When Kendrick Lamar arrives at the Grammy Awards to accept applause for his album of the year-nominated “To Pimp a Butterfly,” the Compton-born rapper, lyricist and producer will be representing not only himself and his city: He’ll also be carrying a community’s worth of creators who contributed to his platinum-selling album.
This installment of Essential Tracks directs its microphone toward Grammy-nominated artists who are unlikely to receive prime-time ceremony shout-outs but whose recorded achievements will likely endure long after the telecast ends.
Those paying attention to the sound of contemporary Los Angeles as imagined by Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” nominated for an album of the year Grammy, might have noted a mysterious musician named Thundercat lurking in the background.
Here’s a subjective rundown of five of the most popular services available in America, based on the experiences of one full-time listener. ------------ For the Record Jan. 18, 10:18 a.m.: This article misspells singer Tanel Padar’s first name as Tanal and incorrectly gives the name of the band Austrian Death Machine as Australian Death Machine. ------------ Spotify $9.99 per month; $14.99 family plan; free ad-supported version Grade: B+ Pros: Premium service offers noticeably better fidelity than Apple Music.
Earl Sweatshirt, “I Don’t Like … I Don’t Go Outside” (Tan Cressida/Sony): A meditation on the life of a 21-year-old rapper who earned fame while he was still in high school, Earl Sweatshirt’s album rumbles with claustrophobic bass while midrange melodies and plunked piano tones guide tracks forward.
When Alexis Rivera, a music manager who lives and works in the northeast Los Angeles enclave of Highland Park, exits his little storefront office, he has on occasion witnessed a culture collision between a famous comedian and a reclusive hip-hop producer that to him typifies the thriving state of the neighborhood.
The opening bars of Led Zeppelin’s first song outline much of what followed: A mean series of Jimmy Page riffs introduces “Good Times, Bad Times,” from its self-titled 1969 debut, followed by a typically wild John Bonham drum-bang, replete with the clang of a cowbell, to set the pace.
Courtney Barnett, “The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas” (Mom + Pop Music) Courtney Barnett writes assured, smart songs packed with detail and delivered through the voice of a writer who seems to have discovered some sort of hidden secret.
With volumes of wit, bounce and flow and a buoyant way around the Shrine Auditorium’s expansive stage, the rapper Childish Gambino and his band rolled through downtown Los Angeles as part of what he dubbed “The Deep Web Tour,” which has consumed much of his spring.
Critic’s notebook: Let’s hope the renovation of the Los Angeles Forum brings a better concert experience in the digital age — paying attention to the music, not chatting, taking photos and recording videos.