Music

Music

Big Daddy Kane: Tiny Desk Concert

Feb 19, 2018

One of the greatest to ever bless the mic, Big Daddy Kane treated Tiny Desk to an office block party in the true essence of hip-hop. He performed a short set of classics, including "Smooth Operator," "Ain't No Half Steppin'," "Raw" and a bonus freestyle. Through his warm, engaging and devilishly self-effacing style, the pioneer used an interlude between songs to address the intergenerational divisiveness defining rap today and the importance of fans of all ages supporting whatever they like, while "focusing on what's positive and keeping that in the spotlight."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF HECTOR COCO BAREZ SONG, "BOMBULERIA")

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

John Corigliano is one of America's most acclaimed composers. He's won a Pulitzer, an Oscar and five Grammys, and he's still hard at work, having turned 80 on Feb. 16.

Fresh off its Golden Globe award for best animation, the Disney-Pixar movie Coco is a favorite to win an Oscar next month.

It's a sweet story of a small boy, Miguel, who dreams of becoming a musician despite his parents' objections. On the way, he finds family, tradition and a magnificent white guitar, encrusted with pearl details and a black skull.

A decade in the waiting, Nipsey Hussle's Victory Lap is more than an anticipated major-label debut — it's a testament to the independent grind he employed to cultivate a dedicated fanbase. This is same artist, after all, who had the audacity to price physical copies of his 2013 mixtape Crenshaw at $100 a pop, when a still woefully devalued music industry had rappers en masse giving away their music for free.

We are living through an amazing moment — a cultural shift spurred by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement that is bringing with it a rising awareness among men (some, at least) of the abuse of, or blindness to, the power imbalance at the bedrock of our culture, and of the abuse and misconduct that imbalance breeds toward the women in our lives, at work or otherwise.

This week, from ThistleRadio's award-winning 24-hour music channel, we span the decades with classic, bedrock tracks of our playlist along with some of the newer artists helping to redefine the sound of today's Celtic-rooted music. Artists include Kris Drever, Dervish, and the Bothy Band. Enjoy.

Who in the pop world but Janelle Monae could pack dystopian Afro-Futurism, sleek runway style, action sequences, club hotness and tender love into thirty seconds?

Watching Betsayda Machado y Parranda El Clavo perform their Tiny Desk concert is like peering back in time. The music's roots extend to the Venezuelan slave trade, and while the vocals are in Spanish and not an African dialect, the instruments the group plays date back more than 500 years.

KT Tunstall On Mountain Stage

Feb 15, 2018

Hailing from St. Andrews, Scotland, singer, songwriter, guitarist and loop-expert KT Tunstall didn't come from a musical family, which is a rarity for Mountain Stage performers. Her family supported her, though, and Tunstall's 2004 album Eye To The Telescope would produce major pop hits "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" and "Suddenly I See." Both are included in this live set from Athens, Ohio, recorded on campus of Ohio University.

If the whole world's a jungle, Kendrick Lamar and company have a penchant for continuously scaling its upper heights.

How many relationships do you know of that have lasted for 70 years? If you're coming up short, I'll help you out; Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter, the two surviving original members of Blind Boys of Alabama, who began touring together in the 1940's.

The Smashing Pumpkins has announced an extensive North American arena tour under the title Shiny and Oh So Bright. Its three dozen dates will begin on July 12 in Glendale, Ariz. and end Sept. 7 in Boise, Idaho.

As with most of the tours, reunions, albums and other assorted ephemera surrounding this, one of alt-rock's greatest acts, what might have simply been a greatest hits lap for a band that parted ways nearly two decades ago has turned into a bit of a referendum on its legacy.

St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, stopped by for a short acoustic set of songs from her acclaimed album Masseduction, as well as some old favorites. The stripped-down versions of these songs spotlighted her exceptional voice and were truly stunning.

SET LIST

  • "New York"

Alfredo Rodríguez is a figurehead of the new generation of Cuban jazz musicians who observe and honor their roots while constantly seeking new avenues for expression.

Self-consciousness sometimes leads artists to reevaluate their approaches to music-making. They'll shift in directions they hope will cause their work to be taken more seriously and try to encourage the perception that they're saying things of importance. It's a familiar enough trajectory that Caroline Rose's inversion of it has mischievous appeal.

At once amiable and soaring, Mt. Joy's songs unfold like good political speeches: They amble and converse and pulsate fervently until it's time to get the crowd chanting along. Take "Silver Lining," which plays like a pretty straightforward rock and roll ramble — complete with a chorus in which singer Matt Quinn shouts out the phrase, "The drugs, the women, the wine, the weed" — until it gets to a more profound call to action: "Tell all the ones you love you love them."

Dystopian art is all the rage these days. Shows like Black Mirror darkly question our relationships to technology and politics, while the cautionary literature of authors like Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick has suddenly become fodder for mainstream consumption. These works, and plenty of others in similar veins, turn a critical eye to our current social and political moment. What's become a rarity during this time, though, is apocalyptic art without an overt political agenda.

Austin-based singer/songwriter Gina Chavez has always worn her emotions on her sleeve.

Her deeply felt ruminations on things like identity, love, life, fun and joy have made her music an Alt.Latino favorite for quite a few years now. Chavez's voice is perfectly suited to reflect all of those experiences and to take us to places where we dare to let our emotional guards down.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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