hip hop music

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Pharoahe Monch and Huey Lewis

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Pharoahe Monch
Guests: 
Huey Lewis
Guests: 
Oliver Wang

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Pharoahe Monch: Your Favorite Rapper's Favorite Rapper

Pharoahe Monch has been a voice in the hip hop world for over twenty-five years. In that time, he’s worked on six studio albums -- three as half of Organized Konfusion with his partner Prince Poetry (better known as Prince Po) and three as a solo artist. His seventh album, P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is due out early this year, continuing where the MC left off with 2011’s W.A.R. (We Are Renegades).

Nowadays, it’s understood that Monch is a rapper with intelligent, intricate lyrics that give a unique perspective on issues such as gun violence. Early in his career, however, he and Prince Poetry were rap novices under the name Simply II Positive MCs. They caught the attention of the influential record producer Paul C and became Organized Konfusion. Although Monch and Prince Poetry never achieved big commercial success together, Organized Konfusion became one of the most respected underground rap groups of the ‘90s. The group separated in 1997, but Monch went on to become a fruitful solo artist, scoring a career-defining hit with his biggest single, Simon Says.

This week, we revisit Jesse’s 2009 interview with Monch. They’ll talk about the controversy surrounding the an infamous Godzilla sampling, Monch’s fond memory of Paul C, and the MC’s struggle with asthma in a profession that’s all about controlled breathing.

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Oliver Wang Talks About a Life-Defining Record and a Dip into Northern Soul

This week, music writer Oliver Wang stops by to recommend a hip hop album and a soulful single.

His first recommendation is De La Soul’s debut album, 3 Feet High & Rising. The trio proved that three guys from Long Island with a clever, twisted sense of humor could make an impression on the hip hop scene.

He also suggests a listen to The De Vons’ single “Someone to Treat Me (The Way You Used To)". The song is a classic example of Northern Soul (and has an interesting producer credit to boot).

Oliver Wang is the proprietor of the soul music blog, Soul Sides. He’s also the professor of sociology at Cal State, Long Beach and co-editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies.

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Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters

In the early 1960s, two well-dressed young men roamed the streets of San Francisco with a tape recorder and a sense of whimsy in their stride. James Coyle and Mal Sharpe would conduct man-on-the-street interviews and bamboozle unsuspecting bystanders with their hilarious and bizarre setups and put-ons.

SF Sketchest will hold a "Salute to Coyle & Sharpe", recognizing their influence in comedy, on February 9th. For tickets or more information, visit our event page.

Want more Coyle & Sharpe? Subscribe to the podcast here.

Huey Lewis: From Busking in Morocco to Multi-Platinum Success

It seems strange now, but when Huey Lewis and the News released their first record in 1979, music executives weren't expecting them to become a huge success. With bombastic hair bands on one end of the rock spectrum and sneering punk rockers on the other, there didn't seem to be much of a place for Lewis and company's fun, bluesy pub-rock. But thumbing their noses at industry naysayers turned out to be the right move for Huey Lewis and The News. Case in point: 1983's Sports, their first record to hit number one on the Billboard charts.

Thirty years later, the band's commemorating the thirty-year anniversary of that album with an expanded re-issue of Sports, featuring remastered tracks and live versions of songs like "The Heart of Rock & Roll" and "I Want a New Drug". Huey Lewis sat down with Jesse to talk about the album that brought them to stardom, as well as his experiences writing songs for Back to the Future and Pineapple Express, how to stow away on an airplane to Europe (well, it worked in the seventies), and how a trip to Morocco convinced him that a career in music was possible.

Huey Lewis and The News' 30th Anniversary Edition of Sports will be released on May 14. For more information about the band and their US tour, you can check out their website.

This week, we revisit Jesse’s interview with Huey Lewis. They’ll talk about his pub rock beginnings, his multi-platinum success with Sports, and the time he finagled his way onto an airplane bound for London.

