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Sidney Madden

The 20-year old Atlanta rapper Lil Nas X has been riding a major hype wave since his self-released single "Old Town Road" blew up the Internet and multiple music charts. (It's in its eleventh week on top of Billboard's Hot 100). Now he's on Columbia Records and his debut EP has finally dropped. Is he a one-hit wonder or does he have more surprises for his fans?

Nine months after his death, Mac Miller still hasn't left the mind of the rap world. Always an avid collaborator, Mac teamed up with Anderson .Paak's Free Nationals before his passing and now, fans get to hear it. "Time" marks the first posthumous release that has been sanctioned by the rapper's family.

Houston rapper Bushwick Bill, a founding member of the pioneering rap crew Geto Boys, died on Sunday evening in Colorado, his publicist, Dawn P., confirmed with NPR. A cause was not given pending a medical examination; the rapper was diagnosed earlier this year with pancreatic cancer. He was 52 years old.

The first time I saw Raveena live, the room at Washington, D.C.'s Songbyrd Music House was packed. Chatter from college-aged kids about gender politics and Instagram updates filled the venue before she got on stage, but for a Thursday night in the middle of summer, there weren't many drinks clinking. "The venues always tell me they never make money off the bar at my shows," the artist laughed backstage that night. "It's just a bunch of nice brown kids."

Koffee is waking up new generations to the style, complexity and power of reggae. The Jamaican-born rising star and 2019 NPR Slingshot artist has only been at this professionally for a couple years — the 19-year-old recently graduated from high school — but her passion for her culture is palpable and the momentum of her music is only building.

At this point, Cardi B needs little introduction and, as she makes clear in her latest single, she damn-sure needs no validation.

"Press, press, press, press, press / Cardi don't need more press / Kill 'em all, put them hoes to rest / Walk in, bulletproof vest / Please tell me who she goin' check? / Murder scene, Cardi made a mess," Cardi raps on her hard-hitting "Press."

Our list of the best new albums out this week includes Kishi Bashi's moving remembrance of Japanese internment camps during World War II, a sometimes surreal but lucid dream from R&B singer Raveena, stark solo piano pieces from the electronic artist Eluvium, veteran of the U.K. grime scene Skepta and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Tom Huizenga, Sidney Madden and Stephen Thompson as they share their picks for the best new albums out on May 31.

Featured Albums

Our shortlist of the best albums out this week includes a stirring call for social justice from soul and gospel legend Mavis Staples, rapper YG's powerful remembrance of Nipsey Hussle and the first new release in six years from lo-fi rock veterans Sebadoh. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Ann Powers, Sidney Madden and Stephen Thompson as they share their picks for the most essential albums dropping on May 24.

Featured Albums:

  1. Mavis Staples: We Get By
    Featured Song: "Sometime"

With each new release, Raveena's star is deservedly rising. Following "Mama," her touching tribute to immigrant mothers released earlier this month, the Indian-American R&B experimenter shares her latest single "Stronger" and announces her debut album, Lucid.

ScHoolboy Q returns with CrasH Talk, his fifth studio album three years removed from his Grammy-nominated Blank Face LP.

The precision. The energy. The limitless swag.

We've been anxiously waiting for Lizzo to drop her debut full-length album ever since she dominated our South by Southwest showcase in 2017. Cuz I Love You is finally here and it's full of the kind of fearless swagger, unapologetic pride and boundless joy that's won over so many fans. We open this week's New Music Friday with just one of the standout cuts, "Juice."

Kevin Abstract is in rapid-fire release mode. The Texas-born hip-hop artist is dropping a second trio of songs in a week's time on the road to a full length album.

The six-song Ghettobaby comes a week after ARIZONA baby, and includes all three tracks from that release. According to Abstract, there's a method behind this seemingly sporadic purge of new material. "ARIZONA baby is an album btw I'm just slowly releasing it over time," he explained to fans on social media.

