Tory Lanez’s Claims Of Colorism On Set Are Untrue According To Directors: Report

Tory Lanez has been the center controversy over the last few days after a video surfaced that showed him standing against colorism. The clip shows Lanez on the set  Nafe Smallz’s “Good Love,” a track where he lends his vocals. In the scene, Lanez shares space with a dark-skinned model until someone asks her to step out so that she can be replaced with a lighter-skinned model. Lanez calls a time-out before bringing the original model back in. 

As the video circulated throughout social media, the response was divided. Some people applauded Lanez for acknowledging colorism while others suggested that it was a staged act. Lanez received a bit backlash following his Ayesha Curry trade joke, and some fans felt as if this was his way making up for it. However, Lanez put those rumors to rest when he took to his Instagram Story and shared that he wasn’t faking or staging anything. 

“The internet has a funny way tryna make the light f truthful shit. If this was a publicity stunt, why would I be doing it for someone else’s music video,” Lanez said. “Mind y’all this video shoot happened 3 months ago and a behind the scenes camera man DM’s it to me the other day,” he continued. “All parties that were involved know exactly what happened in the 30 minutes that I was at the shoot. Whether or not they wanna be truthful.”

That was to be the end the conversation, but TMZ caught up with one-half the duo directors the music video and he wasn’t happy about the suggestion that he favored one model over the other. Capone Capone x Giuse told the publication that they don’t discriminate when it comes to featuring black women with darker skin, especially because they’re heavily involved in the Afrobeats scene and most their work features women with dark complexions. Capone was adamant that no one on his team called for the women to be traded out, noting that most the people on set during that particular scene were from Lanez’s crew.

Nicki Minaj Clears Up Rumors Regarding Blac Chyna & MEGATRON

Every since Nicki Minaj teased “Megatron,” fans have been impatiently waiting for her to drop new music. “My name is #Megatron,” Minaj tweeted on Monday. “What’s your #TronName? I’ll shout out some my faves on #QueenRadio this Friday.” The Barbz swarmed her with their new names, all fitted to help increase the hype around her next single. Days ago, Minaj also shared behind-the-scenes clips and images her next music video—and things looked as if they were getting a little steamy.

One series photos showed the rapper in a red room with a man as they were filming a sexually-charged scene. Matching with the red light theme those photos was Blac Chyna who, on Monday, dropped a few images herself on a similar looking set and captioned one photo with the word “Megatron.” This left many fans to wonder whether or not Chyna had linked with Minaj for the video, but before the rumors spun too far out control, Minaj made it clear that her video would roll on sans Chyna.

“Chyna isn’t in the MEGATRON video,” Minaj wrote on Instagram. “She was just showing love, which I greatly appreciate. Congrats on the new show mama!” The rapper sent out kissing emojis before ending her message by saying she may have Chyna as a guest on Queen Radio this Friday.

The Album Rollout Is Shrinking

Do you remember the days waiting months for your favorite artist’s newest record? Do you remember the build up? What about waiting for their newest music video to debut on MTV, or first hearing their singles on the radio? Those days are long gone. Brevity has permeated throughout the music industry in a way that, for the most part, has made these archaic methods album promotion inefficient. In response, artists have turned to spontaneity, oversaturation, and snippets. You’ve had to have noticed; it’d be impossible not to, but do you realize how we got here, or where exactly we are?

“Hello everyone. Well, the new album is finished, and it’s coming out in 10 days; we’ve called it In Rainbows.” That was all the warning Radiohead would give before the release their 2007 album, In Rainbows and, in turn,help redirect album promotion for the next decade. They ignored making the traditional rounds on TV, radio, and print, instead, opting only for the internet. They delivered the succinct announcement in a blog post; nothing more, nothing less. This wouldn’t be the only unusual aspect to their release; they also sold the album with a “pay what you want” model. This allowed users to get the album for whatever price they’d like and was intended to compete with the unstoppable force that was music piracy. In a sense, this model predicted streaming services but, at the time, it was considered an acceptance defeat in the battle against piracy and a devaluation music.

