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How to Listen to Your Old Music While Self-Isolating

There are various ways you can mine the bounty of your exquisite taste to while away an hour or two during this stressful time of coronavirus. But you've got to do it with some intentionality.

Books

'Represented': Black Buying Power and the American Dream

The unheralded and underappreciated PR exec. Moss Kendrix is the de facto hero in Brenna Wynn Greer's enlightening history of Black marketers and the evolving depiction of Black people in mass media.

Music

Peering Through the Hazy Past: Floyd Patterson and Fats Domino

Even as Black America continues to battle crime, violence, death, and a hostile political and economic policy, it can be soothing to peer through the haze and marvel at the richness of Black American stories. Two such stories: Floyd Patterson and Fats Domino.

Music

How the Staple Singers Became the Soul of Protest Music

The Staple Singers' Stax recording, Come Go with Me, captures their transformation from the church-wrecking gospel highway to the soul-filling pop charts.

Books

'God Save the Queens' Addresses the Gender Imbalance in the Story of Rap

Kathy Iandoli's personable history, God Save the Queens, shows how women in rap face up to the battles.

Books

'Dead Precedents' Explores How Hip-Hop Created the Future

Roy Christopher's dense book-length essay, Dead Precedents, takes much of what is now axiomatic about hip-hop and reminds us how revolutionary its innovations and practices really were.

Music

'The Gospel According to Malaco' Is a Major Addition to the Canon of Black Expression

The major eight-CD collection, The Gospel According to Malaco, captures the evolution of gospel from the mid-'40s to the 21st century with many electrifying performances throughout.

Books

Timuel Black Tells His Remarkable South Side Chicago Story in 'Sacred Ground'

The esteemed oral historian, Timuel Black, turns the microphone around to capture his amazing journey through 20th Century black America in Sacred Ground.

Music

'I'm in Love with a Dreadlocks' Reclaims Brown Sugar As Lovers Rock Pioneers

A new compilation shows how three teenaged girls helped pioneer the musical articulation of black consciousness in England in the 1970s.

Music

'Jazz Is the Teacher, Funk Is the Preacher' Continues the Connection Between Black Power-era Art and Progressive Jazz and Funk

Soul Jazz Record's second tie-in to the Soul of a Nation art exhibit brings the funk, alongside a wide range of progressive populist jazz from the early '70s.

Music

On Black Girl Magic and Georgia Anne Muldrow's Latest, 'Overload'

It's tempting to proclaim this moment in black pop as something akin to 2018's political Year of the Woman -- Year of the Sista, if you will. But today's unapologetically progressive female black pop artists stand on the shoulders of a most impressive cohort from the '90s and early '00s.

Books

Robert Christgau's 'Is It Still Good to Ya?'

Robert Christgau is the rare critic who can write insightfully and passionately about a sweaty performance by a popular Congolese soukous band and a magisterial show by Senegal's Youssou N'Dour. That magic is captured in his latest anthology, Is It Still Good to Ya?

Books

'A&R Pioneers' Highlights Unsung Pivotal Figures at the Birth of Recorded Pop Music

Well before artists were their own entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs became rock stars, A&R pros improvised a blueprint for the workings of the modern music industry.

Books

'May We Forever Stand' Explains Why "Lift Every Voice and Sing" Is an Immortal Song

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" has been embedded in black America's DNA for more than 100 years. We've sung it every February ever since Black History Month was a thing, and every December since Kwanzaa was a thing.

Music

'Spiritual Eternal' Fills in the Gaps of Alice Coltrane's Evolution

This reissue of Alice Coltrane's mid-'70s studio albums shows a logical progression of her twinned musical and spiritual journeys.

Music

Linda Clifford Was a Disco Diva Who Deserved Better

Linda Clifford's four late 1970s albums showcase her range, even if they don't stand out from the life-after-disco scene.

Music

Aretha Franklin: Observations from the Court of the Queen

Aretha Franklin rose to her regal status in spite of record labels' mishandling her art.

Music

'Boombox 3' Collection Explores the Fun of Early Rap

The latest installment in Soul Jazz Records' Boombox series, tracing the evolution of recorded rap in the late '70s and early '80s, provides us with the useful reminder that once upon a time, rap had a sense of wonder, newness, and joie de vivre.

Music

The Internet Serves Up Easy-Listening Funk on 'Hive Mind'

The Internet's fourth album, their most focused if not their most compelling, is a distillation of everything that makes them so distinctively cool.

Books

Civil Rights Document, 'A More Beautiful and Terrible History', Is Revelatory, Sobering and Relevant

Theoharis's work is deeply (and sadly) relevant to our current condition. Many of the same issues Theoharis decries -- media inattention, liberal passivity on racial justice issues, government harassment of activists -- are still in play.

Music

Chuck D on the Early Days of Sampling

In those early, free-wheeling days of hip-hop, the artists were waaaay ahead of the lawyers.

Music

'Black Cowboys' and 'The Best Country Blues You've Never Heard' Chart New Trails through Old-Time Music

Black music's past is a rabbit hole more than big enough for these two vastly different excursions into its secret riches.

Books

'Chocolate Cities' Draws New Maps of Black American Life

A classic Parliament track inspires a new look at how black Americans moved, made connections, and created a nation-within-a-nation.

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