If you’re a fan of hip hop and don’t live under a rock, then you’ve definitely heard of “Drink Champs,” the premier hip hop interview show that’s co-hosted by two industry vets: New York rapper N.O.R.E. (fka Noreaga) of Capone-N-Noreaga fame, and Miami’s own DJ EFN.
Together, the two sit down with legends – and alcohol – in hip hop and R&B to discuss the paths they’ve taken to reach where they are today in their careers, while also giving the interviewees their well-deserved flowers.
Some of the many icons who N.O.R.E. and EFN have featured on the show over the years include Nas, DMX, Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, Jadakiss, Chris Brown, Shaquille O’Neal, Big Daddy Kane, Trina, B2K, 2 Chainz, Ja Rule, Shyne, Issa Rae, Wu-Tang Clan, Scarface, and so many more.
Honestly, we would be here all day if we really listed every last one of the major guests whose interviews went viral on social media as soon as their episodes dropped.
Fans love the show because not only are the hosts fun to check out, but the never-before-told stories that guests share are anecdotes that always shock and inspire those who listen. “Drink Champs” is one of the few hip hop platforms where you can get raw and uncut gems from celebs, themselves.
Back in October, “Drink Champs” tied with “Caresha Please” to win for Best Hip Hop Platform at the 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards. We got a chance to catch up with EFN to talk about the show’s big success and what the W meant for the culture.
Make some noiseeeee and check out our conversation below!
How does it feel to finally have “Drink Champs” recognized as a top hip hop show after years of putting in work?
It feels great that we are being recognized. When we started the show, we never imagined it becoming as big as it has become. Being a DJ and a rapper with success in those lanes, we looked at this as something fun to do where we could talk about our experiences and relate to our guests’ experiences. When we launched “Drink Champs,” it was successful in the culture and that was the only thing we cared about — being accepted by the culture. As time progressed, we struck a chord and now we are being honored on platforms like the BET Hip Hop Awards and that is huge for us. Additionally, it speaks volumes because when we launched the podcast, this form of content wasn’t popular. Now, it’s one of the categories at awards shows. We helped to bring attention to this form of content, and it feels good to know how we played a role in pushing the envelope.
Has your vision for “Drink Champs” already become a reality or are there more peaks you want to reach first before you can say that?
Our goal was always to celebrate the culture and our peers from the 90s and those that came before us. We feel like we’ve made our mission a reality. We have no problem expanding our brand to include other goals, but we never want to forget our mission statement which is to highlight the culture and give flowers to the pioneers and architects of the culture while they are still here today.
Why is “Drink Champs” one of the best – not just hip hop – but shows in the world?
Because of the rawness of the show. A lot of people say it comes from the drinking — it helps — but, we do have episodes that people don’t drink and it’s just as raw because of our dynamic and the team around us helping to create each episode. And all our guests always bring something unique to every episode adding to the dynamic. And the proof that we’re doing great is how people have tried to recreate their own version of our podcast, which shows the impact that we have had on podcast culture.
Do you still feel like you have something to prove with it?
We don’t feel like we have anything to prove. We always want to come back to our mission statement. It’s not about if you are the biggest name or artist. We just want to make sure we highlight the pioneers, architects, and our peers that might not be in the media right now and let our audience know that these people are around and have or still are shaping the culture.
For those who don’t know, how did the idea for “Drink Champs” come about?
“Drink Champs” initially started when N.O.R.E. moved to Miami and was working out of my studio in the early/mid 00s. We were doing a weekly show on satellite radio with the same setup. We just didn’t have the guests or were making money from it. But, we loved doing it anyway. Eventually, we stopped doing the show because N.O.R.E. went on tour and DJ EFN was managing a group that was going on tour.
Later down the line, Danny “Godfree” Peña, one of the hosts of Gamertag Radio, started advocating for us to launch a podcast. Initially, N.O.R.E. wasn’t very interested because podcasts weren’t really a thing yet, but he eventually came around a couple of years later. We loved the idea that the podcast allowed us to be more flexible with recording and we didn’t have to be on-air on a specific day and time.
The name of our podcast came from my crew Crazy Hood. I used to tell them, “If you can’t handle your liquor, you aren’t a drink champ.” The name resonated with the podcast, so I grabbed the domain name and social handles and had Skam2?, who is known for his work on Eminem and A Tribe Called Quest’s respective album covers, design the logo and a lot more.
“Drink Champs” gives flowers to legends while they can still smell them. Why is that so important for your show to do?
We lose people all the time and people only acknowledge their accomplishments on social media when they’ve passed, but not when they are alive. We feel that it’s cool for people to celebrate each other, especially when they are in the same field as you because it shows that you acknowledge their contributions and respect the path they’ve paved for others. Also, when you give people their flowers, you’re also celebrating the culture and that’s so important.
Are you glad that you were able to give DMX his flowers right before he passed away?
We’re happy that we were able to have that moment with him. Before he passed, it seems like he was in such a good headspace. We’ve had him on the show a couple of other times. The first year we launched, he was on the show and that one took us over the top. Then, we had him again during the quarantine. But in this episode, he was in such good spirits laughing, joking, and telling us stories. That’s how we want to remember him and we’re honored to have been able to share one of those last moments with him.
Where do you see “Drink Champs” in five to 10 years?
We would like to see it grow into a network that helps other content creators and a brand that creates merchandise. For us, the sky’s the limit.
What’s one drink that you love and one that you absolutely hate?
I love beer and rum — not together — and I am not a fan of Tiger Bone. We used to drink that on the show, but we’ve retired it.
What makes a Drink Champ?
In the literal way, it’s not if you can or cannot handle your liquor at that moment that you’ve been drinking. It’s about how you bounce back the next day. We’re drink champs because we can drink and then wake up the next day and go to the gym, go to work, and handle all of our business. In general, a Drink Champ is anyone surviving and pushing themselves and those around them!