SATURDAY FILM SCHOOL | Eric Andre’s Brand of Absurdism is Noteworthy

When you google Eric Andre, one of the first results is his name next to his current girlfriend, Rosario Dawson, and a plethora of articles asking how such a weird man could lock down such a beautiful woman. Those familiar with The Eric Andre Show are not surprised by his manic comedy, sometimes so absurd and nauseating it’s hard to watch, but that’s the point: a talk show so unwatchable that you end up watching it anyway. So while Andre’s love interests are shocking—giving hope to all the goofy men worldwide—his comedy is even more startling, a chaotic mix of absurdism, shock humor, pranks, celebrity interviews, and lots of public vomiting. And in an even weirder turn of events, Eric Andre has garnered a cult following and his show, one of the worst shows on television, is lauded amongst household names in comedy like Jimmy Kimmel, Chris Rock, and Seth Rogen to name a few.

On The Surface

Home to the stoner-esque late night programming of Adult Swim (someone cue a Flying Lotus music bump), The Eric Andre Show is an absurdist talk show modeled after public-access programs on cable. The show is intentionally filmed to appear low-budget and often uses scrap pieces from drywall to build the set, most notably, Andre’s desk that he breaks on most—if not every—ten minute episodes. Hour-long interviews with noticeably uncomfortable A-list and B-list celebrities are condensed into two to three minutes of mayhem, packed with awkward and inappropriate commentary from Andre and his co-host Hannibal Buress (who’s the perfect stoned foil to Andre’s lunacy). For bigger names, Andre enlists unknown actors (who appear to be chosen from an open call) for clumsy, if not, excruciating, celebrity impersonations: an Asian man who impersonates Jay-Z, a Black man who impersonates Reese Witherspoon, a malnourished and slurring Russel Brand, and a George Clooney impersonator that slightly passes for a relative of the Clooney family if you squint your eyes. The objective is to be as insane, loud, and aggressive as possible—trying to make sense of any given episode is not the point. If Andre isn’t physically tormenting his guests by filling their seats with rotten clams, heating lamps, or dripping water on them from the ceiling, he’s psychologically tormenting them and pushing their personal boundaries.

Deeper Meanings

Analyzing The Eric Andre Show is probably the funniest thing a person could do, but the show itself deserves recognition for its destruction and perversion of everything normal and comfortable in traditional TV. A modern deconstruction of the late night talk show, The Eric Andre Show is the antithesis to polished, family-friendly shows like The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Conan. As an anti-talk show, Andre is able to parody talk show conventions and strip celebrities down to their normal, everyday selves. Nothing is more cathartic than watching T.I. or Steve Schirripa attempt to stave off Andre’s advances until finally succumbing to all-American rage. (Who can forget watching The Hill’s Lauren Conrad walk off set due to Andre’s one-to-many body fluids?) And there’s Eric Andre’s brand of absurdism that’s always a result of some type of mental break or existential crisis relating to death—and anyone familiar with the streets of NYC knows this type of performative madness is something you see on the way to work while buying your eight dollar coffee at Starbucks. Existentialism is a big part of The Eric Andre Show, a companion to Andre’s opening monologues and street sketches (filmed in NYC and Los Angeles), there’s never a dull moment—because really, how does a man this crazy live in society?—and credit must be given to Andre’s physical comedy and unrelenting stamina. The experience can be hellish, with viewers never fully aware of what’s staged and authentic (particularly the guest reactions), and each episode feels like an unnerving fever dream. The 1980’s studio vibe enhances the psychedelic and feverish experience of the show, almost like a weird instructional video on how not to make a TV program.

Classroom Takeaways

Are you looking to ranch it up or find a Sprite sponsorship? Do you have a penchant for Kat Williams slicked, straightened hair, or untamed afros? Do you enjoy watching Hannibal Buress eat weird foods behind celebrities, while Eric Andre applies lipstick? If you answered yes, then The Eric Andre Show is your guilty pleasure, a home to your wildest inclinations and TV viewing pleasures, and maybe even an in-house Questlove.

POP⚡ DUST Score: ⚡⚡⚡⚡⚡

Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.

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Who is Negan?

In “The Big Scary U” viewers are shown Negan in a newly intimate way, and what we glean from this episode changes how we understand him. Who is the man behind the bat, and what motivates his way of life? Quite unlike in the past, Negan expresses a wide range of emotions which humanizes him, and he expresses his principles as well as details from his past, which until now have remained vague or simply absent. What does it take to finally draw out some of the secrets of this mysterious character, and does what we learn inform us about the nature and role of someone like Negan in a post-apocalyptic world?

Negan’s Ego

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

While other characters (Rick. It’s mostly Rick.) have been known to get carried away with their confidence and image, Negan’s unwavering and brazen cockiness may not be just a self-indulgent shock tactic. Until now, who Negan is and why he is who he is has been a largely unasked and unanswered question. He seems to distract others from such questions through an odd combination of charisma and intimidation. Though Robert Kirkman has written much about him within the canon of the comic, he has maintained a somewhat two-dimensional persona in the television series. Finally, fans of the show are given a chance to understand what fuels Negan’s ego.

Throughout his appearance in the series, Negan exudes an alpha masculinity which he uses to disempower other dominant male figures, and he does this by criticizing their manhood, quite literally and graphically. This episode in particular is scattered with phallic references, suggesting that power dynamics are a central theme this week. In fact, it isn’t just Negan struggling with his cohorts over who is at the top of the pecking order, so to speak. Even Rick and Daryl get physical when they each try to take charge over the next course of action in their mission. Negan intimidates his lieutenants as well as Gabriel by making these awkward comments as well as swinging around his obviously phallic Lucille. Negan also attempts to dismantle Rick’s efforts by belittling it as a simple game of “my-dick-is-bigger-than-yours.” When Simon uses similar language while attempting to decide on their next course of action, Negan passionately and angrily shuts him down. Where does Negan’s fixation with alpha masculinity come from? His manner of speech, his sexually symbolic weapon, and his harem of wives all attest to the importance of his masculine image. Why does Negan’s ego rely so heavily on it? Is this method of asserting dominance and power ultimately effective?

