Growing up during the golden age of hip-hop has its perks in today’s climate. I feel those who were around from the beginning of the culture appreciate the past more than ever, especially as the culture changes in the present. During my time analyzing how hip-hop culture coincides with the radio would be the most valuable tool for me as I would be introduced to new artists growing up, who would become legendary. It felt good to witness the start of Rakim, KRS-One, and groups like Salt-n-Pepa, etc. careers and how their impact on the culture would appoint them as legends.
Besides Marley Marl’s “In Control” segment, and Red Alert “Going Berserk” on rival stations like WBLS and KISS-FM respectively, I would get a snippet of hip-hop, and it would be at certain times during the night. When Hot 97 took over the reigns of hip-hop in its entirely as the 90’s took shape, not only was I getting hip-hop during the daytime, but I was introduced to a deejay that would become the voice of New York radio in Angie Martinez.
Well, Angie Martinez documented her life in a new memoir entitled, My Voice. I would receive what I would call the behind the scenes narrative from Martinez as she interacts with various artists, during her time with the station. It also was refreshing that Martinez took us on a journey, which included her childhood, her teenage years (some of it was shocking) and her past relationships. All of these stories would give the readers a view on what led her to become one of the most recognizable deejays in New York City. It also shows how Martinez was able to manifest her brand across the United States.
Martinez also highlights her public turmoil relationship with another radio legend in Wendy Williams, in more detail. Martinez was able to give the narrative effectively concerning her physical altercation with Williams at the station. I felt like I was the unseen witness at Hot 97 when Martinez wanted to “shoot the fair one,” so to speak with Wendy Williams.
What made the book intensify was the way Martinez told the story of being awarded the opportunity to interview Tupac Shakur during his public beef with Biggie, which led to deadly consequences for both artists. Martinez would also re-enact the way she felt, during those dark times in hip-hop, which included her actions at the station upon hearing their deaths and immediately going on the radio to be with her listeners.
Then, Martinez would also give readers inside the radio walls of the Jay-Z and Nas public dispute, which would be water cooler material for months. From Jay-Z’s debut of the “Take Over” at Summer Jam to Nas’ “Ether” on the radio, there was a behind the scenes story to tell. What would stand out with the Jay and Nas situation, (which would thankfully stay on wax), was Martinez sharing what happened behind the scenes with her relationship with Nas during one of the most classic hip-hop beef of all-time.
My Voice is a page-turner, and it also gives us insight that Martinez wasn’t just due to the position of being the voice of New York City, but worked hard to reach that the level and continues to shine. The tales Martinez told concerning the station were candid and rehashed a lot of memories for me. Martinez came across as authentic and didn’t hold anything back, which I appreciated. Martinez also made sure; she told her readers that she had made mistakes on and off the radio, which adds to the authenticity of her voice. If one loves hip-hop and would love to hear how Angie Martinez became the woman that she is today and her involvement in a culture that has to stand the test of time, then this is a must read.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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