Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: DJ Quik

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Bullseye
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DJ Quik
Guests: 
Michael Ian Black

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DJ Quik Talks About Bollywood Samples, Life Imitating Art, and Hairstyles

DJ Quik is one of the most prolific figures in West Coast hip hop. He's a great rapper, but first and foremost, he's always considered himself a producer. He's produced some of the most inventive samples and beats of the genre. And even though he geeks out about latest and greatest studio equipment, he's always used whatever it takes to capture the sound he wants -- even if it means recording a music sample with a VCR.

Quik first made a name for himself in the hip hop scene in the late 80's and early 90's, handing out homemade mix tapes and deejaying around Los Angeles. He's since released ten albums, and produced records for everyone from Tupac, Snoop Dogg and Xzibit to Tony! Toni! Toné!.

He'll talk about why a leaked record and a couple of guns made him realize he needed a new circle of friends, why he never wants to stop making pretty beats for his records and his inspiration for his awesome, awesome hairstyles over the years.

DJ Quik's new EP is calledRosecrans. It's available now.

Michael Ian Black Talks About Children’s Halloween Costumes - Recorded Live at MaxFunCon East 2012

Michael Ian Black is an actor, comedian and author perhaps best known from his work with the sketch comedy troupe The State, or from his subsequent collaborations with State-mates both on television (Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues) and film (Wet Hot American Summer). His disarmingly charming smarm made him a perfect fit for the talking-head format of VH1, but it also makes him a terrific author, as evidenced in latest book Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (but also my mom’s, which I know sounds weird).

Michael Ian Black performed live at MaxFunCon East in 2012.

The Outshot: Skymaul 2

Have you ever picked up and actually flipped through one of those in-flight catalogs? Well, the sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser takes all of the grotesque and excessive product offerings of Skymall, and brings them to another level in Skymaul 2: Where America Buys His Stuff.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Hornby & Luis Guzmán

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Nick Hornby on 'Funny Girl', Creativity and Ambition

Nick Hornby became famous as a literary writer for men. His first three books were about guys, fans specifically, Fever Pitch was a memoir about Hornby’s love of soccer; High Fidelity was about a record store owner, struggling with love. About A Boy was about a sort of boyish man tending to a mannish boy.

Hornby has since written several other books and screenplays, including Oscar nominees An Education and Brooklyn.

His recent novel, Funny Girl, is about a working class young woman in the 1960s who leaves her small town in search of a career on television, and her success on a BBC sitcom.

Nick Hornby sat down with Jesse to talk about why he set his novel in the mid-60s (and why its protagonist is a woman), personal ambition and creativity, and what it's like to be a Hollywood dinner guest.

Funny Girl is available now in paperback.

The interview originally aired in March 2015.


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Luis Guzmán on 'The Part'

Luis Guzmán is a veteran character actor. But back in the early 1990s, he was still working as a social worker on the Lower East Side, and acting was more of a side gig. Then he got a role that put him on the map -- the thuggish sidekick Pachanga in the 1993 movie Carlito's Way.

As Guzmán tells it, everything crystallized with that role.

You can currently see Luis Guzmán in the role of Jesse Sallander on the CBS hospital drama, Code Black. On the show, he plays the role of the trauma unit’s senior nurse, affectionately referred to as “Momma”.

The interview originally aired in March 2015.

The Outshot: Devil in a Blue Dress

Jesse explains why Easy Rawlins, of Devil in A Blue Dress, is a different breed of private detective.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Dwayne Kennedy & Noel Fielding

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Dwayne Kennedy
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Dwayne Kennedy on His Debut EP, Using Jokes About Race as a Barometer, and Playing Different Kinds of Crowds

Dwayne Kennedy has been in the stand up comedy game for about thirty years now, performing everywhere, from Showtime at the Apollo to the Late Show with David Letterman, but he's still a bit of a comic's comic.

He'll talk to Jesse about why he's recorded plenty of his sets, but is only releasing his debut stand up EP this month. Plus, he'll explain how he's adapted his comedy for different audiences and how he's used jokes about race as a barometer.

