stand up

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: J.K. Simmons & Solomon Georgio

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
J.K. Simmons
Guests: 
Solomon Georgio

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

J.K. Simmons on his career, musical theater and what it’s like to be made into an action figure

J.K. Simmons never imagined he would work in film or television. In 1978, he graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in music. Many years later he put that degree to use for the Broadway musical revival of “Guys and Dolls” with his portrayal of Benny Southstreet.

His mainstream breakthrough performance didn’t occur until 1997. For six seasons, he played a neo-nazi named Vernon Schillinger on the HBO prison drama “Oz.” The groundbreaking program was the first hour-long drama produced by HBO. It was also one of the most graphic and violent shows on television at the time. In 2015, J.K. Simmons starred alongside Miles Teller in the movie “Whiplash,” directed by Damien Chazelle. His performance earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of a ruthless, sadistic jazz instructor.

He's also known for his portrayal of John Jonah Jameson, the editor of the Daily Bugle in the Spiderman. Simmons’ portrayal is bombastic, unrelentless, and one of the best sources of comic relief in that series. It’s a performance that’s not many degrees away from the rage he channeled in “Oz,” but is done with a sort of charm that only J.K. could pull off.

J.K. Simmons stars in the new drama The Bachelors. In it, Simmons plays a math teacher named Bill Palet. Bill just lost his wife, and he's trying to move past it. One day Bill wakes up, and decides it’s time for a big change. Bill and his son, Wes, move out to California where Bill takes a job at a private school. Jesse talks with J.K. Simmons about the new film, musical theater, and of course, the John Jonah Jameson action figure (with Desk Pounding Action™).

Click here to listen J.K. Simmons' interview on YouTube!

Photo: Jesse Thorn

Solomon Georgio on his debut comedy album: Homonegro Superior

Solomon Georgio made his television debut on CONAN in 2015. Since then he has appeared on The Meltdown with Jonah & Kumail, Viceland's Flophouse and Last Call with Carson Daly. His writing credits include contributions to “Adam Ruins Everything” on TruTV and “Spongebob Squarepants” on Nickelodeon.

He’s from Seattle, via Fresno, via St. Louis, Via Sudan and then Ethiopia, where his parents are from. These days he lives in Los Angeles. Sometimes his stand-up is vulnerable and sincere, talking about childhood trauma. But then he'll strike a pose and make an outrageous joke about his perfect thigh gap and like magic - you believe him. It’s that kind of charisma that gives him a unique presence on stage.

Earlier this year he got his own half-hour Comedy Central special. On the same day he released his debut record - Homonegro Superior, one of our favorites this year. Jesse talks with Solomon about his new comedy album, what it was like to come out to his parents as gay and what it was like to come out as a stand-up comedian.

Click here to listen Solomon Georgio's interview on YouTube!

The Outshot: ”Child of the Ghetto” by G. Dep

Finally, for this week's Outshot: Jesse talks about “Child of the Ghetto” by Ghetto Dependent. The record came out in 2001 via Bad Boy Records. One highlight is the track “Everyday,” which relays some of the most realistic portrayals of being broke.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on YouTube!

Episode 16 - Allah in the Family written by Reza Aslan & Andrew Reich

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Guests: 
Dominic Rains as Bobak/Little Bobak
Guests: 
Maz Jobrani as Hasan
Guests: 
Kathreen Khavari as Sissy
Guests: 
Necar Zadegan as Neda
Guests: 
Medalion Rahimi as Tina
Guests: 
Milana Vayntrub as Crystal
Guests: 
Reza Aslan as The Basij/Teenager/Brown-Skinned Student #1/Bearded Man/Persian Man
Guests: 
Jim Beaver as Mr. Hauser/Teacher
Guests: 
Maria Blasucci as Misty/Tina’s Friend
Guests: 
Joel Spence as Sonny/Brown-Skinned Student #2
Guests: 
Andrew Reich with stage directions

In this episode, Ben Blacker interviews Reza Aslan (The Leftovers, Believer) and Andrew Reich (Friends, Dead Pilots Society!) regarding their dead pilot, Allah in the Family. You'll also listen to a live table read of Allah in the Family, performed by some of today's funniest comedic actors.

