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  • Posted 9/23/17 at 1:22 PM
  • Obits

Soul Legend Charles Bradley Dead at 68

Charles Bradley, one of the most prominent soul and funk performers over the past decade, has died at the age of 68. A press release sent to Vulture confirmed the news, which read that he passed away on Saturday morning due to cancer. “Always a fighter, Charles battled cancer with everything he had. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2016 and underwent treatment,” it said. “Bradley headed out on the road earlier this year after receiving a clean bill of health but the cancer recently returned, spreading to his liver.” Additionally, Bradley’s family thanked his fanbase for their devotion to his music: “Mr. Bradley was truly grateful for all the love he’s received from his fans and we hope his message of love is remembered and carried on.”

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  • Posted 9/22/17 at 3:43 PM

Wonderful Wonderful Is a Strong Killers Album, But It’s Not a Comeback

The Killers are a singles band, and a damn good one when they apply themselves, but front man Brandon Flowers has never been content to be only that. He’s been pushing his band toward the rarefied precipice of rock greatness for over a decade now, releasing albums at a faster clip than their general quality suggests is wise, and crisscrossing the world on exhausting tours to back them up. When his mates tire of the road, he simply cooks up a solo album and heads back out on his own. The drive is admirable, but ever since the flawless A side of Hot Fuss, the returns have been diminishing. The heartland rock gambit of 2006’s Sam’s Town fell flat. 2008’s Day and Age had moments — see: “Goodnight, Travel Well” — but its mash of glam rock, funk, and electronic genre experiments never quite settled. 2012’s Battle Born revisited and revamped Sam’s Town’s Springsteen-lite methodology but failed to best its predecessor’s strong singles.

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Wu-Tang’s New Song ‘Lesson Learn’d’ Trolls Martin Shkreli, So Here’s Hoping He’ll Learn His Lesson

Wu-Tang Clan are releasing a new album The Saga Continues that continues the saga of their contentious history with Martin Shkreli. But because Shkreli may already be imprisoned by the time it arrives (October 13), they’ve done him the favor of sharing a new song that directly trolls him so he’ll hear it. “Lesson Learn’d” features Redman, Inspectah Deck, production from DJ Mathematics, and the perfect Shkreli diss courtesy of Inspectah: “My price hikin’ like the pills Martin Shkreli sell.” If you’ll recall (sorry, we know you’d rather not), Shkreli was recently convicted of fraud after he outrageously spiked the price on vital medication for AIDS patients. He also bought a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang album for $2 million that is almost certainly not the real deal. What, if anything, he’s learned from all this remains a mystery.

  • Posted 9/22/17 at 1:15 PM

Introducing the Funny, Sad Songwriting of Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers already knows you think her songs are sad. Not because she gives them titles like “Funeral,” or because she peppers a love song with references to the deaths of musical icons and expresses the desire to “[check] out to hide from life.” No, Bridgers has an inkling her songs are sad because that’s the type of music she connects to in the most true way, so it makes sense it’s the kind of music she would emulate.

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  • Posted 9/22/17 at 11:48 AM

Even Jay-Z Couldn’t Resist Watching a Leaked Game of Thrones Episode

If all this time you imagined Jay-Z and Beyoncé coupled up at home on the couch on Sunday nights watching Jon Snow and Daenerys be incest-y, here’s your rare reminder that they’re only human. Jay cheated and just watched one of the leaks instead. Confessing to BBC Radio 1, Hov says he was about to board a flight and just couldn’t resist. “I feel bad, I feel guilty. I actually stole a little episode they put out that leaked,” he admits. But he considers it karmic retribution: “What you want me to do? People bootleg my album. I’m old a little bit.” He claims to have still watched the episode again on Sunday (mmhm, sure) to “give them a little bit of the ratings” because he would never do his and Bey’s favorite show dirty. (Except seemingly watch it without her. Rude!) Frankly we’re just shocked no one’s sending them personalized screeners in advance. HBO, you played yourselves.

‘With All Disrespect,’ Jay-Z Thinks Trump Is a ‘Joke’

Back in January, one reporter attempted to get Jay-Z’s thoughts on Donald Trump’s election. Hov had campaigned for Hillary Clinton, so it was just too soon; Jay promptly shut the reporter down. With the wounds less fresh, he’s now ready to share his thoughts. Asked by BBC Radio 1’s Clara Amfo how he’s prepared to raise black children in Trump’s America, Jay-Z notes that black people are resilient, but it’s been difficult to shake the reality of having a president who’s a “joke.” “With all — I can’t even say with all due respect — with all disrespect,” he says, I just think he’s not a very sophisticated man.” Jay later adds that as he’s observing the state of America, particularly its rampant partisanship, it’s already inspiring his next album. Here are his full comments on Trump:

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Gaga: Five Foot Two Director Chris Moukarbel on Filming Lady Gaga in Excruciating Pain

The victory lap of Lady Gaga’s career hasn’t been as breezy as a pop star of her magnitude is typically afforded. For every achievement, there’s been an asterisk: She landed the lead role in Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born, then called off her engagement and relationship with Taylor Kinney; she headlined Coachella for the first time, then lost her best friend, Sonja Durham, to cancer a month later; she performed at the Super Bowl halftime show while suffering from the worst effects of fibromyalgia she’s ever experienced. (She recently postponed her world tour because of it.)

