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Preview: Off-Ramp


Off-Ramp is a lively weekly look at Southern California through the eyes and ears of radio veteran John Rabe. News, arts, home, life... the show covers everything that makes life here exciting, enjoyable, and interesting. More Off-Ramp at


Some healing, some scars: the LA Riots, 25 years later

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

We talk with residents, eyewitnesses, about those dark days ... Journalist Joe Domanick tells us how decades of police brutality - including hundreds of police murders of blacks and Latinos - led to the LA Riots, and he assesses how far the LAPD has come ... How former Mayor James Hahn could have been Reginald Denny ... Why one yougn Latina who lived through the LA Riots is still happy to call South LA “home" ... and Peter Sagal tells Off-Ramp about his bizarre chance meeting with Chief Gates. And we hear in-depth from the man who was reluctantly at the center of the riots, the late Rodney King.

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Ride that mutant chicken!

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

It’s an 8-foot chicken with the head of Big Boy, and it’s on San Fernando Road in Glassell Park … staring at you. We track down the artist. ... LA State Historic Park reopens this weekend; was it worth the 3-year wait? Maybe so ... We'll meet one of the people who brought Southwest Native Bird Singing creation stories back from the brink of extinction.

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Ed Asner, Matt Asner, and their autistic kids

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

Ed Asner tells us what his autistic son and grandsons have taught him ... We to go Disney Hall and sample the sound during an actual concert from all the performers’ perspectives. Surprise: the people with the best seats … are in the audience. ... Meet Carol Downer of Eagle Rock, a pioneering abortion rights activist who championed a less invasive abortion procedure that could be performed at home, by the woman’s friends ... We hear a tribute to a man who had it made, and gave it all up: writer Roy Battocchio.

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California's Gold cameraman opens up about working with Huell Howser

Sat, 08 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

Local jazz legend Barbara Morrison celebrates the 100th birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, and gives a master class in scatting ... The band That Dog influenced bands like Weezer, so how come you haven't heard of them? That Dog's “Retreat From the Sun” turns 20 this year. ... We’ll ride the elevator with LA’s last elevator operator, Ruben Pardo ... and we’ll visit Wondercon with KPCC’s Mike Roe to talk with one of the guys who did special effects for “Logan.”

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No April Fools in this show. Just real good stuff.

Sat, 01 Apr 2017 07:00:00 GMT

A veteran driver walks us through next week's Long Beach Grand Prix, and gives us his tips and peeves about driving in LA. ... A first-time film director says he learned a ton about making films working as a valet car parker at a Sunset Strip hotel. ... We go to Parker Center (photo, right), an architecturally significant building tainted by its connection to the bad old days of the LAPD.

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The Awesomeness of Off-Ramp

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 07:00:00 GMT

To remind you why Off-Ramp is unparalleled in bringing you the people, places, and ideas that make Southern California a great place to live, here's a sample of our best pieces from the last year. With your contribution, we can do another year of great radio. Without it, we can't. Please give now!

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Donna Fuller's albums are eBay gold, and her life is an Only in LA story

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 07:00:00 GMT

“No blue skies and no green grass” is animator Genndy Tartakovsky’s rule for "Samurai Jack." He tells us about bringing back the wandering samurai (right) for Adult Swim. ... Meet jazz singer Donna Fuller, a sultry contralto who made two albums that are now eBay gold. ... It would be enough if we went to the shop where they make custom limousines and hearses, but they also make custom hunting trucks Middle East potentates use when they hunt with their falcons.

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The many worlds of George Takei

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 08:00:00 GMT

The remarkable George Takei gets the whole hour. We get an exclusive preview of JANM's new George Takei exhibit, talk with George himself about his life and times and his new role in the Sondheim musical “Pacific Overtures,” hear from "To Be Takei's" director that George is NOT a performer at heart (WTF?!), and hear George and John Rabe sing. Maybe. If there's time.

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Angels Flight to fly again?

