Nicki Minaj Named ‘Maxim’ Creative Director & Global Ambassador of Sports Gambling Brand MaximBet

Nicki Minaj shared the news Tuesday (May 31) that she’s become the global ambassador for MaximBet, the sports betting lifestyle brand launched by Maxim last year.

As part of the collaboration, the superstar rapper will become creative director for Maxim magazine and collaborate with MaximBet on merchandise, events, fan experiences, other partnerships, branding and more. She will also advise MaximBet’s current board of directors.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of a collaboration,” Minaj said in a statement. “Merging business savvy power moves with my natural, creative, sexy, fun, and fashion-forward expression is just so spot on as it relates to this partnership. I’m ready to fully step into my potential as a young, influential queen and owner and open doors for others to dream big. Get ready for the sexy parties and remember: scared money don’t make NO MONEY!!!! HA!!! Place your bets!!!! Let’s GO!!!”

After making the announcement, the “Do We Have a Problem?” rapper posted multiple carefree TikToks posing in a hot tub while wearing a pink swimsuit emblazoned with the MaximBet logo. “Global Ambassador of @maximbetusa & creative director of @maximmag – let the games begin,” she captioned the first, and she set the second to “We Go Up,” her recent collab with Fivio Foreign.

Earlier this month, Minaj arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the 2022 Met Gala in a black leather Balenciaga baseball cap and connected with Katy Perry at the A-list party, with her “Swish Swish” collaborator admitting in a behind-the-scenes video that she’s a self-described Barb.

Check out Minaj’s flurry of MaximBet announcements below.

Noah Cyrus Recreates Throwback Paparazzi Video of Her & Miley Cyrus

Back before Noah Cyrus was an artist in her own right, she was the adorable baby sister of then-Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus, and would often appear walking alongside the “7 Things” singer in paparazzi videos.

In a video uploaded to TikTok on Monday (May 30), Noah recreates one of those throwback paparazzi videos, in which she’s seen at the post office with Miley and their mom, Tish. In the clip, a young, blonde haired Noah watches as a fan takes a photo of her older sister on a flip phone — and proceeds to stare, cross armed, as the fan walks away.

@noahcyrus

#duet with @mileycyrus_es 🤣😫🤣😭😭

♬ sonido original – Miley Cyrus España

Cyrus has been open about how living with a famous sister and father (Billy Ray Cyrus) affected her upbringing. Back in 2020, for in tmrw magazine’s The Mischief Issue, the “Lonely” singer cited being called “Hannah Montana’s sister” and other names that weren’t her own. “Somebody not even coming up to you and calling you by your name?” the youngest Cyrus said. “That’s going to really f— you up as a kid, make you feel like you don’t f—ing even matter to the population — for them to not even know your name.”

Noah described a long list of misconceptions attached to her famous name, including having an impermeable shield against harmful comments, but she painfully felt the impact of those words hurled at her even from across a computer or phone screen. “I think what’s weird about people on the Internet is that they think if you have a well-known last name that whatever they say to you may not hurt your feelings or that whatever they say about you couldn’t possibly make its way to you or hurt you,” she told tmrw. “There’s no mercy from people who see you only as public. I would say what bothers me the most is that people think that they can just say whatever the f— they want, and it doesn’t really have a consequence to it or it doesn’t affect anything ‘cause it’s said over the internet. There’s so much power to the internet. Whether you’re well-known or not, it still f—ing hurts somebody so bad to read the s— that I’ve been reading since I was so young. So many people get that every day, and it’s so f—ed up, man.”

The 22-year-old star is set to release her new LP, The Hardest Part, on July 15 via RECORDS/Columbia.

Engineer Nickie Jon Pabon on Helping Jack Harlow Sound Like a Superstar From the Studio to the Stage

On “Like a Blade of Grass” from Jack Harlow’s latest album, Come Home the Kids Miss You, he raps, “Some of these girls in the mix more than engineers.” But no one’s more in the mix than Harlow’s longtime engineer Nickie Jon Pabón, who chuckles at the “nutty ass line.”

“Some people aren’t going to understand that, but he did it for the people that do,” he tells Billboard over Zoom during rehearsals for Harlow’s performance at Forecastle Festival in his Louisville, Ky. hometown over the weekend.

Describing himself as the “creative backbone for everybody in the room,” Pabón earned writing/production credits and mixed half of Come Home The Kids Miss You, Harlow’s sophomore album that was released on May 6, 2022, via Generation Now/Atlantic Records. The set debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and reached No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums tallies.