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  • Posted 9/22/17 at 9:39 AM

Macklemore’s Latest Effort Falls Flat Without Ryan Lewis

Macklemore’s mainstream moment arrived too loudly and precipitously, and he always seemed to be too pure of an underground rap guy to know exactly what to do about it. His breakthrough hit was a sneering, anti-commercial screed about things dumb people do wrong when they suddenly come into money and influence. I can’t think of the last time a record as steeped in the recalcitrant individualism of indie rap as “Thrift Shop” was able to sell 7 million copies. The “Thrift Shop” tidal wave was crystalline 2010s irony: It’s a party rap song whose message about the futility of flexing was lost on many of its fans. Over time it became an accidental commentary on casual rap listeners who don’t comb the lyrics and white Americans mobilizing behind a rapper who looks like them. The backlash the song inspired, thanks to both the blatant hypocrisy of making a mint off a song about not valuing money and the sting of a white artist delivering a sharp critique of hip-hop culture, was equal parts conspicuous timing and unfortunate optics.

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Beyoncé Will Reportedly Perform for the First Time Post-Twins Next Month

Turns out, Coachella 2018 won’t be the first stage Beyoncé will grace since giving birth to twins back in June. Us Weekly reports that Bey is set to headline a benefit concert at New York City’s Barclays Center to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The concert, scheduled for October 17, will be her first this year; she last performed at the 2017 Grammys in February and was expected to headline Coachella, but postponed her set until 2018 due to her pregnancy. But this time, she’ll be joined by husband Jay-Z, who is also set to headline the benefit, which will include several other Roc Nation artists to be announced — once again, we beg them to give Blue Ivy a slot!

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  • Posted 9/21/17 at 11:00 AM

Here’s How Cardi B Could Beat Taylor Swift on the Charts

David-vs.-Goliath chart stories don’t come much more biblical than the one in the top two of the current Billboard Hot 100. In the penthouse: elite musical one-percenter Taylor Swift, with her hegemonic, already-on-top-the-instant-you-heard-it single “Look What You Made Me Do.” Buzzing the penthouse from one floor below: ex-stripper turned Instagram celeb turned reality-show luminary turned rapper Cardi B, with the rap banger of the summer, “Bodak Yellow.” As we head into the fall, Swift, a colossus of music who has spent the last decade carefully planning every move of her country-to-pop dominance, might be about to be upstaged by a woman who larkishly took up rap less than two years ago after a manager told her she might be good at it.

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  • Posted 9/21/17 at 10:30 AM

Arcade Fire’s Win Butler on Everything Now's Rough Rollout

Ever since Arcade Fire roared out of Montreal in 2004 with the release of its instant-classic debut album, Funeral, the band has built a critically and popularly successful career as purveyors of emotionally earnest, musically galvanizing rock. So it struck some observers as a little discordant when, in advance of its recent Everything Now album, the band undertook a decidedly un-earnest prerelease campaign, flooding the internet for a brief time with, among other things, satirical music criticism, bogus marketing tie-ins, and fake-news stories.

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8 Best New Songs of the Week

Every week Vulture highlights the best new music. If the song is worthy of your ears and attention, you will find it here. Read our picks below, share yours in the comments, and subscribe to the Vulture Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year’s best music.

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  • Posted 9/20/17 at 5:53 PM
  • Tea

Here Are 36 Perfect Seconds of Liam Gallagher Talking About Tea

They don’t make rock stars like they used to, and Liam Gallagher — one such rock star they don’t make like they used to — has an idea why. In this wonderful clip from BBC Backstage Music Pass, the former Oasis front man spills the tea (not literally) about the change in his brewing routine since the ’90s, and what that can tell us about the precarious position of artists in today’s music landscape. He’s like the Mancunian Thomas Friedman! Liam never gets to the milk stage, but something tells us Liam Gallagher is not a MIF-y (Milk in First) guy.

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  • Posted 9/20/17 at 2:42 PM

Listening to MF Doom Is Still a Frustrating Experience

Frustration has always been essential to the MF Doom experience. Born Daniel Dumile, Long Island–raised rapper created his comic-book alter ego in the wake of losses so harrowing as they verged on the cartoonish. To hear Ta-Nehisi Coates’s 2009 profile tell the origin story, it was 1993 when Dumile’s younger brother, Dingilizwe, was killed by a car as he tried to cross an expressway; a week later, the release for Black Bastards, the sophomore album from KMD, the group the Dumile brothers were members of, was halted by its record company over concerns about the album cover’s caricature of a lynching. Years of homelessness and exile followed before Dumile returned to rap, his face shielded in a metallic mask. Like the A-list Marvel supervillain whose name he appropriated, Doom, though disfigured by catastrophic defeat, had survived and was prepared to avenge himself upon the world.

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  • Posted 9/20/17 at 1:35 PM

What’s Underneath Dance Music’s Big Tent?

