Music

Why Is California Prosecuting a Rapper for Making an Album?

There’s really no witty or amusing way to start this piece, so I’ll get directly to the point: right now, in 2014, in America, a man is facing life in prison because he made a rap album. As per the LA Times, Brandon Duncan of San Diego, who performs under the name Tiny Doo, is allegedly a member of a gang that has been implicated in nine shootings, for which 14 members are about to stand trial. Duncan isn’t charged with participating in the shootings; instead, he’s being charged under a California state law that prohibits “willfully promot[ing], further[ing], or assist[ing] in any felonious criminal conduct by members of [a] gang.” The evidence against him? His latest album, along with “pictures on a social media page of him and several other defendants.” This is… well, there’s really no other way to say it: this is bullshit. … Read More

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Searching for Clues — and Closure — in Ian Curtis’ and Kurt Cobain’s Handwritten Archives

Ian Curtis wrote in all caps, often with a Sharpie. When he wanted to change a word in his lyrics or notes, he’d scratch out his former word choice utterly completely — as if he wanted to erase it from existence. In a lot of ways, the Joy Division leader’s handwriting seems to reflect his personality: “Ian was a very definite person,” says Jon Savage, the co-editor of So This Is Permanence, a collection of Curtis’ notebooks released last month by Chronicle Books. “If he didn’t like something, he would eventually make his displeasure shown. He was a Cancer.” … Read More

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Showtime’s ‘Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued’ Might as Well Be Called ‘The Real World: Dylan Disciples’

It’s almost always a joy, at least for this longtime Dylan fan, to watch other artists interpret the Bard of Hibbing. Many of the tribute albums, the concerts, the film soundtracks (amidst pleasant straight-ahead covers) inevitably feature artists creatively mining Dylan’s back catalog, as Joan Baez did with “Love Is Just a Four Letter Word,” or reinterpreting the canon in the spirit of Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.” The resultant tracks veer close to magic. … Read More

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Watch Sky Ferreira and DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith Cover Hole’s “Asking For It”

Are Sky Ferreira and DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith the new Courtney and Kurt? No — probably not. Their albums,… Read More

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‘Nothing Has Changed': Searching for a Self in David Bowie’s 50 Years of Transformation

When David Bowie looks in the mirror, as he does in the cover art for his career-spanning new three-disc compilation, what does he see? And when David Bowie claims that “nothing has changed,” as he does in the title of that collection, what could he possibly mean? Obsessively as we analyze any beloved artist’s body of work, we don’t usually ask questions like this about a best-of album — even one as idiosyncratic as Nothing Has Changed. They tend to be cash-ins at worst and artless at best, package deals designed for casual listeners who don’t respect the album as an art form and just want all the “hits” in one place. … Read More

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Miley Cyrus to Cover “Look What They Done to My Song, Ma” for ‘Free the Nipple’ Film

Miley Cyrus, who has long been a proponent of the #freethenipple movement, has just announced that she’ll… Read More

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The 7 Ages of the Boy Band

Yes, One Direction have a new album, and yes, suddenly respected music writers (both here and elsewhere) are adamant that the band has graduated from genuine teeny cultural phenomenon to, um, genuine non-teeny cultural phenomenon. Of course, if you’re old and jaded, you’ve seen this trajectory play out many times before. One Direction are just progressing through The Seven Ages of the Boy Band, a series of phases that lead from insane popularity through break-up, obscurity, and redemption. Here’s our definitive account of exactly how this narrative arc works! … Read More

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Listen to Two New, Leaked Beyoncé Songs

It’s only November, but Christmas has come early for fans of the Bey (isn’t that everyone?). Two of the… Read More

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Watch: Patti Smith and David Lynch Discuss Pussy Riot, Aging, Artistry and Severed Ears

The Fondation Cartier in Paris organized a discussion between late-sextaguenarian icons David Lynch and Patti Smith. Together, in a room that looked… Read More

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