The Album Rollout Is Shrinking

Beyonce performing during the 59th Grammy Awards, 2017 – Christopher Polk/Getty s 

Beyoncé took brevity and made it her mantra with the way she released her eponymous fifth album. At one instant, there was nothing, then next, there was an entire Beyoncé album for fans to consume. The album hit iTunes in the wee hours the morning on December 13th, 2013; a complete surprise to fans and critics alike. Excluding leaks, this was virtually unheard . Beyoncé sold over 800,000 digital copies in its first three days after hitting streaming services.Its success is pro that spending months going through a circuit promotion is no longer necessary for big artists.

Artists took note. From 2013 on, releasing albums with little to no warning has almost become the norm. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Blonde, and more all used this strategy to surprising success. The influence concision didn’t end with just announcements and releases; the way with which artists promote their album in between was bound to change as well.

Snippets are the pinnacle brevity. Artists now distribute– although sometimes leaked unintentionally– brief bite-sized rations a song to their fans; in effect, leaving them starved, begging for more like Oliver Twist until the full track is released. This model can be traced back to iTunes previews, but it truly gained steam as a marketing force during the height the SoundCloud era with artists like Playboi CartiLil Uzi Vert and more. It’s further bolstered by the format platforms such as Instagram and Twitter which limit users content to one-minute videos or character controlled tweets.

The Album Rollout Is Shrinking

Lil Nas X performing at 2019 Stagecoach Festival – Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty s

For a time, Playboi Carti’s career was, in essence, a personified song snippet. He existed as an enigmatic figure behind the curtain Soundcloud loosies. No one could predict the power snippets; his ficial mixtape was so far f, it was considered mythical. Now, snippets have grown into something more. They have become one the most effective ways marketing, not just an album, but even a single. Look to the number one song in the country right now, “Old Town Road.” This song found its virality after fans on TikTok used a snippet the track as the basis the “Yeehaw Challenge” way back in December 2018. Yes, the number one song in the country, rode its way to the top f the power a (viral) snippet.

All these moments have led us here, but where is here? To find out, look no further than Tyler, The Creator’s Igor, and it’s battle for the top spot againstDJ Khaled’s Father Asahd. Tyler knows exactly where we are; in fact, Tyler has such a tight grip on marketing an album in 2019, that Igor won the fight against Father Asahd, landing the number one spot on the Billboard charts. Igor dropped on May, 17th, but we only have to turn back seventeen days, to May 1st to find the inflection point, where Tyler, yes literally transmogrified into another character, but also began promoting his album. Igor was ficially announced on May 6th, in an even more curt fashion than In Rainbows, with a post reading simply, “Igor – 5/17.” The announcement gave fans (almost) the same number days to prepare for the album. Throughout the next eleven days, Tyler would abandon singles altogether, instead opting for snippets (all which garnered at least two million views on Instagram) to promote the album. The first ficial single, “Earfquake” was only released after the album was available.

The Album Rollout Is Shrinking

DJ Khaled and his son Asahd Khaled at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards – Jamie McCarthy/Getty s

Compare Tyler’s strategy to that DJ Khaled. You’ll have to dig last year’s calendar out the trash (ironically where you’ll find Father Asahd as well)  and turn back to March 2018 to find the announcement for Father Asahd. While turning back, take note what you find in between. Over the course thirteen months, Khaled released five singles for his album, teased an endless number collaborations and even released a trailer for the album. This all sounds great, and even just ten years ago, it would likely have been enough to earn him the number one spot regardless how terrible the project is; however, spontaneity garners excitement in 2019, snippets garner excitement in 2019, and most importantly, brevity garners excitement in 2019. Khaled failed where Tyler succeeded. Where Tyler transformed into Igor, Khaled transformed into an old man yelling at a cloud.

It’d be impossible to determine exactly why the trend towards concision refuses to slow down, but it’s undeniably had its impact on the music industry. Perhaps it’s a shorting attention span worldwide, or the allure refreshing ways to engage with music; regardless, the music industry, as we know it today, exists within a zeitgeist dominated by brevity.

