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Louder Than A Riot

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Hip-hop emerged from the voices of the unheard. But freedom doesn't ring the same for everyone. Inside all corners of the culture, Black women and queer folk have dealt with the same oppression the music was built to escape. Season 2 of Louder Than A Riot examines who hip-hop marginalizes, and how misogynoir — the specific racist misogyny against Black women — is embedded into the fabric of the culture that we love.

From Rico Nasty facing harassment from toxic fans, to Saucy Santana's unapologetically femme aesthetics in a queerphobic industry, to the assault case that put Megan Thee Stallion's image on trial, each episode of Louder Than A Riot unpacks the unspoken rules of rap that discriminate against a select few and have held the entire culture back.

Hosted by NPR Music's Sidney Madden and Rodney Carmichael, Louder Than A Riot confronts power from every angle – from the power the genre wields over its artists, to the power plays that its rulebreakers take in order to get heard. In the midst of a so-called Renaissance for women in rap, these stories reveal a rot at the core of the culture that reflects how voices, bodies, and rights are still policed in America.
28 Episodes
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From NPR Music, Louder Than A Riot traces the interconnected rise of hip-hop and mass incarceration. Hosts Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden investigate the criminal justice system through the experiences of rap artists. Episodes available starting Thursday, October 8.
Bobby Shmurda. Nipsey Hussle. Mac Phipps. DJ Drama. What happens when hip-hop stars come into contact with the criminal justice system? In Louder Than A Riot, a new podcast from NPR Music, hosts Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden explore the interconnected rise of hip-hop and mass incarceration through the stories of artists at the center.
Presenting: On Our Watch

