The week in music: Nicki Minaj on cultural appropriation, Stewart Lee's ATP 2.0 and more

Sam Smith takes Bond where he’s never been before, Kanye West pronounces on ‘misogynistic’ rap, and Björk prepares to break hearts – all in this week’s roundup

Sam Smith’s Spectre became the first Bond theme No 1

Sam Smith loves to talk about how little time he spends writing music. First he told the NME that Tom Petty-esque hit single Stay With Me took between 30 and 40 minutes to rustle up. Then he happily told BBC Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw that he put together the Spectre theme in about 20 minutes. The hard graft appears to have more than paid off, with Writing’s on the Wall topping the UK singles chart last week, making it the first Bond theme to do so. Sorry about that No 2 with Skyfall, Adele.

Nicki Minaj skilfully addressed her Miley Cyrus VMAs blast

This story starts off as average sidebar-of-shame “pop star spat!!” fodder, but ends with an important message. Stick with me here. First, Cyrus deemed Minaj “not too kind” for tweeting about song Anaconda’s MTV VMA nomination snubs. Then, Minaj called Cyrus “this bitch who had a lot to say about me in the press” during the VMAs ceremony. So far, so basic. But when given more time to explain herself, Minaj raised some valid points about white artists engaging with historically African American elements of pop culture. “If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle,” said Minaj, “bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us.” Fair play.

Will Smith sort of announced his return to music

The nicest man in rap is back. Smiley dad and film hero Will Smith said he’s looking to return to music, in an interview with DJ Zane Lowe on Beats 1 on Monday. It was his first music-led interview in a decade, and included lots of animated shouting back and forth with Lowe, some live singing and excitable clapping. Oh, and news that Smith has about six or seven songs recorded that he “really, really likes” – but that he may have to get reacquainted with rap in 2015.

Will Smith talking to Zane Lowe on Beats 1 radio on Monday 5 October 2015

Rihanna thinks Rachel Dolezal is a ‘bit of a hero’

Rihanna, rather than sticking to promoting her forthcoming album – entitled Anti, which was officially announced this week but has no release date set yet – spoke to Vanity Fair about race. Sort of. The pop star said she admired the way Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who used blackface to live as a light-skinned black woman in the US, made people think about race. To be fair, Dolezal could have been an ally of the civil rights movement without pretending to be African American, but perhaps that’s an idea too extreme for some people to consider.

Childish Gambino was booed off stage in Australia

Rapper, actor and frequently shirtless performer Childish Gambino was heckled by displeased fans in Newcastle – the Australian one – last week. Why? Because a promotional poster had marketed a DJ set as a live gig, and punters (and promoter) weren’t too keen on watching him play a few songs rather than rap.

Björk wants to break our hearts (again) with an all-strings album

It’s as though Björk doesn’t think she destroyed us enough with stunning breakup album Vulnicura earlier this year. The Icelandic producer and performer has announced plans to release an acoustic version of the album in November. “I felt somehow for the first time this was an album that could take another version,” she said. Look, Björk, I’m willing to listen to this, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t end up a blubbering mess.

Björk: Lionsong (Vulnicura strings version) audio

Stewart Lee’s booked Sleaford Mods for his ATP 2.0 festival

The comedian has confirmed the shouty duo Sleaford Mods, the Raincoats and Shirley Collins for the ATP 2.0 festival he’s curating in April 2016. Lee is also scheduled to do a few standup gigs, in case Sleaford Mods’ relatively dark punchlines don’t already have you chuckling.

Kanye West said rap was generally misogynistic

Where there is a Kanye West interview, meme-ready quotes will appear. In this instance, the rapper spoke to a journalist from fashion site Show Studio for two hours on Tuesday, commenting on the fashion industry, race, being a family man and Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition. West also said rap was “generally misognyistic” – an important statement – before making excuses for the way African American men who feel disempowered in their own lives take out that frustration on the women they know. To be clear: that never excuses domestic violence in any capacity, no matter what Yeezus thinks.

Father John Misty – AKA Josh Tillman - lied to us

Sadly, Father John Misty was not, as he’d claimed, visited in his dreams by Lou Reed telling him to remove his Taylor Swift covers in the style of the Velvet Underground from the internet. (For more context, take a look here.) As it turns out, the artist published his fabricated anecdote to prove a point about media companies publishing even the “most fraudulent, the most blatantly absurd, unprintable piece of surrealistic nonsense”. Although how you would fact check a self-published dream story is unclear.

Gail Zappa died, aged 70

The former head of the Zappa Family Trust and widow to Frank Zappa died at home on Wednesday, according to a statement released by her family. Gail had organised the release of 38 Frank Zappa albums since her husband died in 1993. She is survived by all four of her children with Frank.


Tshepo Mokoena

The GuardianTramp

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