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Kiana Fitzgerald

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As she is wont to do, Beyoncé surprised the world overnight with a new song, "Black Parade." Released in the final hours of J

Andre Harrell, hip-hop and R&B mogul and founder of the visionary label Uptown Records, has died. He was 59 years old.

The Revolt network, where Harrell worked as vice chairman, confirmed Harrell's passing in a statement. "Everyone in the REVOLT family is devastated by the loss of our friend, mentor and Vice-Chairman," the statement read. "Andre's impact on Hip Hop and the culture and on us has been immeasurable and profound. May he Rest In Peace."

Chance The Rapper performs in October 2015, in New York City.
Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images for vitaminwater

Ch

Without a doubt, Anderson .Paak is the new "it" guy of that place where R&B and hip-hop overlap. It sort of happened overnight, and we can kind of credit Dr. Dre, who gave .Paak permission to leave his fingerprints all over Dre's long-awaited return to music, 2015's Compton.

On paper, Vince Staples headlining an NPR showcase doesn't make a lick of sense. He's a young, black rapper, with production that veers toward the dissonant and gritty, and aggressive, colorful lyrics that speak pointedly to the systemic issues that plague his hometown of Long Beach, Calif. But in action, Staples closing out a night that also featured soul, Chicano punk, indie rock and country made all the sense in the world.

Late Thursday evening, Kendrick Lamar crept back into our lives like a thief in the night. With his new album untitled unmastered., Lamar and his label Top Dawg Entertainment offer us a look at the steps it took to get to his fully formed magnum opus — 2015's To Pimp A Butterfly — and show us that they can stop the world when they feel like it.

Making year-end lists is hard. The process of tracking down all the music you heard over the prior 12 months, then whittling those songs down to the "best" material, is often a battle, both internally and externally. Once the selections are made, the blurbs written and the beloved jams placed into pretty packages for public consumption, comes the inevitable feeling of dread: "I forgot to include something that I really, really loved." Typically, there's nothing to be done after the fact, except personally vow to not make the same mistake next year.

Courtnie Henson wants us to vibrate higher. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter from Harlem (by way of Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis) is quietly making her stage entrance via an unassuming style of astral jazz-tinged rhythm & blues.