Arts & Culture

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

A summer already full of high-profile hip-hop releases just got hotter. NPR Music's Ann Powers and Rodney Carmichael break down the surprise release of Jay-Z and Beyoncé's joint album, Everything Is Love, and explore how it sounds both on its own and compared to the competition.

What's Your Summer Jam This Year?

Jun 18, 2018

Ah, summer. Between the endless freedom and sizzling heat, there's something about the season that makes it ripe for memories. Lounging by the pool, dancing freely to the latest crackling pop hit. Drinking on rooftops with friends, the humid evening inducing a warm, pleasant languor. Road trips, music festivals, lazy days alone: With so much time, we become better versions of ourselves – more relaxed, confident and unguarded.

Whatever it is, it's clear that summer deserves its own soundtrack. What's your summer jam? Tell us in the poll below.

Gabrielle Powell

From her hometown in the Upper Peninsula to Nashville, Lindsay Lou has garnered attention for her unique musical style. Between shows in Rockford, Illinois and the Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, she stopped in Milwaukee to chat with Lake Effect’s Mitch Teich and give us a taste of her newest music.

PJ Morton, the keyboardist for Maroon Five, has a lot to say. At a moment when music and pop culture have become hyper-politicized, Morton has released a solo album. He says he wants it to do what other artists’ songs did during the civil rights era, and help push a movement forward.

You can hear an unplugged version of Morton’s new album here:

How does Morton work as both an artist and entrepreneur?

Harper Collins Publishers

June marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Many religious leaders and laypeople alike came together in the wake of the shooting to provide support, and mourn the loss of the victims killed in the LGBT nightclub.

Here's the thing about There There, the debut novel by Native American author Tommy Orange: Even if the rest of its story were just so-so — and it's much more than that — the novel's prologue would make this book worth reading.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

In 1841, small-town parish clerk William Hinton got his first look at an English locomotive in action. Writer Julian Young recorded Hinton's breathless reaction: "Well Sir, that was a sight to have seen; but one I never care to see again! How awful! I tremble to think of it! I don't know what to compare it to, unless it be to a messenger ... with a commission to spread desolation and destruction over this fair land! How much longer shall knowledge be allowed to go on increasing?"

When World War II ended in August 1945, President Harry Truman was a man in a hurry.

In the final few months of that year, he pushed hard to help establish the United Nations to handle international political disputes, and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to deal with the shattered global economy.

Josiah Wise has face tattoos and a prominent septum piercing that almost touches his lips. Some days he wears bright blue makeup, or colors his facial hair neon pink. He has a collection of dolls and often carries one with him.

Equally eclectic is his musical background. He grew up singing in church choir, attended college for classical music, and now is finding his sound at a cross-section of gospel, R&B and avant-garde pop, performing under the name serpentwithfeet.

Ken Jennings — yep, you got it: affable Jeopardy! champ/trivia doyen/comedy-adjacent media personality, that Ken Jennings — is worried.

Worried, not panicked. Not even distressed, really. No, what his book Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over our Culture amounts to, really, is an extended, engaging, deeply knowledgeable, 275-page-long (312, if you count the endnotes) (come on, you knew there'd be endnotes) fret.

Before Khalid performed "Location," his debut single that's now four-times platinum, at the Tiny Desk, he told the audience the story of how he wrote the track during his senior year of high school not knowing where music would take him. (FYI: He graduated in the Class of 2016.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There's no shortage nowadays of competitors for your entertainment dollar. On-demand television, games on your phone, even workouts, sports or cooking videos streamed into your home are all a click or swipe away.

In Lexington, Tenn., one century-old, one-screen theater is taking a decidedly homegrown approach to winning over — and keeping — its customers, and it involves a 50-year-old popcorn machine.

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