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Rick Ross on chanting 2 Live Crew on the playground -- and the first time he fell in love with a stripper

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Rick Ross has developed a musical signature built on louche bombast and cinematic drama. His latest album, the recently-released Hood Billionaire, maintains the high standards to which all bosses must aspire.

But what artists, songs, and albums helped form the Ross perspective? EW caught up with the Bawse for a conversation about his musical development, his rap obsessions, and his plan for the most badass funeral in hip-hop history. READ FULL STORY

Hear indie-folk outfit Seagulls cover Big Star's 'Thirteen' -- exclusive

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Big Star’s “Thirteen” is one of the prettiest and most tender compositions in pop history. Rolling Stone put the version the band recorded for their ironically entitled 1972 LP #1 Album at No. 406 on their list of the best 500 songs ever, but if they were ranking them by their ability to evoke a uniquely sweet and nostalgic flavor of heartache, it would easily take the No. 1 spot.

Philly indie outfit Seagulls, who intriguingly combine folky textures and electronic sounds, tackled the song during the recording session in a secluded West Virginia cabin that produced their upcoming LP Great Pine, due out in February on Yellow K Records. Their version wisely sticks close to Big Star’s version, and like the original, it’ll get you right in the feels.

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Exclusive: Watch T-Pain's triumphant new video for 'Keep On'

T-Pain has had a crazy year. After cutting off his trademark dreadlocks in 2013, he spent 2014 giving his career a similarly extreme makeover, releasing a string of songs that were daring not only for the edgy electronic sounds they used but for the emotional vulnerability of his lyrics. Then, at the end of October, he performed one of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert sans Auto-Tune that blew the Internet’s mind and an even bigger wave of attention his way.

His new single “Keep On” is an inspirational jam packed with solid advice on believing in yourself and dedicating yourself to your passions (and a bunch of EDM flourishes to boot). The video, stitched together from candid footage shot on tour and in T-Pain’s basement, offers a behind the scenes perspective on an exceptional artist’s comeback campaign.

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Watch the video premiere of Kissing Cousins' 'In With Them'

All-female garage rock group Kissing Cousins started making music in frontwoman Heather Heywood’s bedroom in 2005. Ten years later, the Los Angeles-based band is celebrating a decade of making music—gritty rock with a Southern gothic flair—with the release of  7″/digital LP In With Them (Velvet Blue Music). The women decided to record the album directly onto eight-track tape—a fitting throwback given the band’s influences, like the lo-fi rock of early Black Sabbath and the doo-wop vocals of the ’50s.

The title track “In With Them” is sultry and tough, complete with haunting reverbs and the kind of catchy riffs that have landed Kissing Cousins’ singles on popular TV shows, most recently American Horror Story. The accompanying video, directed by Amanda Paganini, was shot on location in Temescal Canyon, Silverlake, and Malibu. Wandering through the forest barefooted in their long black dresses, the women appear like a clan of alluring witches, on their way to a Wiccan ritual.

Hear Odesza's brand-new remix of Grammy nominee Sia's 'Big Girls Cry'

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Singer, songwriter, and (as of Friday morning) three-time Grammy nominee Sia has two primary musical modes she tends to stick to: cathartic dance pop like her breakout single “Chandelier” and brooding power ballads like “Pretty Hurts” (which she wrote with Beyoncé). The album version of “Big Girls Cry,” from her 1000 Forms of Fear, is firmly of the second sort, but for a new official remix the rising EDM production duo ODESZA strips away the song’s angst and replaces it with the low-key but rave-able energy that they’ve made their trademark.

EW has an exclusive first listen.

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Hear club-rap innovator Spank Rock's new single '12 O'Clock Boys'

Dance music and rap hybrids are pretty much inescapable at this point, but mixing the two was still a daring concept when rapper/producer/party-starter Naeem Juwan (a.k.a. Spank Rock) first hit the scene nearly a decade ago. “I think maybe I was ahead of the curve because I’m okay taking risks,” he says. “A lot of people don’t like to take risks. People like to do things that are easy. I feel like maybe I’m a bit different.”

