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Sidney Madden

Music: Snoh Aalegra

Jul 11, 2021

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DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, HOST:

Mac Phipps, the New Orleans-area rapper who has been in prison since being convicted on charges of manslaughter in 2001, was recommended for clemency this week. The recommendation for immediate parole by the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Committee on Parole puts the rapper, who has maintained his insistence that he is innocent of the crime he was accused of, one step closer to freedom.

Even in the best of times, many look to live music as a crucial resource — a place to turn for comfort, community and relief from anxiety — and can scarcely imagine their lives without it. For the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has closed down venues around the country, and it's hard to picture when gathering in nightclubs or amphitheaters will be deemed safe again.

Earlier this week, Drake's latest single "Toosie Slide" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making the Canadian rapper the first male artist — and second artist ever — in Billboard history to have three singles reach No. 1 upon release. But unlike the rapper's past No. 1 debuts, "God's Plan" and "Nice For What," this new chart-topper is a result of Drizzy's ability to harness social media in a new way.

Death in hip-hop can feel so commonplace that sometimes, we're desensitized to it. A trending topic for the day, a bump in streaming numbers, some kind words about the artist's music and then, we move on. But in the case of Nipsey Hussle, his impact since his 2019 death feels different.

Houston rapper Bushwick Bill, a founding member of the pioneering rap crew Geto Boys, died on Sunday evening in Colorado, his publicist, Dawn P., confirmed with NPR. A cause was not given pending a medical examination; the rapper was diagnosed earlier this year with pancreatic cancer. He was 52 years old.

The first time I saw Raveena live, the room at Washington, D.C.'s Songbyrd Music House was packed. Chatter from college-aged kids about gender politics and Instagram updates filled the venue before she got on stage, but for a Thursday night in the middle of summer, there weren't many drinks clinking. "The venues always tell me they never make money off the bar at my shows," the artist laughed backstage that night. "It's just a bunch of nice brown kids."

The precision. The energy. The limitless swag.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


In 1998, songwriter Kandi Burruss — on hiatus from her R&B group, Xscape — took a drive around Atlanta with a girlfriend, looking for inspiration. In the car, Burruss was playing tracks she'd gotten from a fellow songwriter, Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, a few days earlier.

The music of Dianna Lopez feels like a secret you just can't keep to yourself. Her ability to blend ingredients of rock, avant-pop and R&B has made her a standout among Soundcloud's many bedroom-born hidden gems. And in 2019, she's ready to take things to the next level.

The latest release from the Rockland County, N.Y. singer, "Predictable," is a soft and fittingly pithy track about anticipating your partner's every move and deciding whether or not to change the routine.

After years in proverbial hip-hop purgatory, Lil Wayne has finally released his long-awaited album Tha Carter V, just after his 36th birthday.

CV, the fifth installment of Wayne's chart-topping, Grammy-winning series that started in 2004, nearly became a pop culture fable about the perils of music industry politics, following years of legal battles with his Cash Money Records boss and musical father figure, Birdman.

It might sound hard to believe, but being a Beatle doesn't necessarily assure chart-topping success — but never underestimate the pull of Paul McCartney.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, died last week. In her wake, Franklin has left a musical legacy few other artists will ever touch — and, as expected, hits from the legendary R&B singer's catalog have shot back up the music charts following her death.

The Paramount Network has released an official track to go along with the upcoming debut of the documentary series Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story. It's a fitting tribute and call for change from The Root's prophetic frontman Black Thought.

The Cardi B effect:

A branding power rooted in specific authenticity, created and permeated by rapper Cardi B. Behaviors associated with the Cardi B Effect include blunt honesty, rapping, laughing, mild to moderate twerking, tongue-curling, teeth-kissing, chart-topping and regular degular Bronx girl antics.

Soul music savant Leon Bridges has announced a new album, Good Thing, and with it, two new tracks.

In a year when the nominees were more eclectic and adventurous, the safe bets prevailed at the 60th Grammy Awards.

Reggie Ossé, better known to the hip-hop world as podcast host Combat Jack, has passed away from colon cancer. Chris Morrow, Ossé's friend and his co-founder of Loud Speaker Networks, confirmed his death, telling NPR that he died this morning at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York. Ossé was 53 years old.

Handling aux cord duties in a car full of girlfriends headed to a party is no small task. Expectations for playing just the right song to soundtrack the shared levels of excitement, confidence and sass are high. It only takes a few faulty shuffles or hesitant moments of silence to get your privileges revoked. It was in such a moment last summer that my friend, Keylah, triumphantly put me on to Parisian afropunk group Tshegue.

The Roots' Black Thought proved yesterday that eviscerating lyricism still matters in hip-hop when the rapper dropped a nonstop, awe-inspiring 10-minute freestyle on Funkmaster Flex's Hot 97 radio show.

The 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors last night (Dec. 3) recognized those in the arts who've made lifetime achievements in American pop culture and ushered in some new traditions in the process.

Tom Misch is not just another British boy with a guitar. At just 22, the musical chameleon can play, produce, mix and self-edit his art without sacrificing its spark.

With his debut album on the way, the South East London singer-songwriter has released his video for "Movie."