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The Outshot: Antiques Roadshow

There's a pretty simple formula to Antiques Roadshow: someone comes in with a knickknack and has it assessed by an expert. Next comes everyone's favorite part: the big reveal, where they find out what their item is really worth. That's part's pretty great, Jesse says – but there's something about Antiques Roadshow that he loves even more.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bubba Sparxxx and Ian MacKaye

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bubba Sparxxx
Guests: 
Ian MacKaye
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon
Guests: 
Megan Mullally
Guests: 
Stephanie Hunt

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Bubba Sparxxx on Schoolyard Rap Battles, Overcoming Addiction and Country-Hip Hop Fusion

Bubba Sparxxx defines his life as a cycle of "falling down and getting back up." He’s a white rapper from the South who you may know for his hit with the Ying Yang Twins, "Ms. New Booty," -- or perhaps you remember his debut single from 2001, "Ugly".

Sparxxx grew up in a rural area near LaGrange, Georgia, where he was no stranger to the occasional schoolyard rap battle. After high school, he made the move to Athens, Georgia with hip hop ambitions and, eventually, released the album Dark Days Bright Nights with the help of record producers Timbaland and Organized Noize. His next two albums, Deliverance and The Charm, established his commercial success and Sparxxx became known as a rapper who could effectively blend country and hip-hop.

However, after The Charm’s release in 2006, Sparxxx stayed relatively silent for the next seven years. He appeared on a couple Girls Gone Wild DVDs, rumors surfaced of his troubles with the IRS and he struggled with drug addiction. With the release of Pain Management in 2013, he came back on the hip hop scene with a fresh perspective. On the album, Sparxxx returns to his small town roots with songs like the celebratory "Country Folks" and the nostalgic "LaGrange," proving that, after a long fall down, he can always get back up.

His newest album, Pain Management is out now.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour on Deadpan Satire and Early John Cusack

Glen Weldon and Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to share some of their all-time favorite comedies.

Glen recommends the 1992 film Careful, directed by Guy Maddin, which is partly a parody of the German mountaineering films of the ‘20’s and ‘30’s. It’s set in the fictional town of Tolzbad, where the townspeople, petrified of starting a devastating avalanche, supress their emotions to live as quietly as possible.

Linda’s pick is The Sure Thing, a 1985 comedy directed by Rob Reiner. It stars a pre-Say Anything John Cusack who hits the road in an effort to reach a "sure thing".

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda’s writing on NPR’s Monkey See blog.

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I Wish I’d Made That: "Singin’ in the Rain" and "The Music Box" with Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt

Have you ever listened to a song or watched a movie so exceptionally perfect that you thought "I wish I’d made that!"? We’ve been there too. In this segment, we talk to creative people about the works that inspired them, and maybe inspired a little envy too.

This week, we caught up with Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) and Stephanie Hunt to talk about the things they wish they’d made: a Laurel and Hardy short called The Music Box and a classic scene from Singin’ in the Rain.

We caught up with Megan and Stephanie at Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme where they performed in their band Nancy and Beth.

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Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat & Fugazi: Love for Ted Nugent, His First Show, and Punk Ethics

As a member of Fugazi and Minor Threat, Ian MacKaye made history in the punk rock world. Fugazi’s DIY ethics made a lasting impression on the music industry and Minor Threat’s song "Straight Edge" managed to start a movement, even though it was never MacKaye’s intention.

He grew up in Washington D.C. in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Back then, it wasn’t a city known for its rock scene. That didn’t stop him from teaming up with drummer Jeff Nelson to form the band Minor Threat, which would go on to have a profound and lasting impact on hardcore punk. Although the band was short-lived (1980-83), it was enough to start a movement. MacKaye coined the term "straight edge," which referred to a punk rocker who abstains from drugs and alcohol. Eventually, a subculture formed around the concept and individuals who wanted to listen to their music with a clear head began calling themselves "straight edge".

Later in his career, he formed Fugazi, a band which would go on to make six studio albums and had a pretty unique approach to touring practices. The group would travel cross-country, rarely charging more than five or ten dollars for a show as a reaction to the uncontrollable greed of the music industry.

