Today’s digital landscape has radically shifted how we consume information and listen to music. With multiple mainstream streaming platforms a click away, radio is no longer our only source of information and entertainment.

The shift away from mainstream radio has led to a surge in podcasts and podcasts listeners. According to Forbes “in 2020, an estimated 100 million people listened to a podcast each month and it’s expected to reach 125 million in 2022.” Across the Triangle, hip-hop creatives and journalists have tapped into this genre-focused medium, and contributed to that boom—especially, when it comes to music. Below, find a few of the area’s dopest hip-hop-focused podcasts.


Radio Unfriendly

Hosted by mainMAN

Where to Listen: WHUP 104.7FM,  WAVE 87.9FM, Apple Podcasts, Spotify

Currently nominated for 2020 Podcast of the Year by Yes! Weekly, Radio Unfriendly is hosted by the self-proclaimed “unfriendly neighborhood mainMAN,” the moniker of die hard, true school, hip-hop head Jermaine Monroe.

“The show spotlights Carolina hip-hop heads and educates listeners about the art form,” Moore says. Radio Unfriendly was inspired by his love for the underground radio programming of the ’90s. Instead of complaining about the missing gap in today’s radio, he set out to create his own platform.

“I knew that I wanted it to be raw and gritty and street unlike mainstream radio so I am very intentional about the people I invite to be guests on the show,” he says. “My vetting process is an intense background check for dopeness. I consider myself a Golden Era extraordinaire.”

Targeting a mature demographic of 30+, Radio Unfriendly, now in its third season, has amassed 13,000 monthly listeners. The show plans to eventually shift its content to YouTube, with the goal of prioritizing visuals and broadening its fan base.


DX Daily Podcast

Hosted by Ashia Skye and Ayeeedubb

Where to Listen: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher,  iHeart Radio App

Presented by HipHopDX, DX Daily is a daily news podcast that keeps listeners updated on everything happening in hip-hop culture. The podcast combines short-form news with some humorous insight, analysis, and opinions from the hosts, two North Carolina-based hip-hop-enthusiasts, Ashia Henry (Ashia Skye) and Alexandra Wurst (Ayeeedubb).

“The inspiration for the podcast was to create a new fun way to deliver hip-hop news in a never before done daily podcast format,” Henry says. Both hosts are based in North Carolina and are K97.5 Radio personalities.

The show is recorded in Raleigh, and North Carolina, according to Henry, is one of DX Daily’s top five demographics. Ashia Skye and Ayeeedubb’s wide range of experience have allowed them to quickly gain visibility and obtain 35,0000 downloads. Not to mention that DX Daily has cracked the top 50 on the charts for Music Podcasts in the U.S. on the Apple Podcast charts, coming in at #49.


Intelligently Ratchet

Hosted By Karim Jarrett, Justin Thorton, and Patrick Edmundson with reappearing guest host Candy Carver

Where to Listen: Facebook, Youtube, Twitch, SoundCloud

For millennial Black folks, the identities and labels “Intelligent” and “Ratchet” are not mutually exclusive. And for the Intelligently Ratchet show hosts, the name captures not only their multifaceted identities but also the diverse identities of their target audience in a necessary, specific way.

Averaging around 500 live viewers per episode, the livestreaming structure of their podcast-slash-video hybrid allows for real-time engagement with their audience.

Intelligently Ratchet is a truly interactive experience,” host Karim Jarrett says. “Viewers, who we refer to as “Ratcheteers” watch and comment online during the live broadcast. We want everyone to join in and be a part of the conversation.”

Jarrett realized that the best conversations about politics, news, and pop culture are typically held at dinners, social gatherings, barbershops, or over a strong drink. And, usually, those conversations are undocumented. With Intelligently Ratchet, Jarrett and his co-hosts sought to change that.

“[The show] plays out like a group of good friends casually discussing some of the day’s most important issues,” he says.

In addition to covering national topics, the show acknowledges its roots in Durham by including a segment titled “The Bull In The Bull” that’s dedicated to Triangle-area news.

Like the meaning of “intelligently ratchet” the show, according to its hosts, is “equal parts fun, information, and entertainment. We bring important everyday conversations to life and thrive on relatability and interacting directly with our friends [and] supporters.”


“Ya Dig?” The Hip Hop Show

Hosted By Art Royster | Produced by Markia Bonner

Where to Listen: YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify

Structured as both a visual and audio show, “Ya Dig?” The Hip Hop Show is hosted by UNC-Charlotte graduate Art Royster and produced by Markia Bonner, a Georgia-based attorney who specializes in contracts and intellectual property.

“[Our] show pays homage to hip-hop culture and its contributions to the world,” Royster says. When reflecting on what inspired the creation of the podcast, he says that the shifting sonic changes and commercialization of hip-hop made him uncomfortable.

“Listening to hip-hop my whole life, my wife felt it was important to preserve hip-hop, and that it should be done by the community that originated the art form and has constantly pushed it forward,” he says.

Ya Dig? uses a historical lens to shape show content and invites anyone who is interested in learning about the “backstories, development, [and] origin of slang” to tune in.

Structured into specific creative segments, such as “Let’s Rap,”  a conversation examining important connections between Hip Hop and external factors, or “Hip-Hop Legacy,” an examination of the life and career of the artists and entities that developed a well-known legacy in hip-hop, Royster is primarily interested in offering his audience context to better understand and engage with the culture in a meaningful way.


Hip-Hop Marvels

Hosted by Dub Floyd, Rick Lucas, Cash Collective, Claudius Moore, and Ken CEE

Where to Listen: Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Google Play, Stitcher, Podcast Addict

What do you get when you place a group of creatives who equally love hip-hop and comics in a room—a dope podcast! Hip-Hop Marvels  focuses on the relationship between Marvel Comics and the culture of hip-hop.

Comparable to a superhero team or collective, the podcast hosts, some of whom are from North Carolina, came together at different times to celebrate the art and culture of comics and hip-hop.

Celebrity guests thus far have included Chris River, the son of legendary Mc Big Pun, rapper Keith Murray, and Afua Richardson, a self-trained artist who has designed covers for five issues for Marvel and who notably also designed the Orinthia Blue comic book art featured in HBO’s Lovecraft Country.


Hip Hop IS Higher Education

Hosted by Summer Willow and Stephanie Reed

Where to Listen: YouTube, Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play

Recently launched and revised, Hip Hop IS Higher Education (formerly titled The Ladies Love Hip-Hop Podcasts) is a monthly podcast hosted by Summer Willow and Stephanie Reed, two self-proclaimed hip-hop heads.

“We were inspired to do the podcast together because we both had similar goals for utilizing hip-hop as a tool for education and empowerment, and of course, we equally LOVE hip-hop music. We also saw the tremendous value hip-hop has in the marketplace and its innate ability to educate and uplift people through the genre of music as well as the culture,” Reed says.   

Through engaging guest interviews and features, the podcast explores the ways in which hip-hop provides a form of education—often in the form of things like the elevation of self-knowledge and self-improvement.

In its new iteration, the podcast has a unique niche providing counter-narratives to the stereotyped, limited perspectives often associated with both hip-hop and higher education. The show is a place to demonstrate how hip-hop also cultivates intellectual curiosity and with each episode, we explore that curiosity.

Originally based out of Philadelphia, the podcast aims to prioritize celebrating local hip-hop artists from North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Willow and Reed are also interested in acknowledging community organizations that engage hip-hop as pedagogy or practice and often feature hip-hop entrepreneurs, producers, and executives. 


Comment on this story at music@indyweek.com

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.