Negan, the Saviors, and Hierarchy

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Examining the tense conference among Negan, Gregory, and the Saviors reveals multiple weak spots in Negan’s strictly maintained power structure. While Negan usually has no trouble ordering his subordinates around, this is the first time we see other Saviors challenging him with their own opinions and decisions. There are three Saviors in particular who pose a threat to Negan during this war. Viewers are well aware of Dwight’s double dealings, and they perhaps still have hope that Eugene will come around to Rick’s cause and aid it from within, but what about Simon?

As Negan’s proclaimed “right-hand-man” and with his admittedly annoying Negan-esque mannerisms, it would appear that Simon is a devoted and trusted number-two for Negan, but could he be the true snake in the nest at the Sanctuary? Last season, Simon somewhat oddly invites Gregory to the sanctuary to talk about his concerns of an insurrection by Maggie at The Hill Top. The end of this conversation, though, is unheard by the audience as the camera pans back and drops the audio. Could Simon have sewn some kind of plan against the interests of Negan? To make this claim at the time would have been far fetched, but Negan’s response to Simon’s forwardness in including Gregory and hatching his own plan to simply wipe out The Hill Top is frightening and revealing. When Negan angrily shuts down Simon, he menacingly asks him if he’s forgotten who’s in charge and whether the two of them are “back-sliding.” This power struggle between the leader and his right hand is mirrored by Rick and Daryl’s disagreement. Is he referring to a point in the past when Negan and Simon were in a power struggle?

Was Simon the original leader of the Sanctuary, long ago usurped by Negan? Negan states to Gabriel that when he first got to the sanctuary, the man in charge wasn’t really in charge, and so he had to take over. Did Negan put him in his place, as he so often does with other domineering figures, and then use Simon to his advantage? It is what Negan tends to do with people he considers strong or useful but doesn’t want getting in his way (think back to his attempts to recruit Daryl and Sasha for example). To further this theory, the camera lingers on Simon when Gavin suggests that one of their own is a traitor, providing information to the other side that allows them to “see all and know all.” These accusations obviously could be in relation to Dwight, but could both scenarios be true? Could Dwight, (possibly Eugene), and Simon all be working to take down Negan from within (and apparently unbeknownst to each other)? How could such a breach in Negan’s power structure occur, and how could it affect the outcome of the war?

The Confession

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

So many questions about who Negan is and what motivates him are answered during his confession with Gabriel. While Negan rarely appears shaken or vulnerable (especially emotionally), viewers experience a profoundly humanized Negan as Gabriel gently pulls away at his ego-driven facade. There are two aspects of Negan we become familiar with for the first time: the emotional baggage of his past that he has brought with him into the apocalypse and the personal beliefs and principles since developed which now drive his actions.

Negan is typically portrayed in two moods: virulently angry or flippantly playful. This character has been the least emotionally dynamic of the show until now. When Gabriel coaxes an emotional confession out of him about the mistreatment and death of his wife, a tearful Negan exposes the deep guilt and sorrow he conceals within him. So, Negan is not all show, and he is not merely some marauding psychopath. He is capable of love and grief and regret. Perhaps his brutal survival tactics stem from a place of pain. Considering the emotions behind Negan’s actions changes our perception of this character as well as our understanding of his motivations. Not only do we gain some emotional insight into Negan, we also learn about some of his fundamental principles.

Until now, it could have been easy to write Negan off as a shallow, megalomaniac, brutally bent on dominating as many people as he can for selfish gains. We now know he has an emotional side, but what about his thoughts and beliefs? Unexpectedly, he admits that he is weak, but goes on to explain the nature of weakness as he understands it. He claims that all people are both weak and strong, but that we can use our weaknesses to build up our strengths. This bit of wisdom is oddly inspiring, and it suggests how much Negan has struggled (and perhaps continues to struggle). He also tells Gabriel that the saviors stuck inside the sanctuary without him will all die because he is not there to save them. He admits this with the heaviness of a man burdened with leadership, not one out conquering for it. This take on Negan’s mythos accentuates his similarities with Rick. He also makes clear to the Saviors that people are the foundation of everything, and that they will not indiscriminately wipe out The Hill Top simply to eliminate a problem. So, is Negan some kind of twisted humanitarian? Is this what “saviors” look like in the apocalypse?

Finding purpose in one’s life and one’s death is thematically central to this episode and this show. Through his interactions with the Saviors and Father Gabriel, it is clear there is much more to Negan than an overblown ego, an anger problem, and vulgar antics. There is deliberate purpose behind his actions, and that purpose has been formed by a trying past, deep emotions, and the wisdom gained from them. The Walking Dead has continued to blur the lines between the hero and the villain, and this episode is proof of that. Negan may not be the leader that people want, but could he actually be the leader that people need? Negan certainly thinks so.

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Ciara Cerrato was a projectionist and curator at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and she currently is a poet and freelance writer in New York.


“All these signs All the writing on the wall Tell me you’re the one You’re so crazy beautiful.”

It’s easy to see that East of Eli’s Nathan West and Chyler Leigh are in love. After all, they’ve been at it for fifteen years. Three beautiful children, two amazing careers, and lots of incredible moments later I still got butterflies seeing the way they looked at one another as they settled in for our Popdust Presents session at our headquarters in NYC. A huge Grey’s Anatomy and Supergirl fan, I was a little wonderstruck that I was getting to interview the brilliant actress behind Lexie Grey, Alex Danvers, and so many other characters. I’d always looked up to Chyler hoping to portray strong female characters like she so often does, but what struck me even more than getting to talk to Chyler was how amazing Nathan and her are together. They truly make the perfect team.

