Rated Reads shares our pick of the best articles from around the web. This week: plant-based tunes and inside the "metaverse".

‘A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself’: meet the artists pioneering plant-based sound

“When we place a seashell close to the ear, what do we actually hear: the sea or the shell?” opens Masha Borodacheva’s deep dive into the plant-based musical experimentations collectively entitled ‘Still Life’.

Moscow’s Flacon is the creative hub behind the movement, using plants to provide the roots for ambient soundscapes by bending, crumpling or touching plants. We’re intrigued to say the least.

Virtual insanity? Why the metaverse might be closer than you think

Amy Francombe enters the metaverse – aka “the mirror world, the AR Cloud or Web 3, which is the long-heralded successor to the world wide web” – meeting those at its fore.

“As a Forbes article claimed last year, not only is the metaverse coming, “it’s a very big deal”, and tech giants are all getting onboard. According to reports, almost a fifth of Facebook employees are working exclusively on building their own one, after waxing a cool $2bn (£1.46bn) on acquiring virtual-reality headset company Oculus VR in 2014, while software developers are reported to be spending billions on cloud gaming – where games no longer need to run on a traditional console – over the next decade, backed by the belief that it will underpin our future.”

Soon, apparently, we will all be living in a virtual alternative reality.

‘After healing comes dancing’: Tems, the Nigerian singer loved by Drake and Adele

One of our favourite musicians around, Tems, gives an exclusive interview in The Guardian. Chatting with Emmanuel Akinwotu, she opens up about her musical journey, enjoying life and being very shy.

“’I started producing as a rebellion. It was me being like: you know what, everybody is just being stuck up, treating me like a dumb person. OK, no problem, I’ll go and make beats and you will not be able to tell me shit in the studio,’” she tells Akinwotu.


Why do hotels make for such good drama?

As viewers are hooked by The White Lotus and Nine Perfect Strangers, The Economist looks at why the hotel is the perfect destination for unfolding drama.

“’It is genuinely the easiest way to write television, I think,’ says Tony Basgallop, who created ‘Hotel Babylon’, a British show which aired between 2006 and 2009. ‘I’ve never found an easier circumstance that gives you that many options.’ The single location focuses the action, and the writer can move the characters around like puppets without needing to explain why they are in a particular place. ‘In a hotel it’s so fluid that everyone just kind of drifts around to wherever you want,’ Mr Basgallop says.”

From The Shining to Psycho, hotels can be the stuff of nightmares, but they are a screenwriter’s dream.

Ramla Ali will never stop fighting

The former refugee now boxer, model, humanitarian and author Ramla Ali speaks with Daisy Schofield as her first book is released. The first Muslim woman to win a boxing title and the first woman to represent Somalia in the Tokyo Olympics, she’s had a showstopping career so far.

Now, Ali is publishing Not Without a Fight: 10 Steps to Become Your Own Champion. She talks politics, competition and violence against women in this inspiring interview: “’Learning about my past, where I grew up, what happened, just gave me this huge sense of respect towards my mum. And the fact that she’s been through all these things, but she’s never complained once about any of it… It also gave me this amazing sense of pride towards my country.’”

A Guide to the 90s ‘Golden Age’ of Black Cinema

As Black cinema gradually gets the recognition that it deserves, James Balmont looks at another decade where Black cinema also rose to prominence: the 90s.

“With Do the Right Thing and Boyz n the Hood, directors Spike Jonze and John Singleton laying the foundations, a new wave of Black filmmakers would temporarily disrupt the white monopoly of Hollywood with their own brand of cinema. These were stories directed by and starring African-Americans, set in traditionally Black neighbourhoods like Harlem, New York and South Central LA, scored with Black music, and featuring Black perspectives and experiences otherwise ignored by mainstream cinema. Come the early 90s, Black films were not simply being financed – they were also producing significant financial returns at the box office.”

From New Jack City to Deep Cover, Balmont takes us on a whirlwind tour of the decade.


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