They’re impressive marks for Harlow, who, just within the last few years, ascended from a glasses-wearing MC with boy-next-door charm and quirky raps to a superstar who’s had smart collaborations, sharper bars and, of course, is “still out here gettin’ cuter.” Releasing an album in between hip-hop heavyweights Future and Kendrick Lamar sounds daunting, but one of the album’s executive producers Rogét Chahayed stated in a previous Complex interview that “it’s the echelon that Jack deserves to be standing in.”

The 24-year-old rapper finally reached the upper echelon of the Billboard Hot 100 as the lead artist with the LP’s second single “First Class,” which samples Fergie’s 2006 No. 1 smash “Glamorous.” The single has been No. 1 for three nonconsecutive weeks – all while Harry Styles’ five-week No. 1 “As It Was” stayed at No. 2 (now back to No. 1 in the week ending June 4) and Bad Bunny and Kendrick Lamar were dotting the Hot 100 with multiple songs from their chart-topping projects, Un Verano Sin Ti and Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, respectively. The future White Men Can’t Jump star is playing in the big leagues, and his teammates have long believed in his ability to do so while envisioning how much bigger he’ll become.

And with Pabón doubling as Harlow’s live audio specialist, he enjoys the rare perk of being able to see the songs he sat down and worked for hours and hours on finally come to life during the rapper’s performances. Growing up in Atlanta with Puerto Rican parents, he always imagined himself singing on stage and fantasizing over being backstage ever since he was nine. Now, at 26, “I’m on the same stage off to the side, right behind that speaker, but I’m up there with Jack and I can see the audience grow and catch that energy,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Of course, I want to do this.’”

Billboard caught up with Pabón to discuss the making of Come Home the Kids Miss You, the significance of a subtle nod in the studio, and the family unit supporting Harlow from the studio to the stage.

How did you begin working with Generation Now?

I started going to audio engineering school because I wanted to learn how to record myself. I graduated [from SAE Institute Atlanta], and I ended up starting to record other people, and noticed a passion for being able to help somebody and give them a perspective that they didn’t have. While in school, I was interning at Means Street Studios, which was DJ Drama and Don Cannon and Lake Sheezy’s studio, for about six months – the whole working security at the door, cleaning, everything.

That turned into me getting my first session, [which] was [Lil] Uzi [Vert]. Uzi was recording there at the time, his family was in town and his cousin wanted to record. The managers knew I was in school for it, so they just wanted to see how I could handle that light work first. From there, it turned into me starting to get sessions for the studio and a lot of label sessions as well. I got thrown into the fire quick because one of my first sessions was Cardi B during the whole “Bodak Yellow” thing. Sean Garrett was in the room, The-Dream was in the room. It was J. White producing.

What helped me is that artistic background. I’ve recorded in the studio myself before, like singing, and I know immediately the things that I wouldn’t like that an engineer would do. Or things that would throw me off my vibe, or what an engineer could do to help me lose myself more in the music and not be so focused on reminding him that he’s recording a song, but to remind him that he’s capturing a performance.

When did your journey with Jack start?

Jack got signed maybe a year into me actually working as an engineer. It’s funny because he had two engineers before me and loved them. And for this particular day, they weren’t available and he was kind of being reluctant to trying a third engineer at the studio. But we ended up getting in the room and I let him know how I felt about him. I said, “Man, I’m not here to kiss ass. I just want to let you know, bro, you have the makings to be a Billboard No. 1 artist.” I swear, this is one of the first things I said. I just had that genuine belief in him. It didn’t take a rocket scientist – I could see the vision. So we started working and we haven’t stopped working since.

“First Class” spent three nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100. When you were in the studio making that song, at what point did you think, “Yeah, this one’s different. This one’s about to go up?”

I would say Jack definitely did. The rest of us loved it for what it was, not necessarily thinking, “Oh man, this is going to be crazy.” We were more so looking at each other and saying, “Hey, we love this song.” But I think he was the one that really spearheaded the decision of making it a single in the first place. Once we saw how passionate he was, we knew this was going to make him happy as an artist. I don’t think that we saw it coming, at least from the producers and other creators, but I’ll give credit where credit is due — and Jack definitely knew that it was going to do.

From a technical standpoint, the way Fergie’s “Glamorous” sample is cut in the chorus – “I been a (G), throw up the (L), sex in the (A.M.)” – how meticulous do you have to be with the mixing for it to sound like one, smooth track versus two songs coming together?

