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Inside Sajaegi, K-Pop's Open Secret

Feb 21, 2020

Last fall, Malvo, an indie K-pop artist, was walking to the parking lot after a long day. He had just finished a show at a university festival near Seoul, South Korea. In the lot, a middle-aged man approached the musician, saying he had a "marketing opportunity" for Malvo and his songs. He didn't give his phone number, or his name.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Bashar Jackson, better known as the Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles during what appeared to be a home invasion. He was 20 years old.

While the Los Angeles Police Department would not identify Jackson by name as the victim in Wednesday morning's shooting, NPR confirmed his death through his record label, Republic Records.

Brooklyn-hailing rapper Pop Smoke, who was born Bashar Barakah Jackson, died Wednesday morning, according to his record label. The rising act was killed during a Los Angeles home invasion on Feb. 19, 2020. He was 20 years old.

Pop Smoke was a rising start in the New York drill scene because his intensity made him an outlier. Everything about his demeanor and delivery stood out — his tongue-curling ad-lib, a sometimes disorienting flow and the type of gravel-gargling tone that stops music listeners in their tracks.

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For decades, Go-go has been the unofficial music of Washington, D.C. But today, its status becomes official when the city's mayor signs some legislation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Wind me up.

DJ and producer Andrew Weatherall, a titan of underground dance music, died Monday in London at age 56. The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism, according to a statement released by his management.

Weatherall started producing in London in the mid-'80s, and was known for a wicked sense of humor — and for blending an eclectic mix of genres.

Elton John had to end a concert in Auckland, New Zealand, early on Sunday after losing his voice.

He revealed on Instagram that he had been diagnosed with "walking pneumonia," a less severe form of pneumonia.

This August will mark 100 years since women won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. To celebrate, the New York Philharmonic has commissioned compositions by 19 women for an initiative it calls Project 19, which had its first concert earlier this month.

Harry Nilsson's concept album The Point turns fifty this year; to celebrate, the 1971 animated film adapted from the music will be released digitally and on BluRay for the first time. Nilsson, a beloved if occasionally overlooked writer of late 1960s pop hits, died in 1994, but his strange and endearing fairy tale album still resonates with those that remember it.

R&B singer R. Kelly has again been charged by federal prosecutors in Illinois. Thursday's filing, which includes 13 charges, supersedes an indictment filed last July and accuses Kelly with sexually abusing another minor.

The minor added to Thursday's federal indictment in Illinois was about 14 years old when the abuse allegedly started in about 1997 and lasted for more than three years.

In court filings made public Thursday, Universal Music Group (UMG) disclosed specifics about some of the recordings lost or damaged in a 2008 vault fire. They include works by Nirvana, Elton John, Soundgarden and other artists.

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Short of Lana Del Rey, it's hard to imagine a modern pop star better suited to James Bond themes than Billie Eilish

It's Mardi Gras season and in North America, no celebration is more famous than the one put on by the people of New Orleans. For two weeks, local groups called Krewes organize balls, parades and dance parties. Colorful plastic beads are everywhere.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Joseph Shabalala, the singer who created the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and propelled it to worldwide fame, died Tuesday in Pretoria at age 78. The group became beloved globally as collaborators with Paul Simon on the album Graceland, and went on to win five Grammys.

Starting today, NPR Music is accepting entries to the 2020 Tiny Desk Contest. You can now submit your video via our website. We'll be accepting entries through March 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age and a resident of the United States. You can't currently have a record deal.

In his first new music since dropping last year's invigorating ode to the Delta Blues, Kingfish, guitar phenom Christone "Kingfish" Ingram shares a sizzling take of the song "Empty Promises." Originally written and recorded by the late bluesman Michael "Iron Man" Burks in 2008, Ingram updates the anti-love ballad with his own signature solos that are both raw and breathtakingly precise.

The middle of winter can feel like a bit of a dead zone — awards season sucks up much of the air while pointing our attention at commercial art we've already seen or decided to ignore. Putative songs of the summer are still being strategized in coastal corporate boardrooms, blockbusters are still bulking up for tank-top season. Everyone's suffering from one vitamin deficiency or another. Well, not today.

Last year, the Oscar for best original song was preordained: It was going to "Shallow," come hell or high water, in spite of the clear and obvious superiority of Kendrick Lamar's "All the Stars." That was an unusually strong year for movie songs — you could have put together a strong slate using only tracks that didn't get nominated — but the category didn't exactly hold the movie world in suspense.

Nina Simone was living alone in France, and feeling the weight of her isolation, when she recorded what would become Fodder on My Wings in 1982. But the album — which Verve/UMe will reissue on April 3, making it available for the first time on streaming services — hardly stays in a despondent key.

Updated Friday, Feb. 7 at 5:00 p.m. ET

One of Mali's most prominent musicians, Ballaké Sissoko, has alleged that the Transportation Security Administration [TSA] destroyed his specially designed instrument during a trip from New York to Paris that began on Monday evening. On Thursday afternoon, the TSA said that its agents did not open the instrument case or create the damage.

Andy Gill, a guitarist renowned for his sharp, inverted approach to the instrument who founded the post-punk group Gang Of Four and later became a respected producer, died in a London hospital Feb. 1 from a respiratory illness, the group announced in a statement. He was 64.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Peter Serkin, a pianist who navigated a distinctive course through classical music with thoughtful interpretations of both standard repertoire and bracing new compositions, died Saturday morning at his home in Red Hook, N.Y. at age 72.

The cause of death, announced by his family, was pancreatic cancer.

Serkin came from a prestigious family of musicians. His father, the celebrated pianist Rudolf Serkin, and his maternal grandfather, the violinist and conductor Adolf Busch, embodied old-world traditions — to reverential acclaim.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Winter driving can be unpleasant, dangerous and — for people who work to keep road conditions safe — time consuming.

The long hours that Justin Horak, a snow plow driver in Montana, passes behind the wheel recently gave him musical inspiration.

On All Things Considered 40 years ago this month, here's how host Noah Adams introduced an iconic album:

"New music from a group said by some critics to be the best rock and roll band in the world: The band's name is The Clash, the record is London Calling."

London Calling stood out from the punk rock of its time: It was political, knowing and clever. Compact disks were still a few years away, so the album's 19 songs spilled over two vinyl disks.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Grammys were last night, and Billie Eilish was the big winner. She is the youngest artist to ever sweep all four of the top prizes. But as NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, there was a lot happening between the lines during last night's ceremony.

By the end of the 62nd Grammy Awards on Sunday evening, a major star had been crowned: 18-year-old singer Billie Eilish, who swept all four of the night's biggest prizes — Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year — along with honors for Best Pop Vocal Album.

But that rush of awards came only at the tail end of a long, strange and emotionally ambivalent ceremony held Sunday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The complete list of winners of the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, presented on Jan. 26, 2020, is below.

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