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Super-Producer Mike Dean Talks Touring With the Weeknd, New Compilation and Forthcoming All-Star Album — But Not Beyonce or Kid Cudi

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Mike Dean is a man of few words, letting his music do the talking on songs he’s produced for himself — such as his 2021 album “4:22” — and for others, including Beyonce, Kanye West the Weeknd — who he’s currently opening for on the “After Hours Til the Dawn” stadium tour — and his just-released compilation, “See You Next Year.”

Oh, and the occasional social media post, like Wednesday night’s minor drama involving his apparent removal from Kid Cudi’s Moon Man Landing Festival in Cleveland next month. Dean wrote, “Looks like I won’t be playing moon man’s landing this year. Someone cancelled me. Lol. Thanks. That’s all. #immature,” later adding “#nocomment🖕.” He also responded to fan’s Twitter question about cancel culture with “lol. No one can cancel me like that! Just some baby kid baby shit.”

It seems likely that the event is related to Cudi’s recent falling out with his former friend and collaborator West, whom Dean has worked with closely, if at times contentiously, for more than a decade. But as expected, Dean had no comment on the situation as he caught up with Variety earlier this week from Tampa, where he was preparing for his opening-slot performance on the Weeknd tour, which has been characterized as an “improv synth set.”

“My stuff is a good build-up for The Weeknd’s set, I think,” said Dean, who played songs from his albums “4:20” and “4:22” along with other, more hymnal tracks at the Philadelphia tour opener. “It’s perfect synth music to get people in the mood for the show. Plus, the newer improv stuff I’m playing on stage, I’m recording all that and going through it to see what I want to release.”

Calling the opening slot and the tour “Weeknd 101,” (“a deep dive into his music and all of its styles”), Dean says he is looking forward to growing his musical relationship with his tourmate. Between the tour, the upcoming HBO show, “The Idol,” and his production of Weeknd music, Dean says this is probably the closest relationship he’s had with another artist. “I do think that we’ve truly bonded on this tour.”

When Dean isn’t improvising music on stage, he’s recording new music on his new tour bus, a “very cool” vehicle that “allows me the space to record, mix and master anything I want, when I want. That said, I look forward to getting home to my own studio and getting an even newer, bigger bus I can fully equip, rent out to other producers and pick my own locations to record.”

Before our call, Dean was busy filming scenes from “The Idol,” the Weeknd’s still-in-production new HBO dramedy with “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson and co-star Lily-Rose Depp. “I can’t really talk about it,” Dean said with a laugh.

“But I am in the trailer where you can see me hitting my bong. So I’m definitely smoking weed on the show. That’s all I can say.”

He also declined to discuss working on Beyoncé’s “Renaissance,” or the six tracks he had a hand in as producer, programmer, synthesizer player or drummer, including the shuddering “Summer Renaissance,” with its interpolation of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.”

Dean did manage to call Bey a “queen of rhythm” before saying he couldn’t say more.

What he could talk about was his various-artists album, “See You Next Year,” which dropped today. Dean executive-produced album in collaboration with the music discovery site Pigeons & Planes and the creative agency/record label Big.Ass.Kids (with distribution through Warner/ADA). The album features such up-and-coming vocalists and rappers as Brevin Kim, Baird, Fana Hues, Dreamer Isioma, Ekkstacy, Terry Presume, Redveil, Wallice, Ben Reilly, Sash and Teezo Touchdown, along with other producers.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call what I’m doing with those artists ‘mentorship’ or ‘curation,’” says Dean. “I knew the guys from Pigeons & Planes — they’ve been covering my stuff for years and were working on a compilation. I didn’t plan on doing tracks or executive producing, but it turned into a thing.”

That thing includes a new Dean instrumental, “Business Class,” as well as such fresh productions as “Oz” with Sash and “Loner” with Terry Presume.

“Sash is a real crooner,” Dean says. “I believe he has growth potential as an artist and I’m going to continue working with him for some upcoming records. I like all of the artists on the package, though.”

Dean compares “See You Next Year” and possible follow-up sets to XXL magazine’s annual “Freshman Class” lists of the top 10 up-and-coming rappers. “If you took that XXL thing and made it not exclusively rap, added in R&B or pop, that’s what this would be. It’s nice, wider-ranging.”

He adds, tantalizingly, “I’m already working on my own upcoming compilation of known, big artists and friends — pretty much everybody I’ve ever produced. I’m trying to get that together now.”

And of course, he adds with a laugh, “No — I can’t say who, yet, will be on my album.”



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Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus’ ‘Old Town Road’ Music Video Hits 1 Billion Views on YouTube

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A whole lot of prospective cowboys have taken a metaphorical horseback ride down the old town road. As of Aug. 10, the music video for Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’s hip-hop/country crossover smash “Old Town Road” has surpassed one billion views — the first project for either artist to hit that milestone.

