Frannie Kelley

Frannie Kelley is an Editor for NPR Music.

In this position, Kelley is 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 is co-editor of NPR's music news blog, The Record, and co-host of NPR's rap interviews podcast, Microphone Check, with Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Since joining NPR in September of 2007, Kelley has worked on a variety of projects including running a series on hip-hop in 1993 and overseeing a project 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.

The first voice we heard when Compton rapper Boogie took the stage Wednesday night wasn't his. It was Darius, Boogie's five-year-old son, booming out the speakers and making occasional appearances throughout his set. This is Boogie's first SXSW, among his first concerts and the beginning of a career that will have to be built on the road, which will mean stretches away from his son, stretches when his son's voice will have to be piped in just like it was at Stubb's.

Last year you heard Terrace Martin's work on YG's album, Ninth Wonder's compilation, Big K.R.I.T.'s Cadillactica and, just this week, a new song by Kendrick Lamar, called "The Blacker The Berry." In the space of less than six months in 2014, the LA-based producer and multi-instrumentalist also put out a full solo album, 3Chor

It's fair to wonder why anybody would make an album today, much less a group of musicians who've proven themselves several times over. There isn't much money to be had, and what little there is can be got by other, less exhausting methods than touring to break new songs. Kool G Rap doesn't need to do this – everybody you respect wishes they could be like him when they grow up. Pharoahe Monch dropped an album this year that leveled whole tiers of his competition. AZ, when he cares to, rhymes circles around 99.99 % of the rapping population.

If this is the first time you're hearing of somebody called Your Old Droog, don't even trip. Some people know the name; those people spent the spring and summer speculating if an unknown entity who posted a better-than-it-should-be debut EP on Soundcloud was in fact Nas, our (hip-hop's) Jeff Buckley, minus the tragedy.

T-Pain's fingerprints are all over pop and R&B and hip-hop. He wasn't the first musician to use Auto-Tune as an instrument — he noticed it on a Jennifer Lopez remix, and remembers "Deep" well — but it was, as he says, his style. For a while, in the mid-2000s, he lived at the top of the charts. He dominated that brief moment of our lives when ringtones were a thing.

On Sunday, Sept. 14, 20 years and one day after Biggie Smalls' debut album, Ready to Die, was released, Microphone Check gathered four of the musician's friends in Brooklyn to recall the man they knew.

On a steamy morning upstairs in a record lover's paradise KING laid down a gorgeous version of one of the songs that lit up Twitter three years ago and put the trio on Prince's radar. Sisters Paris and Amber Strother and partner Anita Bias couldn't believe it when he asked to meet them, but now they think nothing of calling up the legend while they work on their first full-length album.

There's too much happening in New Orleans' French Quarter — especially on a holiday weekend, and especially when hundreds of thousands of people are in town for the annual Essence Music Festival. There are living statues and five-piece bands and drinks a foot-and-a-half tall and people from all over the world ambling in the middle of the street.

A few blocks from New Orleans' Superdome, just off Canal Street, there's a barber shop called Clear-Vue, which has been in business since 1948. While we were in the city for the Essence Music Festival, we asked Jazmine Sullivan to meet us there.

In the spring of 2013, songwriter and R&B singer Sevyn Streeter released a song called "It Won't Stop," which she's called her "baby." Over the year and change that's followed, the song has sunk into our collective consciousness through commercial radio play and a music video viewed more than 35 million times, and on the recommendation of a growing group of critics and fans.

"I ain't just rhyming," Issa Gold, one half of The Underachievers, says in "Chrysalis." "Keep up." He's rapping, which is much more difficult. Rapping requires him and his partner AK to choose a flow, or melody, for their lyrics; something they can use to parry the beat or run it down or surf. The duo puts the pedal to the metal here more often than not, exercising a slightly archaic style of MCing: deft, speedy, highbrow, tough to perform at the end of a set. Colloquially, rappity-raps.

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