Earlier this year, Australian DJ and producer Anna Lunoe, at the time eight months pregnant, stepped into the booth at the Los Angeles dance festival Hard Summer and tore the Glen Helen Amphitheater to shreds. She wove Jersey club, house, trap, rap, and her own futuristic productions into a tapestry of lithe breakbeats and muscular bass lines. Lunoe is a sophisticated DJ — her quick, confident mixing recalls Todd Edwards or vintage Daft Punk — and many of her selections wouldn’t sound out of place at cutting-edge nights in Brooklyn or London. But her sets, punctuated by accessible melodies and earth-shaking low-end, belong unmistakably on festival main stages. It’s thrilling that she’s able to incorporate niche sounds with a connection to the real world, like Jersey club — an upbeat style of breakbeat dance music that originated in working-class African-American communities in Newark, New Jersey — into the milieu of a massive festival experience. Alongside a crop of artists who also combine sleek mainstream appeal with these kinds of left-field ideas, Lunoe’s rise encapsulates what’s so exciting about big-tent dance music right now, as it shifts gears away from its stagnant past toward a vibrant future.

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  • Posted 9/20/17 at 10:43 AM
  • Cameos

The NYC Parks Department Is Trolling Us With Drake’s Wheelchair Jimmy Meme Now

Just hold on, we’re going to Fort Greene Park. Brokelyn points out that Drake’s Degrassi character Wheelchair Jimmy has an unexpected cameo in a New York City Parks Department’s “Parks Without Borders” presentation about renovations to the historic Brooklyn park. The Wheelchair Jimmy meme appears in a rendering of the proposed entrance ramp area, which will be wheelchair-friendly. When the New York Post asked the Parks Department how the Views rapper ended up in Fort Greene, the agency spokesperson leaned into the joke. “Started at the bottom of Fort Greene Park’s signature hill, now we’re here with the final design, which takes care to create a more welcoming park entrance — with improved views,” spokesman Sam Biederman wrote in an email to the Post. The rendering also features another familiar face: Akon, who famously passed on signing Drake, proving that the Parks Department really enjoys trolling us with hip-hop history.

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The New York Philharmonic’s New Music Director Thrills to Exhaustion

Any conductor craving a triumphant entrance at a new job could do worse than choose Mahler’s Fifth, a blazing chariot of a symphony. Jaap van Zweden doesn’t officially take over the New York Philharmonic until a year from now, but at the orchestra’s opening-night concert on Tuesday, he was clearly the boss, giving a performance of ultrasaturated colors and athletic momentum. After the elegant nuances of the Gilbert years, this was a declaration of a new era. Mahler asks for one section to be played “mit grösster Vehemenz,” and maxim vehemence is just what Zweden supplied — not just in that passage but in all of them. The symphony pumped along with blistering vigor, apotheosis following apotheosis like combat scenes in an action movie. Adrenaline flowed freely.

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  • Posted 9/19/17 at 3:56 PM

Perfume Genius’ ‘Wreath’ Video Is a Tribute to the Human Form

The development of Mike Hadreas, the Seattle-born indie musician who performs as Perfume Genius, has been marked by progression toward a more ethereal, otherworldly sound. Based in the artist’s personal experience of homophobia and addiction (he also suffers from Crohn’s disease, a painful and incurable immune-related illness), Hadreas’s songs are well versed in bodily agony, but the title of No Shape, the album he released this year to immense critical praise, suggests how music, as a series of bodiless, unbounded waves, has become his primary hope for deliverance from the agonies of life lived within human limits.

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  • Posted 9/19/17 at 12:15 PM

Gucci Mane Got Out of Prison and Wrote a Book. Here’s How It All Happened.

After Gucci Mane was released from jail in May of last year, he returned to the public with not only a leaner physique but a warmer, more open personality toward the music industry that surrounds him. It was such a drastic shift from the paranoia and introversion that marked the previous phase of his career that the internet speculated that this Gucci might actually be a clone. It turns out, Gucci is still very obviously Gucci, but with a renewed sense of focus — besides scoring his first No. 1 single on the Billboard 100 (from Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles”), he earned his first No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart with Everybody Looking. He also wrote a book, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, about his life, marking the first time he’s ever been so candid about his past. Over the phone, Gucci spoke to Vulture about his humble beginnings in Bessemer, Alabama, his highs and lows throughout his life and career, his artistic process, and hopes for the book.

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  • Posted 9/19/17 at 11:10 AM
  • Music

How Beyoncé’s Lemonade Vinyl Ended Up Containing Canadian Punk

Great news for the 27 of you who make up the small but vibrant sliver of overlap in the Venn diagram of Beyoncé fans and Canadian punk fans – certain copies of this month’s vinyl release of Beyoncé’s Lemonade were mistakenly pressed with the first half of Canadian punk band Zex’s new album Uphill Battle. Instead of songs from Lemonade’s A-side, like “Pray You Catch Me,” “Hold Up,” and “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” fans who purchased the lemon-yellow record were treated to some of Zex’s new hits, like “Burn the Flag,” “Child Soldier,” and “No Sanctuary.” Columbia Records, the label that released Lemonade, said in a statement on Monday:

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