Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

Biographies of musicians tend to be either hagiographic or hyper-factual, either shoring up the myths that celebrity produces or burying insight beneath a pile of mundane details.

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

Raphael Saadiq, the famed singer, musician, producer, music supervisor and former member of Tony! Toni! Toné!, has worn many hats over the span of his nearly 40-year career. One thing he hasn't done is take time to unpack his own traumas. But recently, the Grammy-winner took a step back to process his past and now, he's using a new album to work through it.

When you're a young adult living in an expensive major metropolitan area, going out to eat is both the joy and the bane of your existence. A joy, because there's a 95% chance your kitchen is tiny or your roommates are using it or there has been no time to pick up groceries in between your long commutes and multiple jobs (or all of the above). A bane, because everything is so damned expensive, no one has enough money and there's always that friend who insists on splitting the bill in half even though they ordered alcohol and a far more expensive dish than you did.

Ask people which episode of Invader Zim they most remember, and it won't take long before someone brings up "Dark Harvest." In it, Zim — a green alien intent on destroying the human race — sets out to harvest his classmates' organs.

Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz made everything seem so easy, pulling a few acoustic instruments out of their car and, in no time, huddling around a single microphone behind the Tiny Desk. With that, Mandolin Orange was ready.

Emily bowed her fiddle while Andrew strummed a guitar and sang about his mom being carried away in a hearse. "Golden Embers" is the lead-off track to Mandolin Orange's 2019 album Tides of a Teardrop. This song shines a light on the darkness that fell on Andrew's family when he was 18.

Guitar rock is alive and well in the bruising, stadium-sized anthems of Sheer Mag. We kick off this week's New Music Friday with a spin of the Philadelphia-based band's sophomore full-length, A Distant Call. The classic R&B singer Raphael Saadiq is back with his wildest, most ambitious and unforgettable album so far, Jimmy Lee, named after his brother who died of an overdose in the 1990s. The hip-hop boy band BROCKHAMPTON has its fifth album of the past two years, a weird and wonderful genre-buster called Ginger.

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET

It's been a long time coming, and the rollout didn't go quite as planned, but Taylor Swift's seventh album, Lover, is here. Stream the album below via Apple Music or Spotify.

Soon after the album appeared on streaming services, Swift posted to her almost 121 million Instagram followers: "This album is very much a celebration of love, in all its complexity, coziness and chaos."

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

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Jazz singer Billie Holiday brought emotion to every note she sang.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY HE CALLS ME")

BILLIE HOLIDAY: (Singing) Crazy in love, I'd say.

There are precious few victories to be found in Give Me Liberty, and yet the film feels victorious all the same. This madcap day-in-the-life indie about a medical transport driver, shot in Milwaukee with a cast of almost entirely nonprofessionals, walks a fine line between exuberant comedy and stress-inducing nightmare, yet ultimately endorses the idea that surviving another day in America is enough to feel good about.

'Vita & Virginia': Get A Room (Of Your Own), You Two

16 hours ago

"Does she make you want to write, or to live?" The "she" in this question, posed by a minor character in Vita & Virginia, is Vita Sackville-West, a very successful writer a century ago. The "you" is Virginia Woolf, whose literary reputation has held up much better. If not for her affair with Virginia, Vita would be largely forgotten today.

Why would a person who has never been interested in running become a person who wants to run a marathon? Not why would she get more active, but why a marathon? That's the question that lingers at the edges of Brittany Runs a Marathon, a likable and upbeat comedy that never quite comes together as a story.

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The scandal around Jeffrey Epstein revealed systemic failures in the country's criminal justice system. His philanthropy has tainted institutions in academia and the arts. Now consider the nation's media organizations. Most were slow to uncover how Epstein was using political connections and money to avoid accountability after preying on minors. NPR's David Folkenflik pulls back the curtain on how two major news organizations struggled with their coverage.

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

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The 1619 Project

17 hours ago

In August of 1619, a ship came to Point Comfort, in the English colony of Virginia. Over 20 enslaved African people, brought from what is now Angola, were on that ship. Once the ship landed, the colonists bought them as their property.

This sale ushered in an era of American slavery whose effects still endure today.

400 years later, the remnants of a once-formal system of racial hierarchy still play a defining role in the U.S.

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