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Conway And The Alchemist Tell Us Why Their Nostalgic ‘Lulu’ EP May Herald The Future Of Rap

The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.

For the last several years, the name Griselda Records has gone from being relatively obscure to eliciting massive hype surrounding each project the Buffalo, New York-based label announces. What makes the accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that this buzz has been sustained over a nearly nonstop album release cycle as the group punches out project after project at a rate even Amazon might envy.

The reason for much of this relentless production is Conway The Machine, who lives up to his name with a ceaseless cadence of musical releases purveying Griselda’s usual gritty brand of luxury street rap. Marketed to a brand of hip-hop head rooted in New York City nostalgia and pop culture paraphernalia, the Griselda sound is what would happen if Wu-Tang Clan and G-Unit tapes, a handful of Attitude-era WWE magazines, and a Naruto box set were thrown in a blender and recorded over 1950s horror movie scores.

It makes sense, then, that the most natural fit for this type of aesthetic is a producer who is partly responsible for its proliferation in the 2000s and early blog rap era: Los Angeles-bred producer The Alchemist. On his latest release, Conway teams up with The Alchemist for Lulu, a seven-song joint EP that may very well foretell the direction for the next five years of rap music, despite being so nostalgic in theory. In truth, Conway and Alchemist use the seven tracks to try to push the genre forward, finding new avenues to convey their grimy style.

From the harrowing “14 Ki’s” to the elegant “The Contract” to the chilly “Gold BBS’s,” Lulu is primarily preoccupied with the inner workings of the drug trade, but eyes it all from the detached lens of Conway’s steady flow and Alchemist’s beat mastery. The pair has been working together for a while, but on Lulu, their chemistry elevates to a higher level — and this isn’t even their final form. That’s what Conway tells Uproxx via phone, with his predilection for recording with anime in the background even seeping into his conversation style.

When asked why now was the best time to release this particular collaboration, both Conway and Alchemist seem nonplussed. “Why not?” they both ask. They praise each other’s skillsets, with Alchemist calling Conway “one of the best rappers out right now” and Conway reciprocating: “When you got producers like Alchemist, you gotta do it.” It’s obvious that the mutual respect bleeds into the music itself, as their shared nostalgia for 1970s Blaxploitation flicks and 1990s wrestling references makes itself evident through vocal samples employed on Lulu as interludes, taking from The Mack and 2000s hood classic Paid In Full.

Cinema is even the inspiration for the album’s title. While Conway jokes that “Lulu” is actually the name of a lion — then a tiger, in deference to my questions about whether the duo has watched the viral Netflix miniseries Tiger King yet (they had not) — astute film buffs will recall that “Lulu” was the nickname of Luis Lujano, the drug dealer from Pain In Full. As Conway puts it, “Lulu’s the plug.”

However, despite all the drug references that permeate Griselda’s oeuvre, Conway wants me to know that he can do much more. He highlights the wrestling and fashion references that make up much of his lyrical catalog and even offers up a serviceable facsimile of the so-called “Migos flow” as proof that “It’s not just the grimy sh*t… What a lot of people don’t realize is I can do any style,” he says. “We can rhyme about bricks or wrestling. I can switch up the flow.” Meanwhile, Alchemist notes the irony in a West Coast-bred producer being so beloved on the opposite coast, despite the two hip-hop hubs’ past rivalries. “I’m just a student of the game,” he says. “I’m blessed to have been around some of the greats — Mobb Deep, Jadakiss, Nas.” He’s quick to add Conway to that canon.

When asked about the ultimate impact they want Lulu — and by extension, all of the Buffalo rhyme unit’s gritty-style, throwback rap music — to have on hip-hop, they demur. Instead, they say, they’re focusing on “rejoicing” in any success the EP garners, then getting back to work. When I relate that mentality to a recent encounter with a group of sidewalk hustlers still on the block despite “safer at home” orders in Los Angeles, Conway rejoins with the perfect response. “Hustlers don’t take days off.” Alchemist echoes: “The game will keep moving.”

Lulu is out now via ALC / Empire. Get it here.

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Here’s How Dramatically Different Kim Kardashian’s House Looked In 2007 Vs. Now

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Drake Gives A Detailed Tour Of His Opulent And Gigantic Toronto Mansion

People are spending a lot of time in their homes right now, which makes it a perfect time for Drake to kick back and appreciate his Toronto mansion. The opulent home is the subject of a new Architectural Digest feature, and in it, Drake and architectural and interior designer Ferris Rafauli offer a look at the sprawling place, which seems like not the worst place to be quarantined.