Chyler and Nathan first met on the set of Bring It On years ago. Throughout the craziness of the entertainment industry, they have remained each other’s rocks and have built a solid family unit. A few years ago, Nathan and Chyler started making music together and East of Eli as we know it was born. The music is as unique as the two of them, but falls under the category of indie rock. If you listen to their albums, you’ll note their keen attention to detail from all of the little nuances within the sound. I had the honor of hearing them play an intimate acoustic set in our offices and I have to say it’s just as good as recorded, but different. Something that remains consistent with East of Eli is the energy and vibrancy both Chyler and Nathan bring to the music. Each of them have their own color they contribute to the watercolor masterpiece that is their music. Chyler a light indigo, intuitive and passionate, and Nathan a deep bordeux, soulful and thought-provoking, combine to create songs that ride that visceral heart string that you feel a little more when a song really speaks to you.

Their music does really speak. Though a lot of their subject matter is romantic, a lot also touches on the environment, the children, and other subject matter. Through their music and their prominent acting careers, they have used their position to be advocates for change in the world. They work with To Write Love on Her Arms, an organization that encourages suicide awareness and provides help to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. They are also involved with The Trevor Project , an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention and an organization that aids developing places to get access to clean drinking water.

Are you impressed yet? You should be. With acting careers, a successful band, giving back, and raising a family it’s easy to wonder, how do they do it all? This makes me think of their song, “Back to The World,” and the lyric, “And I’ll take your higher, so you can burn brighter.” Chyler and Nathan told me that they’ve taken life day by day, worked as a team, and that’s always worked for them.

Watch our full interview here.

Love East of Eli? Follow them on Instagram | Facebook | Twitte

Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter and check out her music on Spotify. Press inquiries here.

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VIDEO GAY-MER | What the deal with Bioware?

Bioware is a formidable force in gaming. Despite its hiccups, it’s managed to pull itself back up again (I mean, there’s the whole Andromeda fiasco, but eh, I liked Andromeda enough). Its RPGs are known for being prime examples of high fantasy and science fiction in gaming. Starting with their tour de force, Baldur’s Gate, they have (mostly) given us beautiful and in-depth explorations of vast new worlds. Their stories enraptured us, and kept us hanging on the edge of our seats. And they also gave some of us a glimmer of hope.

Lack of representation SUCKS

I never enjoyed Dragon Age that much when I was younger, or Mass Effect for that matter. I went through a period of being very into FPSs and more action-oriented games. I always read about how great they were, and my friends would tell me that I needed to play them! They were wonderful! Bioware is an amazing game dev company! I shrugged it off – I’d get to them when I wanted to.

As the next couple of months rolled on, I began to notice this odd disconnect I felt from most of the games I played. I enjoyed them, but not on a personal level. The games I had enjoyed on a personal level, role playing games, had started feeling derivative of one another. I couldn’t quite place where the feeling came from, though. What about these games repelled me from them?

I booted up one of my old Final Fantasy games (X, I think) and I loaded an old save file. I smiled at the terrible voice acting, and marveled at some of the game’s early graphical majesty (it was a beautiful game). Then, I got to Macalania Woods – and the scene happened. You know which one I’m talking about (if you don’t, check it out below). My eyes rolled, and I turned off the game.

So, I asked around my few queer gaming friends, including my little brother and some Tumblr peeps. They all pointed me to one place –

Bioware changed the game

Bioware has always had a much closer relationship with representation than most other video game series out there. Queer representation, especially, has been something they have focused on. It’s shocking in this industry – an industry where people still get butthurt over a non-white character – to see a company take such a strong stance for LGBTQ+ players. Outside of Dragon Age, they’ve attempted (poorly) to include a trans character in Mass Effect: Andromeda, and same-sex relationship options (and storylines) in their Mass Effect games.

Of course, they haven’t been perfect. Bioware didn’t include too many romanceable men in their games for a long time – often, they opted to include only lesbian relationships, most likely because straight male gamers would look at it as eye candy. Eventually, though, they did see the light. Dragon Age II and Mass Effect III all had gay characters or gay options in them.

Then, they came out with their best game to date, Dragon Age: Inquisition. To say I was shocked was a bit of an understatement. I played and I was floored. Not only did this game include an interesting, playable gay character, Dorian, but it also had an equally interesting trans side character. Then, you’ve also got the bi(pan?)sexual, Iron Bull, who is also playable and also incredibly interesting. IT’S NUTS, YOU GUYS!

As I sat down and played it, I got everything I ever wanted in a video game. Dorian’s companion arc focuses on his sexuality and his parents’ intolerance of it. Not to mention, as a male character, you can have a beautiful relationship with him that isn’t totally sexualized or stereotypical. You had a trans character who was not the butt of everyone’s jokes, and who was treated with respect by his comrades! And then you had Iron Bull, a man who literally doesn’t give two shits about gender. Honestly, I could write (and will, at some point) an entire article about this game.

Why? Because it set a standard for the rest of the video game landscape. Dragon Age: Inquisition was a resounding success. Despite its diversity, this game thrived and helped Bioware gain some momentum back after the disasters of Dragon Age II and Mass Effect III. And that’s a huge deal.

So, what’s the deal with Bioware?

Here’s the thing: I can sing praises as much as anyone else. But Bioware didn’t fix the problem. I can only replay Dragon Age: Inquisition for so long before I’m hungry for more representation. Yes, even Dorian Pavus’ amazing storyline gets old after a while. It’s easier for straight people, because if they get bored with one story, they can move onto the next. We don’t have that – we have a few really good games that we have to play over and over again, because that’s all people are willing to give us.

So yes, Bioware is an amazing company in terms of inclusion. But, they are still the exception, not the rule. Bioware got its pat on the back when they released Inquisition, and Mass Effect: Andromeda gave a pretty decent attempt at positive representation too. Will their next game be just as good? Will it be better? Worse? We’ll have to see.

Shann Smith is a lover of video games and writer of plays and screenplays, based in NYC. Do you guys have a game that you think is significant to the LGBTQ+ community? Email me, and I’ll give it a look!

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The Top 10 Hip-Hop Moments of 2017

The Top 10 Hip-Hop Moments of 2017

2017 was the year that Hip-Hop became the most popular music genre in the United States.

According to Neilson music stats, Hip-Hop is more streamed and consumed than Pop and Rock. For those who have been fans of the culture for years, even decades, the numbers are now a reflection of the influence rap music has truly had over mainstream America.

