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Shad’s fourth album, Flying Colours, mixes nimble, witty wordplay with heavy beats.Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

Grimes – REALiTi

It has been three years since Claire Boucher unveiled Oblivion, a ravishing synth-pop track rightly hailed as one of the best of the decade. Before that release, Boucher's Grimes project was not particularly tied to pop: Haunting Montreal's loft parties, releasing limited-run CDs, Boucher seemed more attentive to mood and groove than to the arc of verse and chorus. She has moved to Los Angeles now; she is represented by Jay Z's management company. With that context, her new single is no surprise – REALiTi is lush and beguiling, as catchy as anything in Boucher's catalogue. But the 26-year-old also recently stated that she doesn't wish to "pander to radio." She describes REALiTi as a "demo" from a discarded album. Her relationship with commercial pop seems complicated, ambivalent, exactly as it should be. We all love shiny radio hits, except for when we don't.

Philip Glass – Mad Rush

Last weekend, at the end of an otherwise puzzling program, the sold-out audience at Montreal's Maison symphonique held their breaths. The audience as well as the entire orchestra, maestro Kent Nagano perched in a corner seat. Before us sat a stooped old man in a blue shirt and sweater vest: Philip Glass, a piano, Mad Rush. By now this piece of music is so familiar that it's like the Stars and Stripes, the Mona Lisa, not conjuring feelings so much as the recollection of past feeling. Yet in the room that night, as the composer played his own piece, the notes were not a simulacrum, an allusion to something else. They were an artwork unfolding before us. They were alive and inhabited, absolutely charged. For 13 minutes, we held our breaths. We listened to this solo piano exercise, each attendant variation filled with the spirit of a 78-year-old man. Who has heard Mad Rush more times than Philip Glass? Who has played it more? Here he was performing it – he, a commercial symbol, a millionaire, a genius or a hack – and he performed it with the purest honesty. For once I felt sited in place and time: here in a bright hall, with myself and you and Philip. And Glass just a musician, giving us of himself.

Shad – I Get Down

The good news is that unlike Q's former presenter, the new host of CBC Radio's top culture show is nothing but beloved among his professional peers. Committed, charismatic and kind, he's a rapper who describes his art as "an axe to the heart;" he's a rapper who "gets down like acrostic poems." His flyness fascinates, and now that he's sailing daily over the airwaves my main worry, strangely, is that we'll hear less from him. This uncommon artist is suddenly a colleague, a broadcaster, a symbol for a network's flagging flagship. "The only thing I love more than rapping is napping," Shad once rhymed; this MC's going to have much less time for both.