Kanye West’s Music Finds An Abrasive Edge Again On ‘Wash Us In The Blood’

In a GQ profile earlier this year, editor-in-chief Will Welch broke down some of the projects Kanye West had banked, including a song called “Wash Us in the Blood.” Unlike West’s 2019 output, based nearly entirely around his Jesus Is King gospel album and Sunday Service choir assemblies, it featured, according to Welch, “hard drums and Yeezus-like industrial horror noises that consistently shotgun-fires a rapping, dancing, moshing West across the concrete patio like it’s an arena stage.”

From that description alone, it seemed like “Wash Us in the Blood” could be the sign of West once again embracing the abrasive edges of his critically adored music as he did in the 2010s, even as he continued to explore the terrain of Christian rap. On Tuesday (June 30), “Wash Us in the Blood” arrived, complete with a verse from Travis Scott and a music video featuring clips from protests as well as his own tour performances.

“Wash Us in the Blood” is chaotic, opening with police sirens and warped faces and intercut with footage of West’s own glitched-out face as well as tour shots from the floating stage of his 2016 Saint Pablo Tour, and more. As West revealed on Twitter, “Wash Us in the Blood” features a video directed by collaborator Arthur Jafa (who also designed the cover) and was mixed by Dr. Dre.

It also appears to show brief clips of both Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery; earlier this month, West donated to each of their families, as well as the family of George Floyd. West revealed “Wash Us in the Blood” is from a forthcoming album entitled God’s Country. In that same GQ piece, West was cycling through a 54-song playlist, so it’s possible he’s finalizing the album as we speak.

Watch the “Wash Us in the Blood” video above.

The VMAs Are Returning To Barclays Center — And Hitting All Five Boroughs In New York City

It’s 2020, and the Moon Person is once again touching down in New York City.

Yes, this year’s MTV VMAs will take place at the Barclays Center on Sunday, August 30, MTV announced today (June 29), aided by a quick shout-out from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at his live video briefing. It’s the first time the show has hit the iconic Downtown Brooklyn venue since 2013. But this time, the action isn’t contained just to the arena, or even the borough in which it sits.

For the 2020 show, the VMAs are going wide, featuring performances from various iconic locations throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island, to honor the spirit and resilience of New York.

The 2020 VMAs will be the first event to take place at Barclays Center since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city. Of course, the virus is still very real, which means an added emphasis and focus on safety. The governor’s announcement came with the note of “limited or no audience.”

“Show producers alongside Barclays Center management have been working closely with state and local officials to implement best practices for everyone involved,” according to a statement. “Among the measures all parties involved have aligned on include extensive social distancing procedures, meaningful capacity limitations and the virtualization of components where possible.”

The 2013 show saw a resigned Moon Person — courtesy of Brooklyn artist Kaws — as well as a entirely Moon Person-centric stage. Seven years later, the 2020 VMAs are shaping up to be a sprawling celebration across some of the biggest landmarks in the Big Apple.

More information will be available as the show date approaches. In the meantime, after a year in New Jersey, welcome (back) to NYC, VMAs.

Watch Miley Cyrus Perform A Beatles Classic For An Empty Football Stadium

It seems like it was just a few weeks ago when artists were delivering humbling live performances from the safety of their living rooms. But during Global Citizen‘s Global Goal: Unite for Our Future livestream event on Saturday (June 27) — a production that featured interviews and live performances from the likes of Chloe x Halle, Christine and the Queens, and Justin Bieber — Miley Cyrus set the bar high for socially distant concerts moving forward.

The singer performed her own Miley-fied take on the Beatles classic, “Help!” An appropriate tune for the event, which was meant to bring attention to the marginalized communities most vulnerable to COVID-19, Cyrus appeared in an empty Rose Bowl football stadium. There, wearing a belly-bearing teal gown — a sparkling outfit inspired, per Vogue, by the Beatles’ original album artwork — she stood within the base of a giant exclamation point, part of a stage spelling out the song’s title.

Accompanied only by a microphone, Cyrus lent a country twang to the rock-and-roll staple. “Help me get my feet back on the ground,” she sang on the refrain, as if pleading to her virtual audience. “Won’t you please, please help me?”

“For me, the magic of performing is sharing and celebrating music together…being surrounding by people and feeling their energy,” she tweeted on Saturday about the show. “I dedicated this performance to everyone who is working tirelessly for testing, treatments and vaccines so all of us can come together in places like this empty stadium…. I can’t wait to be together again.”

Also during Global Citizen’s broadcast, Miley sat on panel that included Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway to discuss the disproportionate toll of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on marginalized communities, as well as the protests that have erupted around the world in the wake of the killings of unarmed Black Americans at the hands of police.