Since the days of Run-DMC on MTV, rap music has had a stronghold on popular culture. It has inspired fashion trends, dance moves, and slang which has permeated other forms of entertainment. Hip Hop artists are just as visible as any A-List actor or top athlete and have fans who are of the former and the latter. But the music itself is only a small part of what makes Hip-Hop popular this year.

The moments that happened outside of music helped with the overall visibility of the art that originated from The South Bronx. We took a look at the 10 moments from the beginning of the year to the most recent that helped make Hip-Hop the king of the music mountain in 2K17.

1. Donald Glover Shouts Out Migos

January 8, 2017 — Hip-Hop Renaissance man Donald Glover kicked off the year by winning a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series for his FX series “Atlanta”. The actor/writer/musician/ who adheres to the moniker Childish Gambino gave what would be perceived as an odd nod to the rather bland Golden Globe audience to Atlanta’s Hip-Hop supergroup Migos and their song “Bad and Boujee”. “I’d like to thank the Migos — not for being on the show, but for making ‘Bad and Boujee,” said Glover. “I think that they’re the Beatles of this generation and they don’t get a lot of respect, I think, outside of Atlanta.” This cosign went from Gambino’s mouth to God’s (well, listeners) ears as Glover’s shoutout spurred a 243% Increase in Spotify Streams for Migos’ “Bad and Boujee”.

2. Chance The Rapper Wins Grammys

February 12, 2017 — Chicago’s own Chance The Rapper took home some hardware on Grammy Night for not only being talented, but innovative. Chance was nominated for 7 Grammy’s off the back of his 3rd mixtape “Coloring Book” which was released exclusively through Apple Music in 2016 and his contributions to his mentor Kanye West’s album “The Life Of Pablo”. Chance won 3 Grammy’s including Best Rap Album and Best New Artist. “Coloring Book” is the 1st album to chart on the Billboard 200 solely from streams and Is the 1st streaming-only album to ever win a Grammy.

3. Nicki Minaj vs Remy Ma

February 25, 2017 — For the nearly a decade, Nicki Minaj has been the hailed as the undisputed Queen of Hip-Hop. With chart-topping singles and a fan base that spans across all genres of music, Nicki had very few contenders who were a threat to her title. Bronx femcee Remy Ma started her reascension to the throne that she forfeited back in 2008 when she was incarcerated. Remy picked up right where she left off when she was released in 2014. She was featured on “Love and Hip Hop: New York”, and was nominated for a Grammy’s for the song “All The Way” with Fat Joe. Initially, it seemed as if the two respected each other and didn’t have any issues. Until Remy released her diss record “Shether” which was over the beat of Nas’ legendary Jay-Z diss “Ether”. The nearly 7-minute onslaught gave fans a glimpse into the apparent tension that was simmering between Nicki and Remy. Remy took jabs at Nicki’s industry politics, her business dealings with her label, and Nicki’s brother who was then on trial for sexually abusing a minor. The diss sent shockwaves through the Hip-Hop community. Nicki would respond to Remy in a song called “No Frauds”, and Remy would respond with another record. Since the release of “Shether”, the two alpha females have been known to throw occasional jabs at each other in interviews and various records.

4. Kendrick Lamar releases “DAMN.”

April 14, 2017 — Since bursting on to the scene in 2012 with his debut album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”, Compton emcee Kendrick Lamar has been labeled as the voice of the new generation of Hip-Hop by fans, critics, and a large variety of his peers. Known for his vivid storytelling and captivating visuals, King Kendrick has set the bar time and time again whenever he’s released a body of work. This was no different when he dropped his 3rd studio album “DAMN.” in April of this year. “DAMN.” like most of Kendrick’s albums, plays like a story and contains guest appearances from Rhianna, U2, and legendary New York DJ Kid Capri. The album’s lead single “HUMBLE.” debuted at number two and later peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot100 with the album itself debuting at number one. “HUMBLE.” is also the only rap song to sell over 1 million digital copies in 2017.

5. Prodigy Passes Away

June 20, 2017 — Hip-Hop lost a legend this year when Queens emcee and one half of the rap duo Mobb Deep Prodigy passed away. The rapper died from accidentally choking in a Las Vegas Hospital. Prodigy, born Albert Johnson, was receiving treatment for his sickle-cell anemia which he’s battled his whole career when he choked while eating eggs. His funeral was held in New York City where the likes of Diddy, 2 Chainz, and Raekwon all gathered to pay respects to a man who was both to them an artist and a friend. As one half of Mobb Deep and a solo artist, Prodigy helped shape the soundscape that was East Coast Hip-Hop in the 90s and early 2000s. A mural was painted in the rapper’s hometown of Queens to honor him but has since been removed after being vandalized on two occasions.

6. Migos and Joe Budden Face Off

June 20, 2017 — 2017 saw the debut of the Complex online show “Everyday Struggle”. Hosted by rapper Joe Budden, YouTube personality DJ Akademiks, and moderator Nadeska Alexis, the show is a First Take like platform that discusses topics in Hip-Hop in which the shows hosts’ comments often times come off as controversial and offensive. The weekend of The 2017 BET Awards was the stage for one of the show’s most controversial AND confrontational moments. The “Struggle” crew were interviewing Migos on the red carpet, where tension between Joe and the grouped boiled over. Budden, known for his uncompromising and harsh temperament was annoyed at Migos tepid responses and standoffish disposition. One of the more awkward but memorable moments happened when DJ Akademiks questioned Migos member TakeOff about being left off of their smash single “Bad and Boujee”. TakeOff response was “Does it look like I got left off of “Bad and Boujee?”, but his low tone was inaudible causing DJ Akademiks to respond with “Huh?” a few times causing him to repeat the question. Joe, visibly frustrated, demands that Akademiks wraps up the interview. He then tosses his mic and walks off camera, which Migos took exception to, prompting all 3 members to stand up as if to confront Joe. No physicality took place, but the clip went viral and was the inspiration for many memes and gifs.

