Shaheem Reid Talks New Life+Times Show ‘The Round Up’

From interning at VIBE to hustling at MTV for a decade, Shaheem Reid’s career has come full-circle. But don’t expect his résumé to go stagnant.

The veteran journalist has now been added to Jay-Z’s Life + Times channel with a new talk show called The Round Up With Shaheem Reid.

The online show debuted at the top of March with Busta Rhymes as its first guest, offering off-the-cuff responses and never-before-revealed tidbits about his artistry. Actor Terrence Howard stopped by for episode two.

Here, Sha chats with VIBE to discuss how he preps for his candid conservations with the industry’s biggest stars, taking on a reality show and the television host he admires most.

VIBE: Congratulations on the new gig. How did the collaboration with Life+Times come about?
Shaheem: I went to a Wale concert at the Highline Ballroom several months ago. Me and Wale have known each other for years so we went to the 40/40 club after because he had to see Jay-Z. It was one of those big nights where CC Sabathia, Pitbull, Jay and Steve Stoute were there. That was probably the first time I saw Jay since I left MTV and he just was saying that he liked the Rich Forever mixtape that me and Rick Ross put out. He was telling me about this YouTube channel that he was putting up and he was like, “You need to be down with the clique.” Whatever Jay’s doing, whether artistically or from a business standpoint, and you get a chance to be involved, you’d be a fool not to do it.

What can viewers expect from The Round Up?
I like to give people the interesting stories that they’ve never heard before because you’re going to have a lot of the major stars, who have done a million interviews. A key to my success is I get the people to tell stories that you haven’t heard before. Luckily, especially with rappers, I’ve known most of these guys for years like me and Busta go way back. As you’ll see in the next episode that comes out on Friday (Mar. 22), Jadakiss is hilarious. There’s this one story where he tells us how he doesn’t particularly like his hit records.

Was that the first time he ever told you that?
We’ve had so many conversations. He told me but I think it’s just coming into the light. “All About The Benjamins” to me is the best rap song ever and Jada never liked it. That’s weird.

You’ve known these cats for so many years, so how do you ensure that the interviews on the show are going to be different from prior conversations you’ve had with them?
I cheat a little bit because I do bring some of the stuff from prior conversations but not conversations that we’ve had in interviews, our personal conversations. N.O.R.E. was one of the guests. He’s just a good friend of mine like he called me every other morning and wakes me up. I’m like “Why are you up so early?” He’s told me private things like how he drank champagne and ate white castle burgers during the birth of his first child, so it’s different things like that. Even with Busta Rhymes, I don’t think people knew that his mother was the one who had to sign his contract. He didn’t tell me that in an interview. He told me that one day when I was on his tour bus. When you get a chance to interview people who are your friends, not just colleagues that you work with, they are very, very comfortable. It doesn’t even feel like its an interview; it’s a regular conversation.

Does it ever feel surreal that the people you listen to and admire are actually your friends?
Definitely with Busta, because you know I’ve been watching him since 1991. Busta is somebody I’ve listened to before I could go out on my own. It’s kinda crazy how I was a fan of his and now to be working on one of his albums is totally mind blowing. We just developed a really great friendship too. I could actually say he’s like my brother now. It only gets surreal when it’s the legends, people who I listened to prior to me getting into the industry like Busta and Jadakiss. There’s a great story about when I was in college, interviewing the Lox. I’m at their hotel lobby and Sheek and Styles are the only ones talking. Jada’s just reading a magazine and I’m like ‘Yo wassup with this dude? He’s giving me a hard time. I’m just a college kid.” Jada was brand new and I wasn’t even in the industry. When I was interning at VIBE, the first industry party I ever went to was the N.O.R.E. N.O.R.E. album release party. I actually had to sneak into it because I wasn’t on the guest list and I was too young. I told him that was my introduction into the industry.

Now, it’s like when new artists meet you, they already know who you are beforehand.
I was at MTV for 10 years so it’s like when you come into the industry, I’m one of the people you going to have to do an interview with at some point. Not to sound arrogant or nothing but it’s already predetermined.

Is there anybody that you haven’t interviewed that you’re trying to get on The Round Up?
I would love to do a Dr. Dre interview. I can go through a list: I met Michael Jackson twice, I met Janet Jackson on several occasions. I’ve had dinner with Mariah, Clive Davis, Quincy Jones. I never met ‘Pac. I met B.I.G. once. I never met Eazy E. I was nowhere near the industry when he was hot but of the living, I never met Dre.

Would you say it’s the unconventional responses that separates The Round Up from the other YouTube channels lingering on the ‘net?
Everybody’s doing a YouTube channel but you know with Jay-Z, one of the great things about him is that he’s not going to do something that everything else is on. I like how he’s going out and aligning some of the top talents with his channel. What Elliot Wilson is doing with The Truth is dope. He’s prolific with it, knocking them out everyday and putting his opinion on it. We do it differently because we have the three rapid fire questions. I also don’t want the people to think I’m only having my friends on the show. Like with the Terrence Howard episode, I never met him before and that was our first time doing an interview. I had him spitting Rakim lines. I don’t think anybody ever got him to do that.

Name a talk show host you look up to, someone whose show you would want to model The Round Up after.
I love Chelsea Handler. She’s so off-the-cuff and just totally in control at all times, no matter who she has, whether she knows the person or not. Of course Oprah, that’s the Alpha and the Omega of what she’s doing, and I love Kelly Ripa. I’m a big fan. I’ve been watching Kelly since she was on All My Children. I love that she made that segway from being a dope actress to Regis [Philbin’s] co-host, now she has the marquee name. I love to see that progression, so that’s inspiration for me.

Would you ever consider acting?
I’m not against it. I actually have a very, very small part in N.O.R.E’s new movie coming out Superthug. I’ve also been asked to do reality TV for a minute.

Are you opposed to it?
I’m not opposed to it if it’s the right situation. I don’t really let the people into my personal life. I feel like us being journalists, you know it and everybody else know it, you gotta be because we sacrifice so much of our personal lives doing this. If we get a call at 3 in the morning because somebody died or somebody’s in jail, you gotta get up. I don’t know if I’d let people in my house. Professionally, I’m with it. It’s just gotta be the right situation.

Check out The Round Up With Shaheem Reid every Friday on Life+Times.