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A number of IS videos feature the songs of Maher Mesh'al, who was killed over the summer in Syria. YouTube

For the Islamic State, music is the ‘alcohol of the soul’

Whether it's the Islamic State, the Ku Klux Klan – or, yes, even American political parties – groups use music in many of the same ways, for many of the same reasons.
Jockeying for power in the rap world: earlier this summer Drake and Meek Mill traded barbs. Drake (on left): Steve Marcus/Reuters; Meek Mill: Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

Drake, Meek Mill and beef’s prime place in rap culture

Taking a lyrical swing at another rapper is part and parcel of the genre. So why the profound backlash when Meek Mill accused Drake of not writing his own lyrics?
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump on the campaign trail. Reuters

Trumping musical misappropriation

Donald Trump provoked the ire of REM frontman Michael Stipe this week after he played an REM hit on the campaign trail. In this push-pull between politicians and musicians, let's revisit the music.
‘A gran don’t come for free’ Berna Namoglu

How music can help relieve chronic pain

We've learned a lot about how music can help with pain and a score of other clinical problems. But with chronic pain affecting a quarter of us, it's an area that has received too little attention.
Hearing HITnRUN as a ‘concept album’ rather than a collection of tracks, gives a different feel to the more awkward moments. AAP Image/NPG Records

Prince shoots for a new purple patch with HITnRUN

For some, this album will be a good-natured happy-go-funky tour through Prince’s famously diverse stylistic interests. Others will find some of the tracks poorly executed, or a bit passé.
James Franco as Alien, gangsta and gangsta rapper, from Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012) miguelvaca/flickr

ISIS propaganda and gangsta rap videos

There is a muscular, tattooed man holding a machine gun. He is in front of an expensive sports car, with gold chains around his neck and what looks like a Rolex on his wrist. The man is standing proudly…
During the 1890s Sibelius cemented his position as Finland’s leading composer. Allan Watt/ Helsinki, Sibelius Monument

The case for the music of Jean Sibelius

The classical music world is marking the 150th anniversary of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius with concerts across Finland and in Australia too. But who was the man behind the music?
Straight Outta Compton. urban_data/flickr

Straight Outta Compton – why now?

Why is this film being released now? Is it in response to the Black Lives Matter movement spreading across the US via social media, in turn a response to racist police violence in Miami Gardens, Ferguson, Baltimore?
Ice Cube and his bandmates had a point, albeit one mired in controversy. Eva Rinaldi

Prophets of pain: the art of NWA’s F*** tha Police

Some pain might have been avoided (and probably less money made) if a simple basic fact had been acknowledged from the beginning: Fuck tha Police is meant to be funny.
Hynde’s analysis of her experience boils rape down to an encounter between two individuals with equal social power. REUTERS/David Moir

Chrissie Hynde, sexual assault, and the blame game in rape

American singer Chrissie Hynde provoked outrage this week by suggesting scantily-dressed women make themselves targets for sexual assault. Her comments play into pervasive cultural myths about rape.
Hip-hop artists such as American rapper Method Man are often accused of creating music than incites anti-social behaviour. Jazmin Million/Flickr

Getting a bad rap: why problem music isn’t really a problem

Often we form opinions of music because of how aggressive, depressing or joyful we perceive it to be. But studies into the effects of different music genres on listeners' moods throw up some surprises.
To the uninitiated, extreme metal can be an impenetrable wall of guitar-based noise. Florian Stangl. Picture of Morbid Angel.

The case for extreme metal

For many people, their knowledge of extreme metal mainly springs from the nefarious activities of a small group of Norwegian musicians in the 1990s. But there's more to this genre than meets the eye.

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