the contextual life

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A History of Hip-Hop in Six Easy Listens

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This post originally ran on Longreads, where I now contribute a monthly podcast roundup.

Radio RaheemHip hop began in the 1970s as an underground movement; today it’s everywhere. From house parties in the suburbs to national television advertising campaigns it’s recognizable, celebrated, and imitated. Snoop Dogg made headlines when he changed his name to Snoop Lion and Jay Z and Beyonce were given the same treatment as the British Monarchy when they had their first child.

Since its start on the street of New York, hip hop has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. The cash flow now includes not only music but art shows featuring graffiti as well as successful clothing lines.

2Pac vs. Biggie

1. Stuff You Should Know: How Hip-Hop Works (52:13)

In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, hosts Chuck and Josh discuss the history of hip-hop, from The Sugar Hill Gang to the present. They add their own personal history, which includes stories of attempted breakdancing and well-intentioned clothing choices. You can read more about it on their site.

2. Los Angeles Review of Books: 2pac and Biggie (1 hr.)

Co-authors Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey speak with host Colin Marshall about their book 2pac vs. Biggie: An Illustrated History of Rap’s Greatest Battle. They talk about the artists’ rivalry, their beginnings, how their styles differed, and why you’re missing out if you only listen to one and not the other.

3. NPR Fresh Air: Questlove (45:14)


The drummer for The Roots talks about his influences growing up, how he listens to music, and his favorite part of Soul Train. (Bonus: Also check out Terry Gross’s classic 2010 interview with Jay-Z.)

4. Bullseye (formerly Sound of Young America): Dan Charnas, author of The Big Payback (44:00)

Dan Charnas, a veteran hip-hop journalist and one of the first writers for The Source, talks with Jesse Thorn about the history of the hip-hop music business and how executives and entrepreneurs turned an underground scene into the world’s predominant pop culture.

5. WBUR On Point: Fame and Fortune of Jay-Z (48:00)

Jay Z

Andrew Rice, contributing editor for New York magazine, spoke about his article on Jay-Z’s business acumen with James Braxton Peterson, director of Africana Studies, professor of English at Lehigh University, and founder of Hip Hop Scholars. Together they delve into the financial side of Jay-Z’s career.

6. KCRW The Treatment: Michael Rapaport, “Beats, Rhymes & Life” (28:29)

If you were around in the ’90s, you might recognize Michael Rapaport from movies like Zebrahead, Poetic Justice, and Higher Learning. In 2011, he came out with a documentary on A Tribe Called Quest. He talks to The Treatment’s Elvis Mitchell about his love of hip-hop, his childhood in New York City, and his experience filming his favorite artists.


Written by Gabrielle

August 27, 2013 at 6:47 am

7 Responses

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