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Music News

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Unexpected releases, surprise announcements, the loss of giants - this week the music news kept coming. And here with the latest, NPR music editors Jacob Ganz. Hey there, Jacob.

JACOB GANZ, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.

Kendrick Lamar wasted no time following through on his mysterious "IV" Instagram post. Last night, the Compton MC released a new song, "The Heart Part 4," and it's a no-holds-barred lyrical onslaught.

Within the span of five minutes, over shifting beats produced by Syk Sense, The Alchemist, DJ Dahi and Axlfolie, Lamar waxes philosophical, adversarial and political while dropping heat on everyone from phony rappers to President Trump.

Kendrick Lamar, deservedly hailed as the god MC of his generation, made a peculiar pronouncement from on high (i.e., high-speed Internet) today that has fans genuflecting in collective anticipation.

The rapper's Instagram account was wiped clean Thursday morning, replaced with one cryptic post added around sunrise. The simple white-on-black image of the Roman numeral "IV," with no caption provided, has led to a near-universal interpretation: Prepare ye the way for the impending release of Lamar's fourth studio album.

This is the story of a hoax that almost was. Its motivating force was a hunger for fame, or infamy, or whispered legend in a particularly American sort of way. It begins on a beach somewhere in south Florida.

Two years ago, René Pérez Joglar took a chance.

For over a decade, the 39-year-old had been the voice of Calle 13, a Puerto Rican hip-hop crew that had grown to massive visibility. The two core members — producer Eduardo Cabra, known as Visitante, and Joglar, who rapped as Residente — had earned the group three Grammys and two dozen Latin Grammys, and were considered one of the biggest Latin acts in the world. And then, Joglar decided he was done.

Musicians from all over the world are settling back at home, recovering from last week's South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Hundreds of musicians played throughout the week, for crowds big and small.

Singer Kevin Morby is back with a followup to last year's much beloved full-length Singing Saw. The new album is called City Music and is due out June 16 on Dead Oceans. Morby has also shared the record's first single and lyric video, the moody and transfixing "Come To Me Now."

Less than a week after Chuck Berry's death at the age of 90, his family announced details Wednesday about the rock and roll pioneer's first album in 38 years — and gave us a taste of what it will sound like.

The biopic Selena tells the story of Mexican-American pop star Selena Quintanilla Perez, a Tejano music singer who made a rare crossover to mainstream American audiences. The movie debuted 20 years ago Tuesday, two years after the singer was killed by the former president of her fan club.

The news that the U.S. is placing restrictions on what airline passengers can carry in the cabin on direct flights from eight majority-Muslim nations is creating ripples of concern throughout the arts community.

According to the rules newly issued by President Trump's administration, passengers must check most electronic devices — including laptops, cameras and tablets — into their checked baggage. Travelers will still be allowed to carry their mobile phones in their hand luggage.

When Chuck Berry died last week, the music-loving world rose to acknowledge his status as, in Bob Dylan's words, the Shakespeare of rock and roll. The man was 90; people were ready. Jon Pareles, chief pop critic of The New York Times, and David Remnick, editor at The New Yorker, both immediately published lengthy obituaries. Musicians ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Questlove to Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones – Berry's famous protégé – rushed to pay tribute.

We stayed up late, damaged our ear sockets and gave into the ecstasy of live music at SXSW: Diet Cig, Lizzo, Moor Mother, Sleigh Bells, S U R V I V E, Anna Meredith, Weezer, The Revolution's Prince tribute — even Garth Brooks. Here are 50 photos from the festival shot by Adam Kissick, with a few by our own Bob Boilen.

Another grueling and glorious SXSW has finally come to a close. Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson, the last men on the All Songs Considered island, gathered at 2 a.m. to recap the sets they loved on the festival's closing day. On Stephen's recommendation (he's written about her before), Bob saw Los Angeles singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers in the Central Presbyterian Church.

Chuck Berry, the legendary musician who was one of the founders of rock and roll, died Saturday night at age 90. Almost immediately, the tributes started rolling in from some of the most famous names in music.

In an industry full of surprises, Drake premiered his new LP the old-fashioned way. In fact, the biggest surprise surrounding More Life — the studio album he's calling a "playlist" — is that it finally came out as predicted. After months of teasing fans with rumored tracklists, a string of potential singles and cryptic Instagram posts hinting at release dates that came and went, the 6 God debuted his seventh solo LP on OVO Sound Radio Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET, and it appeared on streaming services at 8:30 p.m.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

We're well past the halfway point of the music portion of South by Southwest, and things are starting to wind down in Austin. But the indefatigable All Songs Considered team (well, mostly Bob Boilen) is still raring to go. Bob, Robin Hilton, Stephen Thompson and Colorado Public Radio's Jessi Whitten convened on an Austin street corner Friday night to recap what they'd seen that day.

Katy Perry's "Chained To The Rhythm" is one the year's low-key-subversive pop songs with a title that suggests Top 40 pop, but is actually about how They Are Controlling You. WAKE UP SHEEPLE.

"Turn it up, keep it on repeat / Stumbling around like a wasted zombie / We think we're free / Drink, this one's on me."

On Tuesday, Feist's new album, Pleasure, was announced with a release date of April 28 — amusingly, to the surprise of Leslie Feist herself. Now we have the title track, her first new original song in six years.

Late yesterday evening, Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Katie Presley and Stephen Thompson wandered the streets of Austin recapping a day of music. For everyone, it was a day of political music that still made space for joy. Katie saw mostly rap yesterday, and she was especially struck by Moor Mother, whose fiery set had also inspired an excellent performance from New York-based rapper SAMMUS.

NPR's Scott Simon spoke to James Cotton in 2013. Hear an encore of their conversation at the audio link.

The resistance is real in the world of Amazon Video's original series The Man in The High Castle, based on the award-winning book by Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, the show imagines a history where Germany and Japan actually won World War II and, 17 years after the loss, the United States is split between Nazi Germany (the East Coast) and Imperial Japan (the West Coast). In the midst of it all, a resistance movement has been formed in a neutral zone to fight for freedom.

Amid truck horns and the distant sounds of Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It," the All Songs Considered team gathered outside of Stubb's BBQ to recount a day overflowing with new musical discoveries and old favorites. On Wednesday night, NPR Music hosted its annual showcase at Stubb's. That event at that place has become as ritual as tacos and crowded streets for this crowd, but the show still astonished them. Stephen Thompson fell for Sylvan Esso's new songs.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

After missing two chances to control the compositions he co-authored while in The Beatles — once in 1969 when he and John Lennon were outbid and again to Michael Jackson, in a duplicitous move by the King of Pop, in the '80s — Paul McCartney is not taking any chances.

It's not hyperbole to suggest that Wolfgang Voigt's album POP, under the pseudonym GAS, is one of the greatest — if not the best — ambient albums of the past 20 years. Released in 2000, POP is a masterpiece of symphonic bliss that set a new standard for beatless electronic music.

Public radio hosts from around the country, along with thousands of other music lovers, descended on Austin, Texas, this week to stand in long lines and eat breakfast tacos. And when they're not complaining about the former or posting Instagrams of the latter, they attend an ungodly number of concerts in the hopes of stumbling upon the next big band. Each day this week, All Songs Considered and hosts from our partner stations will report back on the best thing they saw the day prior.

But that's just the beginning of our SXSW coverage. Here's what else we have in store:

Culture Wars

Mar 15, 2017

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