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  • Snoop Dogg looks back for a way to go forward in the title track to his forthcoming album, Make America Crip Again.

    On the Ben Billions-produced "Make America Crip Again," he nods to his early gang affiliations in its title while harkening back to the Nineties and beyond. Towards the beginning of the song, he references his 1993 "Lodi Dodi" release (his riff on Doug E. Fresh's "La Di Da Di" featuring Slick Rick). Meanwhile, the hook recalls Nas' 1994 classic "The World is Yours."

    On the new track, Snoop Dogg laconically rap-sings over a laidback, melodic groove. The song addresses current issues and a belief that there needs to be a change. "The president says he wants to make America great again," Snoop rhymes in the intro. "Fuck that shit, we going to make America Crip again." He calls out uncaring millionaires and those in power while encouraging the youth and disenfranchised that "the world is yours" on the hook.

    "Just imagine if we stop shooting our own kind," Snoop Dogg surmises in the song. "I'm a Crip with no color lines/ That mean I'm color blind."

    The song highlights the rapper's new eight-track set, set for release on October 27th. It features collaborations with Chris Brown and OT Genesis, among others.

    "It’s not a statement or a political act: it's just good music. Certain people feel like we should make America 'great again,' but that time they’re referring to always takes me back to separation and segregation so I'd rather Make America Crip Again," the rapper said in a statement. "In my lifetime, that’s when young black men in impoverished areas organized to help their communities and to take care of their own because society basically left them for dead. A lot of people glorify the gang-banging and violence but forget that in the beginning, the Crip's main and sole purpose was to be the reflection of the Black Panthers. They looked after kids, provided after-school activities, fed them and stepped in as role models and father figures.

    "When you listen to my records, there’s always been a mix of conscious records and party records and this EP continues that trend," he adds. "I’m taking it back to the era of being for ourselves and for everyone else. I’m for the evolution of people coming together and being one as opposed to being separate. Music is the best way to heal."

    Make America Crip Again Track List

    1. "M.A.C.A."
    2. "3's Company" featuring Chris Brown & OT Genesis
    3. "Good Foot"
    4. "Dis Finna Be a Breeze" featuring Hahadavis
    5. "None of Mine"
    6. "My Last Name" featuring October London
    7. "Sports Center" featuring Designer Flow
    8. "Fly Away" featuring Shon Lawon

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  • Hurricanes wreak havoc, forest fires burn and the polar ice caps melt in the new video for Dhani Harrison's "All About Waiting." The song appeared on his recently released debut album, IN///PARALLEL.

    The animated clip centers on a character who works in a lab specializing in genetic manipulation. She starts to doubt the benefits of her research and suffers from a myriad of health issues – nosebleeds, vomiting. At the end of the video, she is replaced by an identical character, as if she is an expendable replicant from the world of Blade Runner. In the clip's final shot, the woman hurtles to her death from the top of her office building while Harrison's hard-driving, relentlessly melodic guitar rock zips through the background.

    The video's bleakness is no accident. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Harrison said that current events were the inspiration for a number of songs on IN///PARALLEL, inluding "All About Waiting." "Everyone's more disconnected than we've ever been before," he noted. "…News stories have a life of, what, a day now? The feed is just continuous. People just forget about stuff because the next day there's something equally bad or terrible or fearful or wonderful that you're missing out on." 

    Harrison will tour the U.S. in support of IN///PARALLEL starting November 6th.

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  • Augustin Mawangu Mingiedi, the leader of the Congolese outfit Konono N°1, died Monday after a long, unspecified illness, the band announced on Facebook. He was 56.

    "Konono No.1's proud and brave leader Augustin Mawangu Mingiedi has passed away yesterday," the band said. "He'd been ill for several months. We are devastated.

    "But Konono N°1 are indestructible, and we've been continuing to work and perform. After [founder] Mingiedi [Mawangu] and Augustin, the torch of lead likembé player has now been passed to the 3rd generation, to Augustin's son Makonda, who is fronting the band with original singer Menga Waku."

    Mingiedi's father, Mawangu, founded Konono N°1 in the Seventies, recruiting an array of Congolese musicians to perform an electric version of the region's traditional dance music. Mawangu used an amplified version of the likembé (or, "thumb piano") which he invented using spare parts. The instrument injected Konono N°1's take on Zombo ritual music with elements of trance, psychedelia and experimental rock. For decades, the group toured villages in Africa and finally began to travel abroad in the early 2000s, releasing their official debut album, Congotronics, in 2004.

