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 stream 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 Mix
11:44 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Essence: Songs From America's Biggest R&B Festival

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, performing at the Essence Music Festival at the Louisiana Superdome in 2008.
Sean Gardner Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 4, 2014 12:08 am

The Essence Festival, in New Orleans this weekend for its 20th edition, calls itself "the party with a purpose," for cause. The goal of the three nights of performances at the Superdome and three days of panels and talks at the Convention Center is to brand and supplement Essence Magazine — but what actually goes down every Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans begins in airports all over the country.

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Microphone Check
1:02 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Pete Rock: 'Real Could Be Another Word For Original'

Pete Rock.
Courtesy of the artist

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Microphone Check
1:34 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Ab-Soul: 'It's A Lot'

Ab-Soul.
Courtesy of Top Dawg Entertainment

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 1:35 pm

Ab-Soul, the most philosophical member of the by now vaunted Top Dawg Entertainment, met Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley in Los Angeles two weeks before the release of his latest album, called These Days ... After only one listen to the album, the three of them had a conversation about Ab's high expectations of his audience and what he's trying to make for them.

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Music
3:49 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Sound Off: Where The Military's Rhythm Came From

U.S. Army soldiers take part in a morning run at Camp New York, Kuwait, in 2002.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 2:13 pm

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Microphone Check
12:00 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Mannie Fresh DJ Set: 'We Bounced Everything'

Mannie Fresh behind the decks at NPR's Washington, D.C. headquarters.
Becky Harlan for NPR

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 1:56 pm

In the middle of our live interview with Mannie Fresh at NPR's headquarters in D.C., Ali asked Mannie how he approaches DJing — does he play what he wants to hear? Or does he feed the crowd? "When I want you to understand something, I remix it," Mannie said. "If it's Earth Wind and Fire, and you not getting it, I'ma make you get it."

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The Record
12:17 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

D'Angelo: 'I'm Trying To Go Deep'

D'Angelo with Nelson George (left) onstage at the Brooklyn Museum Wednesday night.
Drew Gurian Red Bull Content Pool
  • Listen: D'Angelo In Conversation With Nelson George

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Microphone Check
4:51 pm
Sat May 10, 2014

Inside The XXL Freshmen Issue

Vanessa Satten, center, with Lil Durk to the left and August Alsina to the right.
Courtesy of XXL

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 10:25 am

  • Vanessa Satten And Dan Rys With Ali Shaheed Muhamamd And Frannie Kelley

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Microphone Check
12:55 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Freddie Gibbs: 'I Think I'm The Best Rapper'

Freddie Gibbs.
Peter Beste Courtesy of We Get Press

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 1:43 pm

  • Freddie Gibbs With Ali Shaheed Muhammad And Frannie Kelley

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The Record
2:05 am
Thu May 1, 2014

'Illmatic': The Making Of A Classic

Nas in 1994, the year Illmatic was released.
Danny Clinch Courtesy of Sony Legacy

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 6:53 am

This summer Nas is traveling the world performing his debut album, Illmatic, in full. The crowds coming out to see him — in Texas, Germany and California — are turning up because the 20-year-old record is an acknowledged classic.

In the early '90s hip-hop was just beginning its takeover of popular music. It was landing on the charts, but more often than not, the songs there were novelties (see: MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice).

For the people who took hip-hop seriously, and especially the fans in rap's hometown of New York City, this was a problem.

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The Record
1:59 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Minya Oh: 'I Was Never Gonna Not Want To Listen To This'

Minya Oh, who reviewed Illmatic in The Source in 1994 under the pen name Shortie and is now a radio personality on New York's Hot 97 who goes by Miss Info. Here she poses for a portrait backstage at a vitaminwater Fader uncapped event in 2012.
Roger Kisby Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 8:12 am

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Music News
4:54 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Reunited And It Feels A Little Awkward: OutKast At Coachella

Big Boi (left) and Andre 3000 perform on stage at Coachella during the first stop on OutKast's reunion tour.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 5:42 pm

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Microphone Check
4:30 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

E-40: 'I'm On The West Coast, Eating'

E-40.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 8:28 am

  • E-40 With Ali Shaheed Muhammad And Frannie Kelley

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Microphone Check
3:38 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

ScHoolboy Q: 'I Call Myself All-American'

ScHoolboy Q onstage at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City two days before his major label debut dropped.
Polina Yamshchikov for NPR

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 2:21 pm

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Live in Concert
11:17 am
Tue February 25, 2014

First Listen Live: ScHoolboy Q, 'Oxymoron'

ScHoolboy Q onstage at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City on Sunday, February 23rd.
Polina Yamshchikov for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 2:03 pm

Within Black Hippy, the Los Angeles-based crew consisting of Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q is the fun-loving middle child who taunts you with a straight face but can't always help cracking a smile. He's a wildcard who put out two highly-regarded independent albums and has become a reliable source for bracing guest spots. Sometimes he's incisive, sometimes he's callous. He's always charismatic and perceptive and forthright.

