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162 Segments




"Old School" Rapper Kool Moe Dee.

Rap star Kool Moe Dee. When he first started rapping on park benches in the lat 70s, rap was a fad few believed would stick. Now rap has gone mainstream. Kool Moe Dee is considered the dean of the old school.


The Surprising Roots of Rap.

Rock historian Ed Ward profiles Louis Jordan. Between 1930 and 1950, Jordan spearheaded the rhythm and blues sound. He was one of the very first crossover artists, appealing to both blacks and whites. Ed focuses on the Louis Jordan who pioneered rap music.


The Tradition of the Black Pop Ballad.

Rock Critic Ken Tucker reviews three albums by older black male vocalists who are trying their hand at new genres, or trying to extend the traditions they first performed in. The albums are "Forever and Ever," the second solo album by Howard Hewett, a former singer with the black rhythm and blues group Shalamar, "On the Strength," by the rap group Grandmaster Flash, and "I Need Money Bad," by John Whitehead.


Two New Rap Albums.

Rock Critic Ken Tucker reviews two new rap albums, one by Run-DMC, the top rap group, the other by D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, an emerging group that builds on the innovations of the first rappers.


Female Singers Who Deserve More Recognition.

Rock Critic Ken Tucker looks at several women rock musicians who reject female rock stereotypes and work in highly idiosyncratic and original styles. The groups and individuals includes the Sugarcubes, Jane Wiedlin and M.C. Lyte.


What's Lost When Black Music Goes Commercial

Music critic Nelson George considers the changing nature of black music. In the past, Nelson says, African American artists, record store owners, and concert promoters were more community oriented. He thinks the focus now is on corporate-backed, commercial success.


Sounds of the Summer

Rock critic Ken Tucker remembers the songs that defined the season. Standouts for him were Steve Winwood's beer commercial anthem, Public Enemy's new album, and an edgy ballad by Crowded House.


The Best Music of 1988

Rock critic Ken Tucker talks with Fresh Air host Terry Gross about the year in music. He says 1988 had an eclectic array of hits, with folk and hard rock albums both reaching the top of the charts.


Time Again for the Tucker Top Five

Rock critic Ken Tucker once more looks at the best and worst songs currently hitting the airwaves. Represented artists include Matthew Sweet, Bunny Wailer, Violent Femmes, Tone Loc, and Emmylou Harris.


The Changing Sounds of L.A.'s Music Scene

Rock critic Ken Tucker says the music coming out of Los Angeles today has come a long way from the soft rock sound of the 1970s. But no one style dominates the city -- there's some good pop and rock, but Tucker is most excited by rap artists from Compton.


"Tougher Than Leather" Is Flawed but Interesting Enough to Rent

Critic Ken Tucker, a big fan of rap music, missed the theatrical release of Run D.M.C.'s film. He had high hopes it might capture the spirit of black action movies of the 1970s; but after watching the home video release, Tucker says the movie failed to live up to its promise.


The New Controversy Sounding Public Enemy.

Popular music critic Ken Tucker delves into the controversy over the rap group Public Enemy. Public Enemy's first album sold over 800,000 copies and their new song "Fight the Power," (featured in the movie "Do the Right Thing") is climbing the charts. The band however, recently fired its so-called "minister of information," Richard Griffen, for making anti-Semitic statements. In the ensuing political storm, Public Enemy has disbanded for an indefinite period of time.


George Clinton is Following Instead of Leading on New Album.

Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews "The Cinderella Theory," the new album by the master of funk, George Clinton. Clinton began his musical career when he formed The Parliaments. But it's with his densely layered rhythm lines and rap that Clinton has made his mark on music, defining the funk sound and culture. His best-known songs include "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker," "Atomic Dog" and "Think! It ain't illegal yet."


The Summer of Rap, Part 2.

Rock critic Ken Tucker continues his look at current rap releases. This week he explores the music of The Beastie Boys, Queen Latifah and the 2 Live Crew.


Record Producer Arthur Baker.

Record producer Arthur Baker. The eclectic Baker has produced or mixed for musicians as diverse as Bob Dylan, Jimmy Cliff, Cyndi Lauper, U2, and Bruce Springsteen. Now he's come out with his own album, "Merge." He's chief songwriter and plays keyboards as well as producing.


Ice-T Defends "Freedom of Speech."

Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews the new album from Los Angeles rapper Ice-T. The album's called "Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say." It's a blast back at groups such as the Parents Music Resource Center, which has been pushing for a rating system similar to the one use in the movie industry.


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