Before we get started, lets just say that Angie Martinez is the voice of Hip Hop and those that don’t know need to get educated, and QUICK. For those of you to young to know or for those of you that don’t live in New York and or don’t follow New York radio, you get a minor pass. Now, imagine Michael Jordan in his prime leaving to play with the Knicks or Ewing leaving to play for the Pacers that’s where Angie Martinez’s leave of Hot 97 ranks.
Personally, I recall the days of Hot 97 when Freestyle and Dance music ruled the station. Jomanda, Stevie B, Information Society, Laissez Faire; this was the dominant sound of the station during the earliest part of the 90’s. From there it evolved into Hip Hop, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, House Of Pain, Cypress Hill, Onyx, Run DMC, Positive K, Shabba Ranks etc. It stayed in line with that raw street movement with night times sometimes dominated by house music all the while missing an on air radio personality that really captured the culture, that understood it, that represented it and would carry it going forward. Sure, by 1992 Funkmaster Flex had become a fixture at Hot 97 but there was something missing. Flex is a great on air personality with an incredible ear for music but as far as an interviewer goes he’s a tad more intimidating and confrontational. No, it was Angie Martinez (Flex’s understudy) that would take reign as the voice of New York and for good reason. Angie had the personality of a girl from around the way, a girl that was cool with everyone and it came through in her interviews. She asks the tough questions and never comes off as phony and its because of this that her career has endured 20+ years. Interviews with everyone from Obama to Pac have solidified her resume, but its the good times and the bad times that she experienced with us all that really keeps her like a member of everyone’s family.
As years passed Hot 97 really went on unrivaled. There was 98.7 Kiss FM and of course 107.5 both great stations but neither of which directly competed with Hot 97’s Hip Hop dominant rotation. Nope it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that rival 105.1 came knocking. With the option of having another Hip Hop radio station to tune into it was definitely welcomed by New York listeners and would slowly rise to its present situation. Over the years however there was open beef between the rival stations and at one point it got out of hand when then on air radio host Star (from Star and Buckwild) said he would pay $500 to any listener who told him where DJ Envy’s daughter attended school. He also proceeded to use racial and sexual epithets about D.J. Envy’s wife, Gia Casey, who is part Asian. Star would eventually go on to be suspended and face legal reprecussion and DJ Envy would go on to transfer to 105.1 (another move no one saw coming). Flex has mentioned “that other station” in many on air statements and beef has gone back and forth continuously. Up until last week it seemed like although 105.1 has a solid cast and one of the most popular morning shows in the breakfast club, that they still trailed Hot 97 overall; that was until the acquisition of Angie Martinez. Hot 97’s Rosenberg came on air and admitted that they had lost their Derek Jeter and with that it seems like Hot 97 has some real soul searching to do. Why she left is anyone’s guess but it can’t be good. The station has come under scrutiny for being out of touch with “real Hip Hop” for several years and more recently were criticized when they blew off Hip Hop legend Chuck D after he criticized the station for the demize of Hip Hop culture. When a station that was built on the backs of guys like this blows them off things aren’t good and so maybe Angie saw something internally that we will eventually see externally. Nonetheless we wish her the best of success at her new gig and hope for many years at 105.1.