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The Record
4:42 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Rap From Memphis: The Outtakes

The Pyramid Sports Arena in Memphis in 1998.
Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images

During the reporting of our story about the legacy of Comin' Out Hard in Memphis rap, we spent time in the city with MJG, Young Dolph and Drumma Boy. We met Yo Gotti in New York and got Eightball in a studio in Atlanta. We didn't have enough time to talk to everybody who's made Memphis rap what it is, like Gangsta Boo, or DJ Paul, Juicy J, Project Pat, or even Gangsta Pat.

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The Record
11:02 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Eightball, MJG And Rap From Memphis 20 Years On

MJG (left) and Eightball in an early, undated photo.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 3:08 pm

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Microphone Check
7:40 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Starlito And Don Trip: Writers First, Rappers Second

Starlito (left) and Don Trip, in their video for "Caesar & Brutus."
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 1:04 pm

  • Starlito And Don Trip With Ali Shaheed Muhammad And Frannie Kelley

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NPR Story
3:36 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Yes, Yeezus Dominated 2013 Hip Hop, But Many More Gems Were Made

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 5:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

All this week, we're looking back at the year in music with our friends at NPR Music as our guides. Every year, they round up their favorite 50 albums, some mainstream, some more obscure and some completely unavoidable, like "Yeezus" from Kanye West.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOUND 2")

BRENDA LEE: Uh-huh, honey.

KANYE WEST: (Rapping) What you doing in the club on a Thursday? You said you only here for a girl birthday. They ordered champagne but still look thirsty. Rock Forever 21 but just turned 30.

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Microphone Check
1:06 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Bun B On Janis Joplin, UGK's Label Struggles And His Voice

Bun B getting ready to take the stage with the Houston Symphony two days after this interview took place.
Courtesy of Marco Torres

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 5:29 pm

  • Bun B With Ali Shaheed Muhammad And Frannie Kelley

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Microphone Check
10:03 am
Tue November 12, 2013

'All Daps And Hugs': G-Side Reunites And Releases A New Song

G-Side, reunited.
Matt McGinley

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 10:31 am

For about five years, we at NPR Music have been listening to G-Side, a rap duo from Huntsville, Ala., and the group's in-house production pair the Block Beattaz. Some of us rocked 2008's Starshipz & Rocketz until the tape popped, reveling in the sequined sound and mostly level-headed lyrics that alternate between the gruff and drawled deliveries favored by Clova and ST 2 Lettaz, respectively.

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Microphone Check
2:39 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Eight Million Stories: Hip-Hop In 1993

Faith Newman, Ralph McDaniels and Prince Paul at the Ace Hotel Sept. 25.
Ebru Yildiz for NPR

All year Morning Edition and NPR Music have been running radio pieces about rap albums released 20 years ago, in 1993. For a special episode of Microphone Check we invited a group of people who were working in hip-hop back then to meet us at the Ace Hotel in New York City and tell stories about that productive and creative year. At the audio link you can hear an edited version of the evening.

Our guests were:

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The Record
7:03 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Where Rock The Bells Fails, Drake's Tour Succeeds

Drake backlit at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Monday night.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 3:18 pm

What does the concert-ticket buyer want? If we're accepting that the market for albums — physical and digital — won't ever rebound, that digital singles will never make up for the loss in revenue and that streaming can't be profitable under current licensing laws, professional musicians (and the labels that love them) need to figure this out. Rap music, with its younger audience, has been more flexible in this regard than other genres: Rap acts now run the multi-genre summer festival gamut after infiltrating smaller cities' club circuits long ago.

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Microphone Check
12:56 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Pusha T On A Tribe Called Quest, His Frustrations And Pharrell (Part 2)

Pusha T.
Courtesy of Def Jam Records
  • Ali Shaheed Muhammad And Frannie Kelley With Pusha T (Part 2)

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Microphone Check
12:18 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Pusha T On Fronting, Responsibility And Kanye (Part 1)

Pusha T.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 1:42 pm

  • Ali Shaheed Muhammad And Frannie Kelley With Pusha T

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The Record
11:03 am
Sat July 20, 2013

Thundercat On Making Music Outside The Lines

Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner
B+ Courtesy of Motormouth Media

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 6:41 pm

Session musician Stephen Bruner has played bass in other people's bands for more than a decade. He can play metal, R&B, hip-hop, jazz. And he's been folding all that into his own music, which he puts out under the name Thundercat.

Now, with his second album, he's stepping to the front of the stage.

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