Bonus Episode: 'Louder Than A Riot': Lyrics On Trial : Rough Translation On this bonus drop, we feature an episode from the NPR podcast Louder Than A Riot called "Lyrics on Trial."

Presenting 'Louder Than A Riot': Lyrics On Trial

Presenting 'Louder Than A Riot': Lyrics On Trial

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NPR's 'Louder Than A Riot' reveals the interconnected rise of hip-hop and mass incarceration in the USA. NPR hide caption

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NPR's 'Louder Than A Riot' reveals the interconnected rise of hip-hop and mass incarceration in the USA.

NPR

On this bonus drop, we feature an episode from the NPR Music podcast Louder Than A Riot about the way hip-hop collides with the criminal justice system.

This episode, "Lyrics On Trial," reminded us of something we're always trying to do at Rough Translation: explore how words and ideas are translated—or even manipulated—to take on different meanings. Louder Than A Riot hosts Sidney Madden and Rodney Carmichael follow the story of rapper Mac Phipps, who was accused of committing murder in a Louisiana club. At his trial, prosecutors misrepresented his lyrics to help ensure a guilty verdict.

Madden and Carmichael examine the history of the criminal justice system's vilification and misinterpretation of Black creativity. It's a trend that predates hip-hop, from the 19th century folk tune "Stagger Lee" to Ice-T's heavy metal fantasy "Cop Killer" a hundred years later.

This episode originally aired in the 'Louder Than A Riot' podcast feed on October 15, 2020.