Audie Cornish

For comedian and actor Jenny Slate, the path to finding her own voice went through crushing failure (professional) and heartbreak (divorce).

She began her career in stand-up, was drafted to Saturday Night Live — and was fired. The path that followed was uncharted.

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While Kelly Lytle Hernández was growing up in San Diego near the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 1980s and early '90s, she watched as people from her community, friends and neighbors, disappeared: Black youths disappeared into the prison system; Mexican immigrants disappeared through deportations.

These experiences affected her deeply.

"It was growing up in that environment that forced me to want to understand what was happening to us and why it seemed legitimate," Lytle Hernández tells All Things Considered. "And I wanted to disrupt that legitimacy."

Grief can feel like a new world emerging, swallowing up the reality you once knew and expanding into something entirely all-consuming. New York rapper Kemba used that monolithic feeling to create his major label debut album, Gilda, a record that pays tribute to his mother who passed away two years ago.

Kemba's mother raised him and his two brothers in The Bronx, N.Y., a place that gave him little choice but to be immersed in hip-hop

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Nailed It! is a competition show in which home bakers try to re-create elaborate cakes — and often fail spectacularly.

"Our show is truly like: As long as you don't kill people with your food, you might win!" says co-host Nicole Byer.

So when Byer learned the Netflix program was nominated for an Emmy, she was shocked.

"The call I got from Netflix, one of the execs on the show, she was like ... 'We were — nominated?' " Byer says. "Everybody was surprised."

Fifty years ago this August, Miles Davis assembled a group of musicians to record the sprawling, groundbreaking album Bitches Brew. With the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and James Brown in his head, Davis plugged in and brought these electric rock sensibilities to jazz.

As young men, the sons of the Villalobos family in rural Veracruz, Mexico embarked on separate paths — at least, geographically. One by one, the three violin-playing brothers left their hometown of Xalapa to study classical music abroad. Ernesto, the oldest of the three, went to study at the Manhattan School of Music. Alberto, the middle brother, went to the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and finally Luis, the youngest, went to the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany.

Since it dropped in April, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" has been an inescapable hit. The song's massive blow-up is at least partially thanks to TikTok: the social media platform that launches viral stars 15 seconds at a time, and what writer Alyssa Bereznak called the "future of the music industry" in a recent article for The Ringer.

In 2008, fire swept through a Universal Studios Hollywood backlot. The loss was thought to be a few movie sets and film duplicates. But earlier this week, The New York Times published a report revealing that the 2008 fire burned hundreds of thousands of master recordings of genre-spanning, legendary music from the late 1940s to the early '80s as well as digital formats and hard drives from the late '80s up through the early 2000s.

Facing the threat of a federal lawsuit, Alabama's Department of Corrections has unveiled a three-year plan to address its shortcomings and improve conditions for inmates and staff.

Vampire Weekend's last album, Modern Vampires of the City, helped vault it to festival headliner status, and topped year-end best-of lists when it was released. But that was six years ago — and a lot has happened in the time since. One of the main creative forces in the band, Rostam Batmanglij, left the group in early 2016.

Kanye West has been rapping about God from early in his career, hearkening back to one of his first hits, "Jesus Walks" off his debut album, 2004's The College Dropout.

David Means is an enthusiast, and a defender, of the short story. As he once said, "We don't tell novels at the kitchen table."

"Of course, that's sort of a sales pitch for the short story form," Means says in an interview. "But I really believe that they're really usually, at the core, relatively simple. You know: This happened, and then this happened."

Create and star in a blockbuster hip-hop musical, and you get to do pretty much anything you want. For Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright and composer behind Hamilton and In the Heights, that means starring in the sequel to a hallowed Disney classic.

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Andre Leon Talley is best known for his time as a fashion editor for Vogue and for what he wears on his 6'6" frame.

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1988 was a colossal year for hip-hop. Soon-to-be-classic albums from Public Enemy, N.W.A., Run-D.M.C, Boogie Down Productions and more solidified the artform birthed from the Bronx as a viable and music industry-funded endeavor. Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia, who host NPR's What's Good podcast, remember the hip-hop revolution circa 1988.

Forty years ago, horror fans were introduced to the masked killer Michael Myers, stalker of babysitters in a small Illinois town. The film was, of course, Halloween. And it was the debut of Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the bookish babysitter, Laurie Strode — the original "final girl" character who narrowly escapes the slaughter. Curtis appeared in three more sequels and even died in one. She thought she'd left that character behind.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a kids' book writer and he loves to make his readers laugh, in silly picture books like Naptastrophe and Punk Farm and his action-packed Lunch Lady graphic novel series featuring a crime-fighting, apron-wearing lunch lady who's always ready to do battle to protect her students.

Cardi B's Billboard No. 1 song "I Like It" samples Pete Rodriguez's 1967 boogaloo hit "I Like It Like That." Just as the song's chart-topping success is emblematic of hip-hop's current absorption of reggaeton, the 1967 hit capitalized on a moment in New York history created by Latin voices.

When you open the new novel Housegirl, you'll find a glossary on the first pages — dozens of words and phrases in Twi, a Ghanaian dialect. Author Michael Donkor was born in London to Ghanaian parents and the glossary hints at the push and pull between two worlds.

Take, for example, the term for second-hand clothes: "Oburoni wawu literally means 'the white man is dead,' " Donkor explains. "The idea is that when the white man dies, his family sends over his second-hand clothes to Africa, to be sold in the market."

There was a time when journalist April Ryan was just another face in the crowd of the White House press briefing room.

She started covering the White House for American Urban Radio Networks more than 20 years ago. In an interview with NPR, she looks back at how nervous she was the first time she raised her hand to ask a question.

This summer, All Things Considered is on the hunt for great reading recommendations. In our third installment — you can find the first here and the second here — children's book author Jon Scieszka shares some kid-friendly selections with NPR's Audie Cornish. Click the audio link above to find out what Scieszka loves about these books:

A summer already full of high-profile hip-hop releases just got hotter. NPR Music's Ann Powers and Rodney Carmichael break down the surprise release of Jay-Z and Beyoncé's joint album, Everything Is Love, and explore how it sounds both on its own and compared to the competition.

As a child, author Minh Lê had a deep and loving relationship with his grandparents, but he also remembers a lot of "awkward silence."

"There were those moments where we just didn't know what to say to each other," he says.

Lê was born in the U.S. and grew up in Connecticut. His grandparents were from Vietnam. His new picture book — a collaboration with Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat — explores how a young boy and his Thai grandfather learn to bridge barriers of language, culture and age.

Black Thought has been a guiding force for The Roots since he co-founded the group with Questlove back in high school. The Philadelphia innovators have found success through many different avenues, and for almost a decade now have served as the house band for Jimmy Fallon's incarnations of Late Night and The Tonight Show.

Four mass graves were found last week outside Kigali province, the capital of Rwanda, 24 years after the country's genocide. A long process has begun to identify the remains.

An Associated Press photo tells the story of many family members: France Mukantagazwa lifts her glasses to wipe tears from her face. Behind her are dirty, wrinkled clothes belonging to the bodies exhumed from one of the mass graves.

Mukantagazwa lost her father and other relatives in 1994 and thinks their bodies could be in one of the graves.

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