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Angels Flight to be back by Labor Day ... Back when cops weren’t supposed to smoke in uniform, and when a stolen car might be traced by the make of its battery or speedometer ... A Hammer show on an artist overshadowed by Pollack, De Kooning, and Rothko. (Photo: LA Public Library's Security Pacific National Bank Collection)

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Two cool new podcasts: Missing Richard Simmons and The Competition

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Granted, the homeless make it hard to run a business near downtown LA’s Skid Row. But one man’s solution is raising eyebrows: spraying water on the sidewalk overnight. ... One of the local pianists in The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is already famous as the Video Game Pianist on YouTube. ... Richard Simmons has gone from being the most accessible celebrity in LA to gone. A new podcast “Missing Richard Simmons" asks what happened. ... And we visit Beth Goodnight -- self-proclaimed "mad scientist" of set building -- to see the last of her Oscar sets before they’re sent off for this weekend’s show.

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Art, donuts, Cheech, La Santa Cecilia, and a cool new bar.

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Director Ava DuVernay on her new documentary about the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which banned slavery ... Backstage with La Santa Cecilia, a Grammy-winning L.A. band that tells modern stories with traditional music ... Frank Romero — interviewed by Cheech Marin — finally has his first major museum retrospective ... Another date that "lives in infamy:” when FDR ordered the imprisonment of 120-thousand Japanese-Americans 75 years ago this weekend ... Girl at the White Horse, a brand new cocktail bar at Sunset and Western, owned by the son of the Shah of Iran’s social secretary.

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Saving sea lions, and listening to jazz at The Blue Whale

Sat, 11 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMT

We spend a day with the California Wildlife Center in Malibu, which rescues all kinds of animals, but this time of year helps the growing number of sea lions that strand themselves on the beach ... Marc Haefele applauds a new program that has LACMA putting on exhibits in other museums around the Southland ... The Blue Whale, now one of Southern California’s hippest spots for live jazz ... How to celebrate Valentine’s Day without paying a fortune for a fixed-price meal.

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Who was Oscar Levant? Even Homer Simpson knows

Sat, 04 Feb 2017 08:00:00 GMT

The voice of Homer Simpson, Dan Castellaneta (RIGHT), is also a serious writer and his new play explores the inner life of one of the last century’s most intriguing talents: Oscar Levant. ... Off-Ramp commentator Dylan Brody has finally -- FINALLY -- sold one of his comedy specials. ... And we’ll take you to a tiny thrift store that’s been supporting the work of the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic for almost 20 years.

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From a warehouse in Compton to the tallest restaurant in the West ...

Sat, 28 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMT

You want an Only-in-LA story? Try this: a 78-year old Japanese-Brazilian-American artist (right) who works in Compton, was Marlon Brando's gardener, and got his first big break at the Hammer Museum last year. ... How would you feel about living in a murder house? It's in Silver Lake, and we talk to the tenants. ... We ride the elevator 71 floors to talk with the owner and chef of the tallest restaurant in the West. Take a virtual tour inside Elizabeth Taylor’s home with photographer Catherine Opie, who got exclusive access to 700 Nimes Road.

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The Day After, in LA and DC

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMT

On the day after the Trump Inauguration, we go live to Washington DC and downtown LA to talk with participants in the two planned marches ... We’ll watch "Hidden Figures" with a woman and her mom … who happens to have been a NASA contractor. ... We get another Do It Yourself film festival from critic Tim Cogshell. This one includes "Live Nude Girls," "Living Out Loud," and "The Quick and the Dead."

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Goodbye to the Pink Lady and The Formosa; hello 8-Bit music and Joshua Tree

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Lynne Westmore Bloom died last week. In 1966, her giant pink naked lady appeared over the Malibu Canyon tunnel, delighting many, and pissing off local officials. ... Sanden Totten, of science podcast Brains On, takes us to Joshua Tree and explains how its shrubs, animals, and Joshua Trees survive. ... The Formosa Café just closed, so we'll talk about its role as a creative shorthand for evoking the glamour of Old Hollywood. ... 8-Bit music, the sound of old school video games, is s now a genre for musicians who like its simplicity and the era it evokes. We’ll tell you about an 8-bit music festival happening this weekend in LA.