    The album's success led to a collaboration with Björk on the Volta track, "Earth Intruders," while the Icelandic singer also tapped them to open for her on tour. In 2008, Konono N°1 earned a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional World Music Album for Live At the Couleur Café, while in 2010 they won the Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for their rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" with Herbie Hancock.

    Mawangu stopped touring in 2009 and began to hand over control of Konono N°1 to Mingiedi, who officially became bandleader after his father's death in 2015. As the group's leader, he continued to push Konono N°1 in new sonic directions, partnering with Portuguese dance producer Batida for a 2016 LP, Konono N°1 Meets Batida.

    In a statement shared with NPR, Belgian producer Vincent Kenis, who produced and released Contogronics on his Crammed Discs label, said, "On the footsteps of his father the great Mingiedi, founder of Konono No. 1, likembé virtuoso Augustin Mawangu acted as a pioneer by enhancing the instrument's expressivity with electronic devices and new techniques, with stunning effects. His brilliant and bold playing, his stage presence, his humor and high spirits graced many projects... It's a great honor for me to have worked with him."

    In a 2015 interview with the BBC, Mingiedi spoke about Mawangu's revolutionary electric likembé and the joy of continuing the band his father founded. "I can say my father was a visionary man because at that moment we didn't know he was creating something interesting, something that would bring us happiness and fortune in life. Today, thanks to his instrument, I am an international artist, but I had never, never, thought I would be an artist today."

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  • During their first 10 years as a band, INXS went from playing pubs across Australia to filling modest-size venues in the United States. But that wasn't enough for the group, made up of singer Michael Hutchence; guitarist and saxophonist Kirk Pengilly; bassist Garry Gary Beers; and the brothers Farriss – guitarist Tim, keyboardist and guitarist Andrew, and drummer Jon.

    The result of their rising ambition was Kick, their sixth studio LP, released 30 years ago this week. With its sensuous, danceable blend of rock, funk, pop and blues, the album peaked at Number Three on the Billboard charts, surpassing their earlier career-best ranking of Number 11 with 1985's Listen Like Thieves, which generated their first Top 10 hit, "What You Need."

    Kick has been certified platinum six times over in the United States, and has reportedly sold 20 million copies worldwide. Four singles off the album reached the Top 10 in the U.S., with "Need You Tonight" becoming the band's first and only Number One. A special 30th-anniversary reissue of Kick will be released next month. In honor of the milestone, here are 10 facts about the album, from its initial reception to connections with Eighties vampire movies.

    1. Their label hated the album.
    After the success of Listen Like Thieves, the band teamed back up with legendary producer Chris Thomas to take their collective efforts a step further. Recording for a good portion of 1987, both in their native Australia and in France, the band felt they had built upon the possibilities opened up by "What You Need." After the album was finished, longtime manager Chris Murphy took it to Atlantic Records president Doug Morris. "He put his feet up on the desk and closed his eyes from the minute the record went on to the minute it finished," Murphy said in INXS KICK: the Words, a book that accompanied the anniversary reissue of the album. "When it stopped, he said, 'I'll give you a million dollars to go and record another album. This is not happening, this is shit.'" After that meeting, in which he failed to persuade Morris how "Need You Tonight" fit perfectly into the zeitgeist, Murphy received a call from the worldwide president of Polygram, who according to Murphy, asked, "What the fuck are Andrew and Michael doing?" And just for good measure, the head of Warner Music Australia echoed those sentiments. "Three different record companies with no interrelationship are all telling me the same thing," Murphy said. One positive response did come in, giving Murphy hope to press forward. "I got a call from my product manager in France," Murphy said. "He wanted to tell me that the band were geniuses, and that "Never Tear Us Apart" will be one of the biggest singles he'd ever heard and all the other tracks were brilliant. That gave me the spirit."

    2. A renegade move from their manager saved the LP.
    After the initial bouts of rejection, Murphy, in an intrepid move, arranged a somewhat-clandestine meeting with Atlantic's radio promotions executives to play them some of the songs. While the rock and R&B department staffers couldn't figure out what to do with the heady mix presented before them, Andrea Guinness, who spearheaded college radio promotions, enamored with what she heard. Murphy booked a college tour – on his dime and the band's – while the fate of the album was still up in the air. As "Need You Tonight" took off on college radio and the band sold out shows across campuses around the country, the efforts to make a major breakthrough in the U.S. began to pay off. Atlantic added the album to its fall release schedule. But the struggle was intense and according to the band's official biography, INXS Story to Story, the members didn't know how drastic the measures were that had to be taken. "I risked every dollar they had and every dollar I had on that tour," Murphy said. "If it failed, there would have been a mutiny. It would have been the end of everything and I knew it."