Ciara Shuts Down Fan Who Criticized Her For Officiating Gay Wedding In Music Video

Celebrities are showing their support for the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month, but Ciara‘s inclusion in a music video rubbed a few fans the wrong way. Taylor Swift recently released the star-studded visual to her single “You Need To Calm Down,” a video that includes Ciara ficiating a wedding between actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson (from Modern Family) and lawyer Justin Mikita. In real life, the couple were married back in 2013.

Ciara shared a clip the wedding scene on her Instagram page with the caption, “Wedding is Lit #Equality #YNTCDmusicvideo.” A fan thought that the singer was doing her religion a disservice by supporting gay marriage as Ciara has been vocal about her Christian beliefs. “Ciara. You shouldn’t be doing this,” the person wrote. “We respect u too much, Being at a gay wedding is one thing and joining them together is even more a greater sin. We love you but this is wrong.”

The Beauty Marks singer usually doesn’t respond to critical comments, but she made time to reply in a way that some called a classy clapback. “Firstly, Christians don’t judge,” she wrote. “Secondly, #YouNeedToCalmDown.” 

Tory Lanez Denies Colorism Publicity Stunt After Model Accuses Him Of Staging Video

Tory Lanez is defending himself after being accused of staging a video in which he took a stand against colorism. The outspoken artist has denied participating in a publicity stunt in response to allegations made by the model in the footage.

“this is the one and only time ima address this,” Lanez wrote on Instagram. “i went out of my way to bring awareness to an important topic of discussion that never gets addressed. the internet has a funny way of tryna take the light off of truthful shit . IF this was a publicity stunt, why would i be doing it for someone elses music video? why wouldnt i have paid the females involved? And if I did pick both girls then how come there’s only shots of me with the ebony model and not the other one ?”

He continued, “Mind y’all this video shoot happened 3 months ago and a behind the scenes camera man DM’d it to me the other day.. All parties that were involved know exactly what happened in the 30 minutes that I was at the shoot . Whether or not they wanna be truth or not . Much love .”

Tory Lanez Denies Colorism Publicity Stunt After Model Accuses Him Of Staging Video

In the video, Lanez stops a darker skinned model from being switched for one with lighter skin. His statement was issued Monday (June 17) after the model in the clip, who goes by @sultryshen on Instagram, claimed he was lying.

“Tory asked for both me and the girl to do solo shots,” she said, according to The Shade Room. “When it was her turn he said cut the video to make it appear as if it had something to do with race. I know the directors very well and they made me the lead girl in that video and many others.”

She added, “He actually never talked to me on that set and kept telling her how beautiful she was.”

View this post on Instagram

TSR Staff: Thembi! @ThembiTV_ _____________________________________ Earlier today we posted a video of #ToryLanez celebrating black women of all shades. In his post he spoke about how colorism continues to happen in the music industry, and that he had to stop his director from being a colorist. ____________________________________ Tory has since gained a lot of applause and appreciation for his said actions. On the other hand, the model Tory claims to defend claims that things did not go down the way he explained. ____________________________________ According to the model, “Tory asked for both me and the girl to do solo shots. When it was her turn he said cut the video to make it appear as if it had something to do with race.” She adds, “I know the directors very well and they made me the lead girl in that video and many others.” _____________________________________ As for the colorism claims, sis claims that “He actually never talked to me on that set and kept telling her how beautiful she was.” This comes on the heels of Tory being dragged for jokingly trying to ‘trade’ #AyeshaCurry for a Caucasian girl with a mean twerk! _____________________________________ We’re here for #Tory standing up for what is right, however, sis alleges that it didn’t quite go down like that. Thoughts, #Roommates?

A post shared by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on

However, Mia Rothwell — the other model in the video — has publicly backed Lanez’s version of the events. In a lengthy Instagram post, she refutes any notion it was staged.

“I’m not sure where people are going saying it was staged because it wasn’t,” she wrote. “They are talking the most amount of shit.”

Check out her entire explanation below.

