Rodney Carmichael Rodney Carmichael is NPR Music's hip-hop staff writer.
Rodney Carmichael, photographed for NPR's Louder Than A Riot, 13 February 2023, in Washington DC. Photo by Mike Morgan for NPR.
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Rodney Carmichael

Mike Morgan/NPR
Rodney Carmichael, photographed for NPR's Louder Than A Riot, 13 February 2023, in Washington DC. Photo by Mike Morgan for NPR.
Mike Morgan/NPR

Rodney Carmichael

Host & Hip-Hop Staff Writer, NPR Music

Rodney Carmichael is NPR Music's hip-hop staff writer. An Atlanta-bred cultural critic, he helped document the city's rise as rap's reigning capital for a decade while serving on staff as music editor, culture writer and senior writer for the defunct alt-weekly Creative Loafing.

During his tenure there, he won several Association of Alternative Newsweeklies awards for column writing, longform storytelling, special projects, investigative and feature reporting on gender and economic inequality issues ranging from strip club class-action lawsuits to harm reduction needle exchange programs. "Straight Outta Stankonia" — a cover-to-cover look at Atlanta's gentrifying cultural landscape through the lens of OutKast, which he conceived and co-wrote — was honored as one of the Atlanta Press Club's Top 10 Favorite Stories of the Past 50 Years in 2014.

A Georgia State University alum (journalism/playwriting) and former Poynter Fellow for Young Journalists, Carmichael started his career in Waco, Texas, where he received a Cox Rookie of the Year nomination for his enterprise reporting and feature writing on religion, health and social services at the Waco Tribune-Herald. Even then, race and culture lay at the heart of his coverage.

Back in Atlanta, a three-year stint at the urban lifestyle weekly rolling out deepened his commitment to cultural reporting. After covering red carpets (BET Awards, MTV VMAs), profiling Black business leaders and penning cover stories on artists ranging from Ciara to Andre 3000, his passion for storytelling led him to the alt-weekly world. During his first five years at Creative Loafing (Atlanta), he led local music coverage as music editor of the alternative weekly with the third-highest readership in the nation. During the next half-decade, Carmichael dug deeper by covering his hometown from the underground up. As it underwent cultural upheaval and shifting socioeconomics, he used Atlanta's creative economy — expanding from music, film, TV and tech — as a lens to explore the city's oft-competing identities: New South gateway, human rights hub, Black Hollywood, strip club capital and hip-hop hotbed.

Now, covering hip-hop from a national perspective at NPR, he continues to work at the intersection of race and culture. The stories he tells combine reporting and criticism to focus on black cultural production and all its sociopolitical implications. As creator and co-host of the podcast Louder Than A Riot, he and co-host Sidney Madden trace the collision and interconnected rise of hip-hop and mass incarceration in America.

Story Archive

Friday

The Grammy's newest categories acknowledge a boom for African music and modern jazz

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Friday

Courtesy of the artist

New Music Friday: 21 Savage's 'American Dream'

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Saturday

Friday

Dua Lipa, whose 2020 album Future Nostalgia produced multiple '80s and '90s pop-inspired hits, has released a new single, "Houdini," that hints at another layer of retro revival. Tyrone Lebon/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Tyrone Lebon/Courtesy of the artist

Setting our sights on the biggest music stories of the 2024

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Tuesday

Illustration by Jed Chisholm for NPR

Talking about the best albums of 2023

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Friday

Tuesday

The result of the improvised sessions that led to New Blue Sun is subtle but daring. Mainly because it flies in the face of everything we've come to expect, and selfishly demand, as André 3000 fans. Kai Regan/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Kai Regan/Courtesy of the artist

Listen: The NPR Music interview with André 3000

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Exclusive: André 3000 reveals why his new solo album has no bars — and no boundaries

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Friday

Billie Eilish is nominated for six Grammys at the 2024 awards ceremony. Five of those nominations are for her song "What Was I Made For," from the soundtrack to the film Barbie. Michael Tran/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Michael Tran/AFP via Getty Images

Wednesday

(L-R) Marley Marl, Technician the DJ, Kid Capri, Swizz Beatz, DJ Spinderella, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Fat Joe, DJ Holiday, DJ Drama, Timbaland and Kool DJ Red Alert accept award onstage during the BET Hip-Hop Awards 2023 on October 03, 2023 in Atlanta, Ga. Paras Griffin/Getty Images hide caption

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Juking the stats, and the state of rap, at the 2023 BET Hip-Hop Awards

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Thursday

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Thursday

Like poppa, like son. Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR hide caption

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Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR

Thursday

Rico Nasty. Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR hide caption

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Thursday

Saucy Santana Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR hide caption

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Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR

Thursday

Drake and Makonnen celebrate during the former's 2014 birthday party at Dave & Buster's in Times Square, New York. Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images hide caption

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Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images

ILoveMakonnen. Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR hide caption

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Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR

Thursday

Kim Osorio. Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR hide caption

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Tuesday

Trina. Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR hide caption

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Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR

Thursday

Thursday

Trina. Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR hide caption

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Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR

Wednesday

Illustration of DreamDoll, Doechii and Baby Tate. Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR hide caption

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Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR

Tuesday

MC Sha-Rock. Amanda Howell Whitehurst/Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR hide caption

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Amanda Howell Whitehurst/Amanda Howell Whitehurst for NPR