    3. Hutchence and Andrew Farriss wrote all 11 of the original songs.
    Buoyed by the success of "What You Need," Hutchence and Andrew Farriss – the primary lyricist and songwriter, respectively – producer Thomas and manager Murphy wanted to bank everything on the Hutchence-Farriss partnership: Those two would write every song on the Listen Like Thieves follow-up. "That was the fundamental difference on Kick, Thomas said in Story to Story. "That songwriting partnership certainly worked – and it worked better than ever on that album. The massive success of 'What You Need' gave Andrew and Michael the optimism and confidence they needed to go further." As Beers told Rolling Stone in 1988, "We understood that Andrew writes the best music, and Michael obviously writes the best lyrics, because he sings them. So we left it totally up to them."

    4. "Need You Tonight" came about at the last minute.
    During the first phase of recording, with a European tour on the horizon, the band laid down a number of tracks for the album. However, Thomas thought that the band was still missing a major single, so Andrew Farriss and Hutchence were charged to come up with one. On his way to collaborate with Hutchence in the Hong Kong apartment he shared with bandmate Jon Farriss, Andrew came up with the familiar riff to "Need You Tonight" just as he got in the cab on the way to the airport. He told the driver he forgot something and needed to run back up to his place, where he proceeded to record a rough demo with the riff, a drum track and the bass parts. When he made it to Hong Kong, he gave the tape to Hutchence, who according to Farriss in INXS Kick: The Words, said "'I think this is really interesting, give me five or 10 minutes,' and he came up with, again, most of what was on the finished version."

    5. "Never Tear Us Apart" started on a very different path.
    With Hutchence's plaintive vocals, a distinctive guitar riff and the yearning cry of Pengilly's sax solo, "Never Tear Us Apart" stands as one of definitive rock ballads of the late Eighties. How the song turned out is a far cry from its earliest incarnation. "'Never Tear Us Apart' was a piano song originally," Thomas said in Story to Story. "It was a Fats Domino, bluesy, kind of Rolling Stonesy, early '60s song. I heard it and thought we could do more [and] came up with the idea to substitute strings for the piano," Thomas said. "That changed everything. It was what the song deserved, because in structure and lyrics, it was so strong already." Andrew Farriss agreed with the decision, later telling MusicRadar.com that the strings "have the right kind of empathy for the vocal." He also expressed his appreciation for his longtime songwriting partner Hutchence, who died in 1997, and his particular gifts. "He didn't play an instrument, but his voice and his words were his instruments. He was phenomenal."

    6. Kick features the only cover song on an INXS studio LP.
    Along with 11 original songs written by Hutchence and Andrew Farriss, the band squeezed in an update of a song they had some familiarity with in "The Loved One." The song is a cover of a track by Australian band the Loved Ones, released in 1966. INXS took its first crack at the song in 1981, when it was released as an Australia-only single and video. The band covered it again for Kick, offering a different arrangement from their own original interpretation. It's the only song the band has covered that made it onto one of their albums. "Good Times," a version of a 1968 song original recorded by the Easybeats that featured fellow Australian Jimmy Barnes, landed on the soundtrack for The Lost Boys, with that track cracking the Billboard Top 50.

    7. Kick finally broke INXS in England – thanks to a "Need You Tonight" remix.
    While INXS first topped the U.S. charts with "Need You Tonight," the band had some experience achieving that feat in other countries before, when "Original Sin," from The Swing went to Number One in Australia and France back in 1984. However, breaking through in England proved to be difficult. When "Need You Tonight" came out there, it initially only went to Number 58. After it got a remix by Julian Mendelsohn, the song made it to Number Two, and Kick ended up becoming the band's first BPI-certified platinum album. In 1991, INXS would headline a show at London's Wembley Stadium in front of 72,000 fans.

