Angie Martinez
Angie Martinez

Voice Of Power: Angie Martinez On Making Bold Moves

Power 105.1's Angie Martinez talks fearlessness and knowing when it's time for a change.

Angie Martinez was not just given her “The Voice Of New York” title – she earned it with a career that spans nearly two decades. Though bred by New York City’s Hot 97, a trek from her native Brooklyn to Miami at 16 years old lit the spark that would ignite her radio reign. Fast forward, and the now wife and mother’s name is synonymous with hip-hop radio. From shocking the country with her switch to Power 105.1, to a spur-of-the-moment decision to run a marathon, the staple personality knows a thing or two about fearless moves.

“If the only thing stopping you is fear then erase it, forget about it.” That’s her recommendation for taking on the unknown.

Transforming an adolescent gig into a notable contribution that will litter the history books of the culture, Martinez serves as an inspiration, but is also no stranger to figuring things out as she goes along. Continuing to evolve as an author (Healthy Latin Eating: Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed) and businesswoman (as a recent signee to Roc Nation), the maven is now looking to make new waves on and off the air. – Iyana Robertson with additional reporting from Adelle Platon

When I knew radio was what I wanted to pursue as a career:
I was 16 and I was getting kicked out of my high school in Brooklyn. And so my mother sent me to go stay with my aunt in Miami. So I was like 16 when I moved out there and then my mother came right after me and she got a job at Power 96, so I started interning there. And then when I was 18, I moved back home and I was at Hot [97.1 FM] ever since I started my internship there at 18 years-old, and I literally grew up in radio. I just felt at home, I felt passionate about it. I didn’t know enough at that age to think: ‘this is what I want [for] my career and this is how I want it to go.’ I just knew I loved it.

The do’s and don’ts of interning:
What do you want to do? What are you good at? What do you want to get out of this experience? You should be able to answer those three questions when starting an internship.

And make yourself standout; if there are 10 interns that come in through a semester, then there are ten interns gone at the end of the semester.

What makes you stand out? What makes somebody want to keep you around or hire you part-time or remember you when you come back two years later applying for a job? You have to go above and beyond. It’s your moment, it’s like an audition you can learn something, but it’s also an audition for people to get to know who you are. And what your value can be; so you have to treat it as such. If you just kind of go in and just sit there, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

What I learned from my mother, who was also in the radio business:
My mother has been retired from this business for sometime. My mother was in Jazz music, she programmed Jazz stations and “World Music” she did at Sirius for a while. So the manner in which we are in the business is a little different, but I did learn a lot of things from her; just about how to handle yourself; conduct yourself.

She was a program director and I remember being a kid and her coming home talking about the DJ’s, and saying that a pet-peeve of hers was that she hated when jocks sounded like they loved the sound of their own voice too much and I’ve always remembered that, even now.

How I continue to learn about myself:
I learn stuff about myself all the time. I learn stuff about myself doing this job. I learn stuff about myself running that damn marathon. I learned about myself doing this book. You learn what you’re capable of. You learn to trust your gut. This is something that was like a gut idea; that I really wanted to do.

About that one time I ran a marathon...
Three weeks before the marathon, I had pulled something in my leg, so I hadn’t ran for three weeks before the marathon. So I just showed up that day. I really had no business being there.

But we raised all this money and I knew that I was inspiring people by doing it, just from the reaction that I was getting. I felt almost an obligation at this point to run it. I had a blog. We raised all this money, my team raised like $200,000 dollars, and so I had no choice. So I showed up that day at the marathon. I was telling the story there that I just thought about it like a woman having a baby.

Like if you’re pregnant and it hurts, it doesn’t matter. The baby has to still come out, when you’re in delivery the baby has to come out. You can’t be like: ‘it hurts too much, I don’t want to do this anymore.’ There’s no option. The night before I had that thought. I slept on that thought, I woke up with that thought and I showed up at the marathon with that thought of: ‘I had a baby.’