For more Dead Pilot Society episodes, please subscribe to the podcast! Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram , on Twitter, and visit our website at deadpilotssociety.com

Come to our next live show on 11/12 starring Patton Oswalt and David Koechner in scripts by Rob Schrab and Adam McKay & Chris Henchy. Ticket link: http://www.largo-la.com/event/1551266-dead-pilots-society-starring-los-a...

Episode 13 - My Cousin Thor written by Ira Ungerleider

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Guests: 
Hayes MacArthur as Thor
Guests: 
Tony Cavalero as Knud/Stavros
Guests: 
Kyle Bornheimer as David
Guests: 
Anna Camp as Taylor
Guests: 
Ted Cohen as Chase
Guests: 
Jamie Denbo as Isabella/Doreen
Guests: 
Valerie Azlynn as Inger
Guests: 
Ira Ungerleider with stage directions

In this episode of Dead Pilots Society, Andrew Reich interviews Ira Ungerleider (Angie Tribeca, Friends) regarding his dead pilot, My Cousin Thor. You'll also listen to a never-before-heard live table read of My Cousin Thor performed by some of today's funniest comedic actors.

For more Dead Pilot Society episodes, please subscribe to the podcast! Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram , on Twitter, and visit our website at deadpilotssociety.com

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Dwayne Kennedy & Noel Fielding

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Dwayne Kennedy
Guests: 
Noel Fielding

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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: William H. Macy, Matt Walsh & Brian Huskey

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
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.

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


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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Photo by Ibarionex Perello

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: Kumail Nanjiani & Willie Colon

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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS WEEK'S EPISODE


Photo by Jesse Thorn

Kumail Nanjiani on Identity, Comedy, and Working with Mike Judge

When Kumail Nanjiani was a boy growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, he absorbed a lot of American culture. He loved Ghostbusters and Gremlins. He read MAD Magazine. And he knew that someday, he'd move to the U.S. What he never imagined is that he'd become a comedian.

His first exposure to stand up comedy was a Jerry Seinfeld HBO special, and a few short years later, Kumail was on stage himself. He's performed with The Second City, at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, and on numerous late night shows.

He also co-hosts a stand up showcase, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, and stars in HBO's Silicon Valley.

Kumail talks to us about growing up Pakistani, choosing a distinctly American way of life, and creating comedy about things you love, rather than things you hate.

Kumail's Comedy Central stand up special, Beta Male, is available on CD+DVD and by direct download.

This cut of our interview includes the following segments:
Kumail Studies The Cheesecake Factory for "Portlandia"
Kumail on Mike Judge and the Butthead Voice

This interview originally aired in August 2013.

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Willie Colón: From Jam Sessions in the Bronx to International Salsa Superstar

When Willie Colón was a kid in the South Bronx, he and some his friends from the neighborhood would take their instruments and jam outside in the summers. His neighbors weren't too pleased, but they probably didn't know they had a budding talent in their midst. Willie went on to secure a record deal in his teens and then become a hugely influential musician and bandleader. His music is salsa: a blend of the Caribbean, Africa, South America and his native New York City.

His discography has now sold over thirty million records, and he's collaborated with legendary figures like Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz and Ruben Blades.

Willie joins us to talk about his early success, how he envisions salsa, and his work with Hector Lavoe and Celia Cruz.

Willie is out on tour frequently; catch up with him on Twitter to find out where he'll be next.

This interview originally aired in April 2014.

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The Outshot: Michael Palin

Jesse explains why Michael Palin is everything good about British colonialism.

This segment originally aired in October 2013.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Best Comedy of 2014 Special

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Show: 
Bullseye

Today we're spotlighting what we think is the greatest comedy of the year. The Bullseye staff has poured over plenty of records, including industry veterans, newcomers and lesser known talents. Now we're ready to showcase what we think is the best stand up comedy of 2014.