The publication describes the 50,000-square-foot building as “a marvel of old-world craftsmanship, constructed of limestone, bronze, exotic woods, and other noble materials.” They also highlight features like the “NBA regulation-size indoor basketball court crowned by a 21-square-foot pyramidal skylight,” the “monumental iteration of Lobmeyr’s iconic Metropolitan chandelier” that has “more than 20,000 pieces of hand-cut Swarovski crystal,” and Drake’s bed set-up, which they note weighs “roughly one ton and [costs] more than many people’s entire homes.”

Drake says he takes pride in his home for multiple reasons:

“Because I was building it in my hometown, I wanted the structure to stand firm for 100 years. I wanted it to have a monumental scale and feel. It will be one of the things I leave behind, so it had to be timeless and strong. […] It’s overwhelming high luxury. That message is delivered through the size of the rooms and the materials and details of the floors and the ceilings. I wanted to make sure people can see the work I’ve put in over the years reflected from every vantage point. […] I think the house shows that I have true faith in myself to take on this task when I was just 27 and see it through. I also think the house says that I will forever remain solid in the place I was born.”

Read the full feature here.

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The Weeknd Is A Huge Fan Of ‘The Mask’ And Spent His 30th Birthday With Jim Carrey

In a new interview with Variety, The Weeknd takes time out of talking about his new album, After Hours, to reveal how he spent his 30th birthday hanging out with his childhood hero, Jim Carrey. The Canadian artist credited Carrey’s 1994 comic book comedy film The Mask with inspiring him to become an entertainer as it was his first film. Incidentally, decades later, the two were introduced at a party and turned out to be not only mutual fans of each other’s work, but also neighbors in LA.

The Mask was the first film I ever went to see in a theater — my mom took me when I was 4, and it blew me away,” The Weeknd explains. “I texted him the address of my condo in L.A., and he said, ‘I can literally see your place from my balcony,’ and we got out telescopes and were waving to each other. When I told him about my mom taking me to see The Mask, he knew the theater!”

He continues with an explanation of how Carrey helped him celebrate his birthday. “Anyway, on my [30th] birthday, he called and told me to look out my window, and on his balcony he had these giant red balloons, and he picked me up and we went to breakfast. It was surreal. Jim Carrey was my first inspiration to be any kind of performer, and I went to breakfast with him on my first day of being 30.”

It’s definitely one of those “only in LA” stories, but it’s also pretty fun to think about not just these two popular performers being friends and neighbors, but also the idea of them just having telescopes laying around the house. It only makes sense that an artist who once called himself “Starboy” and the Man On The Moon actor would both share an interest in astronomy.

Read Variety‘s full profile of The Weeknd here.

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King Princess Performs From Her Hawaiian ‘Quarantine Shed’ For NPR’s At-Home Tiny Desk Series

NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series usually brings performers to a confined space to play for an intimately gathered crowd. That isn’t exactly the most acceptable practice during these self-isolating times, so NPR has changed their strategy in recent days, by having artists perform Tiny Desk-style concerts but from their homes a safe distance away. Soccer Mommy launched the series last month, and now the latest artist to perform is King Princess.

Performing from her “quarantine shed” in Hawaii and having “brought as much gear in the carry-on of my plane ride as possible,” she kicked off her three-song set with “Isabel’s Moment” on keyboard, about which she said after, “I love that song. It makes me think of all of the mischief that people are getting up to during this quarantine time. People are texting their exes, they’re texting their ex-best friends, they’re all around on the social media lurking, and I feel like that song is truly an homage to that, that type of quarantine thirstiness we’re all feeling right now, except for me, because I’m really lucky.”

From there, she shifted over to an electric guitar and performed “Prophet” and “Homegirl,” rounding out her set of songs that all came from her 2019 album Cheap Queen.

Watch King Princess’ Tiny Desk performance above.

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New Japan Pro Wrestling Has Canceled Events Through Wrestling Dontaku Because Of COVID-19

New developments in Japan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic have had new impacts on the country’s pro wrestling industry.

Due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and increasing concerns about overwhelming the healthcare system, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency yesterday through May 6. Wrestling companies that had been holding no-fans shows, including All Japan Pro Wrestling and Dragon Gate, have begun to outright cancel events in April and May, and New Japan Pro Wrestling, which started canceling shows at the end of February, has called off its events scheduled through Wrestling Dontaku on May 4.

On its website, NJPW announced the cancelations with the statement:

In response to the continuing Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and in light of state of emergency measures across Japan announced on April 7, New Japan Pro-Wrestling has arrived at the decision to cancel all events that were scheduled up to and including Wrestling Dontaku 2020 on May 3 & 4.

