Louder Than A Riot

Louder Than A Riot

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.

Episodes

September 16, 2020 1 min
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.
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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.
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October 7, 2020 51 min
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'...
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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.
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October 14, 2020 56 min
"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 polici...
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October 21, 2020 60 min
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?
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October 28, 2020 65 min
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 ...
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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 ...
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November 12, 2020 45 min
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 st...
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November 19, 2020 59 min
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...
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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 ...
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December 10, 2020 65 min
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 ...
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December 16, 2020 68 min
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...
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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 pri...
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June 1, 2021 48 min
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 a...
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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 o...
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