Frannie Kelley Frannie Kelley is co-host of the Microphone Check podcast.
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Frannie Kelley

The rapper Drakeo the Ruler titled his latest album after the prison phone service provider GTL, whose lines he used to record it, leaving a trail to follow the money through a controversial industry. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the artist

Drakeo's Acclaimed Album Highlights How Much Prisons Profit From Phone Calls

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RTJ4 seems tailor-made for the present moment, but Run the Jewels has always made music about inequality and corruption in America. "In my mind, things are never not happening," Killer Mike says. Tim Saccenti/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Tim Saccenti/Courtesy of the artist

On 'RTJ4,' Run The Jewels Is A Speaker Box For Society

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Once part of Digable Planets, Ishmael Butler continues to be a hip-hop innovator with Shabazz Palaces. He stays connected to new music through his son Jazz, who records as Lil Tracy. Patrick O'Brien Smith/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Patrick O'Brien Smith/Courtesy of the artist

For Shabazz Palaces' Ishmael Butler, Musical Innovation Is A Family Legacy

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Chicago Rapper G Herbo Pivots To Vulnerability — And Scores A Hit

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Rafiq Bhatia's recreation of standards uses what we've heard before to ask "What haven't we heard yet?" and challenges us to ask "Why not?" John Klukas/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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John Klukas/Courtesy of the artist

On 'Standards Vol. 1,' Rafiq Bhatia Questions The Act Of Reinterpretation

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Vuhlandes/Courtesy of the artist

Griselda Set Out To Be Your Favorite Rapper's Favorite Rappers. It's Paying Off

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Young M.A relies on her fans to support her independent career, but the power dynamic often leaves her in the lurch. Noah Friedman/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Noah Friedman/Courtesy of the artist

In The 2010s, Music Fans Asserted Their Power, But The Industry Caught On

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RO.LEXX/Courtesy of the artist

Khalid Is The Shooting Star Of The Playlist Era

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For his latest work as WILLS, songwriter and producer Will Johnson is turning to arts foundations for funding. Dena Winter/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Dena Winter/Courtesy of the artist

Can Musicians Avoid Commercial Pressure And Still Make A Living? WILLS Is Trying

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Ugly God's debut album, The Booty Tape, dropped August 4. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Takes One To Know One: Rapper Ugly God Speaks To (And For) Teens

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The new documentary Can't Stop Won't Stop tells the story of Sean Combs' Bad Boy Records around a 2016 concert that reunited some of the label's stars. Carlos Araujo/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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'Can't Stop, Won't Stop': Bad Boy Records Was A Generation's Soundtrack

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"I was in the federal prison system, and people in there stay tuned to NPR," Gucci Mane says. "I know that they're going to hear this." Jonathan Mannion/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Jonathan Mannion/Courtesy of the artist

Gucci Mane Is Happy, Healthy — And Productive As Ever

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GL Askew II for NPR

Doc McKinney With Ali Shaheed Muhammad And Frannie Kelley

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