PJ Morton Likes Pizza Hut, Rick Ross, and Aretha Franklin’s Banking Style

Published August 9, 2019

Photo by Travis Schneider.

Extra! Extra! Welcome to “Softball,” where we ask celebrities of every stripe to give us their take on what’s swirling in the modern hellscape of the 24-hour news cycle.

PJ Morton knows how to stay busy. Alongside his tenure as the keyboardist and background vocalist for Maroon 5, Morton has been consistently creating vivid, provocative soundscapes of his own, with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Lil Wayne, and Solange (for whom he served as the musical director of 2016’s wondrous A Seat At The Table). His 2017 album Gumbo (and its companion, Gumbo Unplugged, released in 2018), notched a combined total of five Grammy nominations and one win for Morton, establishing him as one of music’s most inventive, intrepid virtuosos. Today, Morton debuts PAUL, his second self-released album (and fourth overall), featuring guest appearances from JoJo, Jazmine Sullivan, Tobe Nwigwe, and CNN commentator Angela Rye, whose spoken-word bit closes out the album’s final number, “MAGA?” (undoubtedly the most earnest and elegant use of the acronym, ever). Before his show at the historic Hippodrome Theater in Richmond, the multi-hyphenate musician chatted with Interview about the web’s most scintillating headlines, starring Aretha Franklin, emojis, and a giant, prehistoric parrot.

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“‘EMOJI HOUSE’ FEUD ERUPTS AS FRUSTRATED NEIGHBORS URGE MANHATTAN BEACH TO TAKE ACTION”

(LA TIMES)

“They should be happy. Is it a happy face on the house? I feel like they should have done happy faces so people would be happy about it. If you’re going to paint a house pink and do an emoji house, at least give people good emojis, you know what I’m saying? Maybe they’re just emoji haters all together. That’s not good.”

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“ACTOR DANNY TREJO COMES TO AID OF BABY THAT WAS TRAPPED IN OVERTURNED CAR”

(CNN)

“That’s brave. I mean, more power to him, and I’m sure they’re grateful. That’s awesome. I’ve never saved anybody from an overturned car, so I got to give props to that. I don’t know what you’re thinking of more, the fact that you’re in an overturned car or that he’s rescuing.”

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“BON IVER DROPS ALBUM THREE WEEKS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE”

(VULTURE)

“It’s like the reverse version of a surprise album. It’s like pre-surprise. I’m a fan. I love the soundscapes that they create. I’m happy to get new music. I wonder why it was ahead of schedule. I’m sure fans are happy. I’ve got to check it out.”

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“SCIENTISTS DISCOVER PREHISTORIC GIANT ‘SQUAWKZILLA’ PARROT, AS BIG AS SMALL CHILD”

(NPR)

“Sounds scary. But they’re extinct though, right? So we don’t have to look for them coming back. No, no thank you. Somebody wasn’t okay with it. It’s probably why they aren’t here anymore. Somebody was like ‘no, no, this is not going to work.’ I mean, we can take other animals being big, but I’m not taking the big bird flying over me, we’ve got to cut that one out. Somebody took care of it for us.”

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“OF COURSE NICOLAS CAGE ONCE WENT ON A “NATIONAL TREASURE”-STYLE QUEST FOR THE HOLY GRAIL”

(INDIEWIRE)

“Of course Nick Cage did that. I mean, nobody was surprised about that. Nick Cage being Nick Cage.”

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“ESTATE CONFLICT REVEALS ARETHA FRANKLIN ONCE KEPT $750,000 IN UNCASHED CHECKS IN HER PURSE”

(THE ROOT)

“That’s a rainy day right there. I thought my grandmother saving cash under her bed, it was probably like $2,000. I thought that was rainy day, but $750,000, that is a rainy day. The queen. Queens move different, you know? My father and Aretha actually were really good friends. My father’s from Windsor, but their dads were both preachers and were friends, so I’ve known and loved Aretha for a long time. But that actually doesn’t surprise me at all. She didn’t play games with any part of her career, so I don’t doubt that. It checks out.”

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“FRONTIER AIRLINES OFFERS FREE FLIGHTS TO CUSTOMERS WITH LAST NAME GREEN OR GREENE”

(KWCH 12)

“How did they pick? Just random? It’s sounds like a good marketing campaign. Because of the color of the airline? Maybe they’ll get some people who would never fly Frontier to fly it. They’re trying to get more people on their plane, man. That’s what it comes down to.”

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“WESLEY SNIPES, JAMES EARL JONES, AND RICK ROSS ARE COMING TO AMERICA”

(VULTURE)

“Oh, I love it. Coming to America is one of my favorite movies of all time. I miss Wesley Snipes. And it fits for that movie. I hope it’s good, man. I’m scared a little bit. That’s a classic for me. I think Rick Ross could be a good actor. I think he has that vibe. The way he presents himself, you know? It’s all presentation. I think he’d be a good actor. I think he’s got it in him.”

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“PIZZA HUT SIGNALS IT PLANS TO CLOSE UP TO 500 STORES”

(NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

“It seems like brick and mortar stores are just going away man, and people are getting on these apps. I haven’t been in a Pizza Hut physically in, I mean, years. So it kind of makes sense. It’s sad to see it go, but they’ll get money from the real estate and still have people buying online. I guess if people aren’t physically going in there to sit down and patronize inside, then it doesn’t really make sense for them to have the physical places like that. Just kitchens and enough space for people to take out, you know? Maybe they should hire me. I’ll consult for Pizza Hut. We’ll get it poppin’.”