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Pastrami navelgazing at Langer's Deli, and a broadside aimed at hipster chefs

Sat, 07 Jan 2017 08:00:00 GMT

Marc Haefele considers "Breaking News" at the Getty Center, which shows how broken newsgathering has often been; In "Broke," KPCC's Rina Palta and Priska Neely look at California's growing homeless problem; Taylor Orci talks pastrami and deli menus with Norm Langer; and Gustavo Arellano tells hipster chefs to look away from Mexico for inspiration in 2017.

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Celebrate the New Year by celebrating Off-Ramp!

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

It's the Off-Ramp 10th anniversary special: Off-Ramp Live. Harbor Party, Musker&Clements, David Whitfield, Rico Gagliano, Chris Redd, and much more, live onstage in downtown LA.

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Not your grandparents' A Christmas Carol

Sat, 24 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

A Christmas Carol Redux brings together all the good, bad, fun, and thoughtful aspects of Dickens' classic tale of redemption, which also almost singlehandedly created the modern Christmas holiday.

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Saving Lytton Savings and Remembering Alan Thicke

Sat, 17 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

We go to the Sunset Strip to see how activists are trying to save from demolition Lytton Savings, a beautiful Mid-Century Modern representation of the California Dream ... Baldwin Hills, Baldwin Ave, Baldwin Lake, Lucky Baldwin’s Pub -- so who was Baldwin? ... We check back in with the 77-year old woman who finds herself homeless for the holidays for the first time in her life ... And Rachel Bloom joins our annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas” with Salman Rushdie, Larry Mantle, Kathleen Turner, and NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.

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Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Christmas Elf Agin

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

Griffith Park is beloved and turns 120 Dec. 16, but its namesake was an alcoholic, murderous misanthrope who thought the pope was plotting against him ... A woman who's found herself homeless for the first time, at 77 ... If you love classical music on the radio, but hate stodgy, bad news. Rich Capparela, is semi-retiring ... With SantaCon coming to town, we get the lowdown on the big guy from an elf.

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Why you would have hated drinking cocktails in 1966

Sat, 03 Dec 2016 08:00:00 GMT

LACMA marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a huge show, but leaves out one important fact: Martin Luther was a horrible anti-Semite ... The LA Zoo marks its 50th birthday with a 1966 cocktail party. Rabe and the way cool Toronado (R) also debuted in 1966 ... We’ll take you to a racetrack where the cars do thousand-foot laps in 17-seconds, cost 4-thousand dollars, and are as big as a shoebox ... We go to Newport Beach to see possibly the most awesome Christmas light display you’ll ever see. There will be penguins.

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The seeker and the son ... the Institute of Mentalphysics in the High Desert

Sat, 26 Nov 2016 08:00:00 GMT

The Institute of Mental Physics, founded near Joshua Tree as a sort of utopian society, happens to be the largest single collection of buildings designed by architect Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright. ... There have been many exhibits of Roy Lichtenstein’s work. But our critic says The Skirball Center’s new show stands out because it pairs the pop artist’s work with the comic book illustrations that inspired it, and they deserve the share the spotlight.

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How caregivers cope on Thanksgiving

Sat, 19 Nov 2016 08:00:00 GMT

Prepare to drool as Mario Batali gives us his Thanksgiving making turkey porchetta recipe ... We meet a woman who’ll spend Thanksgiving organizing dinner for her huge family, taking care of her elderly parents, and being the caregiver for a 91-year old woman ... Rosalie Atkinson explains how the late Leon Russell’s music helped her meet her mom ... The Friends of the Rockhaven Sanitarium in Glendale are celebrating after the city council approved their preferred plan to preserve the historic site.

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Some election, but mostly NOT election

Sat, 12 Nov 2016 08:00:00 GMT

Pasadena's annual Doo Dah Parade is an artsy, easygoing alternative to the Rose Parade ... California’s coast stretches 840 miles, and has never been captured in one art exhibit, until now ... The LA Ladies Arm Wrestling Fall Brawl ... Comedian Danny Lobell tells us how a tortoise named Mr Tennebaum helped him learn to love living in LA.

