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Iamsu in NPR's New York studio in March. Polina Yamshchikov for NPR hide caption

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Amber London during her interview with Microphone Check during SXSW in March 2015. Katie Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

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Video still from a Microphone Check interview featuring OverDoz. Shot during SXSW Music Festival in March 2015. NPR Music Video hide caption

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Hank Shocklee, of Public Enemy's production team The Bomb Squad, in Austin, Texas for an interview with Microphone Check. Mito Habe-Evans/NPR hide caption

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Heems at SiriusXM New York City Studios in March. Robin Marchant/Getty Images hide caption

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Malcolm Spellman after an interview with Microphone Check in Austin, Texas, during SXSW 2015. Mito Habe-Evans/NPR hide caption

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Jean Grae in Brooklyn. Polina Yamshchikov for NPR hide caption

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Earl Sweatshirt in Austin, Texas, during SXSW March 21, 2015. Mito Habe-Evans /NPR hide caption

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ASAP Ferg in New York City in February. Polina Yamshchikov for NPR hide caption

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Leila Steinberg at a benefit for A.I.M., the organization she founded that produces workshops meant to foster emotional literacy, in 2008. Brian To/FilmMagic/Getty Images hide caption

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Big Sean at NPR's Los Angeles bureau. Emily Berl for NPR hide caption

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The panel at our screening of The Spook Who Sat By The Door (from left to right): Dr. Greg Carr, Jamilah Lemieux, Cedric Shine and K. Nyerere Ture. Frannie Kelley for NPR hide caption

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DJ Quik onstage at his album release party at SOB's in New York City on Oct. 7, 2014. Polina Yamshchikov for NPR hide caption

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AraabMuzik at work. Erez Avissar/Courtesy of Distrolord hide caption

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Black Milk in his hometown, Detroit. Rick Williams/Courtesy of Black Milk hide caption

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J Cole, whose mother supported him as a postal worker when he was a kid. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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El-P (Jaime Meline) and Killer Mike (Michael Render) are Run the Jewels. Timothy Saccenti /Courtesy of Biz 3 Publicity hide caption

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Dante Ross at an Anthony Hamilton performance in New York City in 2006. Ray Tamarra/Getty Images hide caption

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T.I. at NPR's New York City bureau. Polina Yamshchikov for NPR hide caption

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Andre Benjamin during a Q&A at The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles following a screening of Jimi: All Is By My Side last weekend. Justin Baker/WireImage hide caption

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