Great Listens About Great Music
By Sean Braswell
The best songs take you on a journey beyond yourself, and the best podcasts about those songs help you understand why. This week on a music-themed edition of Wherever You Get Your Podcasts, we take a deep dive into hip-hop’s history, learn about a king’s fateful haircut, discover the lost music of Tanzania and explore the multifaceted glory that is the Dollyverse.
pod of the week
Iconic Moments in Hip-Hop History
Mogul tells the story of the rise of hip-hop through the voices of those who lived it. Season one explores the life and untimely death of legendary music executive Chris Lighty, while season two looks at the celebrated career of rapper Uncle Luke as he fought against censorship. Both artists were seminal members of the hip-hop scene in their respective cities — Lighty in New York and Luke in Miami — and their paths chart the rise of the genre in America. Host Brandon Jenkins takes you on a richly layered, well-researched and gripping journey into music history.
conversations about the music you love
An Explosion of Insights
In each episode of Song Exploder from Radiotopia, host Hrishikesh Hirway sits down with an artist to break down every aspect of one of their songs, from the inspiration behind it to the lyrics and the production. Each chorus and verse, every guitar lick and bass line, are examined and explained by the artists themselves, and stars from Dua Lipa to Meek Mill invite the listener into the studio and into their creative process before playing a song in its entirety.
A Fly on the Studio Wall
Broken Record, from Pushkin Industries, features an all-star rotation of interviewers sitting down with your favorite musical artists to talk about, well, everything. You can hear Rick Rubin interview Brian Eno about the future of music, or listen as Malcolm Gladwell sits down with Bruce Springsteen. Each episode is roughly an hour of thought-provoking discussion with the musical artists who have brought the industry to where it is today — and those who will take it where it is going tomorrow.
The Power of Music
In Louder Than a Riot, hosts Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden explore how the rise of mass incarceration and the popularity of hip-hop are interconnected today and have been throughout history. This podcast from NPR is an examination of how American power and culture intersect and features today’s most influential hip-hop artists, including Bobby Shmurda and legends like the late Nipsey Hussle. The stories of these artists, their music and their struggles against the forces of institutional racism illustrate how essential hip-hop is to holding the powerful accountable.
tales from the music industry
How a Haircut Changed Music History
“Well, hair today, gone tomorrow,” Elvis Presley joked as his hair fell to the floor that spring day on March 24, 1958. The media dubbed that day — when the King of Rock ’n’ Roll was inducted into the Army — “Black Monday,” and it marked the start of a two-year military hiatus for the most famous person on the planet. That fateful haircut, as OZY explores in a special bonus episode of Flashback, would not only alter the course of the King’s life and career, but also change the course of American music and pop culture.
A Deep Dive Into the Dollyverse
Dolly Parton’s America, a nine-part journey from WNYC Studios, delves into the life and times of perhaps the most universally beloved living recording artist. You’ll hear all about Parton’s remarkable career, from her early days writing “sad-ass songs” to her emergence as a feminist icon (who despises the word “feminism”), as well as the surprising story behind the hit ballad “I Will Always Love You” — and whom the song is really about.
How Jody Watley Reinvented Herself
“Don’t be afraid to live the life that is meant for you,” says Jody Watley about her decision to leave the group Shalamar and strike out on her own. Now the Grammy Award-winning pioneer in music, video, fashion and style is the first-ever membership ambassador for the National Museum of African American Music. On The Carlos Watson Show, she reflects on some of the key decisions she made in her life and career, and shares a preview of her soon-to-be-released signature line of candles.
Recovering the (Nearly) Lost Music of Tanzania
Between 1961 and 1986, Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam was Tanzania’s only radio station and professional recording studio. Now a group of archivists from the Tanzania Heritage Project are working to digitize as much of Radio Tanzania’s archive as possible before the physical records are lost to time. Following their belief that music “belongs to the people,” these archivists hope their work will keep the legacy and history of Tanzania around for generations to come. Here, you can listen to “Barua Toka Kwa Mama” by the Mlimani Park Orchestra.
in audio news
The Podcasting Hype House From Hell
What do you get when you stick a bunch of podcasters in a house together in Beverly Hills? Chaos, apparently. This report from The Verge details how things fell apart in a Hollywood mansion meant to serve as a podcasting hype house. Complete with two studios and a professional crew, this production house — funded by the deep pockets of Chinese audio platform Ximalaya — quickly deteriorated from artistic collaboration to “a perplexing world of cocaine, dog poo and unpaid bills.”
E3 Radio Launches The Qube
The production company E3 Radio is launching The Qube, a streaming app for podcasts and music created by Black, brown and QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) creatives. The E3 team, led by founder Anna DeShawn, is running a crowdfunding campaign for the app to raise $75,000 during Pride month. With The Qube, E3 — which stands for educate, empower and entertain — aims to address inequities in ownership, visibility and financial backing in the podcasting world.
Apple Rolls Out Podcast Reset
After the initial May release date was postponed, Apple has finally launched its Apple Podcasts Subscriptions platform. The company said it pushed back its launch date to “ensure we are delivering the best experience for creators and listeners.” This new app will hopefully fix many of the issues reported by both listeners and creators about the technology giant’s existing podcast platform, including glitches and long delays in uploading.
friend of the pod
Have a favorite music podcast that you love? Tell us about it by emailing email@example.com, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.