‘Louder Than A Riot’ unpacks ‘misogynoir’ in modern hip-hop

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo and Amy Ta, produced by Bennett Purser

In season two of Louder Than A Riot, Co-hosts Sidney Madden and Rodney Carmichael focus on rhyme and punishment, or the intersection between mass incarceration and hip-hop. Courtesy of NPR Music.

This season of NPR’s podcast “Louder Than A Riot” explores who is left out of hip-hop culture — through sexism, racism, and homophobia. The team is still finishing the episodes — despite NPR announcing its cancellation of the show and amid major layoffs due to budget shortfalls. 

The season starts with the trial of rapper Tory Lanez, who was found guilty of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in a 2020 altercation. The incident led to a messy, tabloid spectacle. 

Rhyme and punishment — or the intersection between mass incarceration and hip-hop — drove much of season two, says Louder Than A Riot Co-host Sidney Madden. As development on the first season was wrapping up, Stallion was shot. 

“We saw the residual abuse and … the tabloid spectacle specifically in hip-hop cultural spaces that she was endearing in the aftermath of this shooting. And that really became the impetus of our reporting. We knew that 50 years in, it was going to be a big moment of celebration for hip-hop. But we also see this as an opportunity of reckoning, recollection, introspection to make the future of the genre better and more equitable for everyone.” 

At its core is the concept of “misogynoir” — a mashup of the words misogyny and noir (French for black) — which details the racism and sexism that Black women face. Sociologist Moya Bailey, who speaks in the opening episode, coined the term more than 15 years ago, but it remains relevant today.

Co-host Rodney Carmichael says many of these issues within hip-hop are divisive today, which is the best reason for dissecting the proliferation of misogynoir.  

“So much of the culture is built on the commodification of women and the marginalization of women and queer artists, queer folks as well. And a lot of that comes from larger American culture and Western culture. But this is also a celebration in large part of all of the people who have risen despite all of that,” he says. 

Working on the series led Carmichael to think about his ideals as a man and as the father of two young children, including his 3-year-old son. 

Much of who he is, Carmichael explains, has been heavily shaped by the hip-hop he grew up with, especially during his teenage years. He argues that this season is an opportunity for men to reflect on how they’ve allowed misogyny to perpetuate the culture. 

Louder Than A Riot’s senior producer Gabriella Bulgarelli helped report on the Lanez trial. As she was processing it, she said, “It was so easy to be terrified, and then be like, ‘Girl, why are you caught up? She's a Black woman, first and foremost. And this is how she will be treated.”

Madden says many of these issues are so ubiquitous in U.S. society that they’re considered part of the status quo that isn’t challenged or explained anymore. As a result, this season is about “saying those quiet parts out loud.” 

Each episode has a “rule” or theme, such as body policing and the male gaze — straight white men see women in a certain way, and hip-hop and  society at large judge them by that standard. 

Each episode also profiles a rulebreaker who is showing what rap/hip-hop and society at large can look like in the future. 




Marisa Lagos