Tory Lanez Slams Claims He Staged Colorism Incident During Video Shoot

Tory Lanez took to Instagram recently where he called out the issue colorism in hip-hop after an alleged incident happened on set the video Nafe Smallz “Good Love.” In the clip he posted, he called for a time out in the middle  shooting when the director allegedly tried to swap out a brown-skinned model for a light skin model. Colorism has been an issue in hip-hop but as it turns out, that may have not been the case on set. The model who was swapped, Sultry Shen, called out Tory, claiming the whole thing was staged. The other model, Alisia Dixon, also said that Tory staged the scenario but now, Tory is refuting those claims.

Tory seems to be doubling down on the alleged incident, even with people doubting him. The rapper issued a statement on his Instagram Story and denied that it was a publicity stunt, although he admitted that he “went out my way” to address the topic. 

“The internet has a funny way tryna make the light f truthful shit. If this was a publicity stunt, why would I be doing it for someone else’s music video,” he said. “Mind y’all this video shoot happened 3 months ago and a behind the scenes camera man DM’s it to me the other day,” he continued. “All parties that were involved know exactly what happened in the 30 minutes that I was at the shoot. Whether or not they wanna be truthful.” 

Nicki Minaj Teases "Megatron" Video With Sexy BTS Footage

Friday cannot come soon enough. Nicki Minaj is making her return to the rap game with a brand new single and Lil Nas X will be attempting to prove he’s not a one-hit-wonder with his new EP. Being the self-proclaimed Queen, Nicki has got everybody’s attention with what she’s about to drop. Last year, she hit us with “Chun-Li” and “Barbie Tingz” before unleashing her album. Many people believe that she could be beginning her next album rollout right now with all the teases she’s been setting for “MEGATRON.”

Scheduled to arrive this Friday, Nicki Minaj returned from a social media hiatus to throw her fans into a frenzy, simply tweeting out the word “MEGATRON” before clarifying a release date. Today, she’s letting us go behind-the-scenes on her music video shoot, showing herself walking slowly towards a green Lamborghini with three dancers preparing to get down and dirty. The director gives one the dancers tips on where she should be situated within the frame while Minaj gets her sultry strut on. 

There is still not that much known about the new single. With the return Queen Radio also taking place on June 21, it’s likely that “MEGATRON” will be premiered on Nicki’s radio show. Tune in on Friday to see what all the hype is about.

Apple Music Secures Trademark Filing in Canada for Its 'Up Next' Documentary Series

Several years ago, Apple Music officially unveiled a ‘now-forgotten’ mini-documentary series.

In an effort to place the spotlight on its then-growing indie music catalog, the monthly series – dubbed Up Next – would focus on up-and-coming artists.

The first Up Next series placed the spotlight on both the professional and personal upbringing of Ricardo Valdez Valentine, better known as 6LACK.  His Up Next biography reads,

Considering he made his recording debut at the age of four, you could say that 6LACK – pronounced “black” – was born to do this.  The singer/rapper transcended the Atlanta underground with last year’s “PRBLMS”, a bold showcase of late-night, R&B-inflected hip-hop.

“The unfiltered personal narratives of his full-length debut, FREE 6LACK, proved that “PRBLMS” was just the beginning.  Explore 6LACK’s blossoming catalog, watch his incredible live performance in Atlanta, and get to know him through our exclusive documentary and in-depth interview with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe.

Promoting the series on Twitter, Apple Music wrote,

Introducing #UpNext. Music’s Next Generation.  A new artist every month.  Up first, @6LACK. http://apple.co/UpNext

Yet, the documentary soon shifted to only feature mainstream artists on Beats 1 Radio.

Now, a new filing shows Apple Music has plans to seemingly ‘resurrect’ the indie-centered documentary series.

Is ‘Up Next’ up next?

Late last week, the Hong Kong Patent and Trademark Office granted the Cupertino company two design patents for Apple Store shelving.  This comes several weeks after the Canadian Trademark Office granted the company a registered trademark for Up Next – TMA1023538.

