This week, we had our ups and our downs. Missy Elliott had promised us new tracks over Labor Day weekend — instead, this Monday we got a 90-second snippet and a countdown clock for a week later. Amanda Palmer and Steve Albini tussled. Orchestras in Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul are in labor disputes. We mourned Tupac 16 years after his death, but in doing so got another home run by Kiese Laymon at Esquire's site. Read that first — especially the part comparing our political leaders' achievements by the age of 25 to his — and then get caught up with five more.
For anyone sick of music-festival recaps that amount to a litany of who "killed it," Jeff Weiss' report from San Francisco's Outside Lands Festival is here to heal you. Yes, there are some musical highlights, but Weiss infuses every moment with hilarious ruminations on what it's like to be at a music festival and of a certain generation. From tales of a tiny 15-year-old Passion Pit fan named Jackson clad in Native American garb to competing set times for Justice and Neil Young to the writer's own botched drug deal, it's a reminder that experiences matter. And I agree with Daily Swarm's suggestion that this should be the template for every festival review from now on. --Amy Schriefer
Of all the ensemble cast movies of the '90s coming up on 20-year anniversaries, Sneakers might seem like an odd choice to get a week-long spotlight at Slate. The 1992 caper film is understated, a little dopey, a lot Robert Redford-y and oddly prescient about information being the weapon of the future. It's also just a great movie, one I sometimes watch with my dad when I visit home. But to film composer Nicholas Britell, James Horner's score was a revelation when he was a 12-year-old classical pianist. With some light music theory, Britell uses YouTube examples to demonstrate how Horner's jazzy and not-electronic soundtrack (as opposed to that for Hackers, the other '90s hacker movie) both illuminates the script and presents an alternate story for Sneakers. --Lars Gotrich
Some artists' discographies are daunting; then there's Sun City Girls. From 1981 to 2007, the experimental rock band from Phoenix terrorized, delighted and baffled audiences with a taste for abstract Arabic folk music, jazz freak-outs, weirdo folk, alienating skits and straight-up rock jams. Pitchfork contributing editor Marc Masters is the biggest Sun City Girls fan I know, his collection as close to complete as one can hope to get. With a stack of old Forced Exposure magazine interviews and plenty of sound samples, Masters lays out a jagged map to the output of this nutzoid but thoughtful band. --Lars Gotrich
A close examination of the elements in the late singer's style (potent but hidden emotion, cool, comfortable with experimentation) by way of their echoes in contemporary pop and indie rock. Now that Rich Bellis has pointed out Aaliyah's influence, you'll hear it more, whether because your ears are tuned to it or because her followers are influencers now, too. --Jacob Ganz
Goofy and sincere as ever, Prince Paul — who produced De La Soul's first three albums and was also one sixth of Stetsasonic, one half of Handsome Boy Modeling School and a quarter of Gravediggaz — spoke to HipHopDX this week. His sense of humor might be on a higher level, but the man credited with inventing the rap-album skit comes across here as a laid-back guy who spends most of his time laughing with his son instead of nursing the wounds inflicted on him by the vagaries of the music industry. --Frannie Kelley