to, I think, 38-year-old women from the Midwest. I don’t make music for one group of people. I don’t want to make music for just Black people, for white people, or for gay people, for straight people. I make music for people to listen to and feel better.

MTV News: Do you think the autonomy and command over your image and musical direction is an issue that queer artists of color, queer artists, artists in general are, face regularly?

Vincint: Yeah, because people don’t know what to do with us sometimes, but I think the issue is they have to do something with us to fit some kind of mold. When, if you look around in the world that we’re in today, there is no guide to making a pop star or making someone successful. There’s so many routes to doing it. They just have the platform to literally make someone great, if they just understood that you just have to let them be themselves. It works out, like what I’m doing on my own works out. And so I think many people get into the fold of thinking that they have to change. And if they don’t change then they’re never going to be as successful as an Ariana Grande or a Taylor Swift. And also that’s a whole different machine in and of itself.

MTV News: That reminds me of the story you told about when you were an undergrad at Berklee and it was your RA who was encouraging you to do whatever the hell you wanted to — which then reminded me of Tyler, the Creator’s Grammys press-room speech. He felt that being placed in an urban category is the new N-word.

Vincint: You’re not wrong. We were talking about this last night. If I were to win a Grammy, they would call it urban pop. And it’s like, seriously, no, it’s pop. But we’re trying to change it. Whenever anyone is like, “What do you do?” I sing pop music. I make really good pop music and it’s just pop music. Listen to the music.

MTV News: That’s such a statement of confidence and says so much about your belief in yourself. How did you get to that place?

Vincint: My mother. It’s just fully and completely my mother. She says this phrase that Maya Angelou’s mother said to her: “I raised you, so when you leave this house don’t let anyone raise you. You’ve been raised.” You know what’s right. So just do right and you know what feels right to you. And so I know what I want. So if I make a misstep, it’s because I made that misstep, and I can take ownership of that. So when I want something, I know what I want.