Frannie Kelley

Frannie Kelley is co-host of the Microphone Check podcast with Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Prior to hosting Microphone Check, Kelley was an editor at NPR Music. She was responsible for editing, producing and reporting NPR Music's coverage of hip-hop, R&B and the ways the music industry affects the music we hear, on the radio and online. She was also co-editor of NPR's music news blog, The Record.

Kelley worked at NPR from 2007 until 2016. Her projects included a series on hip-hop in 1993 and overseeing a feature on women musicians. She also ran another series on the end of the decade in music and web-produced the Arts Desk's series on vocalists, called 50 Great Voices. Most recently, her piece on Why You Should Listen to Odd Future was selected to be a part of the Best Music Writing 2012 Anthology.

Prior to joining NPR, Kelley worked in book publishing at Grove/Atlantic in a variety of positions from 2004 to 2007. She has a B.A. in Music Criticism from New York University.

For about five years, we at NPR Music have been listening to G-Side, a rap duo from Huntsville, Ala., and the group's in-house production pair the Block Beattaz. Some of us rocked 2008's Starshipz & Rocketz until the tape popped, reveling in the sequined sound and mostly level-headed lyrics that alternate between the gruff and drawled deliveries favored by Clova and ST 2 Lettaz, respectively.

Eight Million Stories: Hip-Hop In 1993

Nov 11, 2013

All year Morning Edition and NPR Music have been running radio pieces about rap albums released 20 years ago, in 1993. For a special episode of Microphone Check we invited a group of people who were working in hip-hop back then to meet us at the Ace Hotel in New York City and tell stories about that productive and creative year. At the audio link you can hear an edited version of the evening.

Our guests were:

What does the concert-ticket buyer want? If we're accepting that the market for albums — physical and digital — won't ever rebound, that digital singles will never make up for the loss in revenue and that streaming can't be profitable under current licensing laws, professional musicians (and the labels that love them) need to figure this out. Rap music, with its younger audience, has been more flexible in this regard than other genres: Rap acts now run the multi-genre summer festival gamut after infiltrating smaller cities' club circuits long ago.

Session musician Stephen Bruner has played bass in other people's bands for more than a decade. He can play metal, R&B, hip-hop, jazz. And he's been folding all that into his own music, which he puts out under the name Thundercat.

Now, with his second album, he's stepping to the front of the stage.

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

Prodigy began his career as one half of New York hardcore duo Mobb Deep more than 20 years ago.

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Fat Tony calls himself a smart ass, but he's not a showoff. The Houston rapper sounds at ease on the mic, delivering droll and conversational bars with a level stare. His tone is more lighthearted than that of Texan forebears such as Scarface, Z-Ro or Bun B. He's been around — this is Fat Tony's third album-length project — but he's just beginning to put down childish things, with some regret, e.g. "the trials and the tribulations of trying to get your first love butt-naked."