Music

‘Straight Outta Compton’ and the Politics of Modern Day Minstrelsy

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As I’m sure me and you, your mama and your cousin too, are aware, there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton. The press has gone to great lengths to discuss the film’s misogyny, its colorism, and its erasure of women. I’m still slack jawed a week after finding out the film’s director F. Gary Gray was the person who taped the 1991 TV segment that ultimately led to Dr. Dre’s assault of Dee Barnes — an incident that, of course, was omitted from Straight Outta Compton. Gray commits a monumental feat in cowardice, and the twist is something I’m more used to seeing in caper films from the ‘40s. Life is stranger than fiction.
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What It’s Like Working Backstage at the VMAs

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The MTV VMAs are known for their outrageous moments. Sometimes they’re planned, like the Madonna and Britney Spears kiss that Christina Aguilera never got over, and sometimes they aren’t, like Kanye’s “I’mma let your finish” moment that Taylor Swift will never get over. But some of the most telling moments of the show happen off-camera, where the online streams are off-limits and celebrities get real. The audience never sees them. Although the stories get told within a certain segment of the music industry, the average Joe doesn’t hear a peep about them. But I do.
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Watch: Beck and St. Vincent Perform “Dreams” with Taylor Swift

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During her concert in Los Angeles on Monday, Taylor Swift surprised audiences with guest appearances by Ellen DeGeneres and Alanis Morissette; last night’s inclusion of more surprise guests was thus a little less of a surprise — though the guests themselves were, perhaps, more surprising. Beck and St. Vincent joined Swift onstage at the Staples Center to sing Beck’s “Dreams.” 
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The Best Part of Yo La Tengo’s ‘Stuff Like That There’ Isn’t the Covers — It’s the Band

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There is no heavy lifting involved in listening to Yo La Tengo’s 14th album, Stuff Like That There, but that’s not why it’s a cause for celebration. The durable 30-year-old Hoboken trio leaves aside the guitar squalls, soundtrack atmospherics, and fuzz obfuscation (for now) and finally does what many listeners and record company managers have been waiting a quarter-century for: a return to the hushed acoustic territory of 1990’s Fakebook.
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Kanye West to Recieve MTV’s “Highest Honor” at The VMAs

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MTV has announced that Kanye West will be the recipient of its “highest honor” at this weekend’s Video Music Awards. Kanye will pick up the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, given this year in recognition of West’s “groundbreaking videos” and his impact “on music, art, fashion, and culture.” Previous winners include Madonna, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Peter Gabriel, Guns N’ Roses, Beastie Boys, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.
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A New HBO Doc Gathers “Largest Array of Latino Superstars Ever in a Film” to Celebrate Latino Music

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HBO has announced their upcoming documentary, The Latin Explosion: a New America, directed and produced by Matthew O’Neill and Jon Alpert (the duo who made the four-Emmy-award-winning HBO doc, Baghdad Er). Major music executive Tommy Mottola (who served as EP on the film) said in a statement that the film, which focuses on Latino music’s influence on American culture as a whole, boasts “the largest array of Latino superstars ever in a film.” 
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