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  • Tim Minchin Hauls A Piano Across Australia In ‘Upright’

    Enlarge this image Tim Minchin plays Lucky in the new series Upright. Mark Rogers/Sundance Now hide caption toggle caption Mark Rogers/Sundance Now The series Upright opens with a man hauling an upright piano in a trailer across the bare Australian landscape. He's frazzled and alone at the wheel, guzzling beer and gobbling pills. He gets a text message: "Mate. Time is running out. Don't duck this up." Ah, spell-check. Then he drives into a ditch, hears his piano bleat, and the shouts of an angry, profane 16-year-old he's just run into. Upright is the story of two strangers, Lucky and Meg, who take off across the expanse of Australia, scheming, swearing, pilfering, and becoming vital to each other. The series, airing on Sundance Now, stars and is co-created by ...

  • ‘The South Got Something To Say’ Is A Celebratory Canon Of Southern Rap

    Enlarge this image Joelle Avelino for NPR This week, NPR Music launched The South Got Something To Say: A Celebration Of Southern Rap. The project is centered around a canon of 130 greatest releases by Southern rappers; it was assembled by a team, led by critic Briana Younger, of Southern critics, scholars and writers representing the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Virginia. Younger and NPR Music hip-hop critic Rodney Carmichael spoke to All Things Considered about the inspiration for the project, the sound of Southern hip-hop and the future of the genre. Below, you can stream the songs and selected tracks from the albums and mixtapes that comprise our list via Spotify and Apple Music. Let's block ads! (Why?)

  • Opinion: We Are Africans. Here’s Our View Of Beyoncé’s ‘Black Is King’

    Enlarge this image Beyoncé puts a conversation about Africa on the front line with her visual album Black Is King, which premiered on Disney+. Parkwood Entertainment/Disney + via AP hide caption toggle caption Parkwood Entertainment/Disney + via AP There are two kinds of reactions to Beyoncé's new Black Is King video: lavish praise – and deep criticism. The praise comes from her many fans and from many reviewers. The criticism often comes from Africans. We are both from Africa. Esther Ngumbi was born and grew up in Kenya. Ifeanyi Nsofor was born and grew up in Nigeria. We can understand the critiques – and have some of our own. But in the end, we think the positives outweigh the problems. In a world full of racism, a world where being Black makes many doubt their capabilities, ...

  • Phil Elverum Returns To A Refuge As The Microphones

    Enlarge this image "The stuff that used to ring true still does in a way and also doesn't anymore," says Phil Elverum. "The big, huge question I tried to think about with this giant song was mainly how to encompass these contradictions." Katy Hancock/Courtesy of the artist hide caption toggle caption Katy Hancock/Courtesy of the artist Phil Elverum has built and battled entire universes. From 1996-2003, his band, The Microphones, was mostly just him alone in a studio, as friends from Olympia sang and banged on instruments as needed. With a bull-headed bravado that comes from a dreamer's naïveté, chests swelled to the size of the moon, the dead flew off as vultures and the dawn promised something new every morning. Around the turn of the millennium, the music responded in kind as ...

  • Helen Jones Woods, Groundbreaking Female Trombonist, Has Died From COVID-19

    Enlarge this image Helen Jones Woods. Kathleen Fallon/Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution hide caption toggle caption Kathleen Fallon/Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution Helen Jones Woods, who played trombone with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, a history-making all-female big band that toured widely during World War II, died of COVID-19 on July 25 in Sarasota, Fla. She was 96. Her daughter Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of the broadcast media company Urban One, confirmed the details of her death to NPR. In addition to their pioneering role as women on the jazz circuit, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm were an interracial band in the era of Jim Crow. Their extensive ...

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