Angie Martinez, aka The Voice of New York, opened up about her love for hip hop and how it’s been a positive force in her life and impacted her journey in the best ways.
Regarded as one of the most influential voices of the culture, the author has been a vital part of the hip hop community as an on-air radio personality for over 20 years, previously working at HOT 97 before landing her current position at Power 105.1. Martinez has played a vital role in media by helping tell the stories of artists, political figures, industry executives, business entities, and more. Recognized for her relaxed demeanor during interviews, she’s known to create a safe space that allows guests to feel comfortable in her presence, which has led to some unforgettable moments.
For the 2023 ESSENCE Festival of Culture (EFOC), Martinez curated a show that featured Mia X, Salt-N-Pepa with DJ Spinderella, Eve, Trina, and Remy Ma in partnership with her podcast, “Angie Martinez IRL,” to honor all of the women who’ve played a role in hip hop and to pay homage to the 50th anniversary of rap music. Although Martinez was the hype woman when the talented emcees hit the stage, she stole the spotlight during Salt-N-Pepa’s performance when she rapped her verse on Lil Kim’s legendary “Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix).”
During the New York native’s time at EFOC, she spoke with REVOLT about her appreciation for hip hop and how she’s proud to be a part of its evolution. As someone who’s truly embedded in the music industry, Angie Martinez shared she wouldn’t be who she is or have the accolades she’s received over the years if rap music wasn’t created.
“It’s funny ’cause I think about it in two ways. I think about the way in which hip hop has affected the world and changed the world culturally. If I think about my personal life, I mean, it gave me a career, a whole career, put me in the Radio Hall of Fame. I’m getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” the multimedia host expressed. “When I think about that and why I’m there, it’s hip hop that gave me those opportunities, it’s hip hop that put me in that position. And that’s just me, I’m just one person; so when you think about that, and the big picture and how the culture just changed so many people’s lives, it really is beautiful, and it’s important to celebrate and honor.”
Because Martinez has a tremendous amount of admiration for the genre, she has always been committed to giving back to the culture.
“I try to do my best to contribute and honor it. I just did a special for ABC, where we talked about some of the ways we’ve grown [over] 50 years… in mental health, we communicate better, we’re smarter about our business, women have a stronger community and a bigger platform, and just in the many ways, even socially, to change the world. I try to show up in the best ways I can and offer what I can to contribute, but also, hip hop has been really good to me personally,” she said.
When rap music made its debut, many critics called it a fad because they didn’t believe the style of music would have longevity in the industry. This was surprising to Martinez.
“When I first started my radio career — I’ll never forget this — I was so excited ’cause they were letting me do, like, little part-time shifts here and there. One of the older DJs said to me, ‘They’re making this a hip hop station. They’re going to regret this because it’s going to be a fad. It’s going to backfire.’ I just remember standing there looking at him thinking, ‘Nah, I think you’re wrong.’ This was early, like early ’90s, so when you think about that and where we are now, the fact that they would think it’s a fad is really empowering,” she recalled.
Hailing from Brooklyn, home to legendary rappers like JAY-Z, Lil Kim, Mos Def, the late Biggie Smalls, Big Daddy Kane and more, she spoke on New York’s legacy in hip hop since it was birthed in The Big Apple.
“New York started the culture, so it starts there. I think the beauty of hip hop is how it has evolved, and we got to learn about so many different cultures… what they were doing in the South, what they were doing in the West Coast,” the living legend said. “[Hip hop] taught us a lot about that, but New York is the foundation, and it will always be that. Its [hip hop] roots are there, and I think you could never deny that.”
With hip hop and R&B being the No. 1 genres in the United States, the industry veteran is even more proud to know she assisted in making rap a staple of American society.
“There’s great pride. I think we all feel pride in that,” the 52-year-old said. “I mean, we’re not perfect; we still make a lot of mistakes. There are still things that we can do better as a culture, but it’s forever evolving and that’s the beauty of it. I’m proud of it. I’m proud to be a part of the culture… I’m proud of the culture and how far it’s come. It’s been a great honor to watch it turn 50 years old.”
These days, Angie Martinez continues to expand her career to new heights and even added producer to the list of roles she’s held throughout her career. While wearing that hat, Martinez realized how effortlessly things flow and people mesh when everyone working on a project truly sees the value of it.
“The worst thing is trying to tell a story — and this is me now in a new space, as I’ve been doing more producing lately. I’ve just produced a special on Biggie; I executive produced a 50th hip hop birthday special with ABC News, so I’ve been stepping into that space more,” she began. “It’s so much easier, and it’s so important to do work with people who understand the culture because you’re not fighting against yourself all the time. It’s hard enough to make great content; it’s even harder when you’re doing it with people that don’t respect it and don’t understand it, so that’s why it’s important for us to tell our own stories, and collaborate with people who uplift us and give us that platform to be able to do that.”
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