For TMM Intern, Robert Glasper's 'Black Radio' Expands Category Of Hip-Hop

As Tell Me More enters its final weeks of production, intern Miles Johnson shares his favorite songs for the program's 'In Your Ear' series.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally, as we mentioned our last broadcast is scheduled for August first so as we wind down our production we thought would be nice to hear about the music that members of our staff are listening to as part of our regular series In Your Ear. This Monday we thought we'd hear from our summer intern Miles Johnson, and here's what's on his playlist.

MILES JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, I'm Miles and this is what's playing in my ear.

(SOUND BITE OF XXYYXX SONG, " GOOD ENOUGH")

JOHNSON: Good Enough by XXYYXX is amazing.

(SOUND BITE OF SONG, " GOOD ENOUGH")

XXYYXX: (Singing) I don't, I don't want no scrub. A scrub is a guy can't get no love from me. I don't, I don't want no scrub. A scrub is a guy can't get no love from me.

JOHNSON: It's a song that I think is important and a song that I play a lot because of its context. He is a young, black electronic musician, which is rare ,and he's sampling TLC which I think is even rarer for that genre of music and it's fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF SZA SONG, "WARM WINDS")

JOHNSON: So another song that's playing in my ear, and has been for a while now, is "Warm Winds" by SZA and Isaiah Rashad.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WARM WINDS")

SZA: (Singing) Hey, hey glory child, hey. Hey glory child, don't you worry, stuttering, shaken off your fear. Beauty's never given in a hurry, so condescending, leave your questions here.

JOHNSON: These are two really young artists who have recorded this song together and even though the latter is a rapper, SZA is this really unique unconventional artist and she has this really different voice. I always think, you know, she reminds me of someone and it's almost on the tip of my tongue but I could never really place it and I feel like that's what really draws me to her music as a whole that she does sound so different and I always feel really relaxed listening to the song especially - but really captivated by this just different interesting sounding voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WARM WINDS")

SZA: (Singing) Come home today, you could come home today

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACK RADIO")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Experiment black radio.

JOHNSON: Another song playing in my ear right now is "Black Radio" by Robert Glasper. Even though Yasiin Bey, who many people will know better as Mos Def is the only voice you hear on the track - Robert Glasper plays all of the instruments and does all of the productions so it's really his song and I feel like the reason this has always resonated it does a great job of allowing hip-hop to sort of come out of this box that I feel like it gets put in often.

(SOUNBITE OF SONG, "BLACK RADIO")

MOS DEF: (Singing) Neva rockin' for forever ever ever ever ever ever. Forever ever ever It's still a secret even when you tell 'em dumb dummies,

Hush money rent receipt and drug money They cold gutta, want gun money The chief rocka, fuel injected Zulu horse propa love boogie.

Bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay, bay,

JOHNSON: And though there is rapping on this track it's not your typical hip-hop track but then again -like what is typical?- and I think that that is what makes this unique. I think that's what Robert Glasper really did well was really make an interesting sort of a track that makes you think about music and the way that we categorize it.

MOS DEF: (Singing) It's the yes. You're rockin'. with the best. You're rockin' with the Def You're rockin' with the best .You are rockin' with the best. Now you are rockin' with the best. You're rockin' with the fresh.

You are rockin' with the Def. It's the yes.

MARTIN: That was TELL ME MORE intern Miles Johnson telling us was playing in his ear. And that's our program for today. I am Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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