Although social media has transformed the way we consume and share media, it wasn’t too long ago that radio dominated our attention spans.
Different from today, where virtually every significant show has cameras rolling at all times, things were far less documented before YouTube and even a few years after its launch.
During that era–one characterized by few ways for hip-hop-specific happenings to be instantly broadcasted to the masses outside of blogs (remember Twitter and YouTube weren’t around until the later 2000s)–hip-hop radio in New York City, the mecca of hip-hop, had some of my favourite arcs and beef that ever played out over the airwaves*.
I’ll share some of my top picks in this ongoing series.
For now, I’ve compiled five solid entries for the first installment that I still think about often. So, without further ado, here are 5 Great Moments In Hip-Hop Radio (Volume 1), which span the early 2000s to 2011.
*Note: Future volumes will delve into the ’80s and ’90s.
Jim Jones & Cam’ron Hijack 2004 Ma$e Interview On Hot 97 in 2004
Harlem rappers Mase and Cam’ron have known each other since their younger years, and both were once part of the Children of the Corn crew alongside the late Big L and others. Despite their reunion in recent years, the two spent over two decades at odds stemming from a disagreement over a $50,000 appearance fee for “Horse & Carriage.”
After retiring to become a pastor, Mase returned to music in 2004 and stopped by Hot 97 for what seemed like a routine interview to promote his comeback. However, things escalated when he was asked about his rift with Cam, prompting Jim Jones and Cam to call in and criticize him live on air. Among the discussion topics were the anecdotes from his book Revelations: There’s a Light After the Lime (allegedly used without permission), being run out of Harlem and misrepresenting the split.
One interview highlight is Mase’s passive-aggressive remark in his classic slow drawl: “God forgive Jimmy.”
The Breakfast Club Surgically Dismantle Funkmaster Flex on Power 105 in 2011
Funkmaster Flex is well-known for sometimes backing the wrong horse. Case and point when his longtime friend and culturally significant DJ, Mister Cee (who once served as Biggie’s DJ), was arrested for soliciting a transgender prostitute. The Breakfast Club trio, consisting of Charlamagne the God, Angela Yee and DJ Envy, like most outlets, reported on the incident–in true Charlamagne the God fashion, of course–eliciting a rather heated rant from Flex, who, without naming names, threatened to ruin his relationship with Hot 97 rival Power 105 and, more or less, drop an atom bomb on The Breakfast Club (hyperbole, but you get the drift).
Charlamagne, as you can imagine, was not swayed and, the following day, proceeded to drop the most savage dismantling in the history of his “Donkey Of The Day” segment. Describing Flex as an old, worn wrestler (“Flex Hogan”), Charlamagne tripled down on Mister Cee slander while addressing Flex’s history of attacking not only women but also rappers who are no longer around to defend themselves (specifically 2Pac).
This was only the beginning of the feud between Flex and the Power 105 flagship program.
DJ Kay Slay & Dj Clue Argue On-Air During 2003 Episode Of The Drama Hour
The late DJ Kay Slay wasn’t named The Drama King for nothing; the DJ, who infamously premiered Nas’ heat-seeking missile of a diss track “Ether,” was never afraid to say what he had to say to your face. This was the case when a longtime rival, DJ Clue, called into his Hot 97 program, The Drama Hour, one night in 2003 to address allegations that Slay had been talking spicy about him, which (as it was revealed) he was. The two had been throwing subliminal jabs at each other on their respective mixtapes for years, but things came to a head, and it made for one of the most glorious on-air blowouts ever.
Lasting roughly 10 minutes, with Slay rarely lowering his voice to anything less than an eight on a ten scale, Clue’s seemingly brave-hearted attempt to see if there were any problems turned into an epic punking so severe that you could almost hear tears welling up in his eyes.
Slap your favourite DJ for real; RIP Kay Slay.
The LOX & Diddy Argue Live On Hot 97 In 2005
It’s been alleged for years that iconic music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs’s dealing with his artists have been less than favourable; many artists have publicly aired their grievances, like Festivus, but few as epically as the Yonkers trio The LOX. After one sole LP on the imprint, post-Biggie, Money Power & Respect, the crew found themselves at creative odds with Diddy and his imprint, ultimately securing their release with a very public “Let The LOX Go” campaign. However, years later, the trio again called out the Bad Boy Entertainment founder over what they felt was owed publishing.
The 2005 incident played out live on air when the trio dropped by Hot 97 for an interview, where they put their cards on the table, publically calling out Diddy’s shady business dealings, eliciting a call-in by the mogul–going left almost immediately.
In the tense exchange, Diddy drops savage taunts (“Y’all know where the office is at; there’s a big sign on it. I’ll be there“) while LOX labeled him a coward and thief, with Jada savagely throwing in, “B.I.G. dead. Shyne in jail.” While a more amicable publishing deal was reached in December of that same year, this blowout remains on the Mount Rushmore of radio drama.
Nas Airs Out Hot 97 On Steph Lova’s Show During 2002 Summer Jam
On the night Nas was supposed to perform at Summer Jam in 2002, he was at Hot 97’s rival, Power 105. Why? Because Hot 97 attempted to censor and dictate what he could and couldn’t do during his set. This was asinine, as just a year earlier, JAY-Z had unleashed on a spectacle that put both Prodigy and Nas on blast, sparking one of the most epic on-record battles in contemporary hip-hop history.
“I’m here to let my people know why I am not at the Summer Jam,” he told DJ Steph Lova. “I’m here to let my people know that I was dissed this morning and told what I couldn’t do on the show. Which is really outrageous and shows that the wrong people are in power … It’s really out of hand and I’m not going for it.”
Afterward, he proceeded to air his frustration towards what he perceived as Hot 97’s unethical practices–specifically calling out Funkmaster Flex, Angie Martinez and the station’s programmer, Tracy Cloherty.
Nas was spitting bars, fittingly.