For Rapper Mick Jenkins, Real Life Is The Circus

Mick Jenkins’ 1967 Ford Mustang doesn’t radiate colors off of its normally glossy exterior. It’s a deep, dark silver, and he compares it to matte black, into which other hues disappear like quicksand. He bought it on Craigslist for $5,000. The 28-year-old Chicago rapper, whose music submerges itself in the political and social subconscious, estimates that he’s put $22,000 into pimping his ride. Now, he cackles as he relives the reactions he gets when he arrives at events. “When I pull up, I don’t give a fuck what’s out there,” he tells MTV News over the phone. “It gets the same love as a Maserati. People go crazy because you don’t see shit like that.”

You’d think by this adoration that Jenkins’s music would center around his accomplishments, but that’s not quite the story. Since his 2012 debut project, The Mickstape, Jenkins’s raps have explored his viewpoint of society through an evolving mind and through the lens of his Christian faith. He can expound upon the importance of drinking water and then flip it into washing away your sins with it, with God’s help.

For Jenkins’s latest project, The Circus, though, his car is at the center of its grand spectacle.  While his previous project, Pieces of a Man, went inwards to squint at his id, The Circus casts himself aside (or rather, puts him inside his ride for a nighttime visit to a park) and instead focuses on the world at large, in all its frequent ugliness. “It’s about society,” he says. “We’re all performing for peanuts and being asked to do amazing things for people. We’re being robbed of certain humanities and our uniqueness is being exploited.”

The LP’s seven songs come together to paint a picture of society that Jenkins is complicit in: one that shows how we’re all acting out for the audience of smartphone cameras that record and chronicle our every move. The Circus treks through the feelings and experiences of processing that kind of surveillance. On opener “Same Ol,” Jenkins laughs at how nothing ever changes. “Game don’t switch, you know this, shit don’t stop,” he raps on the chorus, following it a line as certain as death and taxes. “Money gonna come, money gonna go, somebody catching it if it drops.”

“Carefree,” meanwhile, is a foreboding story about a police confrontation that finds Jenkins performing for an audience at the beach, “off the drugs” and “off the drinks” as he spits. The first verse sets a breezy mood underneath the stars. “Shawty never smoked kush like this, some fire-ass music playing, grinding on me / You know I had to push right back, reflex, respect,” he raps, recalling the good times.

After the chorus, Jenkins’s heart jumps into his throat when the police come to ruin the group’s fun. “Can’t even look me in my face,” he spits, disgusted at the officer. “So quick to shoot, no Devin Booker.” The song ends with Jenkins getting a ticket for his windows being too dark, which he based entirely in reality. “We really got rolled up on at the beach, crazy as hell, at 11:15 because the park closed at 11,” he says. This fear, this kind of confrontation, this spectacle put on display — they all dig into the layers of performances that we play.

On The Circus, Jenkins doesn’t have to play alone. The project’s lone feature comes courtesy of Earthgang, the eclectic rap duo signed to Dreamville Records that Jenkins has become close with. “They are so fire, and I’ve been working with them for a while,” he says about their collaboration, “The Light.” It’s the sole soul spot on the EP, which Jenkins says is part of “a ton of soulful stuff that I’ve been working on; it’s just not on here.” Earthgang’s presence is personal for him. “They showed me a lot of love before they knew who I really was,” he says. “We made a couple of records back then. I’m super excited to continue working with them.”

Wedged firmly in the center of the EP is “Flaunt,” on which Jenkins’s normally socially conscious music turns toward shit-talking. It’s him acting for the audience, chuckling as he shows off the fruits of his labor. Though he may sound like he doesn’t want to do it, Jenkins is flexing. “I love to humblebrag,” he says about the song. “I’ve got a couple of things that cost a couple of bucks.” In addition to his Mustang, his favorite material possessions he’s purchased in the last few years are his new Mamiya RB67 SLR camera and original artwork that he’s bought from artists that he’s “connected to.”

It doesn’t matter what he buys, though; he’s still in the center of The Circus, a project about the ways we put on for each other, told through songs involving putting on for listeners, for friends, and for Jenkins himself. There’s a lot to unpack, as its orange and maroon cover art reveals; on it, a cartoon version of Jenkins juggles on top of an elephant inside a ring of fire. For those who want the rest of the story — Jenkins calls The Circus “a direct prequel” to his next album — they’ll have to parse the artwork for details. “Whatever you need to know, it’s alluded to on the cover.” Before he can elaborate, he ends the call with a bow, signaling the end of the show. For now.

Halsey Gets Shockingly Candid On Her New Album Manic: Listen

Halsey’s new album Manic is here, and no one is more relieved than the star herself. “The most torturing and beautiful wait of my life has come to an end,” she tweeted upon the project’s release on Friday (January 17).

