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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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