Filed under: Internets,Interviews,Non-Rapper Dudes,Not Your Average,Video Clips
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Here’s the first part of a new series talking to non-rapper dudes who still have a story to tell.
After cutting his teeth as a radio personality and DJ in Washington, DC for years, Peter Rosenberg has spent the past two years in New York City, and stays busy with three separate radio shows, including the morning show on Hot 97. Most notable, however, have been his Noisemakers sessions – extended live sit-downs with hip-hop greats.
Robbie: So you do the Juan Epstein show as well as your morning show with Cipha Sounds on Hot 97, right?
Peter Rosenberg: Ciph and I do the weekday morning show, which is a mainstream – but funny – morning show, and then I do real late on Sunday nights from midnight to two, and I don’t really have anyone to answer to as far as what I’m playing. I just play whatever underground shit I want. Then Juan Epstein is sorta separate – we talk about underground shit but we don’t really play music. Each show sort of has it’s different lane.
Hosting that session with DJ Premier recently must’ve been crazy.
Doing the Noisemakers series is crazy. We’ve had Premier, Q-Tip and ?uestlove so far. I’ve got a couple more planned for the summer, but they’re not finalized yet. When you grow up obsessed with hip-hop and then you get to really sit-down and talk to cats that you idolized…that shit never really gets boring! That shit’s always fun.
It’s a fine line between keeping it professional and not coming off as a complete fan-boy, isn’t it?
Totally. I think the charm of it is being a fan, you just have to contain it a little bit. I definitely have had many people call me fuckin’ ‘fan-boy’ and shit – especially losers online. Fuckin’ jealous other fan-boys who are mad that they don’t get to ask questions to the people that they admire. As much as a herb that I could come-off as for being a fan, you’re so much more of a herb if you pretend like you’re fuckin’ too cool for it! How dishonest is that? The interviews that I pursue – whether they’re hip-hop or wrestling – it’s all shit I’m passionate about! On the Noisemakers series, I only want to have people on the show who are worthy of a two-hour tribute in New York City, so it’s going to be people who I’m a fan of. One of the problems with hip-hop these days is that no one’s a fuckin’ fan! Everyone thinks they belong and they’re a producer and they’re a musician. You’re not! It’s unreasonable for all these fuckin’ people to pretend they’re on-par with the people they’re talking to. They’re not! If I’m sitting down with Q-Tip or Premier or ?uestlove, these are dudes whose contribution to the game are so deep and endless that for me to act as if I’m not a fan would be so completely dishonest and lame, and would make me not who I am. I’m a kid from the suburbs who grew-up wanting to be a part of the culture, and I don’t understand why that’s something to be embarrassed about. I’m proud of my upbringing as a hip-hop fan.
What would you consider to be your worst interview so far?
I have a lot of those because my whole style of doing things is such that I put myself out there a little bit. The 50 Cent interview is particularly bad. You really can’t be under-prepared for someone like 50 Cent, cos he’s too fuckin’ smart and you’ll get called-out. It’s not like that with necessarily every artist, but 50 is a fuckin’ ball-buster. If you’re inconsistent like I was – I ended-up getting more time with him than I planned on getting and I just ended-up all over the place. I just ended-up feeling like a douche. He called me out, like, ‘Yo, you’re not making sense’. Now granted, there were a couple of things I was right about that he tried to bust my balls for that he really was just ticked-off about, because they were good questions, but there were also moments when I wavered, and you can’t do that. And I was so brand new! Coming to New York and having the Hot 97 logo behind you completely changes you. People I didn’t used to be able to get a minute with when they were in DC will call me non-stop to try and get on my show now, so it completely changes your position. That’s awesome, but it also has it’s dangers at the same time.
Has it made you have to adjust your style to be more confrontational?
Honestly, I deal with that more doing the morning show. I’m in the position of being the ‘funny guy’, and being ‘funny guy’ I’m sorta expected to make jokes that I might not normally make. I’m not that dude that sits around gossiping, talking about what’s on Perez Hilton and shit. I’m not interested in it, but I have to! I think over time as Ciph and I really start to get ratings – which I know we will – I’ll be able to really become me on the air and really chill the fuck out and really act completely like me. But right now? I kinda play the character of ‘wacky white guy’ on the air. That’s sorta my schtick. ‘Rosenberg’s that crazy white boy! He’s say anything!’ I don’t always like that, because sometimes I say shit that I’m like, ‘Yo, I would not normally say that at all’. I don’t like offending people, I’m not in the rap game to really poke fun at people.
Who have you offended recently?
For example, today I was gonna say something about Webstar, like about how maybe Jay-Z is talking about Webstar on that record. I was in the back, ‘Yo, Jay-Z doesn’t give a fuck about DJ Webstar!’ I wanted to say that, but I like Webstar – he’s a nice guy. He doesn’t make music that’s particularly my speed, but I have to hesitate when I’m about to sort of be mocking, because this is a nice guy and a who I’m gonna see! I’m definitely gonna run into the dude, so I have to be mindful! I’ve already had situations – there was a time when Saigon wanted to beat the shit outta me, and when I first got up here Jim Jones and I were not always buddy-buddy. He definitely wanted to slap the shit outta me when he first heard me.
Is there anyone that you can’t seem to catch for an interview?