The wait, thankfully, was worth it. Manic capitalizes on Halsey’s chameleonic approach to pop music, while delving deep into her relationships, her experience with bipolar disorder, and her constant toggle between confidence and self-doubt. Unlike her sophomore record, 2017’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, which was set in a Shakespearean dystopia, Manic functions as the inside of Halsey’s (oftentimes messy) mind. And what it a reveal it is.

Fans had already heard about half of Manic before its arrival — there were the previously released songs “Graveyard,” “Without Me,” “Clementine,” “You Should Be Sad,” “Finally // Beautiful Stranger,” and “Suga’s Interlude.” But the brand new tracks are where Halsey really bares her soul. She confesses that she’s “got no self-esteem” on “Still Learning,” fantasizes about revenge on “Killing Boys,” and cries out on the all-caps “I HATE EVERYBODY” — a lyric that she finishes with the thought, “Then why can’t I go home without somebody?”

But it’s closing track “929,” named after Halsey’s birthday, that may be the most shockingly candid of all. Over twinkling chords, she details the anxiety, isolation, heartbreak, nicotine withdrawal, and hair loss that come along with being one of the most famous pop stars on Earth. “I remember the names of every single kid I’ve met / But I forget half the people who I’ve gotten in bed,” she sings, later admitting that she’s “still looking for salvation.”

Manic also reunites Halsey with BTS member Suga, and features additional collaborations with Dominic Fike and Alanis Morissette. On “Alanis’ Interlude,” the two women twist John Mayer’s “Your Body Is a Wonderland” into something more playful and explicit: “Your pussy is a wonderland.”

Stream Manic in its entirety below.

Against All Odds, Louis Tomlinson Stands Tall On His Emotional New Song ‘Walls’

Louis Tomlinson is still somewhat of an enigma. He is, after all, the only former One Direction member who has yet to put out his own album. But that’s about to change — we’re just two weeks away from the release of Tomlinson’s debut LP, Walls, and on Friday (January 17), he gave us a taste of what’s to come by releasing the emotional title track.

On “Walls,” Tomlinson acknowledges the struggles he’s faced with introspective, heartbreaking observations, like, “Nothing wakes you up like waking up alone” and “Nothing makes you hurt like hurting who you love.” But just when you think it’s all doom and gloom for Tommo, he cracks the sadness open and lets a little light in by revealing that the hard times have made him a stronger man.

“These high walls, they came up short / Now I stand taller than them all,” he belts on the uplifting chorus. “These high walls, never broke my soul / And I, I watch them all come falling down for you.” Upping the emotional ante is the addition of a live orchestra, which only takes this ballad to beautiful heights.

Walls arrives on January 31 and includes the previously released singles “Kill My Mind,” “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart,” and “We Made It.” Each of those tracks has shown us a fresh side of the solo star, and his new album should help break down those, uh, walls even more. Until then, check out Tomlinson’s latest track above.

All Three Jonas Brothers End Up In Their Underwear In ‘What A Man Gotta Do’ Video

Ariana Grande may have struck gold by recreating beloved rom-coms in her “thank u, next” video, but now Jonas Brothers have come along to whip up their own nostalgic, cinematic concoction. After days of relentless teases, the bros dropped their new single, “What A Man Gotta Go,” alongside a video in which they recreate three iconic ’80s films. And because their real-life wives indisputably stole the show in the “Sucker” vid, the J-sisters are along for the ride as well.

The fun-loving clip stars Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra Jonas doing their best dancing-half-naked-in-the-living-room recreation from Risky Business. Then there’s Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner, who channel Danny and Sandy at the school dance from Grease — with Sophie taking on a surprising bonus role. To round it out, Kevin Jonas pulls off that iconic Say Anything scene, holding a boombox outside his wife Danielle’s bedroom window. All the while, the brothers groove along to their upbeat, love-crazy new track, singing, “What a man gotta do / To be totally locked up by you?”

Make sure you stick around for the bloopers, because — spoiler alert! — all three JoBros end up in their underwear by the end.

“What A Man Gotta Do” marks Jonas Brothers’ first release of the new decade, following a whirlwind 2019. Last year, the trio released their comeback album Happiness Begins, embarked on a huge tour, notched their first No. 1 single, won their first award at the VMAs, and capped off their year with a festive Christmas bop. It’s good to see them carry that wild momentum into 2020 — in nothing but their underwear, no less!

Check out Jonas Brothers’ new video above, and see it playing all day long on MTV Live and mtvU.

The 1975 Give Fans Two Reasons To Smile And One Reason To Frown

Who’s better than the 1975? Although their forthcoming album, Notes On A Conditional Form, has been pushed back a couple of months, the Matt Healy-led band delivered double the good news to make up for the bad announcement: not only did they released a new tune, “Me & You Together Song,” they’ve also announced a new tour. What a way to build anticipation, am I right?