7. Jay-Z releases “4:44”

June 30, 2017 — It’s been 21 years since Jay-Z released his debut album “Reasonable Doubt”. Since then, he has become not only one of the wealthiest men in Hip-Hop but one of the most influential men in the world. So, you could imagine the excitement when rumblings of a new album emerged in the beginning of 2017. Those rumblings would reveal themselves to be his 13th studio album “4:44”. This album isn’t just a testament to Jay’s longevity and his ability to have his finger on the pulse of Hip-Hop, but it was a body of work that delved deep into who Shawn Carter really is. From making amends for his infidelities to educating his people on the importance of financial freedom, Jay was able to display a sense of maturity without coming across as an out of touch old man. “4:44” is heralded by critics as yet another classic in the discography of the man from Marcy known as “Jigga”. Prior to the album’s release, Jay-Z was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame making him the 1st rapper in history to have been done so.

8: Cardi B Goes Number 1

September 25, 2017 –Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” was the last time a female rapper held the number one spot without any other featured artists…That was close to 20 years ago. Fast forward to 2017, and The Bronx’s Cardi B has broken the streak. The former stripper turned Hip-Hop star charmed her way into our hearts as a cast member of “Love and Hip Hop: New York” with her brash but funny personality and antics on social media. She used these platforms to bring attention to her music career and the result was the infectious yet braggadocios smash hit “Bodak Yellow”. Patterned after Kodak Black’s 2014 song “No Flockin”, “Bodak Yellow” debuted at number 85, but through support from radio and genuine love for both her and the song it only took a few weeks before it jumped to number 14 on Billboard Top 100. The song officially went became number 1 in September. Since then, Cardi has won a BET Hip Hop Award for Single Of The Year and recently became engaged to her boyfriend, Migos member Offset. Cardi’s debut album is slated for a 2018 release on Atlantic Records.

9. Eminem’s BET Hip Hop Award’s cypher verse

October 10, 2017 — “This is the calm before the storm”. Those were the word’s uttered mocking a comment made by President Donald Trump before Eminem unleashed a lyrical tirade in his cypher at this year’s BET Hip-Hop Awards. The cyphers normally showcase multiple emcees’s displaying their best bars over a beat provided by a DJ. Eminem’s, however, did not include a beat and his bars took aim at the Commander In Chief, systemic racism, and his support for NFL player Colin Kaepernick. The almost 5-minute verse comes across more as a poetry slam than a rap verse, but nonetheless, it’s filled with plenty of venom for anyone’s who is in support of Trump and what he stands for. Many applauded the 45-year-old Rap God for using his privilege and this platform to speak on issues that are hot topics in this political and racial climate. Eminem since has released a single titled “Walk On Water” featuring Beyoncé and his album “Revival” is expected to drop before 2017 is over

10. Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir’s wedding.

October 17, 2017 — When Gucci Mane was released in May of 2016, No one would have predicted the complete 180 he did. He lost weight, gave up drugs, and started to be more of an asset than a liability in the business world. He was much more invested in his relationship with longtime girlfriend Keyshia Ka’oir. The couple had been together for quite some time, but it was when he was last released and seemed to be on a better path that we got a good look at a burgeoning Hip-Hop power couple. It has been said that while Gucci was incarcerated, Ka’oir took care of his affairs and even turned a profit on money he had given her to invest in. With a clearer mind and new mission, Gucci decided to make an honest woman out Ka’oir and proposed to her at an Atlanta Hawks game back in November of 2016. The couple got married on October 17th, and the wedding itself and the events leading up to it were made into A BET special called “Gucci Mane & Keyshia Ka’oir: The Mane Event. The couple’s wedding was estimated at a whopping $1.7 million.

Deascent is a Hip Hop artist, music writer and on-air personality for “Popdust Presents“. He’s also the co-front man of The Cold Press. Follow him on Instagram.

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WTWD? | Questions on Season Eight of The Walking Dead: Episode 4

What The Walking Dead?

Out of all our heroes this season, King Ezekiel has been an unrelenting source of inspiration, stability, and light for The Kingdom, Alexandria, and The Hill Top. A determined optimist and leader, he has responded to the call of benevolent authority and confidently accepted that challenge. As a part of his kingly command, he is naturally a diplomat and peacekeeper at heart, but he at first was reluctant to escalate his precarious deal with the Saviors. Rick’s impassioned appeal using the fairy tale about the rock in the rock, though, finally awakened King Ezekiel to his potential role of responsibility in the war, and he seemed more regal and empowered than ever. How has the king sustained the momentum and potency of his leadership, and are the trials of this episode exactly what it would take to break the king’s sense of identity as well as his very spirit? Since Ezekiel is a man of mighty language, perhaps his personal journey in “Some Guy” can be understood by analyzing the power of his words.

Rallying The Kingdom

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

We will leave our loved ones to traverse a dangerous road, rushing out of peace into war. And yet I smile, for we will mine glory from the rock of struggle this day. We will honor and protect this bastion of life in the land of dead, and we will win, you trust the king. I smile, I laugh, I rejoice this day, for on this day we are joined in purpose and vision. We are of a singular heart and mind. On this day, we are one!”

– King Ezekiel

Coming from a show filled with expressive, catalyzing monologues, the speech Ezekiel delivers to his soldiers is one of the most striking and empowering yet witnessed, and with it, he brings a force of solidarity to his group’s cause. His faith and confidence in his people and their endeavor seems driven by utter sincerity and an unshakable force of will. But, much to the shock and dismay of viewers, this pre-battle rally jump-cuts from a scene of him surrounded by inspired soldiers to him surrounded by the dead — his dead, his people he had just carried into battle. It is another instance of the rug being pulled out from under these characters, but this time it is done with a new level of drama and heartbreak. This scene will belong with the other particularly iconic gut-wrenching moments of the show during which viewers can’t help but gasp and even shout in protest. Seeing Ezekiel emerge from under the dead wreckage of his people to find himself alone would have been the most dispiriting moment until he let out a wordless, guttural, and primal cry of pain and sorrow, echoing emptily across a scene of destruction. This tortured cry, along with the wound in Ezekiel’s leg, mirrors the experiences of Shiva when Ezekiel originally saved her. Who is left to hear his cries, and will Ezekiel, quite literally, be able to stand up on his own and continue?

