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Music

Lana Del Rey makes spoken-word album as ‘reparation’ to Native Americans

Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey will release a spoken-word album next month.
Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey will release a spoken-word album next month.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

New year, new Lana Del Rey.

The singer-songwriter announced Thursday night that she’ll release a spoken-word album next month for “around $1,” and half of the profits will be donated to Native American organizations. The lyricist, who is known for weaving spoken-word into her music, explained her choices as she shared the news on social media.

“My new book, ‘Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass,’ is taking a lot longer to hand-bind than I thought, and I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to put up a spoken-word album, if you can call it that,” she said in an Instagram video. “I knew I wanted the album to be around $1 because I just loved the idea that thoughts are meant to be shared and that they were priceless in some way.”

The album, similar to her forthcoming book, will feature Del Rey’s “freestyle poetry.” It will be her first all-spoken-word collection, coming months after she dropped her critically acclaimed latest studio effort, “Norman F—ing Rockwell.”

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“There was a second part that I had been thinking of before releasing it, which was that I wanted half of what the spoken-word album was going for to benefit Native American organizations around the country, whether it was for preserving their rights or trying to help keep their land intact,” she said.

The “Summertime Sadness” hitmaker elaborated that a previous effort to trace her family lineage had deepened her connection to America and partly inspired one of her prior projects. Del Rey’s music, such as 2012’s “American,” has been known to feature patriotic themes.

“I just really wanted to pay homage to the country that I love so much by doing my own reparation, I guess I would say — my own reparative act,” she said in the video. “I have no reasoning for it, other than it just feels right to me. And so, for as long as my album, my spoken-word album, is distributed, half of it will be going to Native American organizations across America, so I’m very excited about that, and I’m in the middle of speaking to people from the organizations that will change every year.”

Described as “not particularly polished” and “a bit more gritty,” the album will serve as a sort of late holiday gift to her fans, who have already viewed the announcement video more than a million times.

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Earlier this week, NPR music critic Ann Powers gave a shoutout to Del Rey’s fans, who defended their queen when she attacked Powers on Twitter a few months ago over a critical essay the journalist wrote analyzing “Norman F—ing Rockwell.”

Powers, who has stayed largely mum on the subject since the initial spat subjected her to the onslaught from Del Rey’s army, revisited the issue Thursday in a follow-up essay describing her familiarity with hate mail and reiterating the importance of music criticism. Though she admitted, retrospectively, that her original piece wasn’t perfect, Powers encouraged readers to check out the essay and “judge for themselves” before judging her.

“Since I’ve never fully addressed the kerfuffle and people are still eager to discuss it (LDR’s comments still hit my timeline every day, retweeted by some stranger), I’ll just say a couple of things,” Powers wrote in Slate. “One: I’m totally OK. It was pretty wild to see my feed under viral strain, but not that difficult to just take the app off my phone and walk away for a while.”

She continued on to insist that critiquing Del Rey’s work was a labor of love and that she meant no ill-will toward the Grammy-nominated artist, who wrote in September that she didn’t “even relate to one observation” Powers made about her music.

“A critic is a person who encounters music, examines her responses, considers the context, and articulates whatever comes up during this process, whether it’s desire, joy, anger, even repulsion,” Powers said. “It’s not a thumbs-up-or-down game.”

The two might soon have the chance to swap opinions again, should Powers choose to examine Del Rey’s forthcoming spoken-word album, due Jan. 4.


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