This week, Jesse revisits his 2009 interview, conducted live on stage with MacKaye. They’ll talk about the MacKaye's roots in D.C., his lasting legacy, and why he loves to work.

MacKaye is a co-founder and owner of Dischord Records and currently sings and plays baritone guitar in The Evens.

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The Outshot: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Every now and then, a movie comes along that’s so quotable and unexpectedly funny that it begs for a sequel...but it doesn’t get one. After nine long years, it looked like Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s Anchorman wouldn't return with its own brand of special weirdness.

This week, Jesse This week, Jesse explains why you should make your way out to the multiplex.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ronnie Spector, Fred Schneider, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ronnie Spector
Guests: 
Fred Schneider
Guests: 
My Brother, My Brother and Me
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

It’s the time of year when Bullseye focuses on what truly matters during the holiday season: great interviews with fascinating people. Celebrate with the Bullseye Holiday Special.

Girl Group Legend Ronnie Spector on Christmas, John Lennon, and a Perfect Coiffure

Ronnie Spector was the lead singer of the 1960s girl group The Ronettes. Along with her sister and cousin, she sang on five Top 40 hits, most notably Be My Baby, which still gets regular airplay on oldies stations.

But when it comes to her recordings with her ex-husband and producer Phil Spector, it might be the holiday songs off A Christmas Gift for You that remain closest to our hearts.

Spector spoke with Jesse in 2010 and explained that Christmas has always been a part of her life. When she was six years old, she sat on Santa’s lap at Macy’s and fell in love with everything about the holiday. The Ronettes recorded “Frosty the Snowman,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and “Sleigh Ride” for the album and, since their release in 1963, all three songs have become holiday classics.

Spector talked to us about puzzling over Santa's journey to her NYC apartment as a kid, going on stage at the famed Apollo Theater as an eleven-year-old, and knocking on doors with The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards.

This segment originally aired in December 2010.

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Andrew Noz on Holiday Rap: Outkast and Gucci Mane

Holiday songs don't have to all be Dean Martin or Michael Bublé. Hip hop critic Andrew Noz stops by the show to suggest a couple of rap songs that will be perfect for your holiday party.

The first is Outkast’s Player's Ball. It was originally recorded as a Christmas song for the LaFace Family Christmas album and with a few tweaks, it was repurposed as the group’s debut single. Then, Andrew says you should check out Gucci Mane’s Weird. It’s a great track that features a whole bunch of weird lyrics that allude to Christmas.

You can find Andrew Noz on Pitchfork, the Fader, or check out his blog at Cocaine Blunts.

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My Brother, My Brother, and Me Give Holiday Advice

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to answer some of your most pressing holiday quandaries. They take on Dickensian fairs, lazy gifting, and the perfect playlist for your holiday party.

If you’ve still got questions that need answers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts, and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

This segment originally aired in December 2012.

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The B-52s' Fred Schneider on Christmas Music, Wacky Poetry and Creating a Signature Sound

There are few bands that better define outrageousness than The B-52s. And there is no greater symbol of that group's outrageousness than Fred Schneider. As frontman for The B-52s, he’s crossed a Georgia drawl with a unique style of talk-singing in songs like Love Shack and Rock Lobster.

In 2010, Jesse sat down with Schneider to talk about the holidays. The vocalist had just recorded a new Christmas album with his band The Superions. The album is called Destination… Christmas! and features several goofy holiday songs like “Fruitcake” and “Crummy Christmas Tree”.

Schneider tells Jesse how he comes up with his nutty lyrics, why he decided to write poetry in college and, most importantly, how to compose holiday songs on the fly.

This segment originally aired in December 2010.

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The Outshot: This Christmas by Donny Hathaway

On this week’s Outshot, Jesse tells you about his absolute favorite holiday song. He puts it on every year, and explains why you should too. Take a listen to This Christmas by Donny Hathaway.

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Special Credits

Be sure to check out these holiday classics, also in this week's show:
Father Christmas - The Kinks
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love
I Hate Christmas - Oscar the Grouch
Down On Christmas - Stompin’ Tom Connors

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