Sole Sisters: The Joys and Pains of Single Black Women

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Growing up, she had a Spice Girls poster in her room — Ginger, with her wild tattoo, made a strong impression — and listened to emo rock bands like the Used and Dashboard Confessional. There was, of course, the requisite period in which a teenage Musgraves turned her back on the whole cowgirl thing. But this rebellion turned out to be short-lived. I want to mix that in with something modern. This is a big-deal event in the business; its attendees are queen-makers in an industry in which success is still determined by access to radio airwaves.

The Top 25 Songs That Matter Right Now

A young woman takes the stage at the legendary Ryman Auditorium, the so-called Mother Church of country, about to play the song that could make or break her career. A star is born. For Musgraves, performing alongside Dolly Parton at the Grammys, winning Album of the Year, presenting an award at the Oscars — all of this is unequivocally her dream. Wait, I can use my brain, sit on my ass and make a living? By the time Musgraves eventually located her particular voice, it was already honed to a sharp edge.

Back on her bus, in Wisconsin, after playing to a couple thousand freezing fans who arrived lit and ready to party, Musgraves decompressed again.

by W. E. B. Du Bois

I enjoy it! She puttered around her kitchen, making mugs of ginger tea. She might have scrolled through the looks her stylist had just sent through for the Grammys; she was still searching for something just right to match Dolly Parton. If I ever have a girl, it could be cute to give her P. Sparkles, or Makeup Beauty, or whatever, you know? Lots to do.

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She carries her Bluetooth speaker from room to room with the tender devotion of a mother cat ferrying kittens across a flooded stream. Over the last year, an increasingly dominant voice in this mix has been Post Malone, a year-old sort-of-rapper from suburban Dallas. Like most other post-Drake stars, he is an amphibious rap-singer who likes to brag about his vast wealth and sexual conquests — except when he is spending long soulful interludes lamenting exactly those things.

But Post Malone, my daughter helped me understand, is popular as much for his persona as for his music. He is a superhero of silly, sloppy, irresponsible ease — a hard-living, cheerful goofball whose happiness makes everyone else happy. He seems to smile with extra teeth. Everything he does seems half-accidental.

He first learned to play guitar because he was extremely good at the video game Guitar Hero. He chose his stage name using an online rap-name generator. His real name is Austin Post. This sort of giddy misidentification is, in fact, the key to Post Malone. He is not exactly a rapper but is also not not a rapper. His musical roots reach down to country, metal, folk and rock — online, you can watch him play loving covers of Bob Dylan and Nirvana.

And yet his megasuccess has mainly come under the umbrella of hip-hop. He says he prefers to think of himself as beyond genre, which is convenient, because he has sometimes been head-slappingly inarticulate on the subject. Post Malone, in other words, is a big roiling mess of contradictions.

No wonder he is so popular with teenagers. This also makes Post Malone a perfect fit for Spider-Man, the canonical story of awkward adolescent empowerment. We meet the teenage Miles Morales in his bedroom, alone, doodling and bobbing his head to the bouncy hit about a dysfunctional relationship. The awkward teenager is called, awkwardly, out into the world. Amid all the cringiness, his unexpected superpowers will bloom. Adolescence, despite its obvious flaws, can still save the world. It is both a brazen bid for the big time and a disquietingly intimate glimpse inside a wildly idiosyncratic mind — in tantalizing, and occasionally maddening, chunks of tightly rationed time.

Each track ends after no more than one minute: some segue seamlessly into the next musical idea, some cut off in what feels like midverse. Whack — as opposed to, say, Frank Ocean — is by no means a piner. Past romance is referenced from time to time, but largely in passing, as if the interesting stuff lay elsewhere.

In spite of its undeniable of-the-moment-ness, this is not a collection of music best served by Spotify or any other randomized and algorithm-driven playlist. And what a short, strange trip it was. Music has mourned the death of our planet for decades. How do we prepare for devastation, and can we reckon with how useless our efforts to stop it have been? Such questions have largely gone unasked in the indie sphere, especially as the genre signifier has transitioned over the last decade from ethos to marketing term.

