Hip Hop/R&B

Polina Yamshchikov for NPR
December 16, 2014 | NPR · “I think the audience is becoming more aware,” he said backstage at the last date of his fall tour with Method Man. “Smarter.”
 

Courtesy of the artist
December 12, 2014 | NPR · “I want to get whatever’s on my chest off my chest when it feels right,” says the rapper, who makes songs that turn the personal into the political.
 

Courtesy of Def Jam Records
December 10, 2014 | NPR · “What really blowed my mind was the way it unified a room full of people,” says the Miami rapper, about his earliest memories of hip-hop. “That’s what we all have in common.”
 

Courtesy of Bill Adler
December 10, 2014 | NPR · The founding publicity director of Def Jam Records, Bill Adler, amassed a highly valuable collection of music, writing and images.
 

Courtesy of the artist
December 9, 2014 | NPR · Ghostface Killah’s new 36 Seasons is a concept album with a big cast. It stars his Tony Starks alter ego in dense action scenes.
 

Courtesy of The Chamber Group
November 30, 2014 | NPR · The collaborative project made by rapper Royce Da 5′ 9″ and producer DJ Premier is in actual fact a hardcore rap fan’s dream come true.
 

Courtesy of the artist
November 30, 2014 | NPR · A superstar cast made a real life love story — disguised as an action movie — just because.
 

Courtesy of the artist
November 28, 2014 | NPR · The Atlanta rapper — and one half of rap group Run The Jewels — wants his songs to confront heavy everyday issues with empathy: “I think our regular lives are amazing, beautiful things.”
 

Courtesy of the artist
November 16, 2014 | NPR · If this is the first time you’re hearing of somebody called Your Old Droog, don’t even trip.
 

Courtesy of RCA Records
November 13, 2014 | NPR · After initial success, the 30-year-old singer and songwriter, known for his Auto-Tuned hits, became a target for derision. It took time but now he’s made it clear: “I’m not fake.”
 

 

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News

AFP/Getty Images
December 17, 2014 | NPR · For the Japanese, Christmastime means sponge cake. But a nationwide butter shortage has lead to mandatory butter rationing, forcing cake bakers to seek out substitutes.
 

December 17, 2014 | NPR · President Obama commuted the prison sentences of eight people who were convicted of drug-related crimes Wednesday, in a move that also saw 12 presidential pardons issued.
 

Baltimore Sun/TNS /Landov
December 17, 2014 | NPR · American Alan Gross had spent more than five years in a Cuban prison where he suffered ill health. Then, on Tuesday, his lawyer, Scott Gilbert, told him in a phone call that he was going home.
 

Arts & Life

Universal Pictures
December 17, 2014 | NPR · Louis Zamperini was an Olympian before he enlisted in World War II and became a prisoner of war. Jolie says he told her to “make a film that reminds people that they have greatness inside themselves.”
 

Sony Pictures Entertainment
December 17, 2014 | NPR · As an African-American Annie arrives on movie screens, critic Bob Mondello looks at other cross-cultural reinventions, from Pearl Bailey’s Dolly to the Americanization of Carmen as Carmen Jones.
 

December 17, 2014 | NPR · In Gay Berlin, Robert Beachy describes the rise of a gay subculture in the 1920s and ’30s, how it contributed to our understanding of gay identity and how it was eradicated by the Nazis.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
December 17, 2014 | WXPN · Hailu Mergia, a keyboard player and Ethiopian music star who lives in the U.S., will get you anywhere you need to go in our nation’s capital.
 

Courtesy of the artist
December 17, 2014 | NPR · The World Cafe host’s favorite albums from this year abide by his mantra: they put good songs first, and present them simply and authentically.
 

Courtesy of the artists
December 17, 2014 | NPR · The results are in! St. Vincent’s self-titled album was by far the most popular record in our listener poll for the best music of 2014. On this week’s show, we count down the Top 25.
 

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