Oliver Wang

Oliver Wang is a music writer, scholar, and DJ based in California. Since 1994, he's written on popular music, culture, race, and America for outlets such as NPR, Vibe, Wax Poetics, Scratch, The Village Voice, SF Bay Guardian, and LA Weekly.

Wang begins work as an assistant professor in sociology at Long Beach State this fall; He also hosts the renowned audioblog soul-sides.com. For more information, visit o-dub.com.

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. Though the shows and recordings from those September nights went smoothly, the master...

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. Meanwhile, West has apparently turned his Twitter account over to his unleashed id, meaning that we've gotten a few days' worth of astoundingly ill...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Finally this hour, music that explores death not as end but as a beginning. It comes from Steven Ellison, better known as Flying Lotus. He records experimental hip-hop and jazz influenced albums, and his latest is called "You're Dead." While the music is challenging, critic Oliver Wang took on the album as a musical journey. OLIVER WANG: Flying Lotus is one of the top talents in the vaguely defined...

In title and concept, the new tribute album Dionne Dionne is a great gimmick. But if you've followed the career of Dionne Farris, having her record an entire album of Dionne Warwick covers isn't an obvious move, names aside. It's an idea that took root some 20 years ago: Farris met guitarist Charlie Hunter while the two were on tour as members of hip-hop groups, she with Arrested Development and he with The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. The musicians' decision to record as a duo...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuhl6Ji5zHM Rapper Kanye West experienced two births of a sort over the weekend. Most important would be the birth of his child with Kim Kardashian. Then there was the leak of his latest album, Yeezus, an event that also set the social media world atwitter. After months of speculation, the album reveals itself as a very trim, 10-song, 40-minute effort that's heavy on electronic and industrial influences. It's also another piece of the puzzle to one of...

This isn't the first time Shuggie Otis' masterpiece, Inspiration Information , has been reissued — but that's OK. It's an album that absolutely deserves to be rediscovered every decade or so. Released nearly 40 years ago, the album became Otis' most acclaimed work, and also his last official release: Otis continued to work and play with other musicians, but a follow-up album has never materialized. In celebrating Inspiration Information 's anniversary, Sony has re...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5akYnlwubDo The very first notes on Laura Mvula's new album feel like a powerful invocation. You're not sure for what, but the moment is awesome — with an emphasis on awe . On paper, Sing to the Moon may seem like yet another album by a young, big-throated British singer, but it sounds like practically nothing else out there. It's not exactly pop or soul or jazz; it's all those things, yet it transcends those things. Over the course of the...

It's tempting to describe the voices of Charles Bradley and James Hunter as timeless, but that's not quite right. When we hear the jagged tear in their singing, we know exactly which era they're honoring. Bradley, who's now in his mid-60s, was signed by Daptone Records partly because of a James Brown act he used to perform. The comparisons are obvious enough, but Bradley has come into his own voice. On Victim of Love, the new follow-up to his 2011 debut, No Time for Dreaming, <...

R&B singers Nicole Wray and Terri Walker both had promising starts to their careers more than ten years ago. Wray came up on the Virginia coast under the wing of mentor Missy Elliott . Walker, a Londoner, was classically trained yet released her debut on a Def Jam subsidiary. Both enjoyed early critical success but by decade's end struggled to find a wide audience. Instead, they found each other. Longtime fans of Wray or Walker may not instantly recognize them: In their new work as Lady they...

Bill Withers ' very first single became a breakout hit in 1971. He would go on to record nine albums over the next 14 years, and all of them are now available on a new box set, The Complete Sussex and Columbia Masters. It may sound contradictory to describe Bill Withers' voice as "uniquely plainspoken," but this singer and songwriter from West Virginia coal country began his career at the crossroads between folk, R&B and rock. He was neither a showy shouter nor a sweet crooner....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWNaR-rxAic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Dqgr0wNyPo Two big pop albums from two very different artists come out today. Carly Rae Jepsen dominated the summer with her viral hit, "Call Me Maybe." She follows up with the full-length album, Kiss . Meanwhile, rapper and producer Kanye West releases Cruel Summer . "Mercy," the single from the album, has been lodged in the hip-hop/R&B charts for the past few months. Both Jepsen and West might...