What Is A King Without His Soldiers?

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

King Ezekiel:

“I will not let you use me to hurt my people”

The Savior:

“Your people? You mean all those sheep you rooked into thinking you’re a king? I heard your story. We all did…That cat just loves you. It gave you everything, didn’t it? Gave you an angle, a story. Got to hand it to you, you played your cards good. You played your people good. They ate that horseshit right up. They grew food for you, built those walls for you. You got them all killed — they’re still following you. But take away that tiger? And what’s left? Just some meaningless con man in a costume.

As if the loss of his soldiers and a missing Shiva were not devastating enough, he continues to have each shred of hope torn away as he attempts to reorient himself in the midst of such a perilous situation. His soldier Alvaro is discovered to be alive when he comes to Ezekiel’s aid, but that small moment of hope is also ripped away from him when a strange, rogue savior kills Alvaro to take the king hostage. This Savior may not have lasted long (thanks to the ever dependable, loyal, and apparently savage Jerry), but the words he speaks to Ezekiel have an immediate and possibly long lasting effect on the king. He brings into question King Ezekiel’s persona, methods of authority, and his intentions as a leader, and this Savior’s reconstruction of the king sounds strikingly similar to the persona, methods of authority, and intentions as a leader as Negan. Both Ezekiel and Negan have created larger-than-life identities by carefully crafting their images and deriving as well as exuding power through Shiva and Lucille. No doubt tainted by the negative and brutal mentality of Negan’s modus operandi, the Savior assumes the king’s methods must also be the same. His success at sewing these seeds of doubt within Ezekiel is clear as we watch the king’s face grow more sorrowful with each word. Even if the Savior is wrong about the king, will he able to destroy Ezekiel’s faith in himself and ultimately his mission?

The Tragic Fall Of Shiva

Photo by Gene Page/AMC


“You’re my king!”

King Ezekiel:

“No! I’m not! I’m not your king! I’m not ‘You’re Majesty!’ Look at what’s in front of us! That’s what’s real! Go. I ain’t no king. I ain’t nothing. I’m just some guy who found [a tiger]…”

This heart-rending exchange between the king and Jerry at first seems like the only option left as the climax to this grievous episode, but Ezekiel is interrupted by the sudden arrival and soon-to-follow demise of Shiva (an iconic moment that many readers of the comic were woefully anticipating). And, the tragedy and trauma are pushed further by the fact that Shiva is taken down by the very walkers from which she was attempting to save Ezekiel. Shiva has finally repaid him for being able “to be the one who leapt” to save her so long ago. In the reeling of his grief, he is ready to die trying to save her. To paraphrase show runner Scott M. Gimple, King Ezekiel is like a captain ready to go down with what’s left of his doomed ship. But, Carol and Jerry, the only of his cohorts left, will not allow him to sacrifice himself for her and carry him off to the safety of The Kingdom. They understand that without the king and everything in which he believes, losing the war against Negan could be inevitable. Will their faith in him anchor him to the faith in himself he has had all along? Or, will the emotionally bludgeoned, silently limping Ezekiel, stripped of his spirit animal, most of his ranks, and possibly his will to fight, trudge back to the kingdom in defeat? If so, could this war possibly still be won without him?

Though episode four was nothing short of an onslaught of horrors for King Ezekiel, there are moments of hope and fight in characters such as Jerry and Carol and Rick and Daryl (let’s not forget the explosive attack they unleash on the Saviors on the road). If their determination (and Daryl’s get-right-back-up-and-keep-riding attitude) are an indicator of what they are all still capable of doing, it’s safe to say the war is far from over for Ezekiel and for everyone.

“If you are asked to be the hero, be the hero” – King Ezekiel

Photo by Gene Page/AMC


Ciara Cerrato was a projectionist and curator at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and she currently is a poet and freelance writer in New York.


SATURDAY FILM SCHOOL | ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is Sadly Familiar

Although extreme, The Handmaid’s Tale is a socio-political allegory exploring the grave realities of totalitarian government, slavery, gender inequality, and the horrors of systematic oppression.

A man who proclaimed on TV that women could be sexually harassed by men with power and money without punishment was protected by other men who claimed this was just “locker room talk.” This same man ran against Hillary Clinton, an established albeit, imperfect politician for the 2016 presidential election and won. Donald Trump has his supporters, sure, but more Americans have googled the terms of impeachment than ever before. Donald Trump is the perfect segue for Hulu’s series, The Handmaid’s Tale, an oddly familiar narrative about women who don’t have agency over their bodies or lives, and incompetent men in power.

Donald TrumpReuters/Dominick Reuter

On The Surface

The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, is a militarized dystopia named Gilead (loosely based in the United States) experiencing a sharp fertility decline due to environmental toxicity, sequestering fertile women as handmaids where they are selected to procreate for wealthy families. The series is loosely based on real historical (and current) incidents where women’s rights have been jeopardized by the state. Under the totalitarian government of Gilead, women are expected to perform their roles as either handmaids, wives, marthas, or aunts; all of which are reduced to specific functions that, if undermined, can result in torture, imprisonment, and death sentences. Women are unable to work, own property, and are denied access to higher education. Offred (Elisabeth Moss)—a woman who once lived as June, a mother and independent American—is the main protagonist, providing expository and internal commentary through voice-overs that help describe the creation of Gilead, the community of the handmaids, and her boiling revulsion for her authority figures. As the series progresses, Offred begins to slowly communicate with other handmaids, realizing the power of their community: like any society, when the middle ground revolts, the entire system can potentially collapse.

Deeper Meanings

Gilead is a warning for the fragility of democracy and equality among men and women. Although extreme, The Handmaid’s Tale is a socio-political allegory exploring the grave realities of totalitarian government, slavery, gender inequality, and the horrors of systematic oppression. We are shown how Offred, and all women, were ushered into Gilead’s new rule, slowly losing access to their careers, money, property, and most shocking of all, their bodies. Bleak and unrelenting, the series is a meditation on powerless women finding hope in community and strength in their voices. Make no mistake, watching The Handmaid’s Tale is hard and uncomfortable, almost infuriating because it’s unfortunately not too far off from reality: women’s past and current fight for equality and control over our own bodies and sexual agency is a worldwide phenomenon, still ongoing and never fully in focus, always on the outskirts of other political and social imbalances.

