Frannie Kelley

Frannie Kelley is co-host of the Microphone Check podcast with Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Prior to hosting Microphone Check, Kelley was an editor at NPR Music. She was 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 was also co-editor of NPR's music news blog, The Record.

Kelley worked at NPR from 2007 until 2016. Her projects included a series on hip-hop in 1993 and overseeing a feature 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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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Gucci Mane's smile makes you feel like there's still some good in the world. He's really earned it, and that thing is infectious.

We're about 300 emails and one month in. We started with seven people and swelled to eight, though the composition of the group has changed a little bit.

Maybe we have jumped the gun. We very badly want G.O.O.D. Fridays back (we're not alone). Surprise releases are fun and everything, but the build of a month(s)-long stretch is better. We would like to talk about music together, and not only by collectively spazzing out and crashing Livemixtapes. We would like to Monday morning quarterback the art and announcement punctuation and where we heard it over the weekend and the context and the song itself.

DJ Quik onstage at his album release party at SOB's in New York City on Oct.

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.

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.

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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