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When an artist finds their song climbing up the Billboard charts for the first time, it's usually a cause for celebration. But in the case of 19-year-old rapper Lil Nas X and his viral hit, "Old Town Road (I Got Horses in the Back)," it's also been a cause of controversy.

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 2005, even as the flood waters that rose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina subsumed his home along with countless others, Allen Toussaint was reluctant to leave his city. But the elegant architect of New Orleans rhythm and blues was left with no other option. Just a day after his evacuation, in an interview with Rolling Stone, he described the experience less in terms of what had been lost than what could yet be gained.

Updated at 5:35 p.m. ET

On Tuesday afternoon, the LAPD announced that it has arrested Eric Holder, a 29-year-old Los Angeles man whom authorities have identified as the suspect in the Sunday killing of rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle on Sunday afternoon.

The suspect was first arrested by police in the city of Bellflower in Los Angeles County, the LAPD confirmed to NPR.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

On this day, we are truly blessed. Spring is in the air, the LA Times just eviscerated the New York Times as an April Fools' gag. And, more importantly, Carly Rae Jepsen has announced a brand new album. (It's not an April Fools' gag, we swear.)

Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

Grammy-nominated rap artist, entrepreneur and community philanthropist Ermias Asghedom, better known as Nipsey Hussle, was shot and killed Sunday. His death was announced on Twitter by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Nipsey Hussle was 33.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner's office confirmed Monday that he died of gunshot wounds of the head and torso.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There are a lot of music fans grieving this morning. Rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed in South Los Angeles yesterday. He was 33 years old and the father of two children. He'd been in the music industry for almost 15 years before he released this.

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.

Gully Boy, a film that follows the rags-to-riches tale of a rapper pursuing his dreams, has swept South Asia and its diaspora into a fervor, helping bring Indian hip-hop into the mainstream conversation. Directed by Zoya Akhtar and starring Bollywood heavyweights Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh, Gully Boy has become the year's highest-grossing Bollywood film overseas.

On Tuesday, a New York State Supreme Court judge dismissed most of conductor James Levine's claims in a defamation suit the former music director of the Metropolitan Opera filed against his former employer and its general manager, Peter Gelb.

Roger Charlery, best known as Ranking Roger, singer of the widely influential U.K. group The Beat — known as The English Beat in the U.S. — died Tuesday afternoon, at 56. The singer was diagnosed with brain tumors and lung cancer last year. His death was announced on the website of The Beat, and confirmed to NPR by the group's manager, Tarquin Gotch.

Longtime fans of Buddy & Julie Miller know better than to expect new music from them at predictable intervals. Throughout the 1990s, the married collaborators (and their co-written songs) constantly appeared on each other's solo albums. But this millennium, their output has slowed to a trickle of duo projects (the most recent arriving a decade ago) and Buddy's outside undertakings. Julie's ability to go out and perform was severely hampered by chronic pain and other difficult-to-manage health issues, though she hadn't given up songwriting.

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.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Scott Walker, a pop singer who gave up stardom to carve out one of the most original and uncompromising careers in modern music, died Friday. He was 76. His record label, 4AD, announced Walker's death on Monday morning and later told NPR that the cause of death was cancer.

Walker was best-known for his work with blue-eyed soul trio The Walker Brothers in the 1960s, but it was his late-career trilogy of challenging art-rock albums that defined his reputation as one of avant-garde music's most electrifying auteurs.

From my vantage point — a white kid growing up on the blistering guitars of my '60s guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton — Mdou Moctar has made the most insane psychedelic guitar album of the 21st century. From his perspective, growing up in a small village in central Niger, Moctar may not even know what I'm talking about. In fact, in a press statement, he says, "I don't know what rock is exactly. I have no idea.

It's been 50 years since Woodstock Music & Arts Festival. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of three days of peace, love and music, Woodstock 50 will take place Aug. 16–18, 2019, in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Festival co-founder Michael Lang has announced the official lineup for the anniversary festival with Jay-Z, Dead & Company and The Killers as headliners.

Salif Keita, one of the best African singers of the past century, had a 40-plus-year career that took him around the world and produced some 25 albums. Now, Keita is retiring from recording and in October 2018, he released his final album is Un Autre Blanc, or Another White.

As it has annually for 17 years, the Library of Congress picked out a wide-ranging set of recordings — songs, albums, speeches, monologues, field recordings and some very old phonograph cylinders — to add to the National Recording Registry, bringing the total number of works within it to 525.

Devon Gilfillian is very excited to be talking about the release of the first single from his forthcoming debut album on the phone. However, he's still pretty hyped from singing The National Anthem at the Southeastern Conference basketball game between LSU and Florida the morning of our talk. He's been in this spot before.

Like any creative community, the Philadelphia music scene is best viewed as a constant state of collaboration.

The artists might take center stage, but they wouldn't be able to do what they do without an equally robust community of directors and videographers to imaginatively translate their work into narrative visuals, or without studios and curators eager to document their process and performances with breathtaking clarity.

I struggled to balance the conflicting emotions of enjoying the musical celebration that is the annual SXSW Festival with the pain of the devastating loss of life in Friday's terrorist attack in New Zealand. It was an emotional push and pull that I kept completely to myself.

From the front, the unassuming Nashville building that's home to Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Studio looks like a place more likely to house drab offices than creative labor. In fact, its proprietor confirms a call center once operated inside its walls before he bought the facility and had tracking and control rooms built to his specifications.

Surf Guitar Legend Dick Dale Dies At 81

Mar 18, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Sorry to report that the king of surf guitar has died.

(SOUNDBITE OF DICK DALE'S "MISIRLOU")

Dick Dale, the surf rock pioneer who took reverb to new levels, died on Saturday night. He was 81. The guitarist's health had declined over the past 20 years due to a number of illnesses, including diabetes, kidney disease and rectal cancer. The news was confirmed to NPR by Dusty Watson, a drummer who worked and toured with Dale between 1995 and 2006, who says he spoke with Dale's wife, Lana Dale. No cause was given.

The musical leg of SXSW 2019 has taken over Austin, Texas, once again and Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras has been standing amidst the food stands, venues and musical equipment cases to check out all the best Latin talent making noise.

"South by Southwest is becoming more important for Latin music every year," Contreras says. "More and more bands from Latin America, Spain and the U.S are coming here. I've been coming for 10 years and I used to be able to see most of the bands I needed. Now, its impossible."

Born 100 years ago today, Nat King Cole was one of the most popular and influential entertainers of the 20th century. As an African American ballad singer and jazz musician, he topped the charts year after year, sold more than 50 million records, pushed jazz piano in a new direction and paved the way for later generations of performers.

When blues legend Buddy Guy calls you the real deal, that's no small compliment. Recently, Guy bestowed that honor on Mary Lane. After years of flying under the national radar, Lane has released a new album and is getting a well-deserved burst of recognition.

Two South American countries have been in the news a lot lately. Venezuela's economy has collapsed in a political crisis and in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, the country's new far-right president, has made racist comments and been accused of stoking anti-gay violence. For musicians in both those countries, the news is affecting their work.

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