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Louder Than A Riot

Author: NPR

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Rhyme and punishment go hand in hand in America. Louder Than A Riot reveals the interconnected rise of hip-hop and mass incarceration. From Bobby Shmurda to Nipsey Hussle, each episode explores an artist's story to examine a different aspect of the criminal justice system that disproportionately impacts Black America. Hosted by NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden, this podcast is invested in power from all angles — the power the music industry wields over artists, the power of institutional forces that marginalize communities of color, the power of the prison industrial complex and the power dynamics deep-rooted in the rap game.
10 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.
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.
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Gavin Loyd

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Nov 20th
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