Washington Post pop music critic Chris Richards visits Blair

Nov. 14, 2023, 6:29 p.m. | By Lillian Paterson | 6 months, 1 week ago

Richards presented to Hip-Hop History and Culture classes about his experience in music journalism

On Monday, Nov. 13, Washington Post pop music critic Chris Richards visited Hip Hop History and Culture Teacher Kenneth Smith’s eighth period class to speak on his experience as a journalist covering the contemporary music scene. 

Richards’ start in journalism began in Maryland at Broadneck High School in Annapolis. He wrote music reviews for the school newspaper and started a Fan Zine about punk rock subculture. At George Washington university, he continued to write music reviews, produce the zine, and started a band. 

Richards reviews concerts, albums, and songs and writes pieces on the current music scene. Photo courtesy of Gabe Marra-Perrault.

Before working as the pop music critic for the Washington Post, Richards worked odd jobs for the paper, filing mail and sending faxes. Then-pop music critic J. Freedom du Lac started sending Richards to do paid-per-word freelance concert reviews, and when the position eventually opened up, Richards applied and began to work as the next pop music critic. 

In his reviews, Richards aims to pick apart not only the instrumentation and production of a song or album, but also the background and social context of the piece. He’s reviewed a variety of artists -- from big names like Taylor Swift and Drake to less exposed artists like Veeze and Enji. “I want the reader to feel like they’re listening alongside me,” Richards says of his work.

After Richards’ presentation, Smith played a song by Blair senior and DMV rapper Kieran “K$ The Kid” Allen-Hadley for him to review. “It was cool to hear what he picked on… he picked up on a lot of production elements that normally people don’t pick up on so it was a cool experience,” says Allen-Hadley. 

Smith feels similarly that Richards’ was able to bring a fresh perspective on music to the class. “The way he talks about music, I’ll never be able to… he has a background in music,” Smith says. “Some of the students that don’t participate normally… they leaned forward when [Richards] said certain things… he caused them to look at a song they listen to all the time, think about it differently,” he says.

Students listen to Richards. Photo courtesy of Gabe Marra-Perrault.

Last updated: Nov. 24, 2023, 10:46 a.m.

Tags: The Washington Post

Lillian Paterson. Hey, I'm Lillian (she/her) and I'm a co-sports and co-op-ed editor for SCO. When I'm not being totally consumed by school work I like to play guitar and read! More »

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