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Rhode Island Stuffies and Funeral Potatoes -- Mario Batali's Big American Cookbook

Sat, 05 Nov 2016 07:00:00 GMT

Chef Mario Batali talks with us about his shoes, his White House dinner, and his newest cookbook ... Chicano art champion Cheech Marin on his newest traveling exhibit: Papel Chicano Dos ... We'll talk with the last surviving proposed cabinet member of the most unlikely Presidential candidate: Dizzy Gillespie ... And meet the creators of Toothpix, who took the underutilized video feature on Yelp! and have been making 12-second restaurant review masterpieces.

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For Halloween, scary stories you've never heard: A spooktacular Off-Ramp

Sat, 29 Oct 2016 07:00:00 GMT

This week, Off-Ramp finds out what’s under the bed when the lights go off. We're bringing back a KPCC In Person event from last year, where we read stories from "In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe," a collection of great old under-appreciated horror stories.

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Dark Shadows, LA in Legos, and Voting is like Getting Married?

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 07:00:00 GMT

“Dark Shadows” fans, cast, and crew are celebrating its 50th birthday next week in Hollywood. We mark the anniversary by bringing in one of the original stars, and one of the original fans. ... When LAPD officer Jorge Parra isn’t walking the beat in LA, he’s still thinking about the city’s streets and buildings. He’s spent years building a 72-square-foot model of LA, out of Legos, in his kitchen. ... We’ll tell you what researchers discovered about the best way to increase voter turnout: voters need to make a simple plan, tell someone about it, and then think what their neighbors will say if they don’t go to the polls.

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Can Chris Thile save Prairie Home Companion?

Sat, 15 Oct 2016 07:00:00 GMT

John talks with 35-year old Chris Thile, who takes over as the new host of A Prairie Home Companion this weekend and hopes to bring in a younger audience, without scaring off older listeners. ... Anthony Hernandez: taking pictures for almost 50 years: Downtown LA in the ‘70s, Rodeo Drive in the ‘80s, the homeless in the ‘90s. ... For KPCC's Voter Game Plan, Meghan McCarty tells us how she’s helping voters understand the complex Measure R transportation tax. ... Meet an Armenian-Syrian college student from Damascus juggling a full time job, night school, and the torture of knowing what his family is going through back home.

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A hairy tarantula, a giant monster, and traditional Samoan tattoos

Sat, 08 Oct 2016 07:00:00 GMT

KPCC photog Maya Sugarman lets a king snake slither around her neck, and John lets a reasonably friendly tarantula crawl up his arm ... It’s done by hand, is quite painful, and is very expensive. We'll take you to a Garden Grove shop that is one of the few places in the US approved by one of the ruling Samoan tattoo families ... John brings in pop culture experts to evaluate the new Godzilla reboot, "Shin Godzilla," which sets the Godzilla story in modern-day Japan .... The story of Bobbi Bratt, a punk rocker from Southern California whose life was cut short by cancer almost thirty years ago.

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Off-Ramp Live!

Sat, 01 Oct 2016 19:00:00 GMT

Off-Ramp celebrates 10 years on the air with show recorded before a live audience at the LA Theater Center in Downtown LA - Disney directors, yacht rock, and DPD's Rico Gagliano!

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Cider Houses Rule, and the tallest restaurant in the West

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 07:00:00 GMT

If it hardly rains here, why does NBC-4 need its new highly-promoted mobile Doppler radar truck? ... Chef Vartan Abgaryan’s last restaurant was Cliff’s Edge. And now he’s working at the top of the US Bank Tower. But he’s afraid of heights. ... All the Rolling Stones songs from the 1960s have been remastered in the original mono, and you’ll be shocked at how good they sound. ... OK OK, it doesn’t feel like autumn yet, but it officially arrived this week, and there’s nothing better on a brisk autumn day than cider, so we’ll explore the latest culinary thing: cider houses.

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Grand Central Market's crushing debt

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 07:00:00 GMT

An in-depth look at Grand Central Market's history ... and $60m+ debt. Comedian Danny Lobell on the lure of the urban chicken. Brains On probes, very carefully, into carnivorous plants. Jesse Katz learns to cut a bagel. The people who VOLUNTEER to examine coyote poop.

