Louder Than A Riot

Louder Than A Riot


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.


Watch the queen conquer: MC Lyte, Quay Dash, the cast of 'Rap Sh!t'

In the first nine episodes of our season, Louder has tackled the unwritten rules of rap. For the finale, we dig into the root of all those rules: the scarcity mindset. It's the belief that access and resources are so limited for those marginalized in hip-hop that you need to fight tooth and nail for them, and that only one can make it to the top at a time. And the Louder team says goodbye, as scarcity comes for our own podcast.
01/06/2355m 10s

Like poppa, like son: Rodney Carmichael

For Louder host Rodney Carmichael, interrogating misogynoir in hip-hop means confronting some hard questions — as a man, and especially as a father. As Rodney thinks about raising the next generation without replicating his mistakes, he's looking more closely at how hip-hop shaped his definition of masculinity. On this episode, something a little different: part meditation, part conversation — between Rodney and writers Kiese Laymon and Jamilah Lemieux — about beats, rhymes and life.
25/05/2356m 47s

What doesn't kill you makes you a strong Black woman: Rico Nasty

Rico Nasty's music creates a haven for heavy emotions. And in a world that paints Black girls showing any emotion as too much, having a place to release anger and anxiety is essential. But when Rico joined the 2021 Playboi Carti tour, his fans harassed her repeatedly and that safety was stripped away. On this episode, we talk with Rico about keeping a brave face, hear from a fan who was there in the crowd, and ask: When the outlet for your anger is shut down, how do you get your power back?
18/05/2350m 58s

Stay in your lane, shawty: Saucy Santana

Saucy Santana is part of a new wave of queer artists pushing back against stale standards in hip-hop. Bolstered by the reach of short sound bites on TikTok, the "Material Girl" rapper is not shy about rocking a beat face, trimmed beard, acrylic nails and booty shorts that have become his calling card. But in an industry that values marketability and reinforces masculinity to a toxic level, how can femme-presenting gay men sidestep from being considered viral jokes to become undeniable stars?
11/05/2345m 55s

Real n****s go hard (pause, no homo): iLoveMakonnen

How has hip-hop affected perceptions of Black masculinity? We unpack that question through the story of iLoveMakonnen, a rapper who has navigated different realms of masculinity his entire life, and faced backlash from the industry for being unapologetically himself.
04/05/2355m 12s

If you see something, say nothing: Kim Osorio v. 'The Source'

In 2006, Kim Osorio, the editor-in-chief of The Source, sued the magazine and its owners for workplace sexual harassment. Nearly two decades later, hip-hop still has not had a true reckoning around sexual misconduct. In this episode, former Source writers take us behind the scenes at the hip-hop bible and the environment that led to the suit. And activist Tarana Burke, creator of "Me Too," reflects on how this case could have put hip-hop ahead of the curve on reckoning with misogynoir.
27/04/2359m 44s

A Note on Episode 5

Louder was planning to drop a new episode this morning about a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and workplace discrimination at The Source magazine in the early 2000s. But, because of circumstances beyond our control, we need to delay it. Our next episode drops on April 27. Listen for our full statement on the status of Rule No. 5.
13/04/231m 40s

It ain't trickin' if you got it: Trina, Trick Daddy and Latto

How did the "bad bitch" replace the "ride or die chick" in hip-hop? In this episode we talk to the original baddest herself, Trina, about how her career flipped the script on dusty old stereotypes of Black women in rap, and left men down bad. We also sit down with Trick Daddy, the man that put her on, to hear how he feels to see her shining; and check in with Latto, a rapper carrying the torch that Trina set aflame 25 years ago.
06/04/2357m 23s

Beauty is in the eye of the male gaze: DreamDoll, Doechii and Baby Tate

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.
30/03/2351m 29s

Baby girl, you're only funky as your last cut: MC Sha-Rock

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.
23/03/2346m 45s

Megan's Rule: Being exceptional doesn't make you the exception

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.
16/03/2336m 34s

Louder Than A Riot Returns Thursday, March 16

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.
09/03/233m 36s

Lyrics Still On Trial: Young Thug and Gunna

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.
20/05/2214m 42s

Presenting: On Our Watch

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.
01/06/2148m 33s

21 Years and 1 Day: Mac Phipps (Exclusive)

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?
12/03/2147m 47s

Making Revolution Irresistible

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.
17/12/201h 8m

Captured By The Game: Nipsey Hussle

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?
10/12/201h 5m

'Prison To Prison Pipeline': Isis Tha Saviour

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.
03/12/201h 4m

My Brother's Keeper: Bobby Shmurda (Pt 3)

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.
19/11/2059m 31s

'Stay In The House': Bobby Shmurda (Pt 2)

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?
12/11/2045m 40s

The Badder, The Better: Bobby Shmurda (Pt 1)

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?
05/11/2052m 31s

The Day The Mixtape Died: DJ Drama

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."
29/10/201h 5m

Outsmarting The Devil: Mac Phipps (Pt 3)

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?

Lyrics On Trial: Mac Phipps (Pt 2)

"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.
15/10/2056m 21s

The Camouflage Assassin: Mac Phipps (Pt 1)

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.
08/10/2057m 18s

The Conspiracy Against Hip-Hop

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."
08/10/2051m 55s

Louder Than A Riot: Coming 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.
01/10/202m 46s

Introducing: Louder Than A Riot

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.
16/09/201m 35s
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