While it’s taken a while for the dance-rap movement Juwan helped lay the foundation for to fully bloom, his skills are still as sharp as they were when he first started blowing up clubs. Two months ago he released the fiery track “Assassin” with fellow club-rap vet Amanda Blank, which will appear on his new The Upside EP, out Dec. 9 on his own Bad Blood Records.

Its latest single is “12 O’Clock Boys” (produced by Philly beat maker Noah Breakfast), inspired by Juwan’s Baltimore roots and the documentary of the same name about the city’s unique motorcycle culture. “It has the feeling of a Baltimore club break,” he says. “I always think about Baltimore when I sit down to write. It’s such a wild, crazy place. I just kinda wanted to think about some of the friends I lost back home and think about youth culture in Baltimore and try to write something that was—I don’t know. I just wanted to write something about that.”

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AC/DC's Angus Young on the band's first show and why he needs teleportation technology

Next year, AC/DC will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its first album the only way the band knows how: With a new album, Rock or Bust, and a forthcoming world tour that promises to be as big and loud as the box office-busting trek they went on a few years back in support of 2008’s Black Ice.

Rock or Bust may be a high-octane, party-hard collection of monster jams, but the men of AC/DC are no strangers to real world adversity—be it the death of original singer Bon Scott, the health issues that have forced guitarist Malcolm Young to step away from the band, or the recent legal woes of drummer Phil Rudd. But none of that will deter AC/DC—especially lead guitarist Angus Young, who has four decades of rock and roll under his belt because he has stuck to his guns (and his signature schoolboy outfit). He sat down with EW to talk about the new album, the recent upheavals, and why he always keeps an eye on the sky during “Hell’s Bells.”

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Bahamas unveils a video for the viral hit 'All the Time' (aka that song from the James Franco smartphone ad)

Canadian auteur Afie Jurvanen released his first album under his nom de rock Bahamas back in 2009, has shared bills with Wilco and Jack Johnson, and was nominated for his home country’s top musical awards multiple times, but it took a smartphone commercial for him to finally break through in the States. You’ve probably seen it–it’s the one where James Franco turns falling off a building into a typically Franco-esque exercise in irritatingly competent multitasking to an impeccably chill soundtrack of lilting falsetto vocals and a fuzzed-out staccato bass line.

That song, “All the Time” (from the new Bahamas album Bahamas is Afie) is finally getting its own Franco-free full-length visual. While it’s a low-key, no-frills affair, the buoyant slow-mo and unfussy aesthetic suit the song nicely. And if you only know “All the Time” from the Droid commercial, the full version’s expertly deployed vocal harmonies and guitar leads–which sound like lost moments from a late-era Beatles album–are a revelation.

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Sleater-Kinney shares snippets of two new songs

Back in October, Sleater-Kinney surprised fans with the big reveal that the career-spanning box set they’re about to release isn’t just a look back at their incredibly influential career but the first chapter in a new phase of their collaboration.

They broke the news with a new song, “Bury Our Friends,” and during an interview on NPR’s All Songs Considered yesterday they played snippets of two more recent recordings.

You can hear the interview here, and if you’re in a rush you can skip ahead to 19:19 to hear “Surface Envy” and to 32:39 for a bit of “No Cities to Love.”

Stream an EP of cathartic synthpop by L.A. duo Radar Cult

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These days you can barely swing a MIDI controller without hitting a synthpop band, but LA duo Radar Cult sets itself apart from an increasingly crowded field not only by tapping into the slightly menacing analog tones of vintage John Carpenter scores, but by infusing their music with real emotion.

The pair have their debut LP scheduled for release next year on the Plug Research label. In the meantime, they’re putting out a five-song EP called Splitting that sounds like Erasure writing notes to an unrequited love on an overcast day. It’s due out Nov. 25, and EW has an exclusive first listen below.

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