Sidney Madden

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.

Brooklyn-hailing rapper Pop Smoke, who was born Bashar Barakah Jackson, died Wednesday morning, according to his record label. The rising act was killed during a Los Angeles home invasion on Feb. 19, 2020. He was 20 years old.

Pop Smoke was a rising start in the New York drill scene because his intensity made him an outlier. Everything about his demeanor and delivery stood out — his tongue-curling ad-lib, a sometimes disorienting flow and the type of gravel-gargling tone that stops music listeners in their tracks.

Don't say she didn't warn you!

Back when Megan Thee Stallion graced the Tiny Desk Fest in the fall of 2019, she gave fans a hint about what — or who — her new music would sound like.

"My next project I will be introducing a new lady. Her name is Suga. She's besties with Tina Snow," Megan said in an exclusive post-show interview.

Don't be fooled. Spooky season isn't just reserved for the weeks leading up to Halloween. As the season shifts into colder temps, cradling death is just part of the process.

After some confusion, mixed messaging and conflicting timelines, Kanye West's ninth studio album, Jesus Is King, has arrived. In conjunction with the music, the Chicago rapper announced a new documentary film, also called Jesus is King, due out Oct. 25 exclusively on IMAX theaters.

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Tyler, The Creator's fifth studio album, IGOR, arrived with little notice back in May.

Heat Check

Aug 5, 2019

You can stream this playlist via Spotify.

Lil Nas X has officially broken the record for the longest-running No. 1 single on Billboard's Hot 100 list thanks to his breakout hit "Old Town Road." Billboard announced on July 29 that the genre-jumping song has topped the chart for 17 straight weeks. But what's the significance of such a feat?

Since his first glimmers of internet notoriety, Chance the Rapper has been hailed as the kind of wunderkind to turn the music industry on its head. From the nasal-toned phenom who made good use of a lengthy school suspension for his 2012 debut mixtape, 10 Day, to the savvy verse maestro who kept the emphasis on his friendships with 2013's Acid Rap and the 2015 collaborative album Surf, the most endearing quality about Chance is that he's always done things his own way and on his own time.

On this episode of All Songs Considered we've got a conversation with GoldLink about his latest album, Diaspora. (Hear the full interview with the play button at the top of the page).

Earlier this year, J. Cole sent out a bat signal... sort of. For Dreamville's third compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers III, the maestro and platinum-selling-with-no-features wordsmith wanted all the features that Atlanta's Tree Sound Studios could hold. So, over the course of 10 days in January, Cole and his team sent out golden-ticket invitations to some of the most intriguing rappers, singers and producers in the hip-hop world.

Nine months after his death, Mac Miller still hasn't left the mind of the rap world. Always an avid collaborator, Mac teamed up with Anderson .Paak's Free Nationals before his passing and now, fans get to hear it. "Time" marks the first posthumous release that has been sanctioned by the rapper's family.

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."

Koffee is waking up new generations to the style, complexity and power of reggae. The Jamaican-born rising star and 2019 NPR Slingshot artist has only been at this professionally for a couple years — the 19-year-old recently graduated from high school — but her passion for her culture is palpable and the momentum of her music is only building.

At this point, Cardi B needs little introduction and, as she makes clear in her latest single, she damn-sure needs no validation.

"Press, press, press, press, press / Cardi don't need more press / Kill 'em all, put them hoes to rest / Walk in, bulletproof vest / Please tell me who she goin' check? / Murder scene, Cardi made a mess," Cardi raps on her hard-hitting "Press."

With each new release, Raveena's star is deservedly rising. Following "Mama," her touching tribute to immigrant mothers released earlier this month, the Indian-American R&B experimenter shares her latest single "Stronger" and announces her debut album, Lucid.

ScHoolboy Q returns with CrasH Talk, his fifth studio album three years removed from his Grammy-nominated Blank Face LP.

The precision. The energy. The limitless swag.

Kevin Abstract is in rapid-fire release mode. The Texas-born hip-hop artist is dropping a second trio of songs in a week's time on the road to a full length album.

The six-song Ghettobaby comes a week after ARIZONA baby, and includes all three tracks from that release. According to Abstract, there's a method behind this seemingly sporadic purge of new material. "ARIZONA baby is an album btw I'm just slowly releasing it over time," he explained to fans on social media.

At 2 a.m. Monday morning, Solange Knowles and a handful of friends were at a strip club in her native Houston, celebrating. The artist/auteur wore a leopard print cowboy hat, matching tube top and cut-out black pants, loose enough to twerk along with the dancers in their section.

Two-and-a-half years after the release of A Seat At The Table, Solange shares her surprise CQ visual album When I Get Home. On Solange's fourth full-length album since her 2002 debut, Solo Star, the artist takes listeners on an "exploration of origin" across 19 tracks and a film meshing together static R&B, funk, Zydeco and blues. To accompany the release, Solange announced nine "album events" in her hometown of Houston, all taking place on March 3.

Whether your life is pristinely (and damn-near mythically) put together or your friends would dotingly define you as a hot mess, TeaMarrr understands. The Boston-born, LA-based artist makes self-deprecating, prickly pop and R&B for those navigating their dichotomies, meandering through their relationship statuses, or even questioning their sanity.

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Ezra Collective is breathing new life into one of music's greatest institutions.

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.

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