In the video for Lil Nas’ breakout hit, the 23-year-old gallops around feeling like an outsider in his modern town — until he meets up with the “Achy Breaky Heart” country king himself. Together, they mosey into a community center filled with like-minded Wild Westerners and partake in some square dancing, while performing onstage in cowboy hats, boots and bedazzled, fringed shirts.

The “Industry Baby” rapper and Cyrus also made a longer version of the video called “Old Town Road (Official Movie),” which isn’t too far behind with nearly 650 million views at the time of publication. Originally released in 2018 as Lil Nas’ debut single, “Old Town Road” went on to obliterate the record for most weeks spent at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 by spending 19 weeks atop the chart.

Cyrus joined the project in spring 2019, shortly after “Old Town Road” was re-released as a single by Lil Nas’ label, Columbia Records. The country star has since said that Lil Nas is like family to him, meanwhile the “Industry Baby” artist told Billboard in 2019 that Cyrus gave some wise advice for whenever he gets overwhelmed by the immense fame he was skyrocketed into following “Old Town Road”: “When everything is moving too fast around you, just stand still.”

Join a billion others in watching Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Old Town Road” music video below:



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JC Chasez Joins TikTok, Asking His *NSYNC Bandmates: ‘Am I Doing This Right?’

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JC Chasez might be saying hello to TikTok, but his first post on the video-sharing site is soundtracked by *NSYNC‘s “Bye Bye Bye.”

The 46-year-old singer looked to his old bandmates for some backup in the video’s caption, tagging Justin Timberlake, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick and asking: “Am I doing this right?”

So far, so good, JC. In the 11-second video, a camera whips around a dinner table before focusing on the former boy-bander’s newly silver hair and beard. “Wait, that’s really bright,” he says as the cell phone light hits his face and he grabs the camera. “Give me this.”

In the next frame, you can see Chasez’s girlfriend, Jennifer HuYoung, behind him. He asks, “How’s this sh– work?” as the top five Billboard Hot 100 hit “Bye Bye Bye” kicks in.

Chasez’s first TikTok arrives two days after his birthday, for which Timberlake took to a different social-media platform — Instagram Stories — to send well-wishes to his old bandmate. “To my brother,” JT wrote to JC on Monday. “We’ve come a long way.”

Since his *NSYNC days, Chasez has released one solo album, 2004’s Schizophrenic, and was a judge on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew for seven seasons. In August 2013, he reunited with his bandmates for a one-time performance when Timberlake received the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards, and in April 2019, he joined Bass, Fatone and Kirkpatrick to perform *NSYNC songs with Ariana Grande during her headlining set at Coachella.

*NSYNC fans will no doubt speculate what the new TikTok could mean for any future activities for the boy band, since Chasez tagged all his bandmates — who were already on the platform — and used an *NSYNC song in the video. When Fatone stopped by the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast in 2020 and was asked about an *NSYNC reunion, he said, “It’s not a no, but it’s not a yes” — so only time will tell.

Watch Chasez’s inaugural TikTok below:



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Travis Barker Returns to Machine Gun Kelly Tour ‘Against His Doctor’s Orders’

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The show must go on! Machine Gun Kelly revealed via his Instagram Stories on Tuesday (Aug. 9) that Travis Barker will return to his Mainstream Sellout tour for the remaining concert dates despite the drummer’s health status.

“Against his doctor’s orders AND with a broken thumb, I convinced @travisbarker to come join us for the last couple days,” MGK wrote alongside a screenshot of a FaceTime call between the rockers. See the “Bloody Valentine” singer’s Instagram Story before it disappears here.

Barker hopped in on the excitement via Twitter, writing before the Aug. 10 concert in Missouri, “I’m impregnating the entire crowd at the @machinegunkelly show tonight.”

He followed-up by tweeting, “With a broken thumb and torn tendons.”

Back in June, Barker developed a severe case of pancreatitis following what seemed to be a routine endoscopy. “I went in for an endoscopy Monday feeling great,” Barker wrote on Instagram Stories a few days after news broke of the hospitalization. “But after dinner, I developed excruciating pain and have been hospitalized ever since.”

He said, “During the endoscopy, I had a very small polyp removed right in a very sensitive area, usually handled by specialists, which unfortunately damaged a critical pancreatic drainage tube. This resulted in severe life threatening pancreatitis.”

“I am so very very grateful that with intensive treatment I am currently much better,” wrote Barker, who was treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Wife Kourtney Kardashian also shared an update Saturday afternoon via Instagram Stories: “Oh what a scary and emotional week it has been. Our health is everything and sometimes we take for granted how quickly it can change … I am so grateful to God for healing my husband, for all of your prayers for him and for us, for the overwhelming outpouring of love and support. I am so touched and so appreciative. I am so thankful to our specialists, doctors, and nurses at Cedars Sinai for taking such wonderful care of my husband and me during our stay.”



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