A fire is coming from Flying Lotus. And David Lynch is fanning the flames. The Brainfeeder boss has shared "Fire is Coming" to fuel the announcement of the his upcoming album, Flamagra, due out May 24 via Warp Records.

At 2 a.m. Monday morning, Solange Knowles and a handful of friends were at a strip club in her native Houston, celebrating. The artist/auteur wore a leopard print cowboy hat, matching tube top and cut-out black pants, loose enough to twerk along with the dancers in their section.

Two-and-a-half years after the release of A Seat At The Table, Solange shares her surprise CQ visual album When I Get Home. On Solange's fourth full-length album since her 2002 debut, Solo Star, the artist takes listeners on an "exploration of origin" across 19 tracks and a film meshing together static R&B, funk, Zydeco and blues. To accompany the release, Solange announced nine "album events" in her hometown of Houston, all taking place on March 3.

Whether your life is pristinely (and damn-near mythically) put together or your friends would dotingly define you as a hot mess, TeaMarrr understands. The Boston-born, LA-based artist makes self-deprecating, prickly pop and R&B for those navigating their dichotomies, meandering through their relationship statuses, or even questioning their sanity.

YouTube

Ezra Collective is breathing new life into one of music's greatest institutions.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


In 1998, songwriter Kandi Burruss — on hiatus from her R&B group, Xscape — took a drive around Atlanta with a girlfriend, looking for inspiration. In the car, Burruss was playing tracks she'd gotten from a fellow songwriter, Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, a few days earlier.

The music of Dianna Lopez feels like a secret you just can't keep to yourself. Her ability to blend ingredients of rock, avant-pop and R&B has made her a standout among Soundcloud's many bedroom-born hidden gems. And in 2019, she's ready to take things to the next level.

The latest release from the Rockland County, N.Y. singer, "Predictable," is a soft and fittingly pithy track about anticipating your partner's every move and deciding whether or not to change the routine.

Billboard reports that the Drake has secured a dozen Top 10 singles this year, thanks to a featured appearance on Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny's latest single, "MIA," which debuted at No.

Singer Kaya Stewart and musician Jamie Lidell are British-bred kindred spirits, but met in Nashville.

"I actually met Jamie through a real estate agent when I was looking for a place in Nashville," Stewart tells NPR Music. "I was working with a bunch of writers trying to hone in on my sound and she suggested I work with her friend Jamie Lidell ... We set up a session and started writing in his home studio. We clicked and have been writing ever since."

After years in proverbial hip-hop purgatory, Lil Wayne has finally released his long-awaited album Tha Carter V, just after his 36th birthday.

CV, the fifth installment of Wayne's chart-topping, Grammy-winning series that started in 2004, nearly became a pop culture fable about the perils of music industry politics, following years of legal battles with his Cash Money Records boss and musical father figure, Birdman.

After years of successfully operating as an independent entity, 14-member hip-hop boy band Brockhampton unveiled its major label debut, iridescence, late Thursday night.

It might sound hard to believe, but being a Beatle doesn't necessarily assure chart-topping success — but never underestimate the pull of Paul McCartney.

As the seasons change, the melancholy of losing summer deserves its own soundtrack. Atlanta crooner 6LACK (pronounced "black") — who dropped a sleeper hit of a debut album in 2016 with Free 6LACK and in the time since has toured the world with The Weeknd and become a first-time father — has returned with his sophomore album, East Atlanta Love Letter, for just such a time.

Octavian is taking off. Nearly a year after the woozy and infectious unpredictability of "Party Here" perked ears and raised his profile, the U.K. artist has shared his latest mixtape SPACEMAN, out now via Black Butter.

The mic-stand tango and primal scream of Charles Bradley lives on. The posthumous final album from the legendary soul singer, who died last year, has been announced. Bradley's final album, Black Velvet, is due out Nov. 9 via Dunham and Daptone Records.

Masego is one of music's most promising chameleons. The Virginia-hailing multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of all things traphousejazz (a subgenre he coined in the beginning of his career) is gearing up to release a funky debut album this fall.

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