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Celebrating Leonard Nimoy and Spock, and comedian Felipe Esparza

Sat, 10 Sep 2016 07:00:00 GMT

Leonard Nimoy’s son Adam tells us about his new film, "For the Love of Spock," which candidly digs into their difficult father-son relationship ... Kraftwerk, the German electronic music band at the Bowl next weekend, has a couple of surprising fans in pioneering LA Hip Hop DJs Arabian Prince and Egyptian Lover ... We'll talk with the last surviving member of the wheelchair basketball team that rose to national fame in 1947 from a VA rehab hospital in Norco ... And we go in-depth with Felipe Esparza. He's a common sight at comedy clubs and on TV, but years ago he was almost swallowed up by the gangs of East LA.

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Juan Gabriel, mom, and me

Sat, 03 Sep 2016 07:00:00 GMT

When Adolfo Guzman Lopez hears the late Juan Gabriel’s music, he remembers the 1970s, listening to Gabriel’s songs on the radio as he and his mom rode in taxis and buses in Tijuana ... Why do waves happen, and why are they shaped like waves? Brains On brings in an expert to explain ... One of the founding fathers of LA punk, John Doe, joins us to talk about his memoir and sing new songs from his latest album ... Film score composer John Williams is at the Hollywood Bowl all weekend, leading the LA Phil in some of his best-known works. We talk with music writer Alex Ross about how Williams pretty much saved the classical music film score.

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Why eat 300+ gyoza? Why did Rabe put on hip waders? Why does Baby Dee sing?

Sat, 27 Aug 2016 07:00:00 GMT

You shouldn't modify the word “unique,” but if you could, you could say that singer Baby Dee is one of the most unique performers you’ll ever encounter ... The Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship ... Rabe wades into the LA County Arboretum's Baldwin Lake, which is in big trouble ... Film historian R-H Greene takes a new look at a long neglected late film by Orson Wellles, “Chimes at Midnight,” now in the Criterion DVD collection.

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Goodbye to the Summit Inn, and hello new (very young) firefighters

Sat, 20 Aug 2016 07:00:00 GMT

We go to Wilson High School in El Sereno to talk with students in the brand new firefighter magnet school ... The destruction of the Summit Inn hits one community especially hard: the hot-rodders who traditionally stopped at the diner on the way to and from the Bonneville Salt Flats ... Advice for the new LA Rams from linebacker Roman Pfifer, who moved with the Rams from Anaheim to St Louis in 1995 ... Brains On, the science podcast for kids, takes some kids into a glass factory to see how the odd substance is made ... And why you should go to the Huntington right after you see “London Calling” at the Getty.

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Moto babes, the Rams come home, and a Chinese Superman

Sat, 13 Aug 2016 07:00:00 GMT

Meet the East Side Moto Babes, a motorcycle club by women, for women; and the LAPD's class of 1966, men sworn-in the year after the Watts riots. With the Rams returning to town, and their first game this weekend at the Coliseum, we go to Tom Bergen’s, the venerable Irish pub on Fairfax and home of the original LA Rams.

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Duck Doc, Movie Mistakes, Hidden History

Sat, 06 Aug 2016 07:00:00 GMT

A vacant lot is one of downtown LA's most historic spots ... A local morning radio personality tells how her father chose to commit suicide rather than die of bladder cancer ... We’ll go to the neighborhood that inspired Dexter Story latest jazz album ... Brains On explains how you get an allergic reaction to pollen ... The director of “A Million Dollar Duck,” a new doc about the Federal Duck Stamp contest ... And Tim Cogshell puts together a DIY film festival of continuity errors.

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The toll of the Sand Fire and Genndy Tartakovsky brings back 'Samurai Jack'

Sat, 30 Jul 2016 07:00:00 GMT

We’ll take you to the devastating Sand Fire to meet a woman who lost her house, a man who almost did, and people who rescued horses ... Genndy Tartakovsky brings back 'Samurai Jack' after a long hiatus. Will he ever get home? ... The Getty scores two firsts with its new exhibit, “London Calling.” ... We’ll have the next piece in Priska Neely’s series on teenage artists. This time, we’ll meet a skinny gay Jewish teenage rapper who tells us why hip hop helps him feel more like himself.

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