That’s the dynamic that I share with Angel Lopez and Rogét Chahayed, who are the executive producers on the album. We just have that connection where it’s easy for us to communicate. Angel will chop the sample up and he’ll give it to me and he knows that I know what pocket to put it in. He knows that I know how to EQ it. And if there’s something he needs to remind me of, or a perspective that he has, he comes up to me and taps me on the shoulder and says, “Hey.” And then we throw it on. I look back and say, “What do you think if we do this?” And he’s like, “Oh yeah, try it.” And we look at each other like, “Oh my God!”

It’s not a one-man team. It’s definitely a combination of us back there, feeding off of each other, dancing with each other while we’re making the music. It’s not just me being in my own little corner. I’m looking back at them, so if I’m looking and I see that he’s kind of looking at me, I give him a quick little look [Nods] like, “Yes” and then I go back to being in my world. And that dance is just what’s important, so that he can feel like he’s not just in the room by himself with the pressure, and he knows that he has creative support next to him.

There were heavy-hitting guests on the album: Pharrell, Drake, Lil Wayne, Justin Timberlake. How many of those verses were recorded while Jack was in the room versus sent over digitally? And how does the mixing process differ when you have the vocals sent in?

I would say all of them except for one were in person. These are the artists that are at the top of the game that genuinely, when Jack walks in the room, they love him. It’s not just, “We’re getting on what’s hot.” The music is one thing, but the conversations and the relationships are what’s really, really important. Jack would meet the guys face to face. When Jack went over to Turks with Drake, that’s what makes it so genuine. It was like, “Jack brought a song where he was getting his shit off. I love it. How can I hop on?”

Ideally, you’d like to have a conversation with either the other artist or the artist’s engineer and not go into it blindsided. You open the conversation up, like, “Are these vocals about how you guys want him to sound?” And then you start opening up dialogue: “Oh no, you can treat them. Do what you want to do with them,” or, “Oh yeah, this is kind of about where we want them.” It’s very much about not just people sending me stuff and I’m tucked off in a dark corner somewhere – I want to be in the face of the people that recorded whatever I didn’t record, and that we at least talk.

A big blessing in and of itself was FaceTiming Justin Timberlake on release night and him looking at me and saying, “Thank you guys for taking care of my vocals and taking care of the environment, the beat, how everything was mixed.” He was singing our praises. Justin Timberlake is my favorite artist of all time. I kept it real short and sweet, I told him, “Hey bro, I have to say it: You’re my idol.” When I tell you that I sang and that I danced, it was because I grew up watching *NSYNC. These dudes, they were kids that looked like me. And I was able to communicate that to him. I was able to tell him that Justified changed my life when I was six years old. I told that to my parents.

That’s the blessing of all of this – is getting in front of your idols and sharing that look. Timbaland came into the room a couple of times, and we would be working on stuff, and he would look at me and be like [Nods] and I would look back at him. And he’d go over to Angel, our producer that came up under Timbaland, and say, “He’s a young Jimmy,” referring to Jimmy Douglass, which was his engineer. That’s what you live for. Those are the moments that are fulfilling.

I noticed a lot of beat switches on this album. Why were those important to embed in the album’s DNA?

Jack loves the element of surprise. And it happens different ways: Maybe you make two songs on two different nights, and then the light bulb comes on and you’re like, “Hold on, what about this with this?” Or maybe you create with the intention of switching it up at some point. There’s no rules to it.

Since you always give credit to Jack where it’s due, I saw him do that for you on his Instagram Story where he wrote next to a picture of you two, “Thank you to my brother for taking us to the finish line and ensuring that I sound pristine. Such an important person in this process.” What does “taking us to the finish line” look like when you were wrapping up Come Home The Kids Miss You?

There are so many roles, and so many tasks that need to be completed. A big thing is making sure that the mixes translate, like we feel them in the headphones how we felt them in the studio. Part of it is what I was telling you about, where I will look back at Angel and he’d be looking at me and just that creative process in and of itself, trying to provide energy to a group of people that might be a little bit more depleted. I went through that myself, but he knows how much I care and he knows that there isn’t anything I want more than this. And not only that — I know that the harder that I go, the brighter that he shines.

It’s essentially not breaking down, finding a solution to everything. If I need to find inspiration somehow some way, then I need to search for that inspiration somehow some way, whether that’s taking a walk or playing basketball, but changing up the routine so that I feel refreshed. There would be days where we would do a show and then go to the studio afterwards, so I’m taking care of his show, doing his in-ears, working all the music and then we finish, I set down and then get Ubered straight to the studio to set up the microphone and then go do another four, five, six hours, however long we can last. Mind you, it’s already late, it’s probably already 12 a.m. So yeah, it’s a lot, but anytime that I feel like that, I just remind myself, “Man, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else right now.”