His debut record is called Oh No! It's Dwayne Kennedy and is available now on Bandcamp. You can also check out Dwayne Kennedy's site for a schedule of his upcoming shows. See if he's coming to a city near you!

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Photo by Jesse Thorn

British Cult Comic Noel Fielding on 'The Mighty Boosh' and Creating New Worlds

If audiences in the United States know Noel Fielding, it's for his cult comedy show The Mighty Boosh, a comedy double-act turned radio program and then TV show. It aired here on Cartoon Network's adult swim. But Fielding is much better known in his native UK for not only the Boosh (which has done arena tours) but his appearances on quiz shows and his specific sense of style.

Fielding is touring the United States this spring with a live show called An Evening with Noel Fielding, which features some of his beloved characters and frequent collaborators (like Rich Fulcher).

Fielding sits down with us to talk about his comedy "marriage" with his Mighty Boosh creative partner Julian Barratt, his personal aesthetic, and creating new worlds on the radio, on TV, and on the stage.

His show The Mighty Boosh is available now on Seeso.com. Find out if An Evening with Noel Fielding is coming to a city near you by checking out Fielding's site.

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The Outshot: Beyoncé's "Formation" and Taking Space

Jesse considers the backlash to Beyoncé's new single, and explains why he thinks it's worth your attention.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Barney Frank & Mission of Burma

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Thanks to everyone who came out to our World Tour of Several American Cities! Here's our show recorded in front of a live audience in Boston at Oberon Theater at ART.

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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Photo credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Barney Frank on Being In (and Out) of the Closet and What He Misses About Congress

The Honorable Barney Frank served as a House Representative for the state of Massachusetts for thirty-two years, from 1981 to 2013. He was the first congressman to come out as gay, and marry his same-sex partner while in office.

His legislative accomplishments included the Dodd-Frank Act, which brought about Wall Street reform and increased consumer protections. He was also influential in the passing of legislation regarding the environment, political reform and civil rights.

His memoir, Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage, is available now.

Barney Frank joined Jesse to talk about his early career in politics and why he felt his career in public service was incompatible with his private life; what he liked most about being a congressman; and why he believes that people who love campaigning are either liars -- or psychopaths.

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Comedian Lamont Price on the Emotional Trauma of Breakfast Cereal

Lamont Price is one of Boston's top comics -- he's the winner of the New York Underground Comedy Festival and has been named as one of Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch”.

He took the stage at our live show to to talk about coconuts, movies, and... breakfast cereal?

You can follow Lamont on Twitter @LPizzle.

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Photo credit: Fire Records

Mission of Burma on Being Loud, Noise and Post-Punk, and Middle Age

Though the post-punk band Mission of Burma’s initial iteration was short-lived and resulted in only one full-length album, an EP and a few singles, their music influenced generations of musicians outside their home of Boston. Their appeal was still strong when they reformed in 2002 with band members Roger Miller, Peter Prescott and Clint Conley, adding new member Bob Weston.

Since then the band has continued to perform live and has released 4 albums including their most recent, entitled Unsound.

The band performed a live set for us, and sat down with Jesse to talk about reforming the band after almost two decades apart, why they don’t make an effort to be rock stars and the subtle difference between being "legendarily loud" and being "hard to take".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn Holiday Special: Rob Halford & Ronnie Spector

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Rob Halford of Judas Priest rings in Christmas in his own unique style

Rob Halford is the legendary Metal God, and frontman of seminal heavy metal group Judas Priest. The band's hits include Breaking the Law, You've Got Another Thing Coming and Hell Bent For Leather. One of his solo albums is a heavy metal holiday celebration called Halford III: Winter Songs.

Halford sat down to talk with us about why he included the most spiritual songs on his Christmas record, the early days of Judas Priest, and what it was like to be both a metal god and a closeted gay man.

This interview originally aired in December 2009.

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Girl Group legend Ronnie Spector on Christmas, the Beatles and the perfect coiffure

Ronnie Spector, the very bubbly and Christmas-spirit filled lead singer of legendary 60s girl group The Ronettes, performed what became Christmas classics on A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector, and she's recorded some more recent songs to add to the list with Ronnie Spector's Best Christmas Ever.

This interview originally aired in December 2010.

