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#BackChannel: Year Of Lizzo, Evolving Legacies of Nipsey Hussle & Prince, & What To Watch

The flute-wielding singer and rapper Lizzo is the artist of the moment. She secured the most 2020 Grammy nominations of any artist, including nods for best album, song and record.

Lizzo has garnered fame for her charismatic and wild performances, catchy beats and unapologetic embrace of her body. Yet critics — most recently celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels and cultural commentator Boyce Watkins — continue to attack her size and shape.
 

'I don’t know that we can separate Lizzo’s acceptance of her body from her music. It’s all intertwined. . .just by being present in the way she is in our culture, she allows the rest of us to accept ourselves as well.' -Natalie Bullock Brown

Popular culture experts Natalie Bullock Brown and Mark Anthony Neal join host Frank Stasio to talk about Lizzo’s influence and what is behind the body shaming. Plus, they share their personal Grammy picks, including Georgia Anne Muldrow for best urban contemporary album and Jazzmeia Horn for best jazz vocal album.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - Overload

Jazzmeia Horn - Green Eyes

The two then trace the legacy of deceased rapper Nipsey Hussle, whose reading list is inspiring book clubs around the country. Neal and Brown also critique HBO’s show “Watchmen,” created by Damon Lindelof; Lena Waithe’s film “Queen & Slim”; and the new EPIX series “Godfather of Harlem,” which tells the story of infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson.

And, what happened to Prince’s memoir after he passed away? Writer Dan Piepenbring continued working on the project and released “The Beautiful Ones” (Spiegel & Grau/2019) last year. Brown and Neal review the book and share their new insight on the legendary artist.
 

'America always had a blind spot around black history. If there's something to be said about the contemporary moving image, it's that folks now have a freedom to tell some stories that hadn't been told before.' -Mark Anthony Neal

Plus, a conversation about “Atlantics,” an international, supernatural romantic drama directed by Mati Diop. Natalie Bullock Brown is a filmmaker and teaching assistant professor at North Carolina State University. Mark Anthony Neal is the James B. Duke Professor and chair of the department of African and African American studies at Duke University.

Atlantics Trailer

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.