Frannie Kelley

Frannie Kelley is an Editor for NPR Music.

In this position, Kelley is responsible for editing, producing and reporting NPR Music's coverage of hip-hop, R&B and the ways the music industry affects the music we hear, on the radio and online. She is co-editor of NPR's music news blog, The Record, and co-host of NPR's rap stream Microphone Check, with Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Since joining NPR in September of 2007, Kelley has worked on a variety of projects including running a series on hip-hop in 1993 and overseeing a project on women musicians. She also ran another series on the end of the decade in music and web-produced the Arts Desk's series on vocalists, called 50 Great Voices. Most recently, her piece on Why You Should Listen to Odd Future was selected to be a part of the Best Music Writing 2012 Anthology.

Prior to joining NPR, Kelley worked in book publishing at Grove/Atlantic in a variety of positions from 2004 to 2007. She has a B.A. in Music Criticism from New York University.

Pages

Microphone Check
12:29 am
Fri December 12, 2014

J. Cole: 'Ain't Enough Of Us Trying'

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

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 10:50 am

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Microphone Check
5:28 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Rick Ross: 'It Was Just So Powerful To Me'

Rick Ross.
Courtesy of Def Jam Records

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 12:16 pm

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun November 30, 2014

First Listen: Ghostface Killah, '36 Seasons'

Ghostface Killah's new album, 36 Seasons, comes out Dec. 9.
Stan Oh Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 10:42 am

It's fair to wonder why anybody would make an album today, much less a group of musicians who've proven themselves several times over. There isn't much money to be had, and what little there is can be got by other, less exhausting methods than touring to break new songs. Kool G Rap doesn't need to do this – everybody you respect wishes they could be like him when they grow up. Pharoahe Monch dropped an album this year that leveled whole tiers of his competition. AZ, when he cares to, rhymes circles around 99.99 % of the rapping population.

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First Listen
11:33 pm
Sun November 16, 2014

First Listen: Your Old Droog, 'Your Old Droog'

Your Old Droog's self-titled new album comes out Nov. 25.
Seher Sikandar Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 4:28 pm

If this is the first time you're hearing of somebody called Your Old Droog, don't even trip. Some people know the name; those people spent the spring and summer speculating if an unknown entity who posted a better-than-it-should-be debut EP on Soundcloud was in fact Nas, our (hip-hop's) Jeff Buckley, minus the tragedy.

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Microphone Check
8:35 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Run The Jewels: 'I'm Taking This Life'

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

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 6:59 pm

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Microphone Check
4:19 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Dante Ross: 'We Wanted Our Own Universe'

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

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Tiny Desk Concerts
11:18 am
Wed October 29, 2014

T-Pain: Tiny Desk Concert

Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 4:06 pm

T-Pain's fingerprints are all over pop and R&B and hip-hop. He wasn't the first musician to use Auto-Tune as an instrument — he noticed it on a Jennifer Lopez remix, and remembers "Deep" well — but it was, as he says, his style. For a while, in the mid-2000s, he lived at the top of the charts. He dominated that brief moment of our lives when ringtones were a thing.

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Microphone Check
8:32 am
Tue October 21, 2014

T.I.: 'We Make Music That Come From The Heart'

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

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 8:03 am

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The Record
2:28 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Outkast And Atlanta: Until They Close The Curtain

Two dope boys on a Cadillac: Andre 3000 and Big Boi in the early days.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 12:37 pm

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Microphone Check
10:57 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Microphone Check Live: The Stories Of The Notorious B.I.G.

Polina Yamshchikov for NPR

On Sunday, Sept. 14, 20 years and one day after Biggie Smalls' debut album, Ready to Die, was released, Microphone Check gathered four of the musician's friends in Brooklyn to recall the man they knew.

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Microphone Check
3:00 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Joell Ortiz: 'I Refuse To Compromise Me'

Joell Ortiz at a DJ Booth cypher in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in September.
Polina Yamshchikov for NPR

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 6:09 pm

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Field Recordings
1:15 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

KING Makes A Record Lover's Paradise Even Better

NPR

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 2:52 pm

On a steamy morning upstairs in a record lover's paradise KING laid down a gorgeous version of one of the songs that lit up Twitter three years ago and put the trio on Prince's radar. Sisters Paris and Amber Strother and partner Anita Bias couldn't believe it when he asked to meet them, but now they think nothing of calling up the legend while they work on their first full-length album.

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Microphone Check
8:08 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Souls Of Mischief: 'It's Like Catching Lightning In A Bottle'

Souls of Mischief are, from left to right, A-Plus, Tajai, Opio and Phesto.
Courtesy of Audible Treats

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 8:58 am

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Field Recordings
8:03 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Ledisi Steals The Show

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 2:46 pm

There's too much happening in New Orleans' French Quarter — especially on a holiday weekend, and especially when hundreds of thousands of people are in town for the annual Essence Music Festival. There are living statues and five-piece bands and drinks a foot-and-a-half tall and people from all over the world ambling in the middle of the street.

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Microphone Check
11:57 am
Tue August 19, 2014

The Underachievers: 'We're Still Young'

AK (left) and Issa of The Underachievers onstage at SXSW in 2013.
Sean Mathis Getty Images for SXSW)

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 3:52 pm

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Field Recordings
1:43 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Jazmine Sullivan Fades A New Orleans Barber Shop

NPR

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 1:55 pm

A few blocks from New Orleans' Superdome, just off Canal Street, there's a barber shop called Clear-Vue, which has been in business since 1948. While we were in the city for the Essence Music Festival, we asked Jazmine Sullivan to meet us there.

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Field Recordings
2:00 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Sevyn Streeter Knocks Us Out

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 2:30 pm

In the spring of 2013, songwriter and R&B singer Sevyn Streeter released a song called "It Won't Stop," which she's called her "baby." Over the year and change that's followed, the song has sunk into our collective consciousness through commercial radio play and a music video viewed more than 35 million times, and on the recommendation of a growing group of critics and fans.

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First Listen
11:02 pm
Sun August 3, 2014

First Listen: The Underachievers, 'Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium'

The Underachievers' (Issa Gold is on the left, AK on the right) new album, Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium, comes out Aug. 12.
KCBLA Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 11:34 am

"I ain't just rhyming," Issa Gold, one half of The Underachievers, says in "Chrysalis." "Keep up." He's rapping, which is much more difficult. Rapping requires him and his partner AK to choose a flow, or melody, for their lyrics; something they can use to parry the beat or run it down or surf. The duo puts the pedal to the metal here more often than not, exercising a slightly archaic style of MCing: deft, speedy, highbrow, tough to perform at the end of a set. Colloquially, rappity-raps.

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Microphone Check
4:43 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Cormega: 'I Just Want To Be A Soldier For My Culture'

Cormega.
Vshootz Courtesy of Jerry Graham Publicity

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 11:39 am

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Microphone Check
7:07 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

YG: 'I Gave Y'All What I Seen'

YG.
Courtesy of the Cashmere Agency

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 11:40 am

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