this is hot 97 this is hot 97

Vixen Exclusive: 'This is Hot 97' Cast Talk Jumping From Radio to TV

For New York City natives, Hot 97 is a hip hop staple and its crew-- Ebro, Angie Martinez, Funk Flex, Peter Rosenberg, Cipha Sounds, Miss Info and Laura Stylez--set the highest standard for urban radio.

It took over a year, but producer Mona Scott Young finally convinced Ebro and the team to share their lives with the world in their new, unscripted comedy series on  Vh1.  Instead of focusing on their respective shows, the series will instead document their daily interactions with each other.

On Monday (Mar. 24), NYC's Gotham Comedy Club hosted the official premiere party that included an intro from Scott-Young, standup by comedian Brooklyn Mike and an exclusive look at the premiere episode. Before the night ended, fans were also given the opportunity to participate in an open Q&A with the entire cast.

The momentous occassion also included celebrity guests like Tahiry Jose, Jennifer Williams, Mack Wilds.

Keep reading for Q&A highlights and a photo recap.
mona scoot and jennifer williams

Mona Scott Young and Jennifer Williams

Vixen: How long have you been trying to convince the Hot 97 crew to do a show?

Mona Scott Young: Probably a little over a year and a half. You see how I kind of did it through the back door. I had Ebro coming on Love and Hip Hop and then he did his own thing on Gossip Game because I was warming him up, kind of winning him over little by little. He was dead set against it; they were all dead set against it because they had this idea in their heads of what the show would be like, at least they thought they knew what people would want to see. They were like, "that's not what we're about, that's not what we want to project, that's not who we want to be, so we're probably no cut out for this." I felt that people need to see this dynamic. I told them—you guys are funny, you're crazy, you're a family, you're like siblings the way you rip each other and people need to see that because they don't know that. All they know is who you are within your respective time slots on the radio. It was an opportunity to do something fresh and different.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

angie martinez this is hot 97

Angie Martinez

Vixen: What are the your feelings about being on camera as opposed to just being heard on the radio?

Angie Martinez: Well, the radio is different. For most of our radio shows, a part of the personality is there, but it's mostly about the artist and music. This I think is a different vibe. It's more of the family, the team, the behind the scenes stuff. It's a little weird. I mean, when you don't have to worry about hair and make up and shit like that, being on the radio is kind of cool. None of us are used to having to come in knowing we're going to be on camera. If we're shooting that day, we'll put our make up on and do our hair. I'm so not a girly girl, so I hate that process. But other than that, we know each other so well and it's such a comfortable vibe that it's really not a big deal.

Vixen: Do you think that This is Hot 97 is a better representation of Hip Hop reality culture than other shows?

Angie Martinez: I think there's a place for everybody. If Love and Hip Hop is successful, I think the danger comes when everybody's doing it. When everybody's doing it, that's wack. We wanted to bring something new and different. Everybody's like anti-negative and anti-drama—I'm not really thinking about that. I watch some of those shows and I laugh and then I go on about my life. I think more importantly—if we did a show like that—it would be fraudulent because it's not who we are and we'd just be trying to copy somebody else's blue print for success.

miss info and laura styles


Miss Info and Laura Stylez

Vixen: What was your favorite experience on the show?

Laura Stylez: Mine was getting to work with Miss Info and Angie. We all have our shifts. I work on the morning show; sometimes I don't even get to see them. Just being able to really connect and challenge each other, make ourselves better and being able to work with each other. I get to see Flex and I never see Flex. I'm at work at 5 a.m, I leave by like 12. It's cool being able to have a better connection with the rest of the cast.

Miss Info: I would say the best part is us being able to make fun of each other and know that that's what we were expected to do because that's what we're doing anyway. Once those cameras come on, we start jabbing at each other because we know it's show time. One thing that probably won't air on VH1 is how raunchy we are. We do sensitivity training, but we definitely need weekly sensitivity training. We're very liberal when it comes to each other. We make a lot of dirty jokes.

Vixen: What are some similarities and differences between being on TV and the radio?

Laura Stylez: When we're on the air, we have a purpose. I'm delivering entertainment news, I'm talking about a specific topic or I'm trying to shut the guys up. On camera, it's kind of different because we improvise a lot of the stuff. Everyone's saying that it's scripted, but there's no script. We play exaggerated version's of ourselves and we recreate things that really did happen, so we kind of just go. You get to see a different side of us. Ebro makes me do dumb shit and I'm like, "why do I have to do this?" I thought my interning days were over.

Miss Info: I would say that what comes out in the show is very different than what my role on air is because we have a purpose—we have a job. I'm like a bulldog that has to focus on the job. In the show, you'll see that I'm borderline insane, wildly insecure, kind of nervous and also, softer than I appear on the air. You see our frustration on television and on the mic you don't see that. I don't think that people can really know you or love you unless they see both sides.

cipha sounds

Cipha Sounds

Vixen: Why did it take so long for you guys to finally agree to do the show?

Cipha Sounds: Ebro knew about it before we did. It still took us long because we don't have drama. Like, sleeping with somebody else's man and talking shit behind your back—we don't have that kind of drama. We are really a family. We have little family drama, but that's natural with all families. Sometimes we make fun of reality people and it seems like they'll do anything to get on TV—we didn't want to look like that. We all have respect for ourselves and pride. We want to make sure we look good and we've got to make sure our family looks good. We heard about how some producers of reality shows put you against each other and we didn't want to be in that zone and let the public think we got drama between us. So we weren't really with it, but they found a way to do it, which is amazing and groundbreaking.

Vixen: Who was the funniest celebrity guest that you had on the TV show?

Cipha Sounds: I don't know. Kanye was pretty funny. Mike Tyson's mad funny. One time he was on the radio show and he laughed at a joke that I said and punched me 3 times because it was so funny to him—it hurt. We brought that up on the TV show. Iron Mike Tyson is real. Macklemore was funny too though, but Maino is my favorite. Maino is the realest person. He's just himself, and when you're real, it's hilarious.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.


Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...


— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.


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I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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