So, let’s start with the bad news. Notes On A Conditional Form was supposed to come out on February 21. That date is now out of the window. The new date for the LP’s release is April 24.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. The 1975 have also revealed North American tour dates. They head out on April 27 and perform their first show in Houston, TX. The Spring trek wraps right up before summer on June 12 in Manchester, TN. Supporting them on the tour are indie-rock musician Phoebe Bridgers and singer Beabadoobee.

Are you overwhelmed with giddiness yet? Just wait until you hear their new tune, “Me & You Together Song.” The cheery tune finds Healy trying to slide out of the friend zone into a prospective lover’s arms. Drums doing jumping jacks make the mood a festive, celebratory one. If this were the mid-2000s, Adam Sandler would be chasing a lover’s taxi to tell the woman inside that he loves her with this playing in the background.

Okay, we’re finally done with all of the news. The wait for Notes On A Conditional Form just got a bit longer but, with all of the news that’s come with this pushed back date, the world can manage. The 1975’s forthcoming LP will also feature “Frail State of Mind,” “People,” and their self-titled song that features climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Check out the 1975’s upcoming tour dates below.

04/27 – Houston, TX @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

04/29 – Austin, TX @ Germania Insurance Amphitheater

05/02 – Dallas, TX @ Dos Equis Pavilion

05/03 – El Paso, TX @ Don Haskins Center

05/05 – Phoenix, AZ @ Gila River Arena

05/07 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum ^

05/08 – Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheatre ^

05/11 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre

05/13 – Omaha, NE @ Baxter Arena

05/14 – St. Louis, MO @ Enterprise Center

05/16 – St. Paul, MN @ Xcel Energy Center

05/18 – Milwaukee, WI @ Fiserv Forum

05/19 – Columbus, OH @ Schottenstein Center

05/21 –  Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage

05/23 – Washington, DC @ The Anthem

05/26 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden

05/29 – Hanover, MD @ The Hall at Live! Casino and Hotel

06/02 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Petersen Events Center

06/03 – Cleveland, OH @ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

06/05 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater

06/06 – Charlotte, NC @ Spectrum Center

06/08 – Jacksonville, FL @ Daily’s Place

06/09 – Miami, FL @ Bayfront Park Amphitheater

06/11 – Atlanta, GA @ Infinite Energy Center #

06/12 – Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival # ^

# – without Phoebe Bridgers

^ – without Beabadoobee

Missy Elliott Is A Doo-Wop, Disco, And Punk Icon In Her ‘Why I Still Love You’ Video

2019 was a stellar year for Missy Elliott, who dropped her ICONOLOGY EP just before receiving the Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs and celebrating with a career-spanning performance. Now, Missy is bringing her icon status into the new decade with her latest top-notch visual, for the ICONOLOGY standout “Why I Still Love You.”

The clip — which Elliott directed along with Derek Blanks — opens on a wide-eyed, tracksuit-wearing girl wandering a museum of all things Missy. We’re then transported into three different eras of Elliott: first she leads a Shirelles-esque girl group in the ’60s, then she’s a disco queen in the ’70s, and finally, she rocks a mohawk and studs for her ’80s punk rock debut. There’s even a cute twist ending, some ace acting from Missy, and a cameo from Monica, who recites the legend of Missy and The Demeanors. Get schooled in the video below.

The “Why I Still Love You” video follows Thursday morning’s announcement that Elliott will headline the Governors Ball Music Festival in New York this summer. She’ll be hitting the stage alongside Stevie Nicks, Tame Impala, Solange, Miley Cyrus, and more.

With Thursday also marking what would have been Aaliyah’s 41st birthday, Missy took the opportunity to celebrate her late friend’s legacy. She tweeted, “#HappyBDayAaliyah you are still inspiring people! Your edgyness & smooth dancing SO EFFORTLESS your UNIQUENESS & STYLE unmatched. MUSICALLY your songs will 4EVER be NEXT LEVEL! RIP babygal 4Ever Loved.”

Carly Rae Jepsen, Miley Cyrus, Vampire Weekend — This Year’s Governor’s Ball Is Stacked

New Yorkers and out-of-towners, this summer, it’ll be time to descend to Randall’s Island Park again from June 5 to June 7. The Governor’s Ball music festival is back with an expansive, multi-genre behemoth of a lineup. Miley Cyrus, Carly Rae Jepsen, Vampire Weekend, are just three of its 60+ performers. Packed in this list of artists is just about everyone that you can think of.

When we say there’s something for everyone, we really mean it. If you’re looking for R & B music representative of today and yesterday, you’ll find artists like H.E.R., Solange, the legendary Missy Elliott, Summer Walker, and Swae Lee, depending on who you ask since he’s a rapper, but really loves to sing. If you’re looking for soft, psychedelic pop, you’ll find the Kevin Parker-led Tame Impala that’s as sonically huge as eight groups in one. Of course, if you’d like something a little smoother, warmer, and more heartfelt, there’s Alessia Cara, Ellie Goulding, and more.