    8. For the "Devil Inside" clip, the band cashed in on a favor from Lost Boys director Joel Schumacher.
    The budget for The Lost Boys was $8.5 million, and not much was left for the film's soundtrack. Joel Schumacher reportedly made arrangements with INXS and Lou Gramm (of Foreigner fame, who was also part of the project): He would direct future videos of theirs if they were to appear on the soundtrack. While he didn't collaborate with Gramm later, he did team up with INXS for the "Devil Inside" clip, which echoed the beloved vampire flick, featuring the band performing in a bar on a Calfornia beach at night before a crowd of surfers and bikers. The video was nominated for Best Editing at the '88 MTV VMAs, losing to "Need You Tonight"/"Mediate."

    9. The album's string of hits kept Kick on the charts for more than a year.
    Kick maintained a presence on the Billboard Top 200 albums for well over a year, due in no small part to an aggressive singles campaign. "Need You Tonight," "Devil Inside" and "New Sensation" went to Numbers One, Two and Three, respectively, while "Never Tear Us Apart" peaked at Number Seven. The title track, which Hutchence called "the great Zen song of all time" in 1991 ("Sometimes you kick/sometimes you get kicked") didn't reach the Hot 100, but it did make it to Number 33 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Songs Chart. The follow-up to that, "Mystify," followed a similar path, making it to Number 17 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

    10. The band partied with Guns N' Roses and Iggy Pop after a surreal post-Kick gig.
    In September 1988, INXS headlined an MTV-sponsored gig during its Calling All Nations tour that was the epitome of diversity: It featured the Smithereens; Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers; Iggy Pop; and perhaps, most surprisingly, Guns N' Roses, who were the openers. The Gunners were booked for the show months in advance, and by the time it happened, they were getting their own taste of fame. As the date approached, GN'R wanted to back out – to no avail. According to Story to Story, Hutchence and Andrew Farriss met Axl Rose and Slash before showtime, and Hutchence offered Rose some tips on handling success. "There is always going to be someone greater than you – always," he said. "And you know what? So what, man. That doesn't matter. Just do fine work and enjoy yourself. Believe me, that's what it's all about." The rockers didn't take Hutchence's words entirely to heart as they cut their set short. As Pengilly wrote in his expansive tour diary, "Guns N' Roses finished early (sounded terrible)." But there was a celebration with most of the acts afterward, he wrote: "Bit of a party backstage and then some back to the bar at the hotel and eventually most off to the M.H. suite for party till very late, along with Iggy Pop, our L.A. friends, Duff (from Guns N' Roses) ..."

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  • Steely Dan honored Walter Becker with a performance of "Book of Liars," a song from Becker's solo debut album 11 Tracks of Whack, in Buffalo on Tuesday. 

    "[Becker]'s usually standing right here, and it's weird for me," Donald Fagen noted before starting the song. Steely Dan stayed close to the original recording of "Book of Liars," which is tuneful, downcast and biting. "I waited so long, girl, and I came so far/ To find out you're not always who you say you are," Fagen sang. His three backing vocalists added extra weight to the chorus, and Jon Herrington chimed in with needle-nosed runs on guitar.

    Fagen knows "Book of Liars" well, having helped produce 1994's 11 Tracks of Whack. When Steely Dan released their first live album, Alive in America, the following year, the LP also included a version of "Book of Liars."

    Becker died last month at age 67. "He was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter," Fagen noted in a tribute letter written after his collaborator's death. "I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band." 

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  • Neil Young and Drake remembered Gord Downie this week after the Canadian rocker died on Tuesday from terminal brain cancer. 

    Both artists honored Downie for his role in elevating Canadian popular music. "Rest In Peace," Young wrote on Facebook. "You have always been a true Canadian artist. My condolences to your whole family and all of Canada. What a great gift of music you have left here for us all."

    Drake struck a similar theme, posting a photo taken with Downie earlier this year at a Toronto Raptors playoff game on Instagram. "Rest In Peace legend," the rapper wrote. "So glad we got to meet and have this conversation. You will be forever treasured by this country and missed by the world." He finished his post with the Canadian flag emoji.

    Young and Drake follow Feist, another Canadian artist who paid tribute to Downie on Wednesday with a cover of his song "The Stranger." "I admired so much his honest way of communicating what he saw and the courage and conviction he searched with," she wrote on Twitter.

    Downie was diagnosed with brain cancer in December 2015 and revealed his disease to the public in May 2016. "Gord knew this day was coming – his response was to spend this precious time as he always had – making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss … on the lips," his family wrote in a statement after his death.

    Downie's final LP – a double album produced by Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew – is due out October 27th.

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  • The Eagles unveiled a remarkable live version of their classic, "Hotel California," which will appear on the upcoming 40th anniversary deluxe edition of Hotel California, out November 24th.

