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Last year, the book Rednecks, Queers & Country Music — a significant, if overlooked work by scholar Nadine Hubbs — drove home just how powerful and pervasive outsider assumptions about the backwardness of rural identities and downhome music can be.

The video for Kadhja Bonet's "Honeycomb" feels a tad familiar — then again, it doesn't. Technically, the scenes of backlit silhouettes that flash throughout are nothing we haven't seen before. But when you add those visuals to Bonet's breathy vocals and the song's string-laden arrangement, "Honeycomb" becomes something all its own.

1990s revivalism may be entering its dwarf-star phase without ever having shed proper light on itself. Last week, the 22-year-old rapper Vince Staples argued that for his generation, hip-hop's official Golden Age matters less than the viral onset of 21st-century stars like Soulja Boy.

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/.

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

It looks like Kalu James is living the life as a musician. He's standing under a neon sign, ready to play guitar at Austin's famous Continental Club. And when he's not here, he's hustling to pay his bills.

"Being a full-time musician means you have three other side jobs, you know?" he says.

Back in 1986, Allen Toussaint told All Things Considered that he could write a song from the scraps of a joke, or from snippets of conversations. If the occasion called for it, he could even fashion writer's block into verse.

"Well, how do you write a song?" he offered, playfully. "Do you make it short? Do you make it long? Is there any right? Is there any wrong? Just how do you write a song?"

Over the course of a career that lasted some sixty years, pianist, producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint's music and sound became a hugely influential force for artists working in many different genres. Toussaint died on Monday night in Madrid, at the age of 77.

As the news has spread, artists and other luminaries have been pouring out their grief on social media. Here's a selection of their tributes.

If you listen to music on the radio, chances are you'll hear a lot of lyrics that don't match the ones on the original album recordings. When songs get profanity, obscenity or references to drugs or sex removed for broadcast, it's a process known as clean editing. Joel Mullis is one of the masters of the art.

If you think it's too early for Christmas ads, you're not alone. But the new seasonal spot from British retailer John Lewis is something of a sensation, with nearly 12 million people having watched the tear-jerking video since Thursday.

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