The Somali-born rapper and singer-songwriter K'Naan can sure pack a lot into a 3-1/2-minute pop song: clever wit, heartfelt angst, a hook you can't shake — and, in the new track "Hurt Me Tomorrow," honky-tonk piano. That's the sort of quirk that helped win K'Naan his earliest fans. All sorts of eccentricities survive on Country, God or the Girl, his most expansive and elaborately produced work to date. Mostly, though, the new album soars with pairings of sharp, confessional rap and catchy vocal hooks.
The Budapest String Quartet has always been my standard-bearer for chamber music. I grew up listening to their recordings, and especially admired not only their gorgeous sound, but also the uncanny interaction among all four players, even when there were changes in personnel. They had a way of playing as if they were speaking to each other, expressing deep and sometimes complicated feelings.