Oliver Wang | Connecticut Public Radio
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Oliver Wang

Oliver Wang is an culture writer, scholar, and DJ based in Los Angeles. He's the author of Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews of the San Francisco Bay Area and a professor of sociology at CSU-Long Beach. He's the creator of the audioblog soul-sides.com and co-host of the album appreciation podcast, Heat Rocks.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A Queen Among Kings

Nov 21, 2016

The first time I ever saw Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings perform was circa 2002 at the Elbo Room, a tiny venue in San Francisco's Mission District. If you've ever been there, you know the Elbo Room doesn't need many bodies to pack the floor, and with the Dap-Kings crowding the diminutive stage, the full intensity of their act filled the space from practically the first note. I was already familiar with the group through its early records, but hadn't fully appreciated how much power Jones could pack into her stout, 5-foot frame as she sang, sweated, stamped, strutted, slayed.

The names James Brown and Apollo Theater have practically become synonymous; it's hard to think of one without the other. Beginning in 1963, Brown released three albums recorded there. But there was a fourth — recordings from Sept. 13 and 14, 1972 — that has been buried ever since. Now, Get Down with James Brown: Live At The Apollo Vol. 4 is finally out on vinyl, with a CD to follow this summer.

I'm not sure there's ever been a record release as confounding as the one for Kanye West's The Life Of Pablo. He's changed its title and track listing several times in as many weeks, and even up until the very moment I'm writing this, it's not 100 percent certain what will be on that final album, whenever and wherever it comes out.

Twenty years ago, it wasn't obvious that Ghostface Killah would become the Wu-Tang Clan's standard-bearer. The GZA bore more gravitas; Method Man had the more seductive voice. And Ol' Dirty Bastard? Well, he was the Ol' Dirty Bastard. But as the various members drifted toward their solo careers, Ghostface ascended to the front of the pack. Now, as then, he remains a fabulous fabulist, able to lyrically dramatize dense and kinetic action scenes.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a remarkable year in music. Over the 12 months of 1993, Queen Latifah, Salt 'n' Pepa, Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Quest, the Wu-Tang Clan and more than a dozen other rappers released albums that helped to change the sound of America. Among them was a record by De La Soul that challenged the music industry — an industry then obsessed with taking hip-hop to the mainstream. The album is now considered a classic.