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NPR Arts & Life

The Week In Music: What To Read Now

LL Cool J, asking for calm since at least 1988.
LL Cool J, asking for calm since at least 1988.

This week was a lot. We were busy, you were busy and even though it's August, musicians, music writers and fans aren't taking a break. There were several Twitter spasms, somebody broke into LL Cool J's house, the Pussy Riot verdict continued to reverberate and we took our regularly scheduled, but heartfelt, moment to mourn Aaliyah. Yes, all the news is at our fingertips, but it isn't easy to keep up, especially when we've also got preseason football to worry about.

Now that the weekend is here, we can finally catch up on what everybody else was working on. No need to shop around, we got the good stuff right here — five music stories you can't miss.

Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea's Music Video Sensation

Gangnam is a fancy neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea. Psy is a 34-year-old Korean rapper whose video for the song "Gangnam Style," featuring tuxedos, explosions, expensive cars, a merry-go-round and the most ridiculously infectious dance of 2012 is breaking big in the United States. It crested this week, just in time for Max Fisher's eye-opening investigation of the subversive subtext most American viewers probably miss. Watch the video, read the piece, then repeat. -- Jacob Ganz

In SPIN, Barry Walters writes a who's who in the maturing strain of file-shared, male-dominated R&B that ain't afraid of the funk — think Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Miguel, How to Dress Well. He rightly acknowledges that this work isn't sui generis, or entirely unexpected, as he compares reigning king Ocean's genre-scrambling to that of Sly Stone and "Stevie Wonder's heavenly daredevil phase." If this weekend you find yourself in an argument over the "authenticity" (or necessity) of this Frankenstein style, present Walters' piece as evidence and call to the stand Roger Troutman, Nina Simone, Frank Zappa and Earth, Wind & Fire. -- Frannie Kelley

The Oral History Of Tunnel

Complex's warts and all oral history of the legendary New York nightclub is an investment — but if you recognize the names involved you'll get in there and stay there until the end. And if you don't, the journalism here provides some revelations, both serious — female hip-hop fans have always been heavily involved in the culture — and hilarious: "The biggest night with that record in there, I pulled [DMX's " Get At Me Dog"] back, and this kid started burning hundred dollar bills. He was waiting at the bar to buy alcohol, and he just lit it up. I don't think he was a drug dealer or nothing, he was just so hyped." Also, at one point Ol' Dirty Bastard kisses Prodigy on the cheek. -- Frannie Kelley

Cover Story: Cat Power

Amanda Petrusich visits Chan Marshall of Cat Power in Miami to talk about her forthcoming album, Sun.A sensitively reported, beautifully written piece that's displayed in a way that makes you wish you could take a widescreen computer to the beach. The kind of music writing that I end up wanting to pass around to everyone I know, even the ones who don't care about music writing. -- Jacob Ganz

Pitchfork's "People's List"

A poll, published by a website dedicated to independent music, sponsored by a shoe company, ends up provoking cries of "scandal!" and questions about consensus, sexism and self-selecting audiences. There's plenty of interesting info in the document itself, and lots more questions. -- Jacob Ganz

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