We deeply apologize to fans who were looking forward to these events. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the disease. As eager as everyone at New Japan Pro-Wrestling is to return to the ring as soon as possible, the health and safety of our fans, wrestlers and staff, as well as society at large is our utmost concern.

NJPW also says the company will “make announcements about events scheduled after May 4 upon careful monitoring of this developing situation” and that they are “exploring the possibility of presenting matches without fans in attendance” but “this would only happen if staff and wrestler health and safety can be protected to the highest possible standard.”

The soonest scheduled New Japan show that hasn’t been canceled is on May 12, the beginning of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. With wrestling events on hold, NJPW has been putting talk show programs called the NJPW Together Project featuring its wrestlers on its NJPW World streaming service.

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Ariana Grande Posted A Video Of Her Naturally Curly Hair In An Iconic Ponytail And Everyone Was Shook

Even her fellow celebs were rattled.

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‘Westworld’ Fan Theory Power Rankings: The Music Might Be The Key To The Whole Thing

Westworld dropped bombs (literal and figurative) on fans with this week’s episode, “The Mother of Exiles.”

We finally learned who’s been operating Charlotte Hale’s skinsuit — some Redditors guessed it weeks ago — and we were teased with some more background info on our favorite (fake?) Frenchman, Serac. His sob story about watching Paris go boom felt real, but is it? We’re just not sure.

In fact, we’re not sure about a lot of things on this show which is why we’re once again relying on the terrifyingly astute minds of Reddit to help us theorize what’s in store with just four episodes left this season. They’ve got things right before, so if you want to avoid potential spoilers, now’s the time to make a graceful exit.

1. Ramin Djawdi Is The Key
Game of Thrones fans already know the power of composer Ramin Djawdi. The man is behind some of the most iconic scores, from the show’s opening theme to the dread-filled “Rains of Castamere.” But Djawdi does more than consistently serve up straight bangers. His melodies and compositions often hint at things to come. They contain entire character arcs in just a handful of repetitive notes, and some Redditors are starting to notice just how useful these episode scores can be in predicting connections and outcomes. A careful re-watch reveals that Djawdi used the same background music when we first see Dolores swimming in the pool with Hale’s intro earlier this season. The shared sound may have alluded to the two hosts’ shared identity – we now know Dolores planted a copy of herself in Hale’s body.

Honestly, we should’ve known that Westworld wouldn’t hire someone as masterfully talented as Djawdi without using him to f*ck with us all a bit, but it’s now confirmed. We need to be paying more attention to the background noise.

Dig into Djawdi’s spoilery role here.


2. Dolores’ Big Mistake
Speaking of Halores, the episode’s biggest twist was the discovery that Dolores is 100% that b*tch. (The b*tch we’re referring to here is, of course, Charlotte Hale.) We can’t fault Dolores for stanning herself but should we be worried that her intense distrust of literally everyone but herself might lead to her ultimate downfall? Yes, yes we should. For one thing, how like Westworld to turn a character’s own nature against her as it seems Hale is slowly beginning to do, but Reddit has also pointed out that creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have already warned us about the consequences of this “nature vs. nurture” theme. Nolan hinted that Halores might be integrating some key parts of Hale’s psyche into her own consciousness, hence the bizarre behavior she’s been exhibiting, behavior that should really worry Dolores. If Halores turns against her maker, she might become the biggest threat to the character – she knows her plans, she knows how she thinks, she knows some of her deepest fears, etc.

It’s entirely possible that Dolores, in being careful to assure the success of her plan, literally created her own demise.

Read the tea here and here.


3. It’s All A Test
This episode had some of us sympathizing with Serac – the probable holographic Rehoboam lackey. Look, if your hometown happened to be Paris, home of the baguette, and you watched someone nuke the hell out of it when you were just a child, you’d have some issues too. Serac was all up in his feels while sharing his past with Maeve but even the news that he’d witnessed a mass murder as a pre-teen felt a little, well, fake. In fact, some Redditors think Maeve and Serac’s storylines are still happening in a simulation, and that Maeve’s mission this episode was all just a test put to her by Rehoboam to see how she’d react – and to gather more intel on Dolores. Did Serac really survive that explosion, or is his just another A.I. built from the memories of the real Serac? Why did the sequences with Maeve witnessing a man’s murder, then stumbling into a Yakuza distillery, feel so disjointed? Why would Dolores choose Musashi as a host for her pearl? Rehoboam, from studying Maeve, might know of their connection and look to exploit it but that seems a random bit of knowledge for Dolores to have, and then act upon.

Warning: Reading this thread will make your head explode.


