Music

Practice is a physical activity, of course, but it's also hard mental work — if you're doing it right. A new video published by TED Ed gets down to the scientific nitty-gritty of what good practice looks like, and what it does to your brain. (Think axons and myelin, not "muscle memory" — muscles don't have "memory.")

Future has made history: the Atlanta rapper's two albums, released back-to-back over two weeks, have each officially landed at the peak of the Billboard 200 albums chart. With the respective releases of FUTURE on Feb. 17 and HNDRXX on Feb. 24, Future is the first solo act in the 61-year history of the album chart to supplant himself at No. 1 with two successive releases, according to Billboard:

One week and a day before thousands will descend on downtown Austin for South By Southwest 2017, what seemed like a standard bit of legalese in contracts given to artists performing at this year's SXSW music festival has, amidst a markedly shifted political climate, erupted into controversy. Musicians have accused the festival of threatening foreign performers with deportation if they appear outside official festival venues.

Front Street Blues host Lan Nichols explores the newest release from one of North Carolina's most prolific blues artists of the new century, Randy McQuay. A three-time finalist of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN, Randy brought the IBC solo championship trophy back to Wilmington in 2015, leaving no question about his hard work and love of the  blues.

Even amongst East Coast traditionalists, talk of bringing back New York rap has become a tired cliché. But a blazing freestyle has a way of elevating the conversation.

Thursday would have been Lou Reed's 75th birthday. This morning, his widow, performance artist Laurie Anderson, marked the occasion by announcing that the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will house Reed's complete archives. The collection includes thousands of hours of video and audio recordings, Reed's personal record collection and more than 300 boxes of papers, photos and other items spanning his six-decade career.

Lady Gaga will be filling in for Beyoncé as Coachella's Saturday headliner for the two-weekend festival.

Don't Bother Big Sean — He's Working

Feb 28, 2017

Real life will tell you different, but to let rap lists tell it an artist peaks in his late teens or early 20s. Most MC's debut albums are praised as their classics, even retroactively, while fans spend the rest of their careers pleading for them to return to their glory days. Nas has had a phenomenal career, but he still hasn't topped Illmatic. Jay Z wasn't popular until 1998, but his 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt is seen as his undisputed best. And no matter how much he pushes the boundaries of hip-hop, many fans want "the old Kanye."

Editor's note: The authors of this post, Peter Kolovos and Steve Lowenthal, worked closely with Hideo Ikeezumi in his final years, with Kolovos purchasing most of the impressive catalog of music he had released and reissuing that catalog through his U.S.-based Black Editions. Below, they share a remembrance of the man as well as a cross-sectional playlist, complete with "liner notes," compiled from the vast catalog of strange, lovely sounds that Mr. Ikeezumi dedicated himself to.

We watched more than 6,000 videos. Ten judges weighed in. Now, the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest has a winner.

It's become an annual tradition for NPR to host a live band in our studios for a full day. This year, we upped the ante and invited around 70 musicians from Washington, D.C.'s National Symphony Orchestra to play the musical interludes between stories on All Things Considered.

Hip-hop took off its cool over the weekend — and lit itself ablaze in the process.

Two seemingly unrelated threads this past weekend served as raucous, yin-and-yang reminders that hip-hop is not just a genre measured by charts, award show accolades and platinum plaques, but an organic culture unbound by industry rules.

Last night, after all was said and done — you might've heard about a late-in-the-evening mix-upMoonlight was deservingly crowned last year's best film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Well, excuse me while I throw away my first draft, won't you?

Front Street Blues host & producer Lan Nichols will serve up some fine blues this Saturday night at 11:00 pm. Expect tasty cuts from Earl Hooker and Francine Reed. Plus, Phil Berkowitz & The Lucky Losers, Si Cranstoun, Elliott & The Untouchables, Jimmy Reed, Devon Allman, Jody Williams, Too Slim & The Taildraggers, Buddy Black, and others. Always the finest in classic, contemporary, and traditional blues - never a dull moment. Tune in via your browser at http://whqr.org.

Paul McCartney is giving fans a preview of what to expect from the upcoming deluxe reissue of Flowers In The Dirt, an album he originally released in 1989. The newly remastered version will include rare outtakes and demos from the recording sessions, snippets and goodies from which McCartney has been sharing in the build-up to its release.

The industry has finally seen the light... at least, that's one way to interpret Future's second major-label release in the span of two weeks.

The Austin music industry isn't whole. The business underlying "The Live Music Capital of the World" stands bifurcated between its lucrative festivals (SXSW principally, but Austin City Limits, Fun Fun Fun Fest and others, too) and, as studies have found, a dwindling local music scene. Austin didn't become the self-styled "Capital" solely by hosting a handful of gargantuan events, which were first born from and since have capitalized handsomely on Austin's brand to increase their now-global footprints, which have drawn outsized attention to the city.

"I feel your pain." The phrase might still be linked to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, but it's also an apt descriptor for a new project by The Crossing, the adventuresome Philadelphia-based choir, based on some very old music.

The Associated Press is reporting that Beyoncé will not make it to Indio, California in April for her planned headlining performance at Coachella, one of the world's most successful and highest-grossing music festivals.

On Wednesday, as protesters near the Dakota Access Pipeline began to break down their shelters and leave the area, Brooklyn singer Holly Miranda released a song, a cover of an obscure late-'70s science-fictional folk song, that she'd been working on for two months in support of those leaving.

Buried somewhere in the fathoms of YouTube is a recent clip of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, apparently filmed with a smartphone in Santiago de Cuba. The band, synonymous with the ebullient spirit of New Orleans, is playing a staple of its book, Professor Longhair's "Go to the Mardi Gras." What's notable about this version of the song, from December of 2015, is the punchy assist provided by some Cuban percussionists, who fall right into step with its second-line groove.

The 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which takes place every four years, begins later this spring in Fort Worth, Texas. For the past six weeks, judges have been traveling the world to hear potential competitors audition. One notable stop is Moscow — where the American pianist for whom the contest is named stunned the world 59 years ago, winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition at the height of the Cold War.

The Brit Awards — the looser, goofier, British-er cousin of the Grammys — are currently underway from the O2 Arena in London. You can see the full list of nominees and winners below.



MasterCard British Album of the Year
WINNER: David Bowie -- Blackstar
The 1975 — I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It
Kano — Made in the Manor
Michael Kiwanuka — Love & Hate
Skepta — Konnichiwa

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