“My generation is hungry for change and is leading that charge in many ways,” she said. “I’ve just been a student, over the last few months and especially over the few weeks in my home country. I’ve been a student of these organizers and being able to learn and educate myself. That’s kind of what my time is filled with at this moment, even through Global Citizen, just educating myself. I think that’s the first step to making change.”

Cyrus, who has leveraged the platform of her nonprofit, the Happy Hippie Foundation, to amplify the voices of Black activists on the ground, recognized the power of young voices. “Young people are using their voices every day to demand that change, and especially now in this activism, even though change is taking time, we want it to lead to lasting change,” she added. “And something that has been in my mind was wanting to go back to normal, but this new normal of ‘We don’t want to go back to the way things were before. We want to go to a more improved, inspired way of life.'”

Chloe x Halle Take On Chloe x Halle In Resplendent BET Awards Dance-Off

As two early cuts on Chloe x Halle‘s latest endearing collection Ungodly Hour, “Forgive Me” and “Do It” capture the album’s essential R&B vibe — a deep, rich sonic warmth complete with the sister’s lilting voices floating on top. It’s a mood that the pair put on full display in a dazzling, Destiny’s Child-referencing medley during the (virtual) BET Awards Sunday night (June 28), where each song got its own moment.

And then Chloe x Halle squared off in a winner-take-all dance-off against none other than… Chloe x Halle. The twist, of course, is that both win.

“Forgive Me” opened with them delivering the smooth tune in shiny black dresses with magnificently high-pointed shoulders, close to nature inside a barn. A dirt floor grounded them, and plants surrounded them. As always, their movements stayed in sync, including motioning the sign of the cross when singing the title phrase. But right as you thought the dusty sepia light shining down on them would never end, the scene completely shifted.

For “Do It,” they made a hard pivot, opting instead for a vivid late-’90s R&B video chic in a red-walled room. The sisters found themselves in pristinely white outfits, complete with low-rise baggy pants, in complete contrast to their shiny black dresses. They moved in sync here too, of course, as they pointed to and sang at each other, their blood harmonies rising higher and higher.

Before long, though, both Chloe x Halles were in competition with each other, sending dance moves back and forth as they faced off side by side. The good news about the stunning dance-off is that there are no losers in this battle.

Chloe x Halle told MTV News earlier this month about how they dreamed up the song “Do It” with Victoria Monét. “It was just a party,” Halle said. “It was a great collaboration, and it turned into something beautiful.”

“I love how, in the moment, we were just making good music,” Chloe added. “We weren’t making anything saying, like, ‘Oh, this has to be our first song’ or ‘This has to be a hit.’ We were just making music that made us feel good.”

The performance harnessed the energy of the “Do It” video, something Chloe also mentioned. “We got to articulate our vision in wanting to show who we are growing into as young women,” her said.

You can see that further growth in their BET Awards medley performance. Watch it in full above.

Megan Thee Stallion Went Full Freedom-Fighting Road Warrior In Her BET Awards Medley

Megan Thee Stallion‘s “quarantine girl summer” is turning out to be the hottest season of all. The Houston rapper had her first No. 1 single, as well as an EP reach the top 10. It was all capped on Sunday (June 28), when she delivered a sexy (and political) performance for the socially distant BET Awards.

Megan’s pre-recorded performance began with her newest single, “Girls in the Hood,” which released on Friday (June 26). She appeared out of a Mad Max fantasy: Rolling up in a desert scene on the back of a stripped-down motorbike, she wore knee-high lace-up boots and an S&M bralette decked out with silver O-rings; her shoulders were covered with red and black feathers, while her long hair streamed behind. As the lyrics to her newest single suggest: “I’m a hot girl / I do hot shit / Spend his income / On my outfit.”

While lonesome oil cans sat in the background and graffiti-kissed train cars whizzed by, Megan and her crew of dancing, road-warrior vixens finished the song, then hopped onto skull-decorated four-wheelers, resetting the scene. The rapper segued into her hit single, “Savage.”

Standing atop a structure of metal bars and flimsy netting, Megan twerked before a Black fist, while a sign at the structure’s base read, “Black Lives Matter.” Though Beyoncé, whose addition made the “Savage” remix a breakout hit, didn’t join the performance itself, her disembodied voice sang its part. Megan finished out the performance ghost-riding a deconstructed sports bar, which appeared as a metallic peacock driven by a masked chauffeur. The whole performance read as some afrofuturist apocalypse; the revolution was already here, and in this landscape, freedom and music reign.

Prior to taking the stage, Megan accepted the award for best female hip-hop artist. She is also up for best collaboration, video of the year, album of the year, and viewer’s choice award; she tied Roddy Rich for second-most nominations, with five nods, trailing Drake, with six.

