If you’re anything like us, we see an interesting headline during our daily scroll—pause to read it—but then keep scrolling without reading the actual story. So at the end of each week, we’re rounding up all the buzziest, news-worthy headlines you might have missed. Think of it like the “saved” feature on Instagram but for news instead of aesthetically pleasing photos. King Kendrick is back with a highly anticipated new album, J. Cole attended a fan’s college graduation (keeping a promise he made years ago), and the iPod took its final bow—this is what you missed this week.
Kendrick Lamar Drops ‘Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers’
One word: finally. Kendrick Lamar released his new album Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers after teasing his “final TDE album” since August—when he launched his Oklama website and subtle, elusive statement on his upcoming work. Earlier this month, he posted a link to the site, which contained a photo of a hand holding a book that read both his name and “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” and it’s been nothing but impatient anticipation since. I think I can speak for all Kendrick Lamar fans when I say that this new album release feels cathartic, knowing that you are entering a musical experience that does not disappoint. The project is split into two parts (double album speculation was correct), comprising 9 songs each and delivering more than an hour of divine music and notable collaborations, such as Baby Keem, Summer Walker, Thundercat, Sampha, and even a sample of Florence + the Machine which is immediately recognizable when the first note hits. Central to Lamar’s value proposition is his ever-changing growth and perspective. He addresses a catalog of his shortcomings and improvements, his relationships, his limits of loyalty, motivation, responsibilities… the list goes on. It’s both dense and heavy while bringing such an innocent joy to indulge in something so beautifully crafted. Not every artist has to be thought-provoking, or exclusively provide bops worthy of hum or dance, but Kendrick Lamar does both, without any mid or filler songs on an 18-track album—a feat that is worthy of recognition. He’s human like all of us, with the distinction of being a raw, honest wordsmith, having the words for the lot of us who oftentimes don’t. Without sounding like a total fangirl—300 words of praise later—enjoy the musical sounds and lyrical brilliance of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’.
J. Cole Keeps His Promise & Attends Fan’s College Graduation
In true J. Cole fashion, he did a wholesome and selfless act of kindness this week (completely unrelated to music) by attending a fan’s college graduation and keeping a promise that he made 7 years ago. Let’s go back to 2013 when said fan, named Cierra-Bosarge-Fussell, called into Hot 107.9 with the hopes of getting J. Cole to wish her a happy birthday. She did end up getting that bday call weeks later and J. Cole invited her to meet him in person. Brace yourselves because it gets simultaneously sad and happy. When they met Cierra gave him a letter detailing her life story, how she was adopted, her parents struggled with addiction, and were in and out of jail, before concluding with an invitation to her high school graduation since her parents were incarcerated at the time. J. Cole was touched and promised to attend her graduation if she kept her grades up and got accepted into college. This week, he attended Cierra’s Rowan University graduation ceremony, supporting his longtime fan and keeping his promise. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Brace Yourselves For Dolly Parton & Doja Cat’s Mexican Pizza Musical
If you follow Doja Cat on TikTok then you may have seen her very poetic impromptu song about how much she loves Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza. It was part love song, part protest song because the fast-food chain discontinued her beloved hybrid Italian and Mexican snack. Since then Taco Bell has announced they’re bringing the Mexican pizza back and this week the plot thickens. Dolly Parton entered the chat by posting a script on Instagram for a musical about Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza, titled Mexican Pizza: The Musical. The musical/show/ad is “based on the true story of the internet losing its mind.” Ah, yes, the power of Doja Cat. Her video sparked many other parodies on TikTok and created an unintentionally viral moment for Taco Bell. Let them eat Mexican pizza!
The End of an Era: Apple Officially Retires the iPod After 20 Years
Pour one out for a real one because Apple’s iPod, the portable music player that revolutionized the industry, has officially retired this week. Apple announced the discontinuation of the iPod Touch, which will remain available until supplies last, putting an end to the product line that defined my teen years. I could go into heavy detail, and I will—honoring the history of the handheld device that never left my side along with my BlackBerry. On October 23rd, 2001, the original iPod was born, and while it wasn’t the first MP3 player—it was the first of its kind. The user-friendly interface, sleek design, and the 1,000-song capacity of the iPod made it the easy choice amongst MP3 players. Coupled with Apple’s digital iTunes platform, the tech company changed the way music was discovered, consumed, and shared forever. The classic iPod product line expanded to include the iPod Mini, iPod Nano, and iPod shuffle which Apple stopped selling between 2014-2017. I will never forget my blue iPod Nano packed with 2000s hits like Sean Kingston’s “Fire Burning”, Timbaland’s “The Way I Are”, and The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha”. RIP.
Action Bronson Reveals He Turned Down A Role On ‘Euphoria’
Action Bronson recently sat down with Complex to discuss his recent acting roles—including The Irishman and The King of Staten Island—before dropping some unknown truths about the roles he’s turned down. Euphoria is the most jaw-dropping one (!!) but hear him out first. “They wanted me to play a drug dealer that was getting with the high school girls, Action Bronson ain’t doing that, bro.” I can’t argue with that, unclear if the role he’s referring to was Fezco (who has yet to get with any high school girls, despite the Fexi fandom) or another non-descript drug dealer but either way it worked out. Euphoria has Angus Cloud, and Action Bronson has plenty of other acting offers. He also revealed he auditioned for Uncut Gems but he bombed the audition. You can’t win ‘em all.