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Kanye West's dark, interactive 'Black Skinhead' video finally arrives

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A few weeks ago, an unfinished version of Kanye West’s video for “Black Skinhead” hit the Internet, and nobody knew what to think. Was it real? Was it incomplete? It turned out the answers to those questions were “Yes” and “Yes.”

Having finally gotten over the heartbreak of the leak, West has now pulled back the curtain on the finished version of “Black Skinhead.” The video was directed by Nick Knight (the British fashion photographer who also directed Lady Gaga’s unicorn-centric “Born This Way” clip and who also helmed that “New Slaves” video that was projected onto the sides of buildings), and it is designed to be a fully interactive experience — you can speed it up, slow it down, and capture images from it, which West hopes leads to a proliferation of images from the video on all Facebook pages everywhere.

Perhaps the most impressive element of the “Black Skinhead” experience is the middle-fingered cursor, which was an element my freshman year roommate added to his then-state-of-the-art computer to make it more “edgy.” (Did that overhaul also include a ton of quotes from the South Park movie? You better believe it did.)

Anyway, you can experience the madness of “Black Skinhead” (which, admittedly, looks pretty awesome) over at Kanye West’s official site. It’s impressive, though honestly it’s not nearly as good a promotional clip for “Black Skinhead” as the trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street. Could the “Black Skinhead” video be the thing that gives Yeezus a second life? And now that everybody has spent some time with it, what’s the final verdict? Sound off in the comments.

(Or, if you’d rather debate something else, just consider Kanye’s latest proposition. Never change, Kanye.)

Read More on EW.com:
Album Review: Kanye West, Yeezus
Kanye West scuffles with paparazzi at LAX
Kanye West’s pricey clothing line sells out, crashes site
Album sales: Wale tops chart, Kanye West sees ‘Yeezus’ fall big
Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’ gets a single after all: ‘Black Skinhead’ heading to radio

Jay-Z wins at everything: His new album tops album charts, breaks Spotify records

Jay-Z’s got a lot of reasons to smile this week.

First off, he’s married to Beyoncé. Still! But more immediately, the man’s latest effort, Magna Carta Holy Grail, is killing it commercially: Soundscan reports that the album moved a blockbuster 527,000 copies in its first week, giving Jay the 13th No. 1 album of his career.

That number exceeds the high-profile bows of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (339,000 its first week out), and Kanye West’s Yeezus (327,000). It’s still, however, lower than the year’s biggest debut, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, which notched 968,000.

READ FULL STORY

Jay-Z shot a video at a Manhattan art gallery today, and everyone wanted to be involved

What does Pace Gallery, Lena Dunham’s mom, and Twitter all have in common?

They were all obsessed with Jay-Z this afternoon, after the rapper surprise showed up to Pace Gallery in Manhattan, where Vines of Jay-Z dancing amongst museum-goers –presumable to be turned into some kind of music video –  quickly dominated social feeds. Take that, Tilda Swinton!

Admittance to watch Jay-Z lip-sync/performance art his new track off Magna Carta Holy Grail, “Picasso Baby,” required a golden ticket of sorts, an invite-only white piece of paper that was emailed to lucky members of the art, media and – according to at least one person EW spoke with outside – even the 40/40 club membership list yesterday. The paper, after check-in in another building, allowed a lucky few into the gallery to pretend to party with Jay-Z.

Outside the gallery, which, around 4:00 local time this afternoon was populated with over 100 fans attempting in vain to get inside the guarded big white doors, EW caught up with a few of the dancers/performers who’d been hired as background, and even they didn’t find out that it was a Jay-Z video until earlier that day. “It was all hidden,” explained Nicole Page, one in a group of six performers that were waiting in the 90-degree weather for their call time. “We were told it was for a Mark Romanek [who directed Jay-Z's "99 Problems"] video. We don’t know anything except what the time frame is. …We’ve been here since this morning.”

For Manhattanites who instantly booked it downtown upon hearing of the Jay-Z sightings, the mixed reviews of Magna Carta (Read EW’s review) had no place in this line, full of people who were eager to profess that the rapper’s 12th studio album was among his best yet. “F—ing awesome!” one line member yelled to EW. Aaron Cho, a twenty-something fan who was hopeful to get a glimpse of his idol, also couldn’t help but gush: “[I] love it, especially “Picasso Baby.” I work in the art industry and I love that Jay-Z is talking about art. It’s really related to the music world as well. ‘I want to be a billionaire’ It sounds greedy but it’s awesome at the same time.”

For fan Sal Emelin, who has been to five Jay-Z concerts, even the importance of a grad school final couldn’t slow down his attempt to rush to the gallery. “[Magna Carta Holy Grail is] one of his best albums. I expected it to be a so-so album, due to him not really promoting [it],” he explained. “…It’ll take time for people to really listen to it and let it settle in their minds. History will show it to be one of Jay-Z’s top albums.”

Alas, even great spin like that doesn’t immediately get you inside.

Album sales: J. Cole rises to No. 1, outsells Kanye West

When no one was watching, J. Cole stole the throne: The Roc Nation rapper’s Born Sinner has not only crept up to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, but it’s also outselling Kanye West’s Yeezus.

J. Cole’s latest first charted three weeks ago, where it debuted at No. 2 behind West. But Sinnger has since taken advantage of a relatively slow month in music (remember, Wale was the last week’s No. 1) and become the rare album to top the chart without debuting there. As Soundscan reports, the album sold 58,000 copies in the last frame, which Billboard points out is “the sixth-smallest sales week for the top-selling album in the SoundScan era.” Still, that brings its total sales to 439,000, while Yeezus – which debuted the same day and currently sits at No. 3 — has only mustered 431,000 in sales to date.