There’s millions. We did the fuckin’ greatest De La interview ever and it didn’t get recorded, which was brutal. We got tidbits in that interview that are so crazy and that we’ve never heard anywhere else, and it didn’t come out…I would like to interview Redman just about MCing. I think Redman may have never made a wack record. Redman may not be in the Mount Rushmore of hip-hop, like the four greatest, but he’s certainly in the next couple. He’s retarded. His shit was so dark for a while, but he’s also always had this light streak to him that makes him easier to listen to all the time. I think that’s an advantage of his. I like that Redman makes fuckin’ party records too, and has managed to somehow successfully been completely credible and underground while making records that can get played on the radio and work in the club. There aren’t many people like that.
How’s everything going with your buddy Byron Crawford?
See, you’re on point, ‘cos this is the one place where I would actually feel comfortable mentioning that fuckin’ losers’ name is on your site, because I know it’s a specific audience that already knows who that dude is, because the last thing I wanna do is give that fuckin’ dude shine. The one thing that everyone has in common that he’s talked shit about is that no one knows who he is when he does it. Everyone’s like, ‘Who is fuckin’ Byron Crawford?’ Including me! I didn’t know who he was. Asher Roth hit me one day, ‘Who’s Byron Crawford? He said some really crazy shit about me’. I’m like, ‘Homey, that’s what he does. Just don’t say a word about the dude because the only reason he says it is so you’ll respond’, and that fuckin’ makes him think his dick is bigger is if someone like Asher Roth would respond. I sonned the dude because I never gave him the response that he wanted. But honestly, people like Byron Crawford, the saddest thing about it is they think that they’re contributing to the game. I don’t understand how just sending negative vibes to rappers, DJ’s, video chicks – throwing hate at everyone who’s more involved in hip-hop than you are – is credible or relevant. When you spend your days working at a Wal-Mart in St. Louis and going home to your computer, never setting foot in the hip-hop world…That’s the lamest thing about Byron Crawford, the thing that makes him such a sad soul, is that he’s not a part of it. He doesn’t ever interview anyone, he doesn’t set-foot in New York City. When I make my jokes or I go on and critique artists, the next time I go out to an event I know there’s a chance that I’m gonna run into them and be confronted on whatever I said. That’s a risk I run.
So it’s a case of accountability?
Yeah, exactly. I have to be mindful of what I say. Being fuckin’ on a big-time outlet like Hot 97 – just about as big of a hip-hop outlet as you can be – there’s responsibility that goes with that. But when you’re a nobody that sits around by a computer…
So what was his issue with you exactly?
His issue with me was I think just pretty much straight anti-semitism. I’m not one of those Jewish people who sit around complaining about what little of prejudice I have to deal with, but I’m not gonna lie – the amount of anti-Jewish shit I read from day-to-day is significant, on the internet. I never encounter any of it in real life, but on the internet? You run into your fair share of it. I don’t think with Byron Crawford…he seems like a kinda smart dude, so I doubt he’s really even anti-Jewish – which is kinda the sadder part about it – I think he just likes putting out negative energy and get people to talk, but the shit he wrote about me and my father was just literally completely fabricated. The only reason I sound slightly bent out of shape about it – even though I don’t even think about it anymore, I was annoyed about it the first couple of days – was that he wrote shit about my father. Imagine reading shit about what your family does that is the exact opposite of what they stand for and do? So that was fuckin’ annoying. I didn’t want to respond and give him any shine, so you just have to sit there and eat the fact that people are gonna read bullshit about you and your family, so that kinda sucks. Granted, it’s only gonna be 200 people who read about it, but it’s still annoying.
You’ve also been involved with the Low Budget crew?
When I was in DC I did a college radio show at WMUC, University of Maryland, right outside of DC. It’s a really small station, like a ten-watt radio station with a great history of hip-hop. When I came in there it’s the same as any college radio station anywhere – you get kids who come into the station and bring you their shit – and Kev Brown came in one day and brought me a mini disc of music, and I fell in love with his shit, early. I still wanna put it out one day, his really early shit. I mean it sounds so dated and terrible compared to what he went on to do, but you could still hear the spark. He started coming back to the show all the time and then he made a little first album called The Gifted Misfit. He hand-drew the cover, he produced it and he rhymed on the whole thing, and he really didn’t know how to rhyme well then. This is around ’98, and he met Grap Luva at my show one day and Kev ended up submitting shit to BBE for the Marley Marl record, and he ended-up getting that song with Grap Luva on there (‘What Ruling Means’). Then he submitted shit to Jazzy Jeff and started spending a lot of time in Philly, and he brought Oddisee with him. Oddisee I met through Kev, and Kev brought Cy-Young up there, and then Oddisee was fucking with this kid Sean Born. That was really the formation of Low Budget – everyone met through the open mics and the through the radio station. Me and my boy Marshal Law sorta become the DJ’s of the crew. It was all these really dope artists from DC – Kaimbr, Roddy Rod from Masspike, Critically Acclaimed – it sort of all started there. Now I feel like I’m in a position with the radio show and the way the hip-hop market is, I think radio DJ’s like me have a real chance in the digital era to really be a voice for putting out music. I really want get this fuckin’ digital label crackin’, where I can use all my neat connections that I’ve gotten to make through Hot 97 and sorta bridge the gap between a lot of the underground kids that I fuck with and the people with a bit more of a reputation, and put out some really dope music.
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