Mano Sundaresan

When it comes to the most enthralling rappers, there's no one like Busta Rhymes. At 19 years old, he famously made a scene-stealing guest appearance on A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario." A few years later, in 1996, he started releasing the string of solo albums and singles that made him world famous — not just for delivery and flow, but as a showman. The music video for "Gimme Some More," from 1998's E.L.E.

On the last edition of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, Los Angeles singer-songwriter Mia Doi Todd spoke about Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist Thundercat.

On the last edition of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, Philly-bred multi-instrumentalist Laraaji spoke about Los Angeles singer-songwriter Mia Doi Todd.

Adrianne Lenker's latest music takes you straight to where it was recorded: a cabin in the Berkshires. Lenker was supposed to be on tour with her band Big Thief this year, but once the pandemic upended those plans, she holed up in the mountains of Western Massachusetts and recorded not one, but two new albums.

On the last edition of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, Brooklyn-based musician and producer Nick Hakim spoke about Philly-bred multi-instrumentalist Laraaji. In particular, he explained his love for Laraaji's healing sounds and ambient compositions.

On the last episode of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, British singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas spoke about Brooklyn-based musician and producer Nick Hakim. In particular, she explained his spellbinding sound and why she considers him one of the greatest musical minds.

How do you make pop music that means anything in the middle of a pandemic and civil unrest? How do you deliver that music to your fans when they can't come to see you, when you can't sing to them in person? At the moment, Alicia Keys is an expert on the topic.

On the last episode of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, British spoken word artist Kae Tempest spoke about singer-songwriter and fellow South Londoner Lianne La Havas. In particular, they described being transfixed by La Havas' command of melody after witnessing her perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

In this week's Play It Forward, where artists tell us about their music and the musicians who inspire them, we hear from the British spoken word poet and musician Kae Tempest. In last week's segment, Indigo Girls' Amy Ray and Emily Saliers talked about Tempest's ability to capture small human moments in large meditations about life and the resonant way they think about love. Ray called them "a true poet," like one of the literary greats.

We're back with season two of Play It Forward, where we talk with artists about their music and the artists they're thankful for. The band Indigo Girls has shaped a generation of singer-songwriters.

In the inaugural season of Play It Forward, we've followed a musical chain of gratitude across genre, regions and time. First up was Dan Snaith, the Canadian indie-electronic auteur who records as Caribou.

In the last installment of Play It Forward, the series in which musicians give thanks for the artists who have inspired them, Ari Shapiro spoke with saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin.

When RMR enters our virtual meeting, he looks the only way the world knows him: eyes popping through a gold-embroidered balaclava, gilded grills gleaming.

Mano Sundaresan, NPR Music: You're wearing the mask right now. Do you wear the mask in every public moment?

RMR: Yeah.

What does it mean to you?

Last time on Play It Forward, our musical chain of gratitude, R&B singer and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow raved about the saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. They share a few things in common: Both studied together at The New School's School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, both tap a similar spiritual vein in their music and as Muldrow sees it, both are "sangin' " even if it's through different mediums.

In the last episode of Play It Forward, Robin Dann, the lead singer of Toronto jazz-pop outfit Bernice, sang the praises of R&B experimentalist Georgia Anne Muldrow. Sometime between 2005 and 2006, Dann saw her perform at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto for a crowd of around 30. That number didn't matter; buoyed by her commanding voice and free spirit, Muldrow delivered an unforgettable set that left Dann mesmerized.

Earlier this month, All Things Considered spoke to Glenn Copeland for Play It Forward, our ongoing musical chain of gratitude. Copeland spoke about experiencing widespread recognition for the first time in his 70s and his appreciation for Canadian jazz-pop band Bernice and its lead singer, Robin Dann.

"I am one of your down on my knees fans, out of a sense of awe," he said. "I just want to say, no matter what, don't stop. Don't stop writing. Your vision is extraordinary, and it's musically so exciting."

The coronavirus pandemic has affected musicians around the world. Many have had to cancel tours, delay album releases and find new sources of income. But some artists have found inspiration in the virus.

Last week All Things Considered kicked off our new musical chain of gratitude series Play It Forward with Dan Snaith, who records as Caribou. He told us why he's grateful for a musician named Glenn Copeland, who is today's link in the chain.

"Home," the first single from Caribou's latest album Suddenly, has taken on an unexpected meaning. As millions of Americans sit under self-quarantine at home and may be reaching for music as a form of solace, you could hear the refrain — "I'm home" — as either a cry or a reassurance.

YouTube

It had to happen. Thundercat has dropped off the all-too-necessary video for "Dragonball Durag," the second single off his upcoming album It Is What It Is.

Bashar Jackson, better known as the Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles during what appeared to be a home invasion. He was 20 years old.

While the Los Angeles Police Department would not identify Jackson by name as the victim in Wednesday morning's shooting, NPR confirmed his death through his record label, Republic Records.

The night of the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards, Yasiin Bey was behind bars.

Earlier that evening, fans who wanted a glimpse of Justin Timberlake, T.I. or Avenged Sevenfold had gathered on the sidewalk around the entrance of Radio City Music Hall. It was Aug. 31, almost exactly a year since Hurricane Katrina had touched down in New Orleans. Bey, then still known as Mos Def, wanted to send a message to the Bush administration, as well as the celebrities cozying up inside the venue, about their response to the disaster.

YouTube

Mac Miller's estate has released the rapper's first posthumous single, "Good News," from the just-forthcoming Circles, out January 17.

After weeks of teasing snippets, Lil Uzi Vert has released "Futsal Shuffle 2020," the single that he's "going with" from his long-awaited album Eternal Atake.

Pages