And despite the ugliness of Gilead, the show is quite beautiful; the result of careful camerawork, cinematography and a complimentary soundtrack that speaks to Offred’s internal uprising. Women are often visually marginalized to the corner of frames, suggesting their lack of power and agency in the given society—in moments of reclamation, the camera uses close-ups to depict the emotional complexity of the handmaids; their harsh realities; and the lack of agency they have over their bodies in male-dominated spaces. Atwood shows the severity of state segregation by using colors to subjugate women to functions dependent on their fertility. Handmaids are forced to cover their faces (using a type of bonnet you may see in Star Trek), and fully clothe their bodies in red cloaks to signify their fertility and life force; wives are forced to wear blue (a sign of obedience and desexualization); marthas, a grey-washed green (servitude, muted, silence); aunts wear brown—a color Atwood associates with Nazi Germany; and men wear black, a color that represents completion, absolution, and control. Offred’s blue eyes often pop against the muted grey background, a nod to her desire to keep fighting despite her lifeless circumstances.

Classroom Takeaways

Outside of the aesthetic symbolism, The Handmaid’s Tale is careful to allude to real-world nuances like women competing with other women for male approval (even state approval); women being reduced to bodily functions; public humiliation and harassment of gay/queer men and women; a government reliant on subjugated communities and slave labor to ensure economic dominance for those in positions of wealth; and geopolitics. It’s a smart series that values its source material and the fragility of our current political climate. A show that both ponders “what if hypotheticals” and historical atrocities that have already occurred, The Handmaid’s Tale is really a story about history repeating itself, while we all watch with our butter popcorn.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’Hulu

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BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | What’s coming to theaters this weekend? (NOV. 17th – 19th)

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BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | What’s coming to theaters this weekend?

Tears, overcoming fears, and excited cheers can all be found at your local cinema this weekend.

In Popdust‘s new column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you’re in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about have your pants scared off? Maybe just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have it.

Take a peek at our top picks for this week…


Netflix continues to stride into the world of big screen releases with their latest flick, which might be the best yet of those that have followed this similar trajectory. Although a war that is less broadly discussed in regards to race relations, World War II was no stranger to the issues that skin color caused when all citizens were meant to be fighting the same battle. The film examines the very different experiences for two different families (one black, one white) living in the same part of the Mississippi Delta but experiencing entirely different lifestyles. The same day it’s out in select theatres it will also be available to stream from your favorite watching device, but the whole purpose of this column is to encourage to go out and experience cinema the way it was intended: from a wide screen perspective.

R | Running Time 2hr 14m | Netflix | Director: Dee Rees | Starring: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, and more! | Purchase Tickets for MudboundMudbound

Song of Granite

Get a look at one of the films in competition for the best foreign language film at the 2018 Academy Awards, and don’t be too surprised that’s it’s coming from Ireland. The film explores the life of folk singer Joe Heaney in an exploration of solemn, sadness, and what it takes to make music that speaks to the soul. For a musical biopic, this film takes itself incredibly seriously, and you should, too. Don’t shy away from this one because you don’t know Heaney, or because of its foreign language label, or because it also happens to be in black and white. Sometimes, a little culture is a very good thing. Besides, there is a great deal of truth in the statement that music really can permeate through all barriers. The songs in this film accomplish just that. While you should definitely be prepared to endure some roaming and deep thinking, you’ll also be pleasantly surprised.

NR | Running Time 1hr 38m | Oscilloscope | Director: Pat Collins | Starring: Michael O’Chonfhlaola, Macdara Ó Fátharta | Purchase Tickets for Song of GraniteSong of Granite

Justice League

A bunch of your favorite super heroes are coming together and working to restore order to the world in the midst of Superman’s death. Get ready for some twists, turns, and a whole lot of action because there is also a new, more powerful enemy threatening the safety of citizens. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is inspired by Superman and seeks out help from a new friend, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). Yes, indeed, Wonder Woman is back on your big screens for everyone to get excited about. Joined by a team of other metahumans to take on the challenge of trying to save the planet, these guys will try to do their best without the work of Clark Kent. Expect the usual gambit from a superhero flick, but be happy we’re being more inclusive all around in casting and by including a female in the bunch who does more than need to be rescued. For extra thrills, see it in 3D.

PG-13 | Running Time 2hr 1m | Warner Bros | Director: Zack Snyder | Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds | Purchase Tickets for Justice League

Almost Friends

A little indie romance coming out of nowhere to box offices after making the film festival circuit route in 2016 is asking the questions of how we get together and when we start thinking ourselves as having it together. Charlie (Freddie Highmore) doesn’t seem to know the answers to either, being an incredibly gifted cook but working at a movie theatre, and totally awkward around the only girl he’s even found an interest in. Not a heck of a lot else is available regarding the film, but it’s the second indie role Israeli actress Odeya Rush is taking on after a spectacular time in Lady Bird earlier this season. Admittedly, we probably know where this plot is going to take us as we see Charlie awkwardly stumble and Amber (Rush) find it more and more endearing, but we don’t all head to the cinema for art. Sometimes we just need to take our minds off the unpredictability of the world.

PG-13 | Running Time 1hr 45m | Gravitas Ventures | Director: Jake Goldberger | Starring: Freddie Highmore, Odeya Rush, Haley Joel Osment, Jake Abel, Rita Volk, Taylor John Smith, Christopher Meloni, and Marg Helgenberger | Purchase Tickets for Almost FriendsAlmost Friends

And our ⭐️ TOP PICK ⭐️ …


The heartwarming story we could all use right about now comes in a tale about family, love, and why it’s so important to be true to who you uniquely are! Based on the bestselling novel by R.J. Palacio, the film follows August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a fifth grader who has never been to mainstream school due to his facial deformities. While he’s at first nervous about how he will be received by the other students (and admittedly does have some bumps in the road), Auggie’s strength and bravery makes him just the kind of person to bring everyone together. A shiny ensemble cast and a director who’s already known to make us tear up about stories starring people who are special and different makes this a win in my book. Bring your tissues, bring your friends, and feel good about some messages that we’re putting out in the world for once.