Considering you’re also Jack’s live audio specialist, what was it like to help bring Jack’s debut album That’s What They All Say to life during the Creme de la Creme Tour?

That’s my first time ever going on tour. I didn’t know if it was really something I could do, especially being so grounded at the studio at Means Street for three years straight working. But once the pandemic hit and outside closed down, I was taking care of Jack’s stuff and there were some songs that it was just me and him in the room. And then now, it’s in front of everybody. You go back and you think about those little details of when we said, “Oh let’s try this here. Let’s try this there.” And then [there are] those moments you remember when you hear them. It’s just a constant reminder of not just making good songs, but of our experience making them.

What are you looking forward to the most during the Come Home the Kids Miss You Tour?

We’re doing bigger venues and that’s always cool, but my biggest thing about the live shows is the relationship that I have with everybody on the tour. It’s not just me learning what I can about the live shows from them, but just being with them. Somehow, we got the sickest 12-to-14-man crew that was with us for the Creme de la Creme Tour, and they’re all still here. I go in the bus and I just see [production manager and front-of-house Anthony] Cotton there and I can already tell I’m just gonna go crack a joke with him.

Jack’s so busy and he does so much, but he still takes the time when he can and says, “Hey, let’s go out on a walk in the city. Let’s go bowling in the city.” And we sit down in those moments, and there might be a bunch of people, but we’ll sit down next to each other and we’ll just say, “Man, you remember four years ago when I said that thing in the studio where I believed in you so much? I believed in you and you believed in me, bro.”

Just How Much Did Harry Styles’ Album Earn in One Week?

Vinyl is expensive to manufacture and complicated to ship, even without the long backlogs at pressing plants stretched beyond capacity. To get a sense of why it’s worth it, consider this: Harry Styles’ new Harry’s House album sold $4.49 million worth of vinyl records in its first week in stores in the U.S. alone, according to a Billboard estimate. That revenue came from 182,000 copies – the highest total since Luminate and its predecessor companies began tracking sales in 1991.

In the week ending May 26, Harry’s House album took in an estimated $7.26 million in the U.S., counting the money that retail accounts and digital service providers will pay Styles’ label, Columbia/Sony Music. Of that, vinyl accounted for 61.9% of week one U.S. revenue – at least partly because of a relatively high wholesale price of $24.70 and a list price of $39.98.

Streaming is easier and cheaper for labels than vinyl, which has made it the preferred format. But vinyl and CDs bring in more revenue, especially early on in the lifecycle of a project, which helps reduce the ratio of labels’ fixed costs to revenue. In many cases, vinyl and CD purchases also represent additional revenue, since some fans who buy them will also stream an album in a car or at other times they don’t have access to a turntable or CD player.

In Styles’ case, on-demand streaming was the second biggest format, which will bring in $1.32 million in revenue from on 253.3 million streams, of which 240.4 million were audio on-demand plays. (For estimation purposes, Billboard uses a blended rate of $.0053 for on-demand streams and a blended rate of $0.0038 for video streams since Luminate only counts paid video streams and ad-supported official video streams, but not user generated streams which would bring down the blended rate, but probably brings in additional revenue the album in generating that Billboard is unable to estimate.) The third biggest format was CDs, which had a wholesale price of $9.80 and accounted for $1.12 million from sales of 114,000 copies.

All told, physical music, including cassettes, generated $5.7 million, or 78.7% of the album’s first week revenue. Digital business—streaming plus album and song downloads accounted for nearly $1.55 million, or 21.3% of first week revenue.

Interestingly, sales – of vinyl, CDs, and downloads – provided 81,7% of first-week revenue, even though those formats only accounted for 63.5% of album consumption units, according to Billboard estimates. Which means that although streaming accounted for 36.9% of album consumption units, it only generated 18.3% of revenue. Of course, this is only after a week. At some point, sales will lose strength as compared to streaming, which will continue to generate revenue.

Harry’s House also boosted the consumption of Styles’ other albums, to the tune of an additional 3,000 album consumption units per week in the seven weeks leading to the new album’s debut.

