Daoud Tyler-Ameen

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You know the feeling: Mention a brand of beer, fuss about feeling old or muse aloud about starting a family, and the appropriate summer ale, cosmetic neurotoxin or baby furniture ad wi

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This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Given the saturation of comic-book blockbusters, it's remarkable that Black Panther's myth has only gained steam in the two years since the character first appeared on the big screen, knocking heads and shrugging off bullets.

In music and the culture it reflects, 2017 was predictably unpredictable: idols fell, empires shook, consensus was scarce. This conversation is one of five on The Record with artists, makers and thinkers whose work captured something unique about a chaotic year, and hinted at bigger revelations around the bend.

The Ted Leo who showed up to perform at our office this fall was no stranger to NPR Music; in fact, he'd stood on that very spot a few years earlier, trading verses with Aimee Mann in their collaborative project The Both. But he did seem like a changed man.

Now, Now's breakout album, Threads, was not as much about breaking up as holding on. Its songs carried in them a weary recognition of how desire and nostalgia linger in the body and mind, and zoomed in on the brittle filaments that bind together people who have long since declared themselves better off apart.

Clyde Stubblefield, the funk drummer whose work with James Brown made him one of the most sampled musicians in history, died Saturday morning in Madison, Wis., his publicist confirmed. Stubblefield was 73; his publicist did not provide a cause of death.

It's been a strange week. Tensions are high. If you haven't yet, you should probably take a break to watch Migos rap a children's book.