Presenting: On Our Watch

2021-06-0152:123

What happens to police officers who use excessive force, tamper with evidence or sexually harass someone? In California, internal affairs investigations were kept secret from the public — until a recent transparency law unsealed thousands of files. On Our Watch is a limited-run podcast from NPR and KQED that brings you into the rooms where officers are interrogated and witnesses are questioned to find out who the system of police accountability really serves, and who it protects.
In this first episode, a mysterious conspiracy letter sends us on a journey to find out just how entangled hip-hop and mass incarceration have become over the last 40 years. We travel back in time to 1980s Atlanta with Killer Mike, 1990s Oakland with Too Short and beyond. From Reagan's war on drugs to a secret NYPD dossier of the world's biggest rappers, it's all connected — and, as Killer Mike says, "The proof's in the pudding."
When New Orleans rap phenom Mac Phipps signed with Master P's No Limit Records, he knew his dream of hip-hop stardom was within reach. But in February 2000, Mac was accused of murder and the dream became a nightmare. Over the next three episodes, we investigate this story of race, corruption and rap lyrics on trial.
"A bullet in your brain." What right does the justice system have to decide whether a rapper's words are imagination or intent to kill? In this continuation of Mac Phipps' story, police pressure witnesses, while prosecutors use the artist's own lyrics to build a murder case against him. And Mac isn't the first: From a century-old folk tune to Ice-T's "Cop Killer," we examine the history of policing Black creativity to reveal a phenomenon that's become common practice in courtrooms — using lyrics as Exhibit A.
Exploitation of prisoners. Sexual assault allegations. A Supreme Court ruling that could hold the keys to freedom. In the third and final installment of Mac's story, we follow the ripples of Mac's case two decades after the verdict was handed down. What do the roadblocks in Mac's fight for exoneration say about liberty and justice for all? And how does his imprisonment affect the loved ones he's left behind?
In the early 2000s, mixtapes transformed Tyree Simmons into DJ Drama and molded T.I., Lil Wayne and Jeezy into rap superstars. But in 2007, those same mixtapes landed Drama in jail with a bank account balance of $0.00. In this episode, we break down the raid that turned the mixtape from cultural innovation into criminal conspiracy, from the perspective of the man who took the fall when the cops came knocking. "If they can lock up Drama, nobody's safe. It's over."
Just like his legendary disappearing hat, Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda's career was on the rise in 2014. But so was the evidence in a murder case against his crew, GS9. In the first of three episodes exploring Bobby's story, we look at his come-up through the eyes of former Epic Records exec Sha Money XL, who guided Bobby on his tightrope walk from the streets to superstardom. What happens when the industry capitalizes on a criminal persona? And do record execs have the juice to back Bobby up when things get too hot?
Two young men grow up just blocks apart, each with aspirations to make it big. But while Bobby Shmurda sees his dreams come true, Bryan Antoine is killed by members of Bobby's crew. This is the story that lingers between the lyrics of Bobby's viral hit, "Hot N****." We talk to the family grieving Bryan's loss and review hours of incriminating GS9 phone calls. How does the true story behind the song complicate stereotypes about gang affiliation? And what does the pursuit of justice mean in a neighborhood where labels like "victim" and "perpetrator" can be interchangeable?
Six years after his arrest, Bobby Shmurda's fans are still anxiously awaiting his return. The rapper ultimately stayed loyal to his crew in court, but the chokehold of conspiracy law also left him with few other options. In our final chapter of Bobby's story, we follow his legal drama: cycling through defense lawyers, being strong-armed by prosecutors and making last-ditch outbursts in court. Finally, we sit down with Bobby in prison as he looks to his future on the other side of his cell.
Hip-hop loves a hero's come-up, but the culture often has a hard time seeing women as heroes. Two years ago, when Louder Than A Riot editor Chiquita Paschal discovered she had a sister — who rapped — she quickly saw how that double standard can take shape. Chiquita's sister is Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, aka Philly rapper Isis Tha Saviour. In this episode, Chiquita takes us on Mary's hero's journey — from her time as a ward of the state to finding her voice in rap. And together, they delve into incarceration's ripple effects on families like theirs, and how hip-hop can help transform trauma into freedom.
After LA rapper Nipsey Hussle was murdered in 2019, city officials praised him for his community advocacy. But NPR has learned that behind the scenes, some law enforcement officers branded Nipsey as a gang member, and that label meant another man from Nipsey's neighborhood would be sent to jail — just for interacting with him. So why did California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation lie to us about it? And what does that say about the impact of law enforcement categorizing thousands of Black and brown men as potential criminals?
Yo Gotti grew up in Memphis just across the state line from Mississippi State Penitentiary (aka Parchman) — so this year, when he learned about the squalor its inmates were living in, he wanted to help. Gotti enlisted Jay-Z and Roc Nation to sue the department of corrections for human rights violations. In our finale episode, we ask how much celebrity activism really helps the prison reform movement, and sit down with rapper Noname and organizer Mariame Kaba to consider the alternate solutions proposed by prison abolition.
After 21 years in prison, Mac Phipps has been recommended for clemency, which could mean early release. As we reported in our first season, Mac was convicted in 2001 of manslaughter, for a crime he has always said he did not commit. Now, we follow the former No Limit rapper as he navigates the clemency process — and for the first time, we get to talk with Mac himself. What does justice mean after he's spent half his life in prison? And does he plan to ever return to the stage?
Last week, two of Atlanta's biggest rappers Young Thug and Gunna were arrested under the RICO Act. The DA charged their crew YSL as a gang and the indictment read more like a lyrical analysis than a police report. If this sounds familiar, it's because these same tactics were used in cases we explored with DJ Drama, Bobby Shmurda, and Mac Phipps. In this bonus episode, we speak with NPR's Ayesha Rascoe about the impact of YSL, and how RICO is being used against rap crews.
Inside all corners of hip-hop, Black women and queer folk have dealt with the same oppression the music was built to escape. Season 2 of Louder Than A Riot examines who hip-hop marginalizes, and how misogynoir — the specific racist misogyny against Black women — is embedded into the fabric of the culture that we love.
It felt like the December 2022 trial of Tory Lanez sparked a divide in hip-hop, but it just stoked the flames of a 50-year-long battle for Black women to be heard. In the first episode of our new season, we take you into Megan Thee Stallion's testimony to unpack the impact of misogynoir on rap.
Decades before hip-hop's current renaissance of women rappers, there was MC Sha-Rock. Despite her influence on future generations, her contribution to the craft of hip-hop is not widely known. In this episode, we break down legacy: who gets to leave one in hip-hop and who gets left out.
The male gaze looms over everything, but hip-hop is its favorite entertainment. Those under its watchful eye feel objectified or shamed if they don't give it what it wants to see. In this episode, we share the stories of three artists who are pushing back on the male gaze in their personal relationships, social interactions and even industry-wide.
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Comments (10)

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Mar 21st
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Catherine Monnes

I love this show. Seriously, great work. So so sorry that it’s being discontinued, and huge props to the makers for finishing out the season anyway. Thank you. Thank you for doing what you do, all of it.

Apr 1st
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Kenneth V. Johnson

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Jun 16th
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Nic _

this is a great podcast, but im kind of shocked and find it offensive to the game (both art and street that influences it, and families involved) that chiraq / drill scene isn't even mentioned. this is quintessential rap - modern comms (social.media) - neighborhood/ gang- socioeconomic (young urban man [read: the African American youngsters]) plight and the failing of the justice system both proactively and retroactively.

Dec 30th
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knot ales

Wow what a great podcast! I was young when I listened to Mac #nolimit and I didn't have the understanding of his real story till now.

Dec 20th
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Gavin Loyd

🤔

Nov 20th
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