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 interviews podcast, 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.

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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 Tue March 3, 2015 4:51 pm

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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 Fri January 30, 2015 3:47 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 Fri January 30, 2015 3:45 pm

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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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The Mix
12:44 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Essence: Songs From America's Biggest R&B Festival

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, performing at the Essence Music Festival at the Louisiana Superdome in 2008.
Sean Gardner Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 4, 2014 1:08 am

The Essence Festival, in New Orleans this weekend for its 20th edition, calls itself "the party with a purpose," for cause. The goal of the three nights of performances at the Superdome and three days of panels and talks at the Convention Center is to brand and supplement Essence Magazine — but what actually goes down every Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans begins in airports all over the country.

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Microphone Check
2:02 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Pete Rock: 'Real Could Be Another Word For Original'

Pete Rock.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 11:41 am

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Microphone Check
2:16 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Ab-Soul: 'It's A Lot'

Ab-Soul.
Courtesy of Top Dawg Entertainment

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 11:42 am

Ab-Soul, the most philosophical member of the by now vaunted Top Dawg Entertainment, met Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley in Los Angeles two weeks before the release of his latest album, called These Days ... After only one listen to the album, the three of them had a conversation about Ab's high expectations of his audience and what he's trying to make for them.

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Music
6:15 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Rhythm Section: Spending A Week Trying To Catch The Beat

Roberto A Sanchez Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 3:06 pm

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Music
4:49 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Sound Off: Where The Military's Rhythm Came From

U.S. Army soldiers take part in a morning run at Camp New York, Kuwait, in 2002.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 3:13 pm

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Microphone Check
1:00 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Mannie Fresh DJ Set: 'We Bounced Everything'

Mannie Fresh behind the decks at NPR's Washington, D.C. headquarters.
Becky Harlan for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 4:55 pm

In the middle of our live interview with Mannie Fresh at NPR's headquarters in D.C., Ali asked Mannie how he approaches DJing — does he play what he wants to hear? Or does he feed the crowd? "When I want you to understand something, I remix it," Mannie said. "If it's Earth Wind and Fire, and you not getting it, I'ma make you get it."

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The Record
12:59 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

D'Angelo: 'I'm Trying To Go Deep'

D'Angelo with Nelson George (left) onstage at the Brooklyn Museum Wednesday night.
Drew Gurian Red Bull Content Pool

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 8:48 am

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Microphone Check
5:51 pm
Sat May 10, 2014

Inside The XXL Freshmen Issue

Vanessa Satten, center, with Lil Durk to the left and August Alsina to the right.
Courtesy of XXL

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 4:56 pm

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The Record
3:05 am
Thu May 1, 2014

'Illmatic': The Making Of A Classic

Nas in 1994, the year Illmatic was released.
Danny Clinch Courtesy of Sony Legacy

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 7:53 am

This summer Nas is traveling the world performing his debut album, Illmatic, in full. The crowds coming out to see him — in Texas, Germany and California — are turning up because the 20-year-old record is an acknowledged classic.

In the early '90s hip-hop was just beginning its takeover of popular music. It was landing on the charts, but more often than not, the songs there were novelties (see: MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice).

For the people who took hip-hop seriously, and especially the fans in rap's hometown of New York City, this was a problem.

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The Record
2:59 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Minya Oh: 'I Was Never Gonna Not Want To Listen To This'

Minya Oh, who reviewed Illmatic in The Source in 1994 under the pen name Shortie and is now a radio personality on New York's Hot 97 who goes by Miss Info. Here she poses for a portrait backstage at a vitaminwater Fader uncapped event in 2012.
Roger Kisby Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 9:12 am

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The Record
6:24 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Reunited And It Feels A Little Awkward: OutKast At Coachella

Big Boi (left) and Andre 3000 perform on stage at Coachella during the first stop on OutKast's reunion tour.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 9:12 am

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Microphone Check
5:30 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

E-40: 'I'm On The West Coast, Eating'

E-40.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 9:28 am

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