• Katy Perry meets her makers / Photo by Getty Images

    Death Wears a Leopard Fedora: SPIN Goes to the VMAs

    The first thing you hear is the screams. They shatter the air for blocks and never pause for breath. Imagine an infinite helium wail. A brutal hymn of unsexed adolescent euphoria, so high-pitched it could deafen your dog. They're audible a half mile from the Staples Center, the Lakers arena that doubles as the death star for the 2012 Video Music Awards. You can't see the object of their affection, but if you close your eyes, you can almost feel the concrete quivering to the unflappable rhythms of an ersatz Calvin Harris rave. Open them and observe the neon. Recoil at the torrent of teenaged girls stuffed into outfits every color of the day-glo. There are streams of Snookis. "Trill" rivulets of amateur Amber Roses rocking skirts so short they could pass for scarves. Animal prints and saline implants. Half of them wear sunglasses in shades that Crayola hasn't even considered.

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    Odd Future, 'The OF Tape Vol. 2' (Odd Future Records)

    The barbarians stormed the gates to build pop-up shops shilling $60 hoodies emblazoned with cats and donuts. Odd Future had 12 million syllables spilled about their ascent, but every would-be oracle was wrong. They were neither rapists nor messiahs, neither heralds of punk rap nor the next Wu-Tang. Yet the Clan and the Wolf Gang did share similar ends: a fixed identity as insider-outsiders, a subversive mass cult at the fringes of pop culture, an enduring reputation as sell-outs with integrity. You can’t trust Tyler, the Creator. He is a master of the mindfuck as explained by Puff Daddy in Get Him to the Greek: You don’t see it, but he is fucking your mind. For the last two years, he’s fulminated against Odd Future being considered horrorcore, underground, and even a hip-hop group.

  • [Photo: Getty Images]

    Inside the Grammys: Could Somebody Please Refill the Coffee Pot?

    At the Grammys, the security guards are your enemy. Under no circumstances, should you make eye contact with any of them. It's a sign that you are an interloper and belong with the sad-sack 17-year-old groupies surrounding the Staples Center perimeter on Sunday night. If you're going to successfully sneak inside, it's imperative to pretend like you belong. Stare intently at your cell phone. Strut with serene confidence. Never stop moving. If a guard grunts in your direction, ignore them. Provided you are wearing a lanyard, any lanyard, they will not grab you. It's too risky. What if you're someone famous? And should anyone ask who I am tonight, I will solemnly answer: "Argyle Frampton, the bassist in Bon Iver." I haven't shaved in four days and I am wearing plaid. My alibi is airtight. A more valid question: Why would I want to sneak into the Grammys?

  • Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa, 'Mac & Devin Go to High School: Music From and Inspired by the Movie' (Atlantic)

    Over 12 tracks and 36 smoke breaks, Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg incinerate enough chronic to convince themselves they really are the two oldest high school students since Andrea Zuckerman. Throw reality out the El Camino window. Instead, we have this Atlantic Records-assembled blue dream, with the pop-savvy stoners goofing off like their generation's Cheech & Chong (they wish). The soundtrack to Mac & Devin Go to High School (which exists, apparently, and stars the duo in an attempt to grab some How High-type glory) shows no menace, merely mischief, full of tightly wrapped joints and loose references to "high school." (Seems Wiz has a real problem showing up to third period on time.) Over ground-up funk, soul, and pop, the pair sound unusually alert, if not you-fill-in-the-blank.

  • Gucci Mane & V-Nasty, 'BAYTL' (Vice/Warner Bros.)

    Give Gucci Mane and V-Nasty credit. Amid our current frantic race to realize the dim-witted dystopia of Mike Judge's Idiocracy, the duo's collaboration is fulfilled prophecy. BATYL is a 45-minute barrage of FML that's almost impossible to muck through; the only thing more challenging would be calculating when you last heard a rap record this bad. When Vanilla Ice went nü-metal? When Joey Lawrence slipped his baby-baby banalities between episodes of Blossom? Here we have an atrocity so immaculate it transcends genre. This is Mariah Carey's Glitter, "The Homer" as produced by Powell Motors, Tony "The Incredible Bulk" Mandarich, the Keymaster meeting the Gatekeeper. Pure fucking swagpocalyse. You can't say you didn't see it coming.

  • Jonti, 'Twirligig' (Stones Throw)

    Imagine if Panda Bear attempted to make Madlib albums for São Paulo planetariums. Like similarly inscrutable labelmate James Pants, Jonti Dan (formerly of Danimals) is a pop ?deconstructionist -- merging celestial falsettos, dusted sampledelics, and melted-tape nostalgia. South Africa–raised and Australia-based, his debut deals in 21st-century collage: an eddy of loops, strings, and sherbet-bright synthesizers. Guest raps from subterranean MC Otayo Dubb bleed into the bootleg pyrotechnics of "Firework Spraying Moon"; the samba slink of "Batmilk" bleeds into the hypnagogic haze of "Begone Slumber." It's crate-digging redefined for the chill age.

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    Breaking Out: Danny Brown

    Detroit rapper Danny Brown smokes two blunts every morning, but that's not excessive. After all, he's the self-proclaimed "Adderall admiral" -- a profane, pill-popping ex-crack dealer with a love of Sufjan Stevens and nasally nail-gun raps. Hearing him tell it, though, after lighting up a Swisher Sweet on a sunstroked summer morning in West Hollywood, things are nicely even-keeled at the moment. This year, Brown signed to Fool's Gold Records, after three celebrated mixtapes that included collaborations with Lil B, underground king Black Milk, and Tony Yayo. Even 50 Cent became a fan. "50 Cent's a songwriter," says Brown. "He understood and liked my music, but he didn't understand me." Looking at Brown, 30, it's easy to see where some confusion might arise. He's wearing a teal sweater, white skinny-jean cutoffs, and Air Jordans.

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    Evanescence Members, 'American Idol' Smithson Debut New Band

    America, meet your new goth rock queen: pale and plangent-voiced ex-American Idol star Carly Smithson, who has joined with three former members of Evanescence -- including co-founder/principal songwriter Ben Moody -- to form a new band, We Are the Fallen. Hey, say what you want about Moody, at least he has a type -- when it comes to frontwomen. After a 2003 falling out with Evanescence's raven-haired, iron-fisted singer Amy Lee, Moody, the chief songwriter behind the band's 15 million-selling Fallen, spent half the decade working with high-profile collaborators including Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, and American Idol stars Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry.

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