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Exclusive: 'Portugal. The Man' Talks Danger Mouse, RZA And Weird Al Yankovic

Genre-bending, groove group ‘Portugal. The Man’ dropped their latest album Evil Friends this week (June 6) via Atlantic Records after much anticipation. VIBE sat down with its bassist Zach Carothers before their New York show at Irving Plaza to rap about new music, which the five-piece group had produced by legendary Danger Mouse, some juicy details on being stranded in a Mississippi flood and a collab with Weird Al Yankovic.

VIBE: Who came up with the name Portugal. The Man?
ZACH CAROTHERS: The singer John. It's sort of an alter ego, like David Bowie created Ziggy Star Dust or the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. But we’re more than one guy, so we figured a country is one name that represents one group of people with one voice in the world. In the old band that John and I were in, a lot of our songs we're sort of made up stories and Portugal was a character. [Our current band] was intended to be John’s [Gourley] solo side project, but when our old band broke up John was like 'You wanna just do Portugal with me?’ and I was like ‘Yeah.’

Why the "period" in the name?
In hindsight, as far as Google-searching, that probably wasn't the best idea. It was intended to state that it was a man’s name - not the country.

What's the best part about performing in New York?
Oh man, this is just the best place to play shows. Every time we come here it’s like the biggest show we ever played. It's kind of crazy. We grew up in Alaska, and we didn't have our heads in the clouds - we've always been pretty grounded. We never thought we would be able to do any of this stuff. We played Terminal 5 last year during EDC, and we were annoyed and scared thinking it was going to be half full, but it ended up selling out!

What's been your craziest moment on tour?
We were driving from Florida to Tempe, Arizona for tour, and our transmission went out at about 6 o’clock on a Friday night in Jackson, Mississippi, and we were not in a good part of town. We ended up spending four days parked at a gas station during a flood. We had to become friends with the girls who worked there. I think they're the reason we didn't get beat up, or jumped.

What have been some key genres or artists that have influenced your music so far?
Obviously the Beatles, which I’m sure every band says. They just did so much for progressive rock n’ roll. What they did just can't be beaten, but we'll try. The people we grew up with like Led Zeppelin really impacted our music. Hip-hop as well, like the Beastie Boys - I LOVE the Beastie Boys. I think they just never fucked up, and have always just been on cutting edge of cool. That got me into stuff like Wu Tang Klan, and that became the general idea: we wanted to make music that would be like the Beatles mixed with the Wu Tang Klan. People like Kanye and Drake and Kendrick Lamar. They rap about stuff like 'Hey this is just me, I fucked up’ and I really respect that. We definitely have a lot of influence from modern hip-hop for sure.

What would you say has been your most proudest moment in your career?
Actually, last time I was in New York we flew out to play a song for Weird Al Yankovic. I've done a lot of cool shit, but that one in particular where we played background for him, I just couldn't stop smiling. He's someone I grew up listening to.

Do you have a favorite track from Portugal. The Band?
We have a new album called Evil Friends produced by Danger Mouse - another check off the list of something else crazy I did. There's a song on that album called “Holy Roller (Hallelujah)” that is my new favorite song on the record. It won't be a hit, but it's just real raw and had potential. Everyone wanted to scrap it, but we just hammered it out in the studio on the last week of production so it meant a lot to me.

How'd you link with Danger Mouse?
He was on our list of people we wanted to work with, and the CEO of Atlantic Records sort of set us up on a blind date. We were three weeks in production of our new album, and we got a call that John went out to New York to meet up with Brian [Burton, Danger Mouse]. He offered to do a song with us; not something we’re going to say 'no' to. So we scraped everything and started new. It was amazing working with him. He's very unique as a producer and an artist, and has the right ear for everything. He pushed us to do better and understood the band dynamic very well.