    Recorded at the Forum in Los Angeles in October 1976 – just months before the album's release – the live rendition of "Hotel California" finds the Eagles in expert form, with electric guitar injecting a new kind of mystique into the song's distinct opening acoustic melody. Onstage, Don Henley's vocals carry grit against the band's backing harmonies, while Joe Walsh and Don Felder tear through their closing guitar duel with precision and surprising flair. 

    Per the Los Angeles Times, the live version of "Hotel California" is one of 10 tracks recorded at the Forum that will appear on the second disc of the Hotel California 40th anniversary deluxe edition. The set will also include the original album, plus a Blu-ray disc containing a new high-resolution stereo mix of the record. A larger box set will also include a booklet featuring previously unpublished photos of the Eagles from the Hotel California era, a replica tour book and a poster.

    The Eagles are in the middle of a mini North American tour that wraps October 27th in Detroit. The band returned to the stage this summer at Classic fest gigs in Los Angeles, New York and Seattle. The shows marked the Eagles' first without founding member Glenn Frey, who died in 2016. In his place, the group's new lineup features Frey's son, Deacon, and country singer Vince Gill.

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  • Killer Mike delivers a brief verse on the latest episode of South Park, rapping about the injustice of long prison sentences. The new episode, titled "Hummels and Heroin" addresses both United States' criminal justice policy and the country's ongoing opioid epidemic.

    It's South Park, though, so of course there's a twist: Killer Mike is rapping from the perspective of a senior citizen stuck in a nursing home. "In here nobody knows you by your name, you're just a number living by the bitch-ass rules of a broken game," he raps. "They put me here to die and left me angry and alone/ For the crime of being old they threw me in this nursing home." The aging prisoners pass around various bottles of prescription pills, knit and play cards. At the end of the segment, a new delivery of pills arrives in the back of a dump truck.

    Killer Mike is a vocal critic of mass incarceration in America. Run the Jewels' "Don't Get Captured" video, released this summer, took aim at courts which pass down sentences that are grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime committed. And when Killer Mike interviewed Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential race, the two men also discussed problems with the prison system.

    South Park has incorporated hip-hop into episode narratives three times already this season, which is only five episodes old. Last month, the show parodied both Logic's "1-800-273-8255" and Kendrick Lamar's "Humble."

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  • Cardi B performed her confident Number One hit "Bodak Yellow" with support from a phalanx of dancers on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday.

    The rapper sauntered onstage clad entirely in pink as the ringing melody of "Bodak Yellow" blared through the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where Kimmel's show has set up shop this week. Cardi B delivered caustic couplets – "If I see you and I don't speak, that means I don't fuck with you/ I'm a boss, you a worker bitch, I make bloody moves" – with zeal. "If you're at home, turn those TVs up!" her DJ yelled.

    "Bodak Yellow" climbed the Hot 100 quickly at the end of the summer, reaching Number One in the last week of September. This accomplishment made Cardi B the first female rapper to have a Number One by herself since Lauryn Hill in 1998. When "Bodak Yellow" stayed atop the chart for two more weeks, it became the longest-reigning Hot 100 Number One by a female rapper in history.

    This week, "Bodak Yellow" was displaced from the Number One spot by Post Malone and 21 Savage's "Rockstar," though Cardi B's hit remains on top of the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.

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  • Feist has unveiled a touching cover of Gord Downie's "The Stranger," in tribute to the Tragically Hip frontman, who died on Tuesday of terminal brain cancer at the age of 53.

    "I send out this song with love, respect and gratitude in honour of Gord's generosity of spirit," the singer tweeted. "I admired so much his honest way of communicating what he saw and the courage and conviction he searched with. Thank you, and I love you."

    "The Stranger" was featured on Downie's 2016 solo album, Secret Path, which was inspired by the true story of  Chanie Wenjack, an indigenous 12-year-old who died on October 22nd, 1966 while fleeing Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Canada. 

    Feist also takes a stripped-down approach on her heartfelt rendition of the song, which mirrors the lonely, pensive vibe of the original.

    Last year, Feist covered Downie's "Flamenco," which she dedicated to Downie shortly after his terminal brain cancer diagnosis was made public and before the Tragically Hip's final tour that took place in Summer 2016.

    Downie's double-album, Introduce Yerself, was produced by Feist's Broken Social Scene bandmate Kevin Drew. It is slated for release on October 27th via Arts & Crafts.

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