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The Outshot: The Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

Jesse doesn't have many holiday traditions. But he'll tell you about the one thing that he makes time for every year: The Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: David Cross, Tavi Gevinson & Pharoahe Monch

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David Cross
Guests: 
Tavi Gevinson
Guests: 
Aparna Nancherla
Guests: 
Pharoahe Monch

Thanks to everyone who came out to our World Tour of Several American Cities! Here's our show recorded in front of a live audience in Brooklyn, New York at the Bell House.

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.


Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

David Cross on His New Sketch Comedy in 'W/Bob & David', Stand Up Comedy, and Living in NYC

David Cross co-created Mr. Show, one of the most beloved and influential sketch comedy shows, with his comedy partner and collaborator Bob Odenkirk.

Twenty years after the premiere of that program, Cross and Odenkirk recently released a new sketch show on Netflix, W/Bob & David.

Cross joins us to talk about the evolution of his stand up, the decision to create a new show with Odenkirk, and a certain club tour.

W/Bob & David is available now for streaming on Netflix. Cross also created and stars in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, which returns for a third season on IFC January 7th.

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Photo credit: Robyn Von Swank

Comedy: Aparna Nancherla

NYC-based comic and writer Aparna Nancherla has appeared on Conan, @midnight and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. She currently performs stand up and also writes for Late Night with Seth Meyers.

You can find out more about Aparna (including where to see/hear her!) at www.aparnacomedy.com.

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Photo credit: Petra Collins

Tavi Gevinson on Acting, Dealing with Negativity Online, and Editing 'Rookie'

Tavi Gevinson found an audience online when she was still a pre-teen blogging about fashion. Now 19, she's gone to found an online magazine for teenage girls called Rookie, and to act on Broadway, in films and on TV.

A new collection of writings from Rookie is collected in Rookie: Yearbook 4. It's available in bookstores and online now.

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Music: Pharoahe Monch and DJ Boogie Blind with 'Time2', 'Broken Again' and a Special Performance of 'Simon Says'

We were joined for an amazing live set from legendary rapper Pharoahe Monch and DJ Boogie Blind.

Pharoahe Monch's latest full-length is called PTSD. To buy his albums or see where he's performing next, find him at www.pharoahe.com. You can check out DJ Boogie Blind on Twitter @BoogieBlind.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John Cleese & Dee Dee Penny

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John Cleese on His Early Life and the Road to Comedy

John Cleese is one of the most influential figures of comedy. He's best known as one the creative forces behind the legendary comedy troupe Monty Python. But before that, he was almost a lawyer.

Cleese went to Cambridge, studied law, and was about to accept a job with a big firm when another opportunity came up. This one was perhaps slightly less distinguished, but infinitely more appealing to Cleese. The BBC was impressed by his work with his college comedy revue, The Footlights, and offered him a job writing and producing comedy.

In his memoir So, Anyway… Cleese discusses his journey, from his childhood in prep school, to his early days of sketch comedy at Cambridge, to the co-founding of the Pythons.
Cleese will talk about being one of the "scientific" minds of the Pythons, writing and re-writing with his comedy partner Graham Chapman, and how he felt about the recent Monty Python reunion.

Cleese's memoir, So, Anyway is available now in paperback.

This interview originally aired December 9, 2014.

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Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls Talks about Early Days on MySpace, Creating a Persona, and Overcoming Anxiety and Stage Fright

Kristin Gundred, AKA Dee Dee Penny, is the creative force behind the band Dum Dum Girls. But she wasn't always front and center. She's played in bands for almost fifteen years now, playing drums and singing in other people's groups. Eventually she realized the only way to create the music she wanted was to do it herself. So Dee Dee created a MySpace page and started working on her music.

Now Dee Dee and Dum Dum Girls have three studio albums under their belt, including their most recent, Too True.

Dee Dee talks to Jesse about making music in her bedroom, constructing the persona of Dee Dee Dum Dum, and overcoming anxiety and stage fright to be a rock musician.

This interview originally aired August 19, 2014.

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The The Outshot: Is 'What's Up Fatlip' the Least Braggy Rap Song Ever Written?