Filed in Canada under the Nice Classification System, Apple Music Nice Classes 38 and 41 read,

Nice Class 38 – Streaming and broadcasting of live and pre-recorded music performances, music videos, music and interviews featuring musical artists the Internet, streaming and broadcasting of audio and content video the Internet in the fields of news, sport, comedy, namely live comedy shows, comedic musical performances and comedy movies, drama, namely live dramatic performances and audio recordings of dramatic performances, music, music videos, television shows, and radio and television programming featuring musical artists, transmission and delivery of audio and video content namely, radio broadcasting services, and audio-on-demand transmission services featuring musical artists.

“Nice Class 41 – Entertainment services in the nature of development, creation, production, and distribution of musical artist video documentary series, entertainment services, namely providing music, interviews, live music performances, and videos featuring musical artists, entertainment services, namely, a musical artist video documentary program series featuring downloadable music, live music performances, interviews and music playlists distributed websites and computer applications across multiple forms of transmission media namely, wireless computer and broadband networks, local area networks, wide area networks, global computer networks, and the Internet.

Apple Music had first filed its Up Next trademark in the U.S. on October 21st, 2017.

This prompted Spotify to unveil its own imitation series – Rise.  The U.S. granted Apple the trademark – number 5,604,598 – on November 13th, 2018.

Filed under International Class 38 and 41, the American filing has similar wording to Nice Class 41 in Canada.

“Entertainment services in the nature of development, creation, production, and distribution of musical artist video documentary series, entertainment services, namely providing music, interviews, live music performances, and videos featuring musical artists, entertainment services, namely, a multimedia program series featuring musical artists distributed various platforms across multiple forms of transmission media.

Streaming and broadcasting of performances, documentaries, music, and interviews featuring musical artists, streaming and broadcasting of audio and visual content featuring musical artists; transmission and delivery of audio and visual content featuring musical artists.

So far, Apple has yet to officially comment on the trademark filings in Hong Kong and Canada.  However, based on the copyright wording, expect Apple Music to soon relaunch Up Next around the world.

 


Featured image by Apple Music.

Watch: Tory Lanez Calls Out A Director For Swapping Out A Model For One With Lighter Skin

We’d be lying to ourselves if we said there didn’t still exist a prejudice towards the way black women are represented in the media. Though the past couple years have shown some progression on the matter representation, there still exists a clear bias in the mainstream media, towards the portrayal darker skinned women vs lighter complexioned ones. Though women are all queens, no matter what shape, size or color they are, it’s all a matter balance here, and the scales upsettingly – more ten than not – STILL seem to tip more towards those women with lighter skin, and “whiter” features. And though some may see the injustice occurring right in front their eyes from time to time, and choose to ignore it, Tory Lanez has stepped forward to address the matter directly, putting out an important message for all to hear.

Lanez took to Instagram to share a short clip an incident, whereby he was in the middle shooting what looked like a music video some sort. As Lanez warms up in front the camera, the director proceeds to swap out the beautiful, darker skinned model for a lighter complexioned woman with blond curly hair. Upon seeing the switch, Lanez immediately calls for a time out, though his words are incoherent, he can clearly be seen telling the director to bring back the other model. “You look beautiful by the way,” he assures the second model, as the first is brought back upon Lanez’ request. Posting the clip to Instagram, he captioned it with a long and strong message: “This is an On -Going problem in our community entertainment that needs to stop . As a black man , Sometimes I’m going to joke about the black community just like we all do . BUT WHAT IM NOT GOING TO DO IS ALLOW ANY OF THESE DIRECTORS TO DE-VALUE OUR BLACK WOMEN … countless times I’ve seen directors swap out our women color for women lighter complexion, or women with straighter hair ETC . … IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY AS ARTIST TO STAND UP AND NOT LET THIS HAPPEN .. it’s BEEN time to embrace our woman color #BlackIsBeautiful”

A$AP Ferg Announces Official Release Of His Bike With A Short Video

At the end last month we reported that A$AP Ferg had announced a collaboration with celebrated BMX bike brand, Redline Bikes, which would include an exclusive limited edition bike along with a line original merch. And last night, Ferg took to Instagram to share the news with his followers – along with a short but powerful commercial video featuring Ferg riding through the streets with his mob – that the bike had ficially dropped, and is now available on redlinebicycles.com, as well as on stadiumgoods.com

A$AP Ferg has been a longtime supporter the brand, as his first bike was a Redline. The rapper featured Redline bikes in countless his videos, most notably his music video for his hit “Plain Jane.” “When you think BMX bike in Harlem, you think Redline,” said Ferg, the collaboration. “This collaboration is something I was really involved in and passionate about.”