PG | Running Time 1hr 53m | Lionsgate | Director: Stephen Chbosky | Starring: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs, and Izabela Vidovic | Purchase Tickets for Wonder

Really like a film you see or know of one coming soon that we should check out? Shoot me an email and let me know!

Rachel A.G. Gilman is a writer, a radio producer, and probably the girl wearing the Kinks shirt. Visit her website for more.

PREMIERE | ​Marisa Maino’s new single is “Hot”

“No one ever wants to admit if the new girl is awesome.”

Indie pop artist Marisa Maino premieres her brand new single with us at Popdust today and the title says it all- it’s hot. Marisa told us that the inspiration came from the realization of how much girl hate exists out there. “How many girl’s nights have happened where a group of girl’s get together to drink wine and trash talk the ex’s new girl… But no one ever wants to admit if the new girl is awesome,” she says. It’s easy to fall into that trap and throw shade because you’re hurt, but what would the world be like if we took Marisa’s perspective on the topic. The song is equally sad and humorous. You know the feeling, you find out through the grapevine that your ex has moved on and you creep onto his Instagram page late at night alone to find out that his new girlfriend is smoking… and looks nice too. Marisa takes an interesting perspective here deciding that her ex is the problem and wonders what this new girl sees in him.

Stylistically this is giving me updated Avril Lavigne vibes especially in the bridge. Turns out it’s no coincidence. “I was talking with Jordan Sapp, one of my producers, about how how we missed the early 2000’s pop music. There isn’t enough of it! I knew I wanted to get back to that and thought I could start to bring it back with my music. A few weeks later, I heard Hot and immediately knew that was the song I wanted to cut. After taking it to Jordan, we discussed our vision for the song and built the production around it. Before I knew it, the single was born!” says Marisa inspired by the music of the early 2000’s. She thinks others miss the nostalgic feeling this kind of music evokes too and I’m right there with her. I long for the days that “A Thousand Miles,” ruled the radio sometimes. In addition to the nostalgia, the song ultimately is about letting go. She says, “I feel like this song has a message that I want to always stand for…learn to let things go and move on.” She knows that as much as you want to hate your ex’s new girl “sometimes you just can’t” and you may as well move on.

Marisa Maino is a former ballerina, actress, and avid multi-tasker. She says that songwriting is the only time she can slow down her mind and focus on one thing. In that way it is sacred to her and she feels that she’s truly honed in on what she’s meant to do after trying just about every art form. When an injury stalled her dance career, she moved to LA to pursue acting, when she grew frustrated with the one track mindedness of some casting directors, she decided to audition for the X Factor. One thing led to the other and she landed in Nashville with an exciting music career on the brink. She says, “”I’m really inspired by those who do music becausethey love it – and not because they just want to be famous. There’s so much that we can do with music in the arts. Society is trying to grow in this but I sometimes feel like it doesn’t grow fast enough. Music has taught me so much. Listening to interviews with celebrities has taught me about living life and that’s not what you learn in the classroom. That’s something I’d love to give back.”

Love Marisa? Follow her on Instagram | Twitter

Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter and check out her music on Spotify.

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Seeing double?

You’re not crazy. This incredibly talented duo are brothers, originally from Maine, that have been making strides in the indie rock scene lately. Their recently released song “Three Thirty” has boasted over 15,000,000 listens thanks to being included on multiple playlists. Their most recent single “Your Favorite Song” is not far behind at 94,000+ streams on Spotify. After hearing them live and listening to their tracks I can tell you this is a testament of the unique qualities and intimacy of their music. There is a very human, visceral feeling to each of their songs. I feel like each tune evokes something really different from listeners but taps into the same level of depth. They strike below the surface.

Their song “Three Thirty” taps into that late night feel when you know you should be sleeping but something is keeping you up. The song recounts several vivid, sweet memories contrasted by the melancholy vibes of the striking lyric “I know that everything changes and people move on. “Your Favorite Song” is lighter but just as reflective and somber. Eighty Ninety’s strength seems to lie in recounting vivid memories in a cinematic tone. As a cinephile, I’m 100% here for it.

Listen to “Three Thirty” and “Your Favorite Song” here.

The first thing I wanted to know when I sat down with Eighty Ninety was what pedals they use to create all of those textures that they have in their music. Harper (guitar/production) raved about his Chase Guy Reverb peddle that’s ultimately his favorite pedal. Abner (vocals/production) played a Korg for us live but noted that he normally uses a Juno in the studio. The brothers grew up playing music together but didn’t do so purposefully until Abner came back to the east coast and joined Harper in NYC after college. Harper and Abner grew up with Beatles music thanks to their mom being a “Beatles freak,” and Tom Petty who is Abner’s biggest inspiration. Harper was into more experimental groups like Pavement and Sparkle Pony. The two brought their inspirations together along with their unique talents to create Eighty Ninety as we know it. Abner told us that ironically, when he moved to the West coast for school, was the first time that they started to collaborate on songwriting by sending ideas back and forth. They never thought about working together seriously and treated their collaborations as a pass time. The band itself was born out of one jam session that yielded an amazing song and the rest is history.

Harper told me that though they don’t have brother telepathy, they definitely grew up with the same terminology and lingo for music and that definitely helps them get ahead in terms of collaborating. This isn’t the only way their childhood has been affected their work. Growing up in Maine, they joked that they never wanted to leave the house in the winter, so that naturally led to more practice time. Abner added that a lot of their radio channels in Maine and where they can consume music was outdated and it affected their musical interests. Both NYC transplants, they’ve been here for a while and love NYC because though it’s stressful, you find your tribe which is the best feeling as an artist.

Eighty Ninety have a music video for “Your Favorite Song” coming soon and more releases next year. Watch their full Popdust Presents Session here.

Follow them on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter and check out her music on Spotify.

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