Don't call it a comeback. Jesse tells us about the LEAST braggy rap song ever written, "What's Up Fatlip?"

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: William H. Macy, Matt Walsh & Brian Huskey

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Bullseye
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William H. Macy
Guests: 
Matt Walsh
Guests: 
Brian Huskey
Guests: 
Baron Vaughn
Guests: 
Chicano Batman

Thanks to everyone who came out to our World Tour of Several American Cities! Here's our taping in Los Angeles, at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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Photos by Ibarionex Perello

Matt Walsh and Brian Huskey on Creating 'A Better You' and Their Best Improv Moments

Matt Walsh and Brian Huskey co-wrote, Walsh directed and Huskey stars in the new improv film A Better You. Walsh and Huskey met through improv comedy, and recently worked together more closely on HBO's Veep before deciding to make a film together

They talked to us about constructing an improv film, their favorite moments over years of performance, and elephants.

A Better You is available now on VOD.

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Photo by Ibarionex Perello

Comedy: Baron Vaughn on Talking to Bugs

LA stand up comic and actor Baron Vaughn talks about bugs, dairy allergies, and more.

You can see Baron in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, or on tour with his standup at BaronVaughn.com.

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Photo by Ibarionex Perello

William H. Macy on 'Shameless' and Characters Who Strive

William H. Macy talks with us about the evolution of his character Frank Gallagher on Showtime's Shameless, and what happened when he had to go from playing a drunk to a slightly less drunk.

Plus, he'll talk about an actor's responsibility to the writing and working with David Mamet.

Shameless returns in January for its sixth season on Showtime. Macy has also directed the upcoming film The Layover.

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Chicano Batman with "Cycles of Existential Rhyme" and "Please Don't Leave Me"

Los Angeles band Chicano Batman were our musical guest for the evening - listen in as they perform two songs from their live set.

The band's most recent LP is Cycles of Existential Rhyme. You can find more about them and their tourdates at ChicanoBatman.com.

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Photo by Ibarionex Perello

The Outshot: Drumline (and The Good Stuff)

Jesse explains why he thought the movie Drumline was worth a watch -- even if it doesn't throw any curveballs.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Allison Janney & Ishmael Butler

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Ishmael Butler on the Short Life of Digable Planets and the Cosmic Hip Hop of Shabazz Palaces

In the early 1990s, the hip hop group Digable Planets broke through with their single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)". The single was jazzy and laid-back, and became a crossover hit. The trio were pegged by some as a counterpoint to gangsta rap, but they didn't love the efforts to categorize their sound. They went further on their next boundary-pushing release, the classic record Blowout Comb. The album was critically acclaimed, but didn't sell well, and the group drifted apart shortly afterward.

Founding member Ishmael Butler was only in his mid-20s when Digable Planets broke up. And so he tried other things, like filmmaking. He still made music, but the releases were few and far between. About six years ago, he teamed up with Tendai Maraire to form a new group, called Shabazz Palaces.

Shabazz Palaces' latest release is called Lese Majesty, and it expands on their interstellar sound.

Butler spoke to us about his days as a indie label gopher, the awkward audition Digable Planets had to endure for a record company executive, and the the transformative sounds of Shabazz Palaces.

Digable Planets will be teaming up for a reunion show in Seattle this December.

Todd Martens on Young Love and Defying Expectations

Beyond interesting conversations with people in culture, we like to tell you about interesting cultural stuff. There's so much stuff out there, you don't have time to listen to everything. That's why we've brought in Todd Martens, who writes about music for the LA Times, to tell you about two albums you can dive into without hesitation.

Martens recommends Material Issue's 1991 album, International Pop Overthrow, a combination of cynicism and idealism.

He also recommends Summerteeth by Wilco, an album which explores a different side of Wilco.

You can find Todd's writing in the LA Times and on their blog, Pop and Hiss.


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"The Song That Changed my Life": Director Michel Gondry Gets Nostalgic for "Le Sud" by Nico Ferrer

There's a certain kind of feeling to the director Michel Gondry's films. A little bit of happiness mixed with sadness. Nostalgia for something that you experienced, or maybe something you wish you had experienced. You may have felt it watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, or his new film Mood Indigo.