The new bike’s design aspects, according to Redline, include slack forks, plus-sized tires, 27.5 wheels and disc brakes. Additionally, the bike features style accents like A$AP Ferg x Redline branding as well as a unique Pantone 394 (a bright canary yellow) gloss and matte black details. The RL 275 A$AP Ferg x Redline bike is priced at $799 and is now available online. Redline is hoping that an “organic collaboration” such as this one, will “help propel their] growth and expand brand awareness to a new generation and customer.”

Black Moon Returns With A Music Video After 16 Years, Announces Upcoming Album

Nearly 16 years after releasing their last LP, the Brooklyn hip-hop group has returned to deliver the video for their track “Creep Wit Me.” The song serves as the lead single f their forthcoming reunion album Rise da Moon. The project was produced by Da Beatminerz and will include contributions from Method Man, Smif N Wessun, and Rockness Monsta. 

“If you only knew how good it feels to be doing this for the love. Much respect to hip-hop for having Black Moon in the cypher. It’s been a long time” Buckshot told Complex. “It was so dope working with my crew on this album. Unlike a lot albums today, we recorded the album together in the same studio” Evil Dee continued. “Mr. Walt & I came with our Beatminerz sound (heavy bass and drums) representing that boom bap. Buck & 5 came with the ill rhymes. Mixing the album was so dope. We wanted to bring back it back to the 90’s with our analog/digital mixing process. Rise Of Da Moon represents Black Moon’s legacy to the fullest.””It was so dope working with my crew on this album. Unlike a lot albums today, we recorded the album together in the same studio,” Evil Dee told Complex. “Mr. Walt & I came with our Beatminerz sound (heavy bass and drums) representing that boom bap. Buckshot and 5 ft] came with the ill rhymes. Mixing the album was so dope. We wanted to bring back it back to the ’90s with our analog/digital mixing process. Rise da Moon represents Black Moon’s legacy to the fullest.”

You can now stream “Creep Wit Me’ on all major platforms, and check out the ficial music video below. Rise da Moon is expected to drop this summer.

This New Taylor Swift Song Caused a Spike in GLAAD Donations

Taylor Swift’s new single “You Need To Calm Down” sparked a rise in donations to LGBT organization GLAAD, thanks to an explicit lyrical shout-out.

The new single appeared Friday at midnight.  It’s a catchy tune with some serious shade-throwing at homophobes and social media haters.

Swift has always been quick to call out her detractors in her songs, but now she’s throwing punches for the LGBT community. She urged her fellow Tennesseans to and demand the passage of the Equality Act, but now she has a message for all the haters.

“Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD? (You could be GLAAD),” one lyric in the single proclaims.

Swift herself recently made a very generous donation to GLAAD in honor of Pride Month. She puts homophobic haters on blast several times throughout the single.

“You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace/
And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate/
‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay.”

GLAAD reported a quick jump in donations, with increases expected.  GLAAD started a Facebook fundraiser in celebration of the song’s release.

The iconic pop star shared the inspiration behind her new single in a video shared on Beats1.

“I’ve observed a lot of different people in our society who put so much energy and effort into negativity, and it made me feel like, ‘you need to just calm down,’” Swift stated.  “You’re stressing yourself out. This seems like it’s more about you than that you’re going off about.”

The actual music video for the song will drop on Monday during a Good Morning America show. Swift has promised that there will be plenty for fans to love. The new single is a part of her 18-track Lover album that will release on August 23rd.

Check out the lyrical music video for “You Need To Calm Down” below.