We asked Grimes to elaborate. The lyrics are so worshipful. There's a subtext that they're kind of scared. But A. They made me. Just at random. And it will know everything about everybody.

So it will be angry and punish people who try to inhibit it. I'm not necessarily positive that A. Like with corruption in government, it's potentially worth taking the chance of having an A. Because at least it's objective and probably doesn't care about money. It can just get whatever it wants. Maybe the A. But the main people who are going to be saved are the people working to bring it to fruition. Sigh, stare up at the ceiling fan and ponder the song as if it were a text?

Or do what you do when some other tune catches you — flail your limbs, move your hips in weird little circles, bob your head rhythmically up and down? The world was built for pop songs: Public spaces pump the voices of stars through speakers the way air flows through ventilation ducts, and that sweet, consistent flavor — like Diet Coke or pamplemousse LaCroix — pairs easily enough with any modern pastime.

Why Gullah?

But if the territory of pop music is everywhere, how and where does a piece of art pop — something equal parts challenging and engaging — make its home? Julia Holter, a Los Angeles-based artist with a background in composition, answers this question by creating otherworldly spaces in her own work. From its opening — a cacophony of cymbals and anxiously pacing strings — the album is a study in creating a private dwelling place amid the chaos and uncertainty of the world.

The worlds glimpsed here are varied, sometimes wildly so, but what they share is the sense that they are not so much depicting reality as taking inspiration from it, channeling familiar features into new forms. Holter, in other words, takes the garden path to catharsis, allowing something uplifting to emerge from the tumult, making chaos resolve itself into something humane and beautiful and full of intention. And she has found, even at music festivals and rock clubs, hushed and attentive audiences for this.

Her performances are absorbing: They highlight the organic beauty and authority of her voice, the way the meanings of words can be a sort of veneer over their untamed musicality. The music rewards more than just hearing it. It rewards some other kind of listening, asking you to let yourself become porous.

The Souls of Black Folk

And lately it can fill an appetite that seems both modern and primal at once: to make whole a fractured attention span, to find a ritual that works. Our days are full of tiny slivers of time that we offhandedly cram with music, filling the gaps between tasks and places like someone idly coloring in a picture. Though the song began as a demo by the L. Neither does Adam Levine who gets a writing credit or his happy-to-be-here sidemen who constitute the Maroon 5 touring entity. As the camera circles, Levine stands in the center of a soundstage, arms by his side, his voice skipping nimbly over the melody.

- The Washington Post

As the verse-chorus unfolds, Levine is joined one at a time, their backs to his back, by the 26 women. Then, less than two minutes in, he suddenly disappears, as if ceding the spotlight.


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When Cardi B delivers her final flourish, he returns briefly, but by the end of the video, the soundstage is occupied by only the women. Adam Levine is to a rock star as a rock star is to a rapper. At least in this moment, he leaves the pocket T-shirt on, keeps the guitar in the closet and hands the mic to the long-suffering women who have chosen to support him. For the first time, maybe ever, he flashes some legit star-power potency.


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  5. What in the world happened here? I was only gone for an hour! Some elements were familiar a crew of guys in front of a brownstone, drinking and mugging for the camera , and some were menacing the number of red bandannas and guns on display , but it was the man at the center of the video who startled me most; he seemed almost precision-engineered to make people feel old.

    In an era when most young rappers have a couple of face tattoos, 6ix9ine had the number 69 inked above his right eye in point type. He had the same number spelled out in cursive over his left eye.

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    It was everywhere on his body. Within about a year, he would be in federal custody, a year-old facing life in prison for a number of charges, including racketeering and attempted murder.

    Normally this sort of arrest leads to an outcry about literal-minded police overreach. Not this time. People generally seemed pleased to see the rapper in cuffs. This was partly because 6ix9ine was universally reviled by music critics and journalists, on account of a crime he committed before he became famous: In , he pleaded guilty to the use of a minor in a sexual performance, for having filmed and shared on social media a video of a girl performing oral sex on his friend.

    But it was also because he had spent the past year living the life of a Looney Tunes character: courting danger, narrowly escaping it, then taunting his foes.