For "The Song That Changed My Life", Gondry describes the feeling of saudade and how he felt watching Nico Ferrer perform the song "Le Sud" on a Saturday night.

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Allison Janney, from Loose Cannon Sitcom 'Mom' to Intimate Drama in 'Masters of Sex'

If you've seen Allison Janney on television lately, it's been in one of two very different roles. On the Showtime series Masters of Sex, Janney guest stars as a somewhat naive, vulnerable 1950s housewife who experiences a breakthrough after many years in a sexless (but not loveless) marriage. Her story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. In the CBS sitcom Mom, she plays Bonnie, a recovering alcoholic who's outrageous, biting, and very funny. Bonnie's been down, but she's making peace with her estranged daughter and getting her life back together. Janney's characterizations are versatile; they allow her to be warm, steely, confident, and thin-skinned by turns. Janney has won Emmys for both roles.

She spoke to us about her early acting days (including auditioning for an intimidatingly handsome Paul Newman), getting comfortable with the inevitable nude scenes for Masters of Sex, and the ways that her mom's background and brother's struggle with addiction gave her insight and empathy for her current roles.

Mom is in its third season on CBS. You can see it Thursdays at 9/8c.

The Outshot: Orson Welles and 'Touch of Evil'

Jesse explains why the last Hollywood picture Orson Welles directed, Touch of Evil, tells us so much about Welles as an artist.

This episode originally aired in August 2014.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ethan Hawke & Michaela Watkins

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Bullseye
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Ethan Hawke
Guests: 
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Our WORLD TOUR OF SEVERAL AMERICAN CITIES kicks off this Friday November 13th in Los Angeles with William H. Macy, Matt Walsh, Brian Huskey, Chicano Batman and Baron Vaughn - get your tickets now!

Plus check us out in Boston, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Philly and DC with guests Barney Frank, Mission of Burma, Tavi Gevinson, David Cross, John Hodgman, Joel Hodgson, Ray Suarez, Dan Deacon and more. It's all at BullseyeTour.com. Don't miss it!

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.


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Ethan Hawke Considers Life Lessons in 'Rules For a Knight'

Ethan Hawke is one of the rare actors that viewers have seen grow up in front of their eyes. They watched him as a teenager in the films Explorers and Dead Poets Society, saw him as a young adult in Reality Bites and Before Sunrise, and even saw him change over the course of twelve years of filming his Oscar-nominated turn in the Richard Linklater film, Boyhood.

Along with his work on-screen, he has also enjoyed success as a novelist with his books. His newest is a set of parables, inspired by Hawke's experiences as a parent, called Rules for a Knight. In it, a knight fears that he may not return from battle, and leaves behind a letter with important life lessons for his children. In the book, Hawke explores themes of honesty, courage, solitude and patience.

Ethan Hawke joins Jesse to share how life as a divorced father has influenced his work as an author and an actor, why child stardom was a double-edged sword, and how a favorite line from one of his films helped him to complete a marathon.

Rules for a Knight is now available in hardback and as an e-book.

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Michaela Watkins on Dating In Real Life and On-Screen, SNL, and Going For the Joke

Michaela Watkins is an actress who is in her element when she can go all-out for the joke. Whether she’s practicing sketch comedy as she did in her time with The Groundlings or her one-year stint on Saturday Night Live or performing on a sitcom like the Trophy Wife, Watkins creates characters that are both funny and memorable.

Now, Watkins brings her wit to the lead role of Valerie Myers in the new Hulu series, Casual. In it, she plays a newly divorced woman who finds herself living with her adult brother, while learning to navigate the dating world as a middle-aged woman.

Michaela Watkins joined Jesse to talk about how taking time for herself helped her to improve her relationships, the insane pacing of Saturday Night Live, and her contributions to Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

Casual is now in its first season on Hulu.

You can find a bit of bonus audio from our interview with Michaela Watkins here.

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The Outshot: The Musicality of an MC

From the early days of rap, the role of the MC was an ancillary one. They were there to support the work of the DJ by keeping the energy level up. The rapper Rakim helped to change that by bringing the role of the MC front and center using a unique blend of words, music and an intoxicating beat.

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