6 best things in music this week include P Diddy, Britney Spears and Brandi Carlile

A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:

Tim Wilson of Urban Lights Music, St. Paul:

1 P Diddy, “The Love Album: Off the Grid.” This is hands down the best R&B album of the year, bringing back a vibe that’s been lost in true R&B. The project boasts a who’s who of notables including Mary J. Blige, the Weeknd and Babyface showing off their vocal prowess over Diddy’s incredible ’90s retro production.

2 October London, “The Rebirth of Marvin.” Snoop Dogg’s Death Row artist has delivered the album you didn’t know you needed in your life. This young crooner crafted a piece of art so appealing that if you closed your eyes, you’d swear Marvin Gaye himself was there. Songs like “Mulholland Drive” and “Back to Your Place” are the perfect appetizers for this full course meal of audio delight.

3 Hip-Hop’s 50th anniversary. This celebration has reminded us that the music we honor has surpassed expectations as a genre. Its worldwide reach has had an affect on everything, including sports, fashion and politics. With this much power comes great responsibility to protect and utilize the platform correctly and for more than just monetary gain, so that the next generations of artists can continue to shout “hip-hop hooray!”

Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:

1 “The Woman in Me” by Britney Spears. No, I haven’t read her much-anticipated memoir that’s coming out next week. But the New York Times obtained a copy from a bookstore and reports on how she felt about dealing with her controlling parents, harassing paparazzi, the confining conservatorship, ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, #FreeBritney movement, etc. Her life has played out in the tabloids, documentaries and courtrooms. Now, she gets the opportunity to speak for herself. Finally.

2 Brian Setzer, State Theatre. The guitar hero who calls Maple Plain home exercised his rockabilly chops with his nifty new international Rockabilly Riot trio featuring his youthful, exuberant and stylish new bandmates — bassist Chris D’Rozario (from Australia) and standing drummer Juan Laurios (from Mexico). Setzer threw in some Stray Cats favorites and showed off his wide-ranging guitar chops on a trio of solo instrumentals.

3 Brandi Carlile and Friends at the Hollywood Bowl. Reviews celebrated how she brought out Joni Mitchell once again, but more noteworthy was the rare live appearance by Annie Lennox doing “Why,” “No More ‘I Love You’s’ ” and Eurythmics’ “Love Is a Stranger.” Allison Russell, Wendy & Lisa and Blake Mills were among the other friends who performed.

to contribute: popmusic@startribune.com

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