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Tigarah: Preaching the Funk Grail

On the cover of her self-titled, self-released EP, 24-year-old Tigarah (born Yuko Takabatake) looks like a pop confection, blowing a bubble while clutching chopsticks. She raps and sings in both in Japanese and English so more people can understand her. But she also claims multicultural musical cred, utilizing baile funk-inspired beats and citing Baltimore club and grime as influences. Her song "The Game in Rio" (not her only political track) is an anti-globalization screed inspired by the sight of a one-armed beggar in Brazil.

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Net Gains: Political Promise?

Unfortunately, most people only remember Howard Dean's presidential run for "the roar," his outrageous and earnest "Yearghh!" blurt that circled on the internet for months after the 2004 caucuses. Beyond his derision-spurring yell, that presidential campaign is also remembered for jumpstarting online political action. Read more » 

Tauba Auerbach: Magical Powers

For many people, language is an afterthought–to Tauba Auerbach, it's everything. Her work centers on the power of words and alphabets, bestowing a rather mystic quality on the tools of everyday communication. Using elaborate calligraphy, reconfigured typewriters, and painstakingly rendered ink drawings that often resemble rebus puzzles, Auerbach's pieces are at first achingly simple, then ponderously complex as they force one to muse on the shortcomings of language.

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Kool Keith: Doctor Who?

If you are Keith Thornton, sometimes even an interview is an exercise in role-playing. At least this is the impression I get on the phone with the man who’s rapped under a variety of assumed names over the past two decades, including Dr. Dooom and Dr. Octagon, but most frequently Kool Keith. As he rambles on for close to an hour about aliens and government conspiracies, the division between the real man and his various sci-fi hip-hop personas melts further and further away–an ambiguity Thornton cultivates and willingly exploits.

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Jeff Mills: For Whom the Bells Toll

Rumor has it that when Jeff Mills plays "The Bells," crowds recognize the track within .37 seconds. If that's true, then playing the chiming anthem is probably quicker and more effective than waving.

"It's something I can use to say hello to the people," concurs the techno founder about his signature track. Made in 1994, it was not until spring of 1996 that "The Bells" saw official release on Mills' Purpose Maker imprint. (Before that, Mills played it from a custom 13" record.) He claims he's played the record every time he's DJed since he created it, and that it has never not worked.

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