My new stress-relieving strategy:
When I was younger I would never like to go to the movies by myself or go to dinner by myself. I always felt weird, but the past two years, I’ve taken like a three-four day long weekend vacation, and gone somewhere with me and books and nothing else. And I’ve desperately tried to not have my phone on. I desperately tried to go somewhere that is like a spa resort or a yoga place or somewhere where I turn off for three or four days just to turn my brain off.

My advice on knowing when it’s time for a career change:
I knew it was time for a career change when I was just showing up, and looking for more. I just think [it’s time for a change] when you’re not satisfied and you’re yearning to see new things, learn new things, and see things from a new perspective. Everybody feels like that every now and then, but if you feel like that all the time, it’s time to really assess where you are and what you’re doing and if you’re being fulfilled there.

Also, I think that people being somewhere for so long tend to get a little institutionalized almost, and you only know how to do something one way. That alone should make you want to break out and do something else just so you can have something to compare it to. Just so you can broaden your skill set.

Even though I’ve done it and I was somewhere for so long; I think you should have change; change breeds evolution.

The definition of a boss:
Somebody that is in control of what they do and is confident about that, and can also motivate and manage people around her to help feel like a cohesive mission. I don’t think you’re a boss until you really know what you’re about. Until you know what your mission is in life. Until you know what you’re working towards.

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The female voice in hip-hop has always been present whether we've noticed it or not. The late Sylvia Robinson birthed the hip-hop music industry with the formation of Sugar Hill Records (and fostering "Rapper's Delight"), Roxanne Shante's 55 lyrical responses to fellow rappers were the first diss tracks and Missy Elliott's bold and striking music and visuals inspired men and women in the game to step outside of their comfort zones.

These pillars and many more have allowed the next generation of emcees to be unapologetically brash, truthful and confident in their music. Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy and Nicki Minaj's Queen might've been the most mainstream albums by womxn in rap this year, but there was a long list of creatives who brought the noise like Rico Nasty, Tierra Whack, Noname and Bbymutha. Blame laziness or the heavy onslaught of music hitting streaming sites this year, but many of the artists on this list have hibernated under the radar for far too long.

VIBE decided to switch things up but also highlighting rap albums by womxn who came strong in their respectively debut albums, mixtapes, EPs. We also had to give props to those who dropped standout singles, leaving us wanting more.

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10 Most Important Hip-Hop Artists Of 2018

We’ve reached another end to an eventful year in hip-hop. From rap beefs to new music releases and milestones, 2018 has been forged in the history books as a year to remember. But more important than the events that happened over the span of 12 months are the people who made them happen.

While fans received a large dose of music from our favorite artists and celebrated some of the most iconic album anniversaries, there are a few names that stood out as the culture pushers, sh*t starters, and all-around most significant artists of the year.

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NEXT: Intent On Impact, Kiana Lede Is Ready To Leave Her Mark

After learning The Alphabet Song as a little girl, Kiana Lede would always “get in trouble” for singing during class. “My mom was like, ‘why can't you focus?’” she laughs while reminiscing on her career’s formative years. “I was like, ‘I don’t know! Songs are just playing in my head all the time!’”

Whilst sitting in a shoebox-sized room at Midtown Manhattan’s Moxy Hotel on a humid September day, the now- 21-year-old Arizona-bred R&B songbird, actress and pianist speculates that she “may have had ADD.” However, she settles down after taking off her white cowboy boots and flops down on the ivory-clothed bed, demonstrating that her fiery Aries energy can be contained. Cool as a cucumber, Lede shuffles between chewing on banana candies and blowing smoke rings after taking drags from a pen, all while musing about her journey to becoming a Republic Records signee.

“I just grew up singing and doing musical theater, and reading a lot of books, and playing piano way too much in my room by myself,” she says, pushing her big, curly brown hair out of her face. Her expressive green eyes widen as she grins. “It was my thing. Nobody in my family does music, just me.”

