July 13, 2010 Maya is the third full-length album by M.I.A., and it rattles with hard-edged and well-produced beats and electronica. Reviewer Oliver Wang says that even if it's not her best work, the record still offers reminders of why M.I.A. is one of the most compelling and unusual artists in pop today.
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Harvey Fuqua was one of the major forces at Motown Records.
Michael Ochs Archives
July 13, 2010 Though he didn't attract the same recognition as the Holland-Dozier-Holland team or the late Norman Whitfield, the Motown producer, who died July 6, was pivotal in the history of soul music. His talent touched many classic recordings in a career spanning more than three decades. Here's a look at five of his most notable contributions.
Little Ann's 40-year-old single "Deep Shadows" is a marvel of subtle understatement and emotive power.
courtesy of the artist
April 30, 2010 Little Ann's 40-year-old single "Deep Shadows," produced by Detroit's Dave Hamilton, is a marvel of subtle understatement, built around little more than a bass line, a slight tinkle of piano, a cutting guitar line and, most notably, those bells, which ring loud and portend nothing auspicious.
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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
April 28, 2010 You don't have to know how to do a head spin to get a good workout from B-boying. (Just don't call it breakdancing.) Arguably the most famous form of American street dance, B-boying incorporates explosive but fluid steps marked by swinging arms, cross-stepping feet and floor moves that contort the body in seemingly impossible positions.
Guru performs on stage in 2003, the year before he and DJ Premier parted ways.
April 23, 2010 Throughout his career, Guru was a unique figure: a veteran who thrived when others faltered and an innovator who never followed a style he didn't help invent. His group, Gang Starr, led a vanguard of other artists who bridged jazz and hip-hop. The rapper died Monday at 47.
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Guru (foreground), founder of Gang Starr, died on Monday morning. He was 47.
Courtesy of Capitol Records
April 21, 2010 Gang Starr was the platonic ideal of underground hip-hop for a generation of rap fans. The group's founder, Guru (né Keith Elam), died on Monday morning. Hear his most notable work with Gang Starr and as a solo artist.
Philadelphia rapper Freeway collaborated with producer Jake One on The Stimulus Package.
Courtesy of the artist
April 14, 2010 Times have not been kind to the hip-hop industry. Philadelphia rapper Freeway and Seattle producer Jake One have come up with a novel response, especially in the era of digital music. Their new collaboration, The Stimulus Package, comes with some of the most elaborate packaging ever designed for a hip-hop album.
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courtesy of the artist
April 8, 2010 The entire album is dressed with a classic romanticism; excepting a few studio-room outtakes/interludes, New Amerykah Part 2 is all love songs — or, better put, falling-in-and-out-of-and-back-into-love songs, forming a complex of conflicted emotions over love's charms and harms.
The Rev. Lonnie Farris at home in 1980. His recording of "Peace in the Valley" opens Fire In My Bones.
February 24, 2010 Two new collections, ranging from scratchy field recordings to intricate vocal harmonies to snappy adaptations of rock 'n' roll rhythms, prove divine inspiration takes on many forms.
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In "College," the fifth-grade MCs in 3 Titans unleash a charmingly clever and upbeat jam.
courtesy of the artist
February 24, 2010 The fifth-grade MCs in 3 Titans aren't exactly baby Jay-Zs, as far as flow is concerned, but there's charming cleverness to their ode to the importance of higher education. You'd have to have a cold, cynical heart not to be at least slightly moved by Khalil Jackson, Jorden Plaines and Dallas Ifill's optimism.
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On the compilation Black Man's Cry: The Inspiration of Fela Kuti, Cumbia Moderna de Soledad covers Fela's "Shakara," and shares with it a common bloodline.
courtesy of Stone's Throw Records
February 18, 2010 With its sparse but powerful percussive push and chanting chorus, "Shacalao" strips Fela Kuti's more groove-laden song "Shakara" down to rhythmic studs, pushing it forward with the two-step beat that lies at the heart of cumbia. Yet, while Cumbia Moderna de Soledad remakes Fela, it also gestures to the deep tradition that bonds eastern Colombia with western Africa.
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Cameroonian saxophonist and vibraphone player Manu Dibango performs the title track of Africa Boogaloo.
Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images
February 17, 2010 The compilation provides an impressive and compelling introduction to Africa's embrace of Latin music. Its songs are simultaneously global and local, offering up a twist on "world fusion" without the associations with toothless tropical music.
Courtesy of the artist
February 12, 2010 Aside from a handful of jarring, military marching beats, Sade's new album is sonically spartan. She's always tended to do more with less, but Soldier of Love — her first album in 10 years — feels like less, period.
Aretha Franklin in 1968, the first year she won a Grammy. For the next 10 years she completely dominated the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category.
January 29, 2010 More so than other genres, R&B seems to only have room for one reigning queen at a time. Don't expect 2010 to be much different as Beyonce's well-kept coif has likely already been measured for this year's Grammy crown.
courtesy of Lewis Recordings
January 25, 2010 Part of what makes the producer and DJ's obsessive effort so remarkable is that, if you try to reverse-engineer what he's doing at any given moment, this is the cut-and-paste equivalent of a great violin solo. But he executes so seamlessly and effortlessly that he never calls attention to the parts, only the sum.
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