Kesha Offers Comfort And Hope With Powerful ‘Rainbow’ For Stonewall Day

Kesha kicked off 2020 by dropping an eclectic collection of bombastic dance-pop and folk-tinged ballads. Indeed, High Road, her fourth album, featured collaborations with artists as diverse as Big Freedia, Brian Wilson, Sturgill Simpson, and even her former dollar-sign Ke$ha persona. “I’ll just keep on doing what I do best,” she sings on “Shadow,” before specifying what, exactly, that is: “Pissing off people who wanna be pissed.”

It’s the same kind of energy she brought to a colorful virtual performance during Pride Live’s Stonewall Day — glamorous pink and purple eye shadow, a rainbow backdrop, and, fittingly, her essential 2017 piano song “Rainbow.” Instead of full-on bombast, though, Kesha let the powerful words speak for themselves: “When the winds are howling strong / And you think you can’t go on, hold tight, sweetheart / You’ll find a rainbow, rainbow, baby.”

As she sang, a gorgeous panoply of rainbow light washed over Kesha, bathing the scene in different colors. In April, Kesha gave another virtual performance of “Rainbow” for Global Citizen’s One World: Together At Home telecast, opting for a tender rendition of “Rainbow” at the piano. Unlike that one, though, the Stonewall Day rendition found her only singing, really tapping into her words and delivering them with gusto.

It’s the same kind of love she showed as she emotionally introduced the song. “I’m so emotional to be here today to perform in honor of the Ally Coalition, the Ruth Ellis Center, and LGBTQ youth on Stonewall Day,” she said. “I really do believe that you’re the future. You inspire me with your energy, your heart, your voices, and the way you take action.”

Back in 2013, Kesha told Seventeen magazine about the nature of attraction for her personally. “I don’t love just men. I love people,” she said. “It’s not about a gender. It’s just about the spirit that exudes from that other person you’re with.” She expanded on those thoughts in 2017 with Attitude, saying, “I never hid [my bisexuality] from anybody. I never had a moment of feeling I had to come out about it.”

Since then, she’s vocally supported and advocated for the LGBTQ+ community, including in 2016, when she spoke out for Vevo’s Why I Vote campaign. “Using your voice and your truth and standing up and talking about what you believe in and voting is your power,” she said.

It’s a message she echoed in her Stonewall Day preamble. “If you’re 18, you better be voting in November. You need to,” she said. “And if you’re not 18 yet, make sure people know you matter. You’re going to change the world.” She then dedicated “Rainbow” to, well, you.

Experience Kesha’s performance above, and find out more about Stonewall Day — a fundraiser for LGBTQ+ advocacy groups — and how to contribute right here. Stream the entire show via Logo’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

Hayley Kiyoko Brings Surging LGBTQ+ Anthem ‘Girls Like Girls’ To Stonewall Day

It might not be 20GayTeen anymore, but Hayley Kiyoko is still on top. As she took the virtual stage at Pride Live’s Stonewall Day to perform her gauzy take on The Killers’s “Mr. Brightside” and “Girls Like Girls,” the artist known to her fans as Lesbian Jesus made sure to shout out her peers in the LBGTQ+ community as she stood in front of a rainbow.

“I’m so proud of my LGBTQIA+ community, especially on Stonewall Day,” she said. “We can see the energy and rebellion of 1969 still alive to this day, and it has to be because it is our job for our generation to continue the fight and to finally get lasting safety and equality for our community.”

Her dreamy vocals for both tunes were backed up — via the magic of virtual technology — by keyboardist Nikki, guitarist Larry (jamming on a pink one, naturally), and drummer Valerie, who displayed a quote from Stonewall activist Marsha P. Johnson behind her kit. “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us!” it read.

Kiyoko kicked off this year by dropping a nostalgic video for the summer-burning “She” that sounds perfect for long drives with the windows down. This week, she paired up with Valerie to recount Val’s journey into music in honor of Pride Month. “No matter where you are and where you come from, living your truth is the hardest thing to do,” she said in the video. “I love being onstage, singing ‘Girls Like Girls,’ looking to you onstage. We point at each other, and I’m like, ‘We love girls!’

Indeed, Kiyoko’s massive “Girls Like Girls,” with its bold yet understated lyrics (“Girls like girls like boys do / Nothing new”) has become an anthem, even prompting one fan to comment on Kiyoko’s Instagram that it was the reason she came out: “thanks for showing me that i’m normal and that there’s nothing wrong with loving women. happy pride!!” It makes sense that she’d roll out it for Stonewall Day, and even via socially distanced set, its lyrical power was palpable. “I miss you all and I love you all!” she cried out at the climax of the song.