After winning Kidz Bop’s 2011 KIDZ Star USA talent contest at 14 (which her mother secretly entered her into), Lede was signed to RCA Records. She was released from her contract and dropped from the label three years later. However, thanks to guidance and friendship from the Grammy-winning production duo Rice N’ Peas, (who’ve worked with G-Eazy, Trevor Jackson, and Bazzi), she released covers of songs such as Drake’s “Hotline Bling” while working to get her groove back. The latter rendition resulted in Republic Record’s Chairman and CEO Monte Lipman flying her out and signing her to his label.

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Thanks to the new opportunity she was given, Lede’s sound has evolved into something she’s proud of—equal parts soul, R&B and bohemian. As evidenced by the aforementioned ensemble, glimmers of each aesthetic can be found when observing her personal style as well. She released her seven-song EP Selfless in July, which features the bedroom-ready “Show Love” and “Fairplay,” which manages to fit in the mainstream R&B vein while also showcasing her goosebump-inducing vocals. The remix of the latter features MC A$AP Ferg. What pleases her most is that it not only garnered a favorable response from fans, but that those listeners found it so relatable.

“As an artist, it's really nerve-wracking for someone who writes about such personal things all the time,” she says. “Just the fact that it is my story… It's good to know that other people know that there's somebody on their side, and they're not the only ones going through it. A lot of people obviously feel this way, and have been through this same thing that I've been through. So I think that's cool.”

Although she moved to various places as a Navy serviceman’s daughter, Lede claims Phoenix as home. This means she hails from the same stomping grounds as rockers Alice Cooper, Stevie Nicks and the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. However, growing up in a mixed race household gave way to tons of sonic exploration outside of the rock-heavy scene.

“My dad's black, and both of my parents are from the East Coast,” she says of her musical and ethnic upbringing (she’s black, Latina and Native American). “[My parents] listened to a lot of R&B. My mom listened to a lot of SWV, TLC, Boyz II Men. I didn't realize I knew the songs until I got older. I played a charity show with T-Boz, and I was like 'why do I know these songs?'” Lede also says her father was a fan of neo-soul and gangsta rap, but she personally believes the early-2000s was the best time for music.

“[That era] influences a lot of my music subconsciously, and also, singer-songwriter stuff,” she continues. “I listen to a lot of early-2000s music because I played piano most of my life. I listened to Sara Bareilles, John Mayer.”

An open book, Lede details some of her struggles with anxiety and depression with the utmost candor. After being dropped from RCA, her trust in people diminished, and she experienced long bouts of depression after being sexually assaulted by someone in the industry. The track that she feels most deeply about is “One Of Them Days,” which tackles these issues head-on.

“When I'm anxious and depressed, it's really hard to be happy,” Lede says. “Most of the time, I can do it, but there are just some days where I literally can't separate the anxiety, and I can't tell anybody why, because I don't really know why myself… I was feeling very odd that day, didn't even know if I could write a song. Hue [Strother], the guy who I wrote the song with, he was like 'I totally get you. Lots of people go through this.’’’

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“My passion is really people. Music is just a way that I can get to helping people,” she says with a grin. “Helping people emotionally and physically are both very important. I never want to stop helping people. I feel if other people can respect me, and I can respect myself, then I'll be happy. Happiness is all that we strive for.”

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As for the future of her career, she’s looking forward to more acting roles. You may recognize her from the first season of MTV’s Scream, and after her recent Netflix series All About The Washingtons with legendary MC Rev Run was cancelled, she has been “reading for auditions” and is “negotiating” for a role in a film set to shoot in NYC. While her time with the Run-DMC frontman was brief, she says he taught her about the importance of “not compromising your art for money.”

What Kiana Lede is most excited about, of course, is making music. She hopes to work on a new EP and then release an album after that. The ultimate goal is to fully realize the dreams in her personal and professional life, and she assures she’s just getting started.

“I want to be able to look back on my career and think 'man, I really poured my heart into this music, and made music that mattered, and made music that made people feel a certain way, whether it's bad, good, sad, anxious, whatever it may be.’”

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