Article by Shea Serrano

On Sunday, August 28th, MTV's Video Music Awards will wander into town.

MTV, by the way, is a television station. They play music and whatnot, but more importantly, they allow a handsome troglodyte named CT to exist.

Also, younger readers: A television station is kind of like Youtube, except you don't have as much immediate control over what you watch. There are far less poorly made NBA highlights videos on TV, which is good, but it's also considerably harder to find Tupac videos late at night when you're drunk, which is bad. It's a wash, maybe.

At any rate, the VMAs will be here soon. Earlier this week, they announced the nominees for the fourteen categories. Now, naturally, there are a ton of names on the ballots that you'll already be familiar with–Kanye, Eminem, Britney Spears (fa'real), The Black Keys, The Wallflowers (not fa'real), Foo Fighters, and more. So we're going to skip right past all of those, and jump over to the Best New Artist nominees (where, incidentally, California is handily represented).

We compiled a field guide listing all of the pertinent information you'll need to know to have a coherent, completely steady VMA viewing experience, because that's why people watch the VMAs.


Her Audio Aesthetic In Exactly 26 Words: Rapper… voice buzzes around… environs vacillate between swarming electronica and wonky thumps… could only become famous in post-Youtube era… possibly a method actor… possibly a genius.

The Song You Know: “Gucci, Gucci”

Possible Medical Condition: Apparently, she has swag pumping out of her ovaries. I searched all over WebMD about this; couldn't find anything on it, not even symptoms. Sorry, K. Hope your OSS (Ovary Swag Syndrome) clears up soon though.

Why She Might Win: Because she is doing a more marketable (white), more attractive version of what Lil B did to get famous. “Gucci, Gucci” is up over 6,000,000 hits on Youtube already.

Why She Might Not Win: Because she is doing a more marketable (white), more attractive version of what Lil B did to get famous.

You're Curious Why The Two Of You Don't Get Along: Well, perhaps you're a basic bitch. In which case, she won't even bother.

Read this.


His Audio Aesthetic In Exactly 26 Words: Rapper… thin body, thin voice… clever, funny, but not exceptional… tidy production… there will be a new Big Sean every year for the next nine years.

The Song You Know: “My Last”

How He Got Here: Basically, he just ended up on everybody guest list, thus he's just doing better than what everyone projected.

Why He Might Win: “My Last” has over 11,000,000 hits on Youtube. Also, because the wrong person wins these things all the time. Remember when Maroon 5 beat Kanye West for Best New Artist in 2004? That was cute.

Why He Might Not Win: Because he said he invented hashtag rap, even though that shit's been around since at least the early nineties. You were three when you invented it, Sean? Come now, sir.


Their Audio Aesthetic In Exactly 26 Words: Groovy indie rock… generally submissive, occasionally assertive, but always packaged in a warm falsetto… smart, ambitious, smooth and charming but not irreplaceable… excels at being amiable.

Song You Know: “Pumped Up Kicks”

The Obvious Point: This is the only nominee that does not rap. That probably doesn't mean anything, but maybe it does.

Why They Might Win: Because there will be a definite bit of an underdog factor in play. And because they are all handsome. And because they still respond regularly to their fans on Twitter.

Why They Might Not Win: Because they can still respond regularly to their fans on Twitter. Current number of followers: >27,000. That's basically one percent of the number of followers Wiz Khalifa has.


His Audio Aesthetic In Exactly 26 Words: Rapper… nightmare atmospherics… chunky, itchy bass… shock and shock and shock words… progressive… tinks… hyperbelligerent… perpetual antagonist, though likely a sweetheart… more charming than he intends.

The Song You Know: “Yonkers”

Gay?: Nope. He just wants to boogie to some Marvin.

Why He Might Win: Because, holy shit, he warbled the Internet when “Yonkers” posted. The video is up over 15,500,000 hits on Youtube. And he has, for certain, bent the trajectory of contemporary rap at least a few degrees.

Why He Might Not Win: Something about rape, something about murder, something about necrophilia, something about amorality, something about roaches, something about monster misogyny, blah, blah, blah…


His Audio Aesthetic In Exactly 26 Words: Rapper… is a tad spectral, at times… Godhead choruses… called his most important album Rolling Papers… not above sampling Eurodance… words crawl forward from soft palate.

The Song You Know: “Black and Yellow”

Best Beyonce Redub:If I Were a Lame” a meticulous adaptation of Beyonce's “If I Were A Boy.” Any song that balladizes the phrase “lame ass nigga” is generally going to be a winner. By the way, had you said, “There's going to be a pop ballad on national radio stations this year wherein the singer unironically sings, 'Sucks to be you'; guess who it'll be by,” everyone's first pick would've been Beyonce, right? Man, what happened, B?

Why He Might Win: “Black and Yellow” is nearing 90,000,000 views on Youtube. Also, even though they chunked him into the Best New Artist category, he's been prominent -at least, within the independent rap industry–for a fair amount of time. Proof: Type in his name to the search engine on Youtube or Google. He's the only artist here whose most popular song doesn't automatically come up first. At the moment, if you type in “Wiz” in the Youtube search box, “Wiz Khalifa Black and Yellow” is the fifth selection. Kreayshawn doesn't even have a fifth option. It starts listing Keshia Cole songs and shit.

Why He Might Not Win: There has to be some sort of blowback for dating Amber Rose, right? I mean, beyond having to explain to your mother why there are pictures on the Internet of your girlfriend masturbating.

Now go vote.

LA Weekly