Take Two: Nevermen, St. Lucia, and Rihanna

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Back in the saddle! In this week’s installment of “Tuesday Reviewsday” (peep the podcast on iTunes or at NPR), I chitchat about Rihanna’s Anti, share my favorite cuts from St. Lucia’s Matter, and super duper gush over the arrival of Nevermen—that’s the supergroup comprising freak king Mike Patton, werewolf/singer Tunde Adebimpe, and the night-terror-having cosmology-creating avant-rap poet laureate Doseone. Geeked. Listen below or via one of the links above.

Esperanza Spalding’s Surrealist Dream

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Esperanza Spalding, the Grammy-stacking perpetual “jazz darling,” has made a prog album. Well, it’s a very soulful, jazz-streaked, noisy rock record called Emily’s D+Evolution, which is a concept LP about that titular character, who is Esperanza’s alter ego. (When you talk to her, it starts to make sense.) For the story, I also got to interview the legendary Wayne Shorter, who name-dropped Haruki Murakami and Neil deGrasse Tyson during our chat. That part didn’t make it into the piece, but, well, now I’m name-dropping.

Anderson .Paak Was Homeless Before He Was a Star

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Anderson .Paak and I went cruising down the PCH on the first day that El Niño truly dumped on us. It was a little harrowing, but you wouldn’t know it from watching our video interview. Plus, if you read the story (which includes a chat with the mighty Talib Kweli), you’ll see that this dude’s made it through much much worse. His crazy soulful new album Malibu is out now.

Billboard Cover: Zayn Malik’s Own Direction

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At last, proof that a Zayn Malik does indeed sh-t in the woods (and maybe the One Direction bed a little bit too). What do you do when you quit one of the biggest boy bands the world’s ever seen? You go home, back to Northern England, to steel yourself on mom’s cooking before buying a house in Bel Air and getting to work on your solo alt-R&B career. Also, you go camping with Frank Ocean’s favorite producer and record out among the trees.

Billboard Cover: Lady Gaga Is Woman of the Year

 

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Lady Gaga had me over to her beachside Malibu palace to play some new songs on her old piano and chitchat a lil’ about being crowned Billboard’s Woman of the Year. Click through to read about how she bet big on her own talents, poured her rage into American Horror Story: Hotel, and did whatever it took to save herself from becoming, in her words, a “fashionable robot.” With input from Tony Bennett, Ryan Murphy, Diane Warren, and Matt Bomer.