Where did fans buy all of these copies? Looking at sales by store sector, non-traditional (Amazon and other online stores that sell physical products) led the way, accounting for 215,000 copies, or 65% of physical copies. Those numbers include an exclusive green vinyl edition sold by Sony Music’s direct-to-consumer operation. Mass merchants like Target—which had an exclusive yellow vinyl version of the album — sold 69,000 copies or 20.9%. Online stores like iTunes accounted for 24,000 sakes, or 7.3%, while independent stores sold 16,000 copies or 4.8%, and chain stores like FYE and Barnes & Noble selling over 6,000 copies or 2% of physical sales.

Bad Bunny’s 25 Best Songs: Critics’ Picks

Picking the 25 best Bad Bunny songs isn’t an easy task, but we’ve stepped up to the challenge.

Since releasing his debut album X100PRE in 2018, which then cemented him as a bona fide trap and reggaeton artist, El Conejo Malo has kept fans on the edge of their seats as he’s branched out to experiment with other sounds such as dembow, mambo, indie-pop and rock-alternative. His ability to oscillate between genres — at times in one single song — is what makes him one of the most fascinating artists today.

Five albums later, the 28-year-old Grammy-winning artist has a wide-ranging catalog of songs that define a generation, creating new anthems such as the empowering “Yo Perreo Sola,” the club-ready, chart-topping hit “Dákiti,” and the feel-good track “Estamos Bien,” which are just three of the 25 songs that round out Billboard‘s best Bad Bunny songs list.

Most recently, the Puerto Rican hitmaker released his highly anticipated new studio album Un Verano Sin Ti just in time for the summer. The set is packed with back-to-back hits such as “Moscow Mule,” “Después de la Playa” and “Titi Me Preguntó.” Bunny’s 23-track set debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200Top Latin Albums and Latin Rhythm Albums charts (dated May 21). Plus, every song from the album landed on the Hot Latin Songs chart, and 22 of those songs also debuted on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100.

From the Drake-assisted “Mía” to “Safaera,” “Maldita Pobreza” and “La Romana,” check out the 25 songs we think are Bad Bunny’s best tracks so far (in no specific order).

Here’s How You Can Watch the New Sex Pistols Miniseries for Free

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Pistol, a biographical FX miniseries about the punk revolution that birthed the Sex Pistols, is now available on Hulu. All six episodes in the series, created by Craig Pierce, landed on the streaming platform on Tuesday (May 31).

The show is based on the memoir Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol from Sex Pistols guitarist and founding member Steve Jones. Toby Wallace plays Jones in the series and stars alongside Anson Boon as Johnny Rotten, Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Jacob Slater as Paul Cook and Christian Lee as Glen Matlock.

Also included in the cast are Dylan Llewellyn as Wall Nightingale, Maisie Williams as Pamela Rooke a.k.a “Jordan,” Emma Appleton as Sid Vicious’s girlfriend Nancy Spungen, Sydney Chandler as singer-songwriter Chrissie Hynde, Talulah Riley as designer Vivienne Westwood, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Pistols’ former manager Malcolm McLaren, and Alexander Arnold as Jamie Reid, the artist who designed the cover art for the British rock band’s sole studio album Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.

According to FX, Pistol shares the story of a “band of spotty, noisy, working-class kids with ‘no future’ who shook the boring, corrupt establishment to its core, threatened to bring down the government and changed music and culture forever.”

Keep reading for details on how to go about watching the series for free.

How to Watch Pistol on Hulu for Free

Every episode of Pistol is streaming exclusively on Hulu. Don’t have Hulu? Join today and stream for free for the first month. This limited deal won’t last forever, so if you’ve been curious about Hulu, now’s the time to sign up!

Stream Pistol plus tons of other programs available on Hulu including exclusive movies and shows such as Pam & Tommy, How I Met Your Father, Nine Perfect Strangers, Only Murders in the Building, The Handmaid’s Tale, Dopesick, The Valet, Candy, Look at Me: XXXTentacion, Conversations With Friends, Fresh, Shoresy and The Kardashians as well as FX shows such as Snowfall and Mayans airing on Hulu a day after they debut on the cable network.

Click the link below to get started. Once you land on the Hulu page click “sign up now” to join directly through the log-in link or click the green Hulu logo on the top left-hand corner to be taken to the Hulu homepage.

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Want more savings? Bundle Hulu with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $13.99 a month. There is also an option to add Disney+ for $2.99 a month and additional channels like Starz and HBO Max for an extra fee.

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Hulu subscribers can create up to six profiles under one account. Additionally, users can stream from up to two different screen at once and from any device including a smart TV, laptop or notebook.

Click here for a full rundown of music-related content that you can watch exclusively on Hulu.