Rihanna and N.E.R.D. Evolve on ‘Lemon’

For better or worse, N.E.R.D. — the rock band led by Neptunes producer duo Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo — has always been ahead its time. Formed in 1999, the group released its first album in 2001. In Search Of… wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly new: The strains ’70s …

John Maus Is Making Outsider Pop for the End of the World

There may be no better arbiter the end days than John Maus, who for the last six years has been missing from our cultural psyche. He’s accredited for the task, at least, having spent that time completing a dissertation in “control societies” (i.e. ones where sharing information has mutated into …

How Rap Reveals What a ‘Rock Star’ Really Means

To borrow the title from another one his songs, Post Malone deserves congratulations. Aided by a bit YouTube skulduggery but mostly powered by its own sheer catchiness, “Rockstar,” the darkly zonked-out single from Post Malone, has, after weeks jostling, finally replaced “Bodak Yellow” as the top song on the Billboard …

Kelela Is R&B’s Futurist

Kelela makes music that lives in intersections: Sometimes she sounds like ’90s R&B, sometimes she veers progressively electronic, but it all blends together into an amorphous, exciting new form sound. It makes perfect sense when you hear it but feels slippery when you try to pin it to any specific …

On Ununiform, Tricky Finds New Angles in Darkness

You can’t claim that an artist who dubbed himself Tricky didn’t warn you about being difficult. When he first entered popular consciousness as a rapper on Massive Attack’s debut LP Blue Lines, the Bristol native born as Adrian Thaws made an immediate and indelible impact. Though he only appeared on …

How Beyoncé’s Lemonade Vinyl Ended Up Containing Canadian Punk Tracks

Great news for the 27 you who make up the small but vibrant sliver overlap in the Venn diagram Beyoncé fans and Canadian punk fans – certain copies this month’s vinyl release Beyoncé’s Lemonade were mistakenly pressed with the first half Canadian punk band Zex’s new album Uphill Battle. Instead songs from Lemonade’s …

Red Hot Chili Peppers Are Classic Rock Now

This weekend saw the launch the second annual Meadows Music Festival in Queens by Citi Field. Founders Entertainment, the production and promotion company also responsible for the city’s annual Randall’s Island summer bash Governors Ball, has approached the business adding to New York’s annual festival load very carefully. By nudging …

3 Doors Down Is the Perfect Band to Play Trump’s Inauguration

With major black and mainstream pop musicians effectively boycotting Donald Trump’s inauguration, event planners have been compelled to rely on artists with a large popular following who hail from culturally marginal genres. Classical crossover, a schlocky genre predicated on slavish devotion to a mirage European high culture, is well-represented by …

How a Hit Rap Song Happens Now

In this, the year hip-hop won the music business, one its defining hits was released more or less by mistake. Back in February, Lil Uzi Vert, a charismatic, septum-pierced 23-year-old rapper out Philadelphia who’d become internet famous with a frenetic outpouring digital singles, EPs, and mixtapes, was on his first …

Introducing The Intimate Bedroom Rock of Soccer Mommy

There’s a kind a cliché about the kids who go to college in New York City — that while their pals in Ann Arbor and South Bend are content to fumble through four years sloppily drunken coming–age-stuff, these eager young achievers have put themselves on an accelerated track. Their partying …

The Imperfect Innovation of Kanye West’s Graduation

Graduation, which turns ten today, probably isn’t the worst Kanye West LP, but even if it were, that would hardly be cause for shame. In keeping with its title, Kanye’s third album puts on a weird costume and participates in a ceremonious procession, but behind the ordered facade something disheveled …

Here’s Why Taylor Swift’s ‘…Ready for It?’ Might Sound Familiar

Unaffected (probably) by the lukewarm critical response to “Look What You Made Me Do,” the rollout for Taylor Swift’s new album, Reputation, continued apace over Labor Day weekend. The artist debuted “… Ready for It?” Saturday before a nationally televised college football game and then released the single properly overnight. …