Last night Jay Z became the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2010 about growing up in a housing project in Brooklyn, finding his identity in the recording studio, and misogyny in rap lyrics. Also, film critic David Edelstein reviews 'The Mummy.'
Former Vice President Joe Biden has figured something out: "I learned how to become one of the most popular politicians in America," he says. "Announce that you are not running for president, and be authentic." In front of a live audience at WHYY studios, Joe Biden talks with Terry Gross about Donald Trump, his Catholic faith, and his plans on returning to electoral politics. Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Do Not Become Alarmed,' the new novel by Maile Meloy.
When it comes to comedy, 'Late Night' host Seth Meyers is clear about what drew him to the field: "I got into it because it looked like the most fun job in the world," he says. "And it has not led me astray." Before taking over the reins at 'Late Night,' he spent spent 13 years at 'Saturday Night Live,' first as a performer, then as head writer and the co-host, alongside Amy Poehler, of the show's 'Weekend Update' segment. This interview was recorded in front of a live audience on June 9, 2017 at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia to celebrate Fresh Air's 30th anniversary as a daily national program.
When 'Washington Post' correspondent Souad Mekhennet chooses to go and conduct an interview, it can be a life or death decision. She's spent much of the past 15 years reporting on Islamic extremist groups, and she's interviewed leaders of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS. Mekhennet was raised as a Muslim in Germany. Her new memoir is 'I Was Told to Come Alone.' Linguist Geoff Nunberg says people have been complaining about the overuse of the exclamation since Victorian times, but he thinks the exclamation point gets a bad rap.
Mark Bowden, author of 'Black Hawk Down,' talks about a turning point in the Vietnam War, the ferocious battle for the old imperial capital of Hue. He says "it was the bloodiest battle of its kind in the war." Communist forces took the city as part of the Tet Offensive of 1968, a coordinated set of attacks that soured many Americans on the conflict, and undermined the story US military leaders were telling the public and themselves about the war. Bowden interviewed dozens of participants in the battle as well as civilians who suffered terribly in the fighting. His new book is 'Hue 1968.'
Six years after the demise of his 'Breaking Bad' character, Giancarlo Esposito is back on TV as the vicious drug lord Gus Fring in 'Better Call Saul.' He likens his current work to taking the character "back in time." Book critic Maureen Corrigan shares her early summer reading list. Photographer Paul Nicklen gets as close as possible to the animals he photographs. Once he found himself staring down the throat of an leopard seal in Antarctica: "Her head [was] twice as big as a grizzly bear."