You can find all of these albums available for purchase, except for the set from the Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival.

Patton Oswalt - Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time

Cristela Alonzo - Some Of The Hits

Cameron Esposito - Same Sex Symbol

Jasper Redd - Jazz Talk

Jim Gaffigan - Obsessed

Hannibal Buress - Live From Chicago

Tommy Johnagin - Stand-Up Comedy 3

Nadia Kamil at the the Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival

Chris Gethard - My Comedy Album

Andrés du Bouchet - 20-Sided Guy

Bob Odenkirk - Amateur Hour

Jackie Kashian - This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux

Sarah Silverman - We Are Miracles

Hari Kondabolu - Waiting for 2042

Did we miss your favorite stand up special this year? Add your recommendation to the list! You can discuss this episode on our forum. You can also talk about it at Maximum Fun's sub Reddit, or join our lively discussions in the Maximum Fun Facebook group. Or you can just Tweet us -- @Bullseye.

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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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Chris Rock, John Cleese & Scott Aukerman

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Chris Rock
Guests: 
John Cleese
Guests: 
Scott Aukerman


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Chris Rock Explains His Commitment to Stand Up

Chris Rock has never strayed for too long from stand up comedy. He started performing stand up in his late teens, then he was handpicked by Eddie Murphy to be in Beverly Hills Cop II. Rock then spent a few years on Saturday Night Live and In Living Color, and eventually turned to stand up yet again in the mid 1990s.

You probably remember what happened next. Rock released a series of stand up specials, earning him several Emmys and cementing his status as one of the industry's best comics.

It was Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing that inspired him to work behind the camera, as a movie director. Rock directed two movies in the 2000s, Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife. His latest is a comedy called Top Five. Rock stars as Andre Allen, a famous comic who wants to be taken seriously as an actor. Andre can't get audiences to embrace his dramatic turn in a movie about the Haitian slave rebellion -- they just want him to be funny.

Rock will talk about why he's making movies instead of touring stand up clubs, why he isn't worried about becoming "old Bob Hope", and the real reason he's afraid of losing his fame.

Top Five is in theaters this week.

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I Wish I'd Made That: Scott Aukerman on Twin Peaks

Artists are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something an artist sees is SO good, so PERFECT that they wish they had made it themselves.

This happens so often to the people we talk to, that we made a segment about it. It’s called I Wish I’d Made That.

Today you’re going to hear from the Comedy Bang Bang host Scott Aukerman. One of his early jobs was as a writer for the comedy program Mr. Show.

So why does this comedy aficionado wish he'd made the dark, surrealistic murder-mystery show Twin Peaks? He'll explain.

Twin Peaks is currently available on Blu-ray and Netflix, and will be returning to air sometime in 2016 on Showtime.

You can hear more from Aukerman on the TV show and podcast Comedy Bang! Bang!. Season three of the show is wrapping up on IFC.

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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 new 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 new book, So, Anyway… is available now.

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The Outshot: Transparent

Why does Jesse like Transparent? Well, it's the rare television show that has people acting like... real people.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Hari Kondabolu & Jake Kasdan

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Hari Kondabolu
Guests: 
Jake Kasdan
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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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Hari Kondabolu: 'Waiting for 2042' and Stand Up Comedy with Required Reading

Hari Kondabolu is a stand up comedian. You might have seen him on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. He's also performed stand up on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Late Show with David Letterman.

Hari didn't think he would be a comedian. He thought that he was going to law school. Then somewhere between taking an Americorps Job organizing immigrants in Seattle and taking the LSAT, things changed direction. He transitioned into stand-up comedy.

Hari talks to us about the unique profile of his fans, how he fits into the "alternative" comedy scene, and how he actually got into a discussion about the racism of Apu from The Simpsons with Hank Azaria -- the real voice of Apu.

His debut album, Waiting for 2042, is available now through BandCamp and iTunes.

Carolyn Kellogg Talks Westerns

Every week we like to check in with one of our favorite culture critics to get some recommendations of things that are worth your time. This week, Los Angeles Times book critic Carolyn Kellogg stops by to talk about some of her all-time favorite westerns, starting with one that broke the mold.

