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Lauryn Hill releases song dedicated to Ferguson

Protestors in Ferguson, Missouri have depended on social media to bypass the gatekeepers of mass media organizations and turn what in another era might have been a local news story into an event that’s unfolding in front of a global audience. As musicians have begun composing reactions to the situation, it’s fitting that they’re broadcasting them through the same platforms.

The latest is Lauryn Hill, who last night tweeted a link to a recording she posted on her SoundCloud page. “Black Rage” isn’t a new song—Hill’s been performing it live for years—but its lyrics about life on the receiving end of institutionalized racism feel incredibly timely.

According a short description, the song’s “an old sketch” that Hill recorded in her living room, and the roughness around the edges, as well as what sound like manipulated field recordings, only add to its immediacy. In the past Hill’s been compared—by herself as well as others—to Nina Simone, and by flipping “My Favorite Things” into a sardonic, unflinching indictment of systematic oppression she more than lives up to it.


A cat and a Freddie Mercury wannabe star in the new Tins video

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Freddie Mercury was such an iconic performer that it can be hard to listen to him and not re-create some of his famous body language: the pensively clenched fist, the hand reaching out as if to grasp an elusive feeling. We’ve all done it. The protagonist in the latest video by Buffalo trio the Tins takes things a step further, donning a fake mustache and taking his Freddie impression out onto the streets alongside a remarkably chill feline friend. The jagged power pop of “If You Want to Navigate” is a world away from Queen’s bombast, but the catchy tune plays well with the clip’s muted black-and-white tones and oddball energy.

See Killer Mike and Talib Kweli speak out about Ferguson

Since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death August 9, multiple celebrities have spoken out about the ensuing protests and police aggression in Ferguson, Mo. Rappers Killer Mike and Talib Kweli have both been especially vocal on Twitter—and both took their perspectives from the internet to news shows this week.

Killer Mike, whose father was a policeman, went on CNN Wednesday to talk about how police officers have changed over the years. “We have essentially gone from being communities that were policed by people from the communities to communities that are policed by strangers, and that’s no longer a community,” he said. “That’s a community under siege.” READ FULL STORY

From Courtney to Kanye: The most talked-about moments in VMA history

Some years, MTV’s Video Music Awards pass by without anything worth gossiping about happening. Other years, Kanye West rushes onstage to tell the audience Taylor Swift doesn’t actually deserve the award she just received.

The Kanye-Taylor debacle is just one of the many non-musical moments that caused viewers to gather around the day after the show, asking each other, “Did you see that?” That night, West’s interruption joined a group of other watercooler moments from VMAs of years gone by including Fiona Apple’s infamous “this world is bulls–t” acceptance speech and Madonna’s interview gone wrong.  READ FULL STORY

Hear The Clash's virtual reunion with EW's homemade Clash 'Black Album'

In one of the best and most talked-about sequences in Richard Linklater’s instant classic film Boyhood, Ethan Hawke gives Ellar Coltrane a homemade compilation he calls The Black Album. It consists of solo tracks from each of the four Beatles, sequenced in a way that captures the magic the band were able to make when they were still a cohesive unit. “Basically, I’ve put the band back together for you,” Hawke wrote in the liner notes.

It’s such a good idea that EW decided to steal it. There are countless bands who have broken up and never circled back around to a cash-grab reunion, and we’ve begun with one of my absolute favorites: The Clash. The group didn’t officially stick a fork in it until 1986, but the bloom was well off the rose by the time drummer Topper Headon left the group just prior to the release of 1982’s Combat Rock. The relationship between co-leads Mick Jones and Joe Strummer were hopelessly strained by the end, and by the time the group released the disastrous Cut the Crap in 1985, Jones was already deep into his second life as the frontman for Big Audio Dynamite.

Like the Beatles before them, the members of the Clash did make up and collaborate on an individual basis after they broke up, but they never got the band back together (and once Strummer suddenly passed away in 2002, that door was officially closed for good). Still, here are 19 tracks (the same number that appeared on the watershed London Calling) from the post-Clash lives of the core four that re-capture the spirit of what made them sonically and philosophically revolutionary.  READ FULL STORY

Big Data brings Internet paranoia to the pop charts

“It’s totally creepy,” Big Data mastermind Alan Wilkis says, “the idea of being able to stalk people on Facebook and Twitter and whatever, and kind of learn more about strangers than you should be able to know and how easy that is. You can wind up on a total stranger’s page and then you’re looking at photos of their wedding and their children and stuff, and it’s like, I shouldn’t be allowed to see this.”

Wilkis’ discomfort over the erosion of privacy that social platforms like Facebook have engendered (and which Facebook and the NSA, among many others, have exploited for their own purposes) is one of the biggest influences on the music he makes. In fact, he ranks it above any strictly musical inspiration. He calls Big Data’s aesthetic approach “techy and paranoid,” and one of the first of his efforts to attract serious attention was an interactive music video that builds, in real time, a 3-D virtual sculpture out of photos and text scraped from your Facebook account. Seeing it create itself out of bits of your personal life, it’s not hard to share some of Wilkis’s unease.

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Jim Greer releases life-affirming single 'I Will Belong'

As a producer and one half of the multi-instrumentalist duo the Rondo Brothers, Jim Greer has worked alongside acts like Foster the People, Galactic, and Yoko Ono, but the untimely loss of his three-year-old son to pediatric cancer almost drove him to quit music entirely. His new album Little Wings, which he’s releasing under the stage name Jim on Aug. 31, documents his struggle through the experience and will benefit the Teddy Berger-Greer Neuroblastoma Research Fund, which Greer set up through the nonprofit Pablove Foundation for pediatric cancer.

The album’s lead single, “I Will Belong,” highlights how despite the serious subject matter, Greer’s continuing to make uplifting music. “I wrote it as a mantra after spending over 100 nights in a hospital,” he says. “At that point, I needed to remind myself that I would not be beaten by the cancer my son was fighting, and that I would be able to once again participate in life.  For me, the song fuses hope with anger in a way I’ve never experienced.”

Ariana Grande, Jessie J, and Nicki Minaj to open VMAs with 'Bang Bang'

Bang Bang” is moving from your earbuds to the TV screen: Ariana Grande, Jessie J, and Nicki Minaj will open Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards with a performance of the song.
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Zammuto embraces catharsis and destruction in 'IO' video

Maintaining forward momentum in your life means finding ways to resolve problems that don’t always have easy solutions. Sometimes you have to force the issue closed, and sometimes that can require drastic measures. Recently, “collage-pop” artist Nick Zammuto struck upon a particularly novel method of working out your issues: by loading physical objects that represent them into an enormous catapult and flinging them to their doom.

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Action Bronson is an acidhead outlaw biker in the 'Easy Rider' video

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 Action Bronson is apparently a B-movie fan as well as a rapper and professional food lover. The video for “The Symbol” from his 2012 mixtape Rare Chandeliers was a loving tribute to the lowest of low-budget ’70s grindhouse action cinema that featured Bronson rocking a truly memorable wig.

A couple weeks ago he dropped “Easy Rider,” the first single from his upcoming official debut album Mr. Wonderful, which boasts several references to dropping acid and some face-melting psych-rock guitar licks, and the accompanying video fittingly enough casts the rapper as an LSD-loving outlaw biker.  READ FULL STORY

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