Meanwhile, stuck in the middle of all this is Wale’s The Gifted, which fell from the top spot to No. 2, with 50,000. Of course, all these rappers will have to clear the way for Jay-Z, whose Magna Carta Holy Grail will register next week. Current projections have that landing in the 350-400,000 range, even though everyone knows it’s already platinum anyway.

M.I.A. finds more controversy, this time with her label over her documentary -- watch the trailer here

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Musically, M.I.A. has lived up to her name — at least as it pertains to her forever-delayed new album Matangi.

The album has been bumped from a number of planned release dates, and at the moment it doesn’t have a place on the calendar. Which is strange, especially considering she’s a critically-beloved artist who had two major culture-jamming singles in “Paper Planes” and “Bad Girls.”

But it seems as though the delay may be because she’s on the outs with her label, Roc Nation (who, according to M.I.A., do not approve of positive jams). Along with Matangi, M.I.A. has been working on a documentary about her life with director Steve Loveridge.

The doc has been similarly delayed, and over the weekend Loveridge put up a five minute teaser for the flick on his Tumblr. YouTube pulled the video based on a copyright claim that came from the label; shortly thereafter, Loveridge published this vividly worded e-mail exchange between himself and a representative from Roc Nation.

The teaser was re-uploaded to Vimeo, and you can watch it below.  READ FULL STORY

Willow Smith returns with 'Summer Fling' video: Watch it here

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While father Will and brother Jaden were off hanging with giant bird creatures and making choices about fear, Willow Smith got back to the business of her supposedly on-hiatus singing career.

Even though she’s only 12 years old and has yet to put out an album, Smith has already one legitimate hit (2010′s “Whip My Hair,” which peaked at no. 11 on the Hot 100) and several lesser singles (“21st Century Girl,” the Nicki Minaj-featuring “Fireball,” “I Am Me”).

Now, after dipping her toe in again with January’s “Sugar and Spice,”  she’s back with “Summer Fling.” The track, released under the name Melodic Chaotic (a duo consisting of Smith and a producer named MVSIC), is all Drake vibes and robo-bleats, and the video is full of questionable hair choices and trampolines. Watch it below.  READ FULL STORY

Jay-Z's 'Magna Carta Holy Grail': What do you think?

As noted, Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail has been unleashed on Samsung users, and already went platinum before anybody heard a single note.

Of course, because we live in the future, the album was fully available to non-Samsung users moments after the clock struck midnight. There will be a full, in-depth review of Magna Carta Holy Grail on the Music Mix and in next week’s issue of the magazine, but upon first listen, the thing that really jumps out is how impeccable the production sounds. Timbaland, Pharrell, and Swizz Beatz have all brought their individual A games, and it helps prop up some lyrical moments that occasionally feel phoned in (a judgment levied against Jigga over his last few releases).

But what do you think of Magna Carta Holy Grail? How does it stack up against other Jay-Z albums, and how does it compare with other hip-hop albums in 2013? Sound off about your evolving opinions on Magna Carta below.

EW's Fourth of July 2013 playlist: Stream our Spotify playlist here

Daft-Punk-Review

Beers! Burgers! Boats! Babes! Bros! Blurred Lines!

That’s right, it’s Fourth of July eve, which means it’s time to get yo’ jubilee on. And to help celebrate the U.S. of A.’s 237th HBD, we’ve put together the ultimate Independence Day playlist to blast at your backyard/rooftop/beach party.

After combing through this year’s choicest summer jams, we’ve recruited a select team of songs from the likes of Kanye, Disclosure, Vampire Weekend, Joey Bada$$ and more — plus a few evergreen oldie-but-goodies. (And before you look askance at foreigners like Disclosure and Daft Punk making our list, remember that America is all about inclusion! Except for “Blurred Lines”; we actually left that one off.)

So, with the power vested in us by Spotify, we hereby present you with our official Fourth of July 2013 playlist. Stream responsibly!

READ FULL STORY

Album sales: Wale tops chart, Kanye West sees 'Yeezus' fall big

Perhaps it’s fitting that during the Fourth of July holiday, the chart’s top album hails from our nation’s capital: D.C. rapper Wale snagged his first ever No. 1 this week with The Gifted, which debuted with 158,000 in sales.

And while that marks a career-high chart position for the wordy rhymesman, it’s actually a slip sales-wise from his last effort, 2011′s Ambition, which sold 164,000 when it landed at No. 2 in its debut week.

Speaking of slips: last week’s chart-topper, Kanye West’s Yeezus, suffered a steep drop, falling to No. 3 with 65,000 — an 80% drop. As the number-crunchers at Billboard report, all the previous No. 1 albums this year experienced a second-week drop of 69% on average.

And according to Soundscan, Yeezus‘ fall is the fourth-biggest since the service started keeping records in 1991. (The record, if you’re curious, belongs to Madonna’s MDNA, which fell 87% percent after its debut week last year.)

READ FULL STORY

Robin Thicke drops new single 'Give It 2 U': Hear it here

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is still the no. 1 song in the country—it’s about to spend its fourth week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. But the Thicke Express stops for nobody, which is why he’s gone ahead and dropped the second single from his forthcoming Blurred Lines

The song, “Give It 2 U,” is produced by Dr. Luke and features Kendrick Lamar, and like most every Thicke track, it’s dance-ready and a little bit filthy: READ FULL STORY

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