Broadcasting live from the land of legal weed and sliding into the frame like a giant Pacific octopus, here comes Lese Majesty, the third album from Seattle's Shabazz Palaces. It's definitely hip-hop, but... was that a drum? Human? Synthesizer? Sample of an old record? We may never know. MC and producer Ishmael Butler keeps his cards close.
The Atlanta-based rapper named Future has become an influential figure in hip-hop and pop over the last couple of years, writing songs for Rihanna and Ciara, and landing guest spots from Miley Cyrus, Pharrell and Drake. Just before he put out his brand new album, titled Honest, he spoke with Frannie Kelley and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the hosts of NPR Music's Microphone Check, about standing out from the crowd and his apprenticeship with Atlanta's long-standing Dungeon Family.
Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:00 am
The new documentary Muscle Shoals recalls how interracial harmony in tumultuous times made possible a new kind of music. Leading African-American artists traveled to North Alabama — not exactly a place they thought they'd be welcome in the civil rights era — to jam with an all-white crew of session players. In little rooms near the wide Tennessee River, they perfected soul and anticipated Southern rock.
Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley on Kanye West
What happened over the weekend? At 8:34 on Friday night, Kanye West tweeted. He said he'd be premiering a song in a half hour and we'd have to do what he said to hear it – we'd have to go to a particular address and stand outside with other people and watch a video projected onto the side of a building. Of course, the first video of the video was up within minutes, so most people didn't have to do any such thing.
Seattle is known for many things: coffee, the tech industry, and of course, rain. But hip-hop is not on that list. We asked people on the street which rap artists come from Seattle, and the only ones they could think of were Macklemore and Sir Mix-A-Lot. None had heard of a rapper who has lived here his whole life, M-Eaze.
RadioActive's spring 2013 workshop. Clockwise from left: Program Producer Jenny Asarnow, Youth Producers Varun Dhananjaya, Riley Guttman and Nolwenn Delisle, KUOW Senior Editor Jim Gates, April show host Ann Kane, Youth Producer Yafiet Bezabih, Program Producer Lila Kitaeff.
Seattle's Chinatown-International District is home to many commercial establishments. Think about the legions of great Asian restaurants, boutiques, even pet stores. Now meet the ID's first hip-hop dance studio: The Beacon. It's one of the newest participants in Storefronts Seattle, a collaboration between neighborhood businesses, the city and Shunpike, an artist support organization.
Laura "Piece" Kelley is a Seattle hip-hop artist, poet and educator who encourages young people to create music that expresses their lived experiences. A self-described single mom, high school dropout with no college education, she's worked with household names such as Drake, T.I., and KRS-One, and she once read a poem for the Dalai Lama himself.