Hip Hop

A Rational Conversation: Lil Jon's History Of Turning Up

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lil Jon may be best known as the king of crunk, but "Turn Down for What" isn't his first time working with a dance music producer.



'The Tanning Of America'; New York Rapper Le1f Plays Live; That Was A Hit?!? On Candyman

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In this episode: When the members of Run-DMC wrote “My Adidas” -- an ode to their sneakers of choice -- back in 1986, they weren’t trying to broker a corporate sponsorship. But they got one anyway, making history as the first-ever hip hop group to get an endorsement deal by a major corporation. It’s just one of the stories told in the VH1 documentary The Tanning Of America, based on the book of the same name by Steve Stoute. We talk with the marketing firm CEO and former music executive about how the American economy came to embrace hip hop culture.

Then: New York rapper Le1f talks about tricking Das Racist into rapping over voguing beats, his non-beef with Macklemore, and performs tracks off of his new EP, Hey, in the Soundcheck studio.

And: A hip hop edition of Soundcheck's series, That Was a Hit?!?, about the surprising pop chart success of a song by the rapper Candyman that became a phenomenon in 1990.



Le1f: A Unique And Magnetic Voice In Hip Hop

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hear the hip-hop artist and dancer perform new music from his just-released EP, Hey, in the Soundcheck studio.


What Do Jay Z And Shakespeare Have In Common? Swagger

Monday, March 17, 2014

For our weekly word watch, we turn to "the idea of tremulous motion, swaying backwards and forward." Put another way, we are talking about swagger.


'Rebel Music': When Hip-Hop Met Islam

Sunday, March 16, 2014

From Afrika Bambaataa to Public Enemy and beyond, hip-hop has long been a culture to which young urban Muslims around the world can relate.


Kevin Gates: 'I Put All My Flaws On Front Street'

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Baton Rouge rapper, on the rise when he arrived in Austin for SXSW, feels conflicted about his new success. "The more I grow in popularity," he says, "the lonelier it gets."



'Teenage,' A Relatively New Invention; The Orwells Live; Muslim Youths And Hip Hop

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In this episode: The concept of “teenage” -- that angsty, pubescent and glorious time between childhood and adulthood -- didn’t really even exist until the 20th century. Matt Wolf, director of a new documentary that explores the advent of the term, delves into the earliest examples of movements defined by teenagers -- and why music often played a defining role.

Then: Young Chicago band The Orwells are known for its unpredictable live performances, something they even brought to a recent appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman. The band plays a thrashy and raucous (and fully clothed and upright) set in the Soundcheck studio.

And: Author Hisham Aidi discusses new book Rebel Music, which explores the embrace of music, particularly hip hop, by Muslim youths worldwide.


Morning Edition

The Education Of Christylez Bacon

Monday, March 10, 2014

The rapper, singer, beatboxer and multi-instrumentalist is a product of Southeast Washington, D.C., an area hit hard by crime and drugs in the 1980s.

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Where Did All The Female Rappers Go?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

This, we're told, is the year female rappers will break their way back into the mainstream, ending the long period of silence for women in the industry.


First Listen: Raz Simone, 'Cognitive Dissonance'

Sunday, March 02, 2014

This swinging-for-the-fences album feels like a plea for connection and sounds like a brooding hit.


ScHoolboy Q: 'I Call Myself All-American'

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The 27-year-old Los Angeles rapper has done it all and, like the rest of us, knows he's not perfect. In a Microphone Check interview, he's thoughtful about his past and his new album, Oxymoron.


First Listen Live: ScHoolboy Q, 'Oxymoron'

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Watch the Los Angeles rapper perform a loose-limbed, spontaneous and unpretentious set, including a singalong for surprise guest Ab-Soul at New York's Le Poisson Rouge on Feb. 23.


A Phony Article Epitomizes Hip-Hop's Struggling Underclass

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When even the biggest stars in the world are relying on extramusical gimmicks to hype new albums, what's an unknown rapper supposed to do to get noticed? Maybe fake a profile in the paper of record?


Rap From Memphis: The Outtakes

Saturday, February 08, 2014

We couldn't fit everything into Thursday's story about the legacy of Comin Out Hard, so here are some extras, including Eightball on touring in a rental car, MJG on Eazy-E and Yo Gotti on mentorship in the Memphis rap scene.


Eightball, MJG And Memphis Rap 20 Years On

Thursday, February 06, 2014

From the birthplace of Stax and Sun Records, and the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, the pair of rapper-producers snatched soul music and put it to work for a new generation.



Soundcheck's Video Playlist

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Watch a playlist of some of our favorite in-studio video sessions from this year so far.

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A Rational Conversation With Ebro Darden, Program Director Of Hot 97

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The "old man" who oversees all music and content on the commercial hip-hop station in New York City has become an increasingly public figure as an interviewer and part of Hot 97's morning show and Internet presence.



Fighting Crime, One Lyric At A Time; Diane Birch Plays Live; Disney's New Juggernaut 'Frozen"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In this episode: Hip-hop lyrics almost always describe life on the streets -- or what it feels like to get away from it. But some rappers in New York are describing life in a little too much detail, which is catching the attention of the NYPD. We hear about how detectives are decoding lyrics to solve crimes – or prevent them from occurring in the first place. 

Then: Diane Birch performs songs from her second album, Speak A Little Louder -- a record full of songs she could “dance around the house to and sing into a hairbrush” -- in the Soundcheck studio.

And: In case you hadn’t heard, Disney’s latest animated musical, Frozen, is killing it at the box office and on the pop charts. Its soundtrack has been at the top of the Billboard 200 for two weeks and is now set to be adapted for the stage.

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Starlito And Don Trip: Writers First, Rappers Second

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Tennessee musicians on where they come from, their definition of trap music and relationships, both working and romantic.



There Were No Black Artists With Number One Singles In 2013

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

In 2013, not one black artist scored a No. 1 single, while white artists even sat atop the R&B chart for most of the year. Pop chart analyst Chris Molanphy and Daily Beast columnist Keli Goff help us understand how and why 2013 was so unprecedented.

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