Is there any rapper you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Yeah for sure. We would love to work with RZA - he did a remix to one of our songs last year and he kept my bass line, which made me feel awesome. I would love to do a song for a Tarantino film that he was doing a score for. I'm very interested in dabbling in the rap world, working with those big rappers like Kanye and Kendrick. That would be so cool.

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Doja Cat Speaks Out After Being Accused Of Joining White Supremacist Chat Rooms

After trending online for the entire Memorial Day Weekend, Doja Cat publicly addressed allegations of racism and engaging in white supremacist chat rooms on Tiny Chat.

On Sunday (May 24), the “Say So” rapper posted a lengthy Instagram statement in response to numerous tweets exposing her alleged online activity, including saying “n**ger” in a predominately white video chat room and recording a song named after a racial slur.

“I’ve used public chat rooms to socialize since I was a child. I shouldn’t have been on some of those chat room sites, but I personally have never been involved in any racist conversations,” Doja explained in the statement. “I’m sorry to everyone that I offended.”

“I’m a black woman,” she added. “Half of my family is black from South Africa and I’m very prude of where I came from.”

 

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A post shared by Doja Cat (@dojacat) on May 24, 2020 at 8:10pm PDT

A day later, Doja took to Instagram Live to further explain herself and deny allegations of self-hate, fetishizing white men, and race play.

Later in the video, Doja denied rumors that she recorded the song, “Dindu Nothin,” to make fun of police brutality. According to Doja, the song was an attempt at reclaiming the little-known slur, though she did admit that the song was a terrible idea.

Watched the full apology below.

 

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Minneapolis Police Kill Unarmed Black Man On Camera, 4 Officers Fired

Four Minneapolis police officer were fired on Tuesday (May 26) after an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, was killed during an attempted arrest. Massive crowds took to streets late Tuesday in protest Floyd's murder.

“It’s not enough,” the victim's cousin said in reaction to the cops getting fired. “They murdered our cousin.”

In the disturbing video, Floyd can be heard begging for air while an officer has his knee in his neck for several minutes. The case is under FBI investigation.

“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “What we saw is horrible, completely and utterly messed up.”

During a press conference Tuesday morning, and in a new release post a day earlier, Minneapolis police failed to address the video but claimed that Floyd was a forgery suspect who “physically resisted arrest” after being located by police in a grocery store parking lot Monday night.

“Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and officers noticed that the man was going into medical distress,” reads the MPD news release. “Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”

Bystanders recorded as the arresting officer ignores Floyd’s pleas and continued to press his knee into Floyd’s neck. “I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe,” Floyd is heard saying on the video. “Don’t kill me, I can’t breathe.”

Floyd, 46, loses consciousness during the recording. He was pronounced dead at Hennepin hospital.

“The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening,” Gov. Tim Walz said. “We will get answers and seek justice.”

A native of Houston, Floyd lived in the St. Louis Park area of Minneapolis and worked as a security guard for several years.

 

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Megan Thee Stallion Earns First No. 1 With “Savage” Remix Ft. Beyonce

Megan Thee Stallion is the second female rapper to come in at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the last month. The Houston rapper’s “Savage” remix  jumped from fifth place to the top spot this week marking Meg’s first run atop the single’s chart and Beyonce’s seventh No. 1 single overall.

To celebrate, Bey sent Megan a bouquet of flowers.

Beyoncé sent Megan flowers to congratulate her on their #1 with Savage Remix 🥺💕 pic.twitter.com/Q1bWwFm9LC

— Megan Daily (@HottieSource) May 26, 2020

The “Savage” remix gave Meg her first No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop songs chart, and returned to the top spot on the Hot Rap Songs tally. The track also climbed four slots to top the Digital Song Sales chart. The single marks a special achievement for Beyonce who joins Mariah Carey as the only two artists to earn No. 1’s in the 2000s, the 2010, and 2020s.

In addition to making chart history, the “Savage” remix was a collective effort between Megan and Beyonce to help their hometown of Houston during the COVID-19 pandemic. The song has reportedly raised more than $500,000 for charity.

 

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