 

"Men In Black: International" Relies On Chemistry Over Quality Storytelling

Warning: Light Spoilers Ahead

Regarded as a safe pair hands in the film world, F. Gary Gray has had a varied career to say the least. Once a prolific music video director that visually transcribed the music Outkast, TLC, Cypress Hill and even Rick Ross into promotional footage, his recent repertoire has seen him swiftly segue from N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton to Fast & Furious 8 without skipping a beat. With that sort versatility in his arsenal, it’s easy to see why those with the keys to the Men In Black franchise felt confident in granting them to his provenly-capable hands.

For anyone that grew up in the 90s, Agent J and Agent K’s hapless interactions and occasional triumphs against dissenting extra-terrestrial’s holds a special kind nostalgia that has ten led to diminishing returns. While the cartoon series that followed its release attained cult status, MIB 2 and MIB 3 have been passable but lacked the same sort magnetism that made the 1997 classic into a worldwide smash.

So, what do you do when you’ve squeezed as much as you can out the beloved odd couple Tommy Lee Jones & Will Smith? You enlist the services a different duo with proven on-screen chemistry for MIB: International.

First aligned for the reinvigorating MCU effort Thor: Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have returned to head up a new breed Men– and Women– In Black with varied results.

"Men In Black: International" Relies On Chemistry Over Quality Storytelling

Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson attend the photocall for “Men in Black” in Paris, France – Pascal Le Segretain/Getty s

Beginning with Hemsworth’s Agent H– a debonair and cocky individual– and Liam Neeson’s High T fending f the onslaught a race known as “The Hive” in Paris, the tone is immediately set and it’s one that invokes the pithy drollness and tongue-in-cheek self-awareness that made the original such a breath fresh air upon its release. From there, we flashback twenty years ago to a young Brooklynite named Molly. Preoccupied with perfecting his impersonation Morris Day’s famous monologue from Purple Rain, the young girl’s parents are soon “neuralized” by MIB agents after an intergalactic interloper makes its way into the home. On the other hand, this chance encounter gives Molly her life-long purpose. After a series false starts, she eventually gets her chance to infiltrate the operation. Granted an opportunity by Emma Thompson’s stern but fair authority figure “O,” the wheels are then set in motion for a collision course between the newly minted Agent M and Hemsworth’s roguish exploits.

It’s at this juncture that Gray and his team took their opportunity to expand on pre-existing Men In Black lore. Complete with the shiny artillery weapons and covertly high tech automobiles that we’re accustomed to, there’s a visual feast that demonstrates the sheer scope the Men In Black’s classified operations.

From their first on-screen encounter in MIB: International, it’s clear that the electric repartee between Thompson and Hemsworth has been transplanted from the MCU with little to no friction and acts as the conductor for near-enough every entertaining moment in the film. In terms the other new additions to the team, seasoned British actor Rafe Spall does a good job serving as the rule-abiding foil to Hemsworth’s rebellious ways while Neeson turns in a fitting if uninspired performance as High T.

Paired together in order to safeguard a visiting dignitary from another planet, Hemsworth and Thompson quickly establish the boundaries their partnership but things soon go awry. From there, the film takes something an abrupt handbrake turn for the franchise by placing a lot emphasis on the idea a “mole” in the organiation.

It’s somewhat lacking in a fleshed-out central antagonist that the two agents must pool their collective wits together in order to thwart in the vein an Edgar The Bug or Serleena. Of all the new aliens that are introduced to the MIB canon, it is Kumail Nanjiani’s “Pawny” that is likely to live on longest in the memory. Utilized for comic relief mostly, he proves to be an effective mediator between the two agents and has no shortage standout moments. Aside from perhaps Rebecca Ferguson’s alien arms dealer Riz, there’s a sense blandness or anonymity to many the aliens that the film introduces while a few err on the wrong side stereotypes in a way that recalls the most ill-judged aspects The Phantom Menace.

Given its title, it should come as no surprise that the film transports audiences to a wide array locations. Between London, New York, Marrakesh, France and Dubai’s Empty Quarter, there’s no shortage scenery to take in. However, the problems lie in the fact that it’s ultimately all it is. Superfluous scenery. There’s no real sense immersion in any these cultures and each action scene could’ve realistically taken place in any these locales. No matter how enthralling Thompson and Hemsworth may be while sharing a frame, there are still fundamental issues that hamper this film and ensure that it’ll always pale in comparison to its beloved predecessor.