This year’s Governor Ball also includes a lot for fans of rap music. Danny Brown, Dominic Fike, YBN Cordae, rising rap group 99 Neighbors, and more are all on the bill. Guitarist Steve Lacy, power-pop group Charly Bliss, and so many others like singers Sasha Sloan and Frankie Cosmos, will also appear. It’s best to do your Googles to figure out who you do and don’t know, that way you can familiarize yourself with all of these awesome acts.

This year, there’s a new age policy that requires attendees under 18 years of age to come with an adult who’s at least 21. Tickets go on sale on January 17 at 12 PM EST so prepare accordingly.

Take a look at the full lineup for The Governor’s Ball this year up above.

Conan Gray Feels Totally Lost In His New Video For ‘The Story’

It’s been several months now since Conan Gray stopped by the MTV News office for a brief, yet impressive three-song set, and life for 21-year-old singer-songwriter has changed a lot since then. Last Friday (January 10), Gray announced his debut LP, Kid Krow, and also dropped his broody new song, “The Story.” Now, less than a week later, he’s back with a thought-provoking and melancholy video to match.

The music video begins with Gray wandering aimlessly before hitching a ride on the back of a pickup truck. As he walks through a seemingly abandoned town (and later, a seemingly abandoned property), he sings of all the unfair things he’s seen in this world, from the effects of bullying and self-hatred to a fear of being your 100 percent authentic self. And though he seems despondent and like he’s lost hope as he roams lonely dirt roads, he knows that it’s “not the end of the story.”

With the end of the video comes a reminder that, while it might feel like it sometimes, we are never truly alone. As more people start to appear, it becomes clear that they, too, are trying to navigate the complexities of life. And just like Gray, they are simply trying to find who it is that they really are.

Much like the song and its video, Gray said in a statement that his upcoming album “is a study of how I perceive the world.” The LP will also give fans a more in-depth look at his personal life, from life on the road to learning to accept who he is.

“I talk a lot about my friends and people I’ve met touring over the past year,” Gray added. “It’s me. I’m not the coolest person, but the album is me accepting the fact I’m weird and I don’t need to be anybody else. It’s also a chance to encourage others to embrace who they are and be unapologetic about it.”

In an Instagram post announcing Kid Krow, Gray also said that he’s excited for his fans to learn things about him that he’s never revealed before. “I say more on this album than i’ve ever said in my life and I can’t wait to tell you all of my secrets,” he wrote. “Love y’all.”

If you love “The Story” and its corresponding visual as much as we do, fear not. There’s so much more coming our way. Kid Krow will be out on March 20, and until then, we’ll likely be watching this video on repeat.

Mariah Carey Will Be Inducted Into The Songwriters Hall Of Fame And We Are So Not Surprised

By now, we all know that Mariah Carey is unstoppable. The music icon has broken not one, not two, but several records over the last few months, and soon, she’ll be honored for her songwriting in a major, major way.

On Thursday (January 16), the Songwriters Hall of Fame announced which talent will be inducted into the class of 2020. And after recently scoring her 19th No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” it should come as no surprise that Mimi’s made the cut.

The pop culture legend expressed her gratitude on Twitter. “I can’t believe it…” she wrote. “The SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME!!!!” Carey went on to call the forthcoming induction one of the “greatest honors” of her roughly 30-year-long career. “I’m so proud and humbled to be in the company of such legendary songwriters – both previously inducted as well as the incredible class of 2020!” she added.

She’s right, this year’s class is pretty impressive. Pharrell WilliamsEurythmicsAnnie Lennox and Dave Stewart, the Isley Brothers, Steve Miller, and several others will be inducted. But alas, it’s Carey’s devoted Lambs who are most excited over the enormous achievement. “A-MAZE-ing,” one fan tweeted. “It’s why I have been a fanatic since 1990. Your words. Your lyrics. Your songs. THANK YOU MC.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Hall of Fame chairman Nile Rogers said in a statement, “I am very proud that we are recognizing some of the culturally most important songwriters of all time and that the 2020 slate of inductees represents diversity and unity across genres, ethnicity and gender.” He also added that these particular artists “have enriched our lives” and “literally transformed music and helped make it what it is today.”

It’s also worth noting that in order to qualify for the Hall of Fame, a songwriter must have a catalogue spanning at least 20 years. Carey, having been in the business several decades, certainly fits the bill. And after making headlines recently for breaking just about every record under the sun — from becoming the only artist in history to have a No. 1 single across four separate decades to being the first artist ever to fall off the Hot 100 completely after spending the previous week at No. 1 — being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame seems like the only logical next step.

The Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Thursday, June 11 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.