Track by track, line by line, beat by beat, audio production heavyweights Reduced Listening are on a journey to expose some of the most significant stories in black music and culture.’
Since 2022 Kayo Chingonyi has hosted a cultural, exploratory album-focused podcast which uses music as a platform to dissect and delve into a different artist’s world with each series.
So far the podcast has decoded the work of two dedicated UK rappers. Most recently the series has explored the events, literary context and cultural meaning behind Skepta’s ‘Konichiwa’ for Spotify Studios.
Beautifully soundtracked and lyrically-led, nothing beats the epic smoothness with which Decode journeys through the poetic lives of Britain’s most talented. It’s unknown when Series 3 is set to drop, or indeed who it will focus on, but when it does we know that we’ll be among the first to listen in.
For the movie fans among us, this year the Mubi podcast has been the ultimate resource for plug-in and play cinematic music selection. The series at large has focused on film on a rather broader spectrum, but this year it seems, is the year of the needle-drop.
From Kubrick’s ‘A Space Odyssey’ to Park Chan-Wook’s ‘Decision to Leave’, the podcast examines the vital use of music in creative directorial decisions, giving music fanatics some key insight into the artistic world of soundtracking.
Even for those not so familiar with cinematic history, the podcast provides an interesting lens through which to explore history and culture more broadly. A recent episode about first-of-its-kind Jamaican crime-thriller ‘The Harder They Come’ is a prime example of this, offering not only through the development of Reggae music on an international stage, but also a plethora of deep insight into Jamaica’s political character at the time the film was created in 1972.
Next up in our list of top music podcasts is ‘The Art of Longevity’, a podcast founded by Keith Jopling (aka The Song Sommelier) two years ago. Many are well used to podcasts that analyse music. However, The Art of Longevity is renowned for its focus on what is actually experienced by those in the craft, and more keenly, the art of survival in the music business.
Each episode channels artistic experience, through interviews with a different artist, producer, musician or band across a variety of music landscapes.
Through excitement, loss, and oftentimes pain, what The Art of Longevity impresses on us so greatly is a need to de-glamourise the competitive and unforgiving industry that musicians are confronted by today. For many who feel that they know music intimately, this podcast series will ring incredibly true and extremely close.
Devoted to tracing ‘the collision of rhyme and punishment’ in America, NPR’s ‘Louder than a Riot’ is about, yes you guessed it, hip hop and power. Whilst the first series explicated the links between mass incarceration and hip hop, the second series builds on this work with a queer, feminist lens on a so-called female rap renaissance.
Sidney Madden and Rodney Carmichael provide a detailed picture of a culture that polices voices, bodies and rights.
The series description reads:
“Hip-hop emerged from the voices of the unheard. But freedom doesn’t ring the same for everyone. Inside all corners of the culture, Black women and queer folk have dealt with the same oppression the music was built to escape. Season 2 of Louder Than A Riot examines who hip-hop marginalizes, and how misogynoir — the specific racist misogyny against Black women — is embedded into the fabric of the culture that we love.”
In a world of extreme harm and danger, the value of music cannot be taken lightly. And where music is in danger, NPR is there to dig the dirt and shed light on what’s been happening. Of optimal social importance ‘Louder than a Riot’ is one series that cannot be taken lightly.
We’ve recommended podcasts that explore artists from a journalist’s perspective, but what about one where the musician tells the story? The official Song Exploder Podcast might just be our most exciting pick for producers and beat makers.
Recently the podcast has featured such contemporary legends as Yaeji, KennyBeats, King Princess and Sampa the Great, each somehow explaining their process and personal philosophies, and for once, all in their own words, barely an interviewer to be heard.
The podcast series has been going for almost a decade and has even inspired a Netflix show with the same format. Beyond just insight through the window of music-making for the sake of music, the show has also opened access to the minds of Son Lux, the creators of the ‘Everything Everything All At Once’ soundtrack as well as directing duo the Daniels.
Whether it’s creative inspiration you’re after or just a bunch of new artists to listen to, we highly recommend Song Exploder as one of our Top Picks to check out.
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