Stonewall Day also features scheduled appearances from Taylor Swift, Barack Obama, and more. Watch Kiyoko’s performance, and find out more about Stonewall Day — a fundraiser for LGBTQ+ advocacy groups — and how to contribute right here. Stream the entire show via Logo’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

Victoria Monét Gives ‘All You Need,’ Dai Burger’s Runway Romp, And More Songs We Love

Nothing screams Pride quite as much as a song about love and resilience, so Vincint’s “Save Myself” makes the perfect anthem to celebrate this month. The song features a lively dance-pop beat superimposed with Vincint’s soulful, airy vocals, creating a song so decadently pop, yet sonically gorgeous. The personal lyrics encapsulate the feeling of finding independence within a relationship, defining boundaries, and wanting passion rather than needing help. It’s rare to find a love song that promotes such a healthy, fully realized state of mind. The single, released as part of Vincint’s debut EP, The Feeling, is accompanied by an adorable video, featuring fans singing and dancing to the song in their homes during quarantine. Since dancing in the streets won’t be possible this time around, dancing around your room is the next best thing. —Sarina Bhutani

Megan Thee Stallion Shouts Out Rihanna And Sasuke On Swaggering ‘Girls In The Hood’

As much as 2019 felt like Megan Thee Stallion‘s summer, mid-2020 has already yielded the ascendant Houston MC her first No. 1 single, a teeny new puppy, and new EP that hit the top 10. Now, it’s all about “Girls in the Hood,” her follow-up single to “Savage” that dropped at midnight on Friday (June 26).

On it, Megan updates Eazy-E’s classic “Boyz-n-the-Hood” for the Instagram generation, rapping about stealing your man, asserting herself, and spending money. “I’m a hot girl / I do hot shit,” she raps, “Spend his income / On my outfit.”

The song is two minutes and 34 seconds of pure, glimmering explicit shit talk from one of the top artists of her time, and it’s great, brimming with the hilarious braggadocio that’s made Megan a proper force: “I’ma make him eat me out while I’m watching anime / Pussy like a wild fox looking for a Sasuke.”

The song comes with newly designed merch helmed by “beautiful black women creatives,” she tweeted. “I can’t wait until y’all see itFireFireFire👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 They really showed out.”

In May, her TikTok hit “Savage” finally climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, thanks to a little help from an instantly iconic Beyoncé verse on its remix. The achievement marked Bey’s first No. 1 of the 2020s and saw her become only the second-ever artist to reach No. 1 in four distinct decades (after Mariah Carey). When “Savage” hit No. 2 on the chart, just below Doja Cat and Nicki Minaj’s “Say So,” all four artists made history: It was the first time the top two spots on the chart had ever been occupied by four Black women.

Dive into the wonder that is the “Girls in the Hood” lyric video above.

The Dixie Chicks Have Dropped The ‘Dixie’ — Say Hello To The Chicks

In 1999, the Dixie Chicks had a hit with “Goodbye Earl,” but today (June 25), we’re all saying goodbye to Dixie Chicks — or more accurately, just the “Dixie” part. The trio have announced they’re now going by just The Chicks, after weeks of racial-justice protests, toppled Confederate statues, and even similar name changes within the country-music community.

“We want to meet the moment,” The Chicks — Natalie Maines, Martie Erwin Maguire, and Emily Strayer — said in a statement. “Dixie” as a term can refer to the Confederacy, though it also can refer to the South in general (The Chicks hail from Texas). In addition to the name change, the trio also unveiled a brand-new single called “March March” as well as a powerful accompanying video that spans generations of activists and ends with a long, long list of names of Black women and men killed by police and vigilantes in the United States.

The clip opens with a quote: “If your voice held no power, they wouldn’t try to silence you.” Before long, it’s delved into clips from LGBTQ+ rallies and March for Our Lives as well as the ongoing police-brutality demonstrations of the past month. Greta Thunberg, Black women suffragettes, 20th-century civil-rights marchers, and so many more activists also get featured, before the video turns to its call to action: “Use your voice. Use your vote.”

The Chicks are no strangers to activism. Their career famously dipped in 2003 after Maines expressed “frustration” with then-President George W. Bush and his decision to invade Iraq (“Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas,” she said onstage at a concert in London). In the 17 years since then — as the “March March” video shows — the group’s voice has only grown louder.

Earlier this month, country-pop group Lady Antebellum shortened their name to Lady A in response to ongoing racial-justice protests around the globe. They had been criticized for their name, which they’d used since forming in 2006, for its ties to the pre-Civil War American South and its rampant slavery. They were criticized, too, for taking the same name as a 61-year-old Seattle blues singer with decades of performing. “They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time,” she told Rolling Stone. “If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before.”

Watch the The Chicks’s empowering “March March” video above, and stay tuned for their newest album, Gaslighter (produced by Jack Antonoff), out on July 17.