Her first recommendation is Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses.

Kellogg also recommends Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers.

Jason Kempin / Getty Images / Getty Images Entertainment

Jake Kasdan on Directing Jason Segel, Strategic Nudity, and His Unintentional Return to Television

Jake Kasdan grew up in the movie business. His father is Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote two Star Wars films, an Indiana Jones movie, and both wrote and directed The Big Chill. And Jake's been no slouch, either. He directed his first film, Zero Effect, when he was only 24. He's gone on to work on a slew of other projects, from critically acclaimed cult shows like Freaks and Geeks, to the beloved sitcom New Girl, to the hugely commercially successful film Bad Teacher.

His new movie is Sex Tape, which sees Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz re-teamed as a married couple who accidentally release an intimate home video to the internet.

Kasdan talks about his years working with Jason Segel, the strategy involved in shooting a movie that has both feelings and (comedic) nudity, and how he unintentionally returned to working in television on New Girl.

Sex Tape is in theaters now.

The Outshot: The Everyday Wonder of 'American Splendor'

Jesse explains why Harvey Pekar makes putting one foot in front of the other feel like something special.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Thune & Vince Staples

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Thune
Guests: 
Vince Staples
Guests: 
Marc Weingarten
Guests: 
Tyson Cornell

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We listen to your input and want to make the show even better for you.

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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Nick Thune on Being the Teenage "All-American Rehab Boy", Starting in Stand Up, and 'Folk Hero'

Nick Thune strums the guitar during his stand up, but he's not a guitar comic who plays funny songs. He uses it to underscore his set, which has included everything from non-sequiturs, to audience games, to stories about a talking dalmation and his idea for a "You're Welcome" card.

And while some comics heavily mine their personal lives and demons for comedy, Thune hasn't been one of them. He says that's changing some now, and he's opening up on-stage.

Thune talks to us about his unusual origin story -- from giving testimony at church camp to becoming a stand up comic. He'll explain how a schoolyard fight and teenage drinking helped land him in rehab, when he had his own coming-to-God moment, and how he discovered he loved performing.

Thune's newest special, Folk Hero, is available on Netflix Instant and digital retailers.

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Canonball with Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell: King Crimson’s 'In The Court of the Crimson King'

Every so often we like to take a closer look at albums that should be considered classics, to find out what makes them great. It's Canonball.

No one says The Rolling Stones don’t belong in the pop music canon. But what about Genesis? Or Yes? What about the prog rockers? The music wasn’t down and dirty, and the songs weren’t pop-radio short. Sometimes they were downright long. But prog has always had its loyalists.

This week Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell, the editors of the prog rock anthology Yes Is The Answer: (And Other Prog Rock Tales), explain why the King Crimson album In The Court of the Crimson King is a classic, and how it laid the foundation for a whole genre. They’ll explain how these classically trained musicians mixed flutes, horns, blues riffs, and synthesizers to create this face melting album.

Yes Is The Answer: (And Other Prog Rock Tales) is now available in paperback.

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Vince Staples on Growing Up in Long Beach, Gang Culture, and 'Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2'

The rapper Vince Staples is 20 years old. As a teenager, he got jumped into a gang in Long Beach, where he’s from. He didn’t expect to become a rapper. And unlike some rappers, he doesn’t think street life is anything to brag about.

He's been fighting against his own upbringing and the gang culture that surrounded him since childhood, and his verses reflect that. He's released several well-received mixtapes, and he's continually outshone other rappers in guest verses on their own tracks.

Staples talks to us about growing up, the inside joke of 'Shyne Coldchain', and why a life of gang banging seemed like fate.

His newest mixtape is Shyne Coldchain, Vol. 2. You can also hear him on the new Common single, Kingdom.

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The Outshot: Game of Thrones

Like the 18 million people who watch it each week, Jesse loves Game of Thrones. But though he finds himself jumping up and down and shouting at the TV, he doesn't care how it all will end. Why? He'll explain.

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