"Men In Black: International" Relies On Chemistry Over Quality Storytelling

Kumail Nanjiani, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and director F. Gary Gray – Jeff Spicer/Getty s 

Yes, they’re capable keeping an audience engaged but that doesn’t mean that Gray and his writers should’ve relied on it so heavily in lieu crafting a continually riveting plot or penning jokes that won’t seem hackneyed in just a couple years’ time. But while all these critiques are merited, it is important to note that this is intended as a fun summertime blockbuster after all. To go into MIB: International expecting anything other than frivolous entertainment is to ensure that you’ll leave disappointed, and that goes some way to explaining the overzealously negative critical response that it’s received so far.

While it may not go down in the history books in the vein the first film, its functionality as a vessel for mindless escapism still remains intact. Granted, the original 1997 movie came with a marginally grimier, more subversive charm to it that provided a countercultural appeal on top widespread enjoyment. But just like anything that proves to be a runaway success, these qualities and values that made it such a phenomenon are quickly displaced when meddlesome studio heads and investors stick their oars in.

As a result, MIB: International is a glossier endeavour that is very much in-line with all the major tropes a modern film that’s meant for mass consumption. That said, there are certainly worse ways to evade real life outside the theatre walls for just under two hours and any fan Thompson or Hemsworth will find enough joy to extract from it. As for any plans to expand the franchise from here goes, a sequel that focused on these two would require a far more robust plot and not rely on the actors’ cumulative charisma for most its runtime.

Charli XCX Is Dressed In Nothing But Computer-Generated Pink Ribbon In New Album Cover

English singer, songwriter, music video director, and record executive, Charli XCX, is set to release her self-named album Charli on September 13th, and she’s released the raunchy artwork for said album ahead time. The 26 year-old is not afraid to flash some flesh, and she did just that to promote her new project, taking to Instagram to reveal the cover to her fans on Thursday.

The image saw her go completely naked, with her X-rated bits covered up with a pink metal ribbon, added in post-production – not unlike the same graphic illusion on her and Lizzo’s faces for the artwork for the single they released last month, “Blame It On Your Love.” In a video obtained from Daily Mail, the “Boys” singer is seen from behind the scenes, as she shoots the cover work, wearing nothing but flesh coloured panties.

In her caption, Charli reveals her excitement for the album release, as well as going into detail about how personal this album is to her, and how “proud” she is the outcome, as well as the gratitude she has for those who featured on it, including: HAIM, Lizzo, Big Freedia, and CupcakKe. “Angels, I am so so so happy to announce that my new album, Charli is out September 13th. You can pre-order it now and I will also be going on tour to perform it for you.” She continues, “this album is my most personal, which is why I decided to call it by my name. I’ve put as many my emotions, my thoughts, my feelings and my experiences with relationships into these 15 songs and I am so proud them.”

Nicki Minaj Shares Release Date For "Megatron" In Busty Bodysuit

Last year, Nicki Minaj returned from her social media hiatus by announcing her Queen album in the summer. That work was released nearly one year ago and while many her haters had counted her out, she’s ready to give things one last shot. In the last couple years, the star has been embroiled in a feud against Cardi B. Some would say that Nicki isn’t used to having such harsh competition since she’s been the only female rapper at her level for so long. However, her diehard fans would remind you that for all these years, she’s competed against the best the best regardless their gender. Yesterday, the Queen Barb cryptically tweeted out the word “MEGATRON” for her first upload in over two months. Now, she’s letting us know when we can expect it to drop.

Nobody really knows what “Megatron” is yet. It could be a single, a full album, a new mixtape, or something else altogether. Whatever she’s planning for us, Nicki knows that it will be ready by June 21. Sharing a couple new photos from what appears to be a music video shoot, Minaj hashtagged “Megatron” before slipping the release date into her caption. She wears a skintight bodysuit in the images, showing f her ample cleavage and straddling a dancer on set. It looks like whatever “Megatron” is, it will be sexy.

The Queen is ficially back. Did you miss her?