4. Always A Step Behind
Bernard spent this episode stumbling around in search of a purpose. He’s clearly intent on stopping Dolores from enacting her final plan – and on annoying poor Stubbs who can’t even off himself to escape the man’s constant melodramatics. Interestingly enough though, Reddit has pointed out that the latest interaction between the two enemies might foreshadow an eventual team-up. Right now, Bernard is operating under the assumption that Dolores intends to subjugate humanity based on what she’s told him, ideas she’s planted in his mind. Ideas are powerful things, and we see this belief fuel Bernard’s thinking. He guesses she’s already killed Liam. He thinks Caleb might be a host. He expects Dolores to dispose of humans once she has no need of them, but maybe Dolores has evolved beyond that? She’s enlisting Caleb’s help. She seems determined to free them both from their loops. Meanwhile, Bernard is still reprogramming Stubbs to suit his own needs and constantly assessing his tech to make sure he hasn’t been compromised. Perhaps Bernard will come to realize Dolores isn’t the monster he believed her to be and they’ll join forces.

Support this friendship by clicking here.


5. The Matrix
Of course, now that we know what happened to Paris, is it really that much of a stretch to assume that was just the beginning of this apocalyptic future? Maybe it’s bleak, but this Reddit theory that supposes most of humanity was killed in bombings like the one Serac modeled for Maeve, and that the rich are trying to find ways to import their consciousness into host bodies feels just dark enough to align with the themes of this show.

Resistance is futile. Just read the thread.


6. Six Degrees Of Dunder Mifflin
Theory or fact, you decide, but we can’t help but notice the parallels between this week’s episode of Westworld and a couple of iconic Office scenes. It looks like NoJoy are Dundies, just like the rest of us.

ScrantonWorld is real.

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‘The Purge’ Siren Was Accidentally Used To Signal A Quarantine Curfew In A Louisiana City

Back in 2013, a little horror movie called The Purge spawned an absurdly successful franchise that includes four feature films and a two-season USA Network TV show. Currently, Purge-overlord/producer Jason Blum is hammering out pre-production details for the (supposed) final movie, The Forever Purge, while social distancing in Santa Monica, but The Purge is inadvertently doing the real-life scares thing in Crawley, Louisiana, where police accidentally used the movie’s infamous siren to launch a 9:00pm quarantine curfew. Yikes.

Residents are already hunkering down over the pandemic, so this must have been an unsettling experience. Here’s footage from local ABC affiliate KATC.

Yup, that’s definitely a familiar sound, and you can hear it in this The Purge trailer.

People definitely complained, and understandably so. Crowley Police Chief Jimmy Broussard subsequently explained that he wasn’t aware of this signal’s cinematic resemblance. Acadia Parish Sheriff K.P. Gibson also issued a statement:

“Last night a ‘Purge Siren’ was utilized by the Crowley Police Department as part of their starting curfew. We have received numerous complaints with the belief that our agency was involved in this process. We were not involved in the use of the ‘Purge Siren’ and will not utilize any type of siren for this purpose.”

Fortunately, there was no “your government thanks you for your participation” that followed the siren, as with the Universal Pictures movies. Still, it’s not a great look — using the noise that’s used to signal the franchise’s legalization of all crime for 12 hours — for rattled people at home to behold. Stay safe out there, folks.

(Via KATC, Variety & Hollywood Reporter)

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Charli XCX Shares A Preview Of Her First Home-Recorded Quarantine Song, ‘Forever’

As the coronavirus-related quarantine persists, pop singer Charli XCX is finding ways to stay creatively motivated. The singer first began sharing daily journals that detailed her state of mind in isolation. Later, Charli hosted daily livestream sessions with other musicians like Clairo and Diplo. Now, Charli has revealed another project in the works. The singer is collaborating with fans and using all the tools she has at home to create new music.

Though her announcement was only just made recently, Charli has already offered snippets of one of her first tracks. She shared multiple clips of “Forever” yesterday, and true to her word, she is collaborating with fans, as she seemed to change the song’s outro based on a suggestion she received.

On an exclusive Zoom call with 1,000 fans Monday, Charli detailed the upcoming album. Titled How I’m Feeling Now, Charli said the record will be made entirely from her home: “The idea of the album is that it’s gonna be DIY and very in with the times we’re in. I’m basically going to making it live from scratch. There are a couple of ideas in the works, but I’m starting with nothing.” The singer followed-up her announcement by posting an instrumental song she has been working on. Now, Charli has added a vocal track and shared her creation with fans.

Listen to snippets of “Forever” above.

How I’m Feeling Now is out 5/15. Watch the countdown here.

Charli XCX is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.