‘This Is Hot 97′ Cast Opens Up About ‘Rap Teletubbies,’ Staff Crazies & More [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Terrestrial radio juggernaut Hot 97 is coming to a TV screen near you with a new show, ‘This Is Hot 97,’ which debuts tonight (March 31).
‘This Is Hot 97′ is different from VH1’s usual celeb reality shows: Instead of love triangles, baby mama drama and flipped tables, Hot’s radio jocks show viewers what it’s like to work at one of the most talked about hip-hop radio stations in the country. Comedy is what you’ll get; hair pulling and tossed drinks are what you won’t see.
Sure, the comedy-inspired TV show still features confessional interviews and essentially has the cameras rolling all the time like much of reality TV, but on this one, the focus isn’t necessarily on the celebrities and artists that walk into the radio station (although Kanye West’s refusal to officially be put on the show is pretty epic). On ‘This Is Hot 97,’ the staff are the stars. While other shows center on the drama that ensues amongst colleagues and friends, here there are endless amounts of cracks that Ebro Darden, Angie Martinez, Funk Master Flex, Laura Stylez, Miss Info, Cipha Sounds and Peter Rosenberg throw at each other. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few spats here and there but in the end, the focus is on how these individuals make the legendary station what it is and uphold its reputation.
The Boombox had the chance to chat with three of the four hosts of the ‘The Hot 97 Morning Show’ — Laura, Cipha and Rosenberg. From the antics that Cipha and Rosenberg pull around the office to their “hazing” of Laura, the dynamic surrounding this trio is not only hilarious to hear but it’s even funnier to watch unfold on TV. The cast members get candid about who the crazies are on the show, what a typical filming day is like for them (considering they start at 5AM every day) and how the guys feel about being called the “rap Teletubbies.”
Now that the first episode is out, we see that it’s not just a show about the staff but a lot of artists make cameos as well. So what can we expect from the season?
Cipha Sounds: The show basically is how we are off the air and how we are around the office, and a lot of celebrities always come by Hot 97 even if they’re not on the radio. They’re having meetings about music or doing stuff with our digital platforms.
Laura Stylez: And it’ll be cool to see them on the show. You know how they’re on the radio, they put on their super rapper mode? Well, they’re actually going to have conversations with us. So that’ll be cool to watch. And well, we’re just going to be ourselves. We’re in an office. It might be Hot 97, but we’re in an office like everyone else.
In one of the behind-the-scenes videos of the show featured on VH1, Rosenberg refers to a lot of people at the station as crazy. So let’s talk about the craziness. Who do you think viewers will be surprised by this season?
Laura: Miss Info because she’s seen as so serious, and she’s serious about reporting the news. But you see on the TV show she’s not always like that and is crazy. She’s a lunatic, and you don’t get to see that side of her. But we love her.
Cipha: Well, I’m very, very excited that the world will see the huge amounts of craziness with Funkmaster Flex. I was Funkmaster Flex’s intern for many, many years, and this dude is insane. Everyone knows him as rich and famous, but when the cameras are on, now people are gonna see what I’ve been talking about for years!
You mention Funkmaster Flex being famous, but now all of you are really putting yourselves out there in the spotlight. How does it feel to have all that attention?
Peter Rosenberg: Most people on Hot 97 have been on TV one way or another. But this time, it really just shows who we are so that’s different.
On the first episode, Laura is clearly the center of a little initiation because she is known as the “rookie.” So will this dynamic among the three of you continue throughout the season?
Laura: Yeah, you get to see a lot more of that. But you know, even with all that, they can’t do this without me. They love me. They need me. I keep it together.
Cipha: Oh god.
Rosenberg: But I do have to say that finally the world gets to Laura Stylez and see just how warm and hardworking she is. And not every show has a pair of boobs so big … [Everyone laughs]. And it’s not like the Dolly Parton show. But no, we love Laura. She’s an amazing person.
On ‘The Hot 97 Morning Show,’ you’re all really candid about so many topics, but you must still censor yourself to some extent. However, now that you’re on a VH1 show, you’re kind of allowed to let more out. How does it feel to have that kind of freedom?
Rosenberg: I don’t think it’s necessarily the language. But on ‘The Morning Show,’ you have to spend a lot of time being very palpable. And what Justin Bieber did yesterday and what the ‘Real Housewives’ did yesterday [is what we talk about on the air]. But this show is about us, and we get to be real about everything. So it’s cool to do a show that’s just about us and what happens around us without having to focus on what little mainstream story that’s out there.
Fill in this blank. “The one thing I learned from being on Hot 97 is …”
Cipha: I don’t know. I’ve been here for 15, 16 years now. Um, I’ve learned about how to push yourself forward but also how to work with a family and a team. That’s the thing, we’ve had individual careers [besides the station], and that separates us into different places yet the relationships we have with each other and how cool everyone is. I’ve learned to be a team player while still being able to push my results.
Laura: One thing is we really are a family. We’re all there for each other, and we’ve helped each other grow.
Rosenberg: Oh, I got one. Never walk into Angie’s [Martinez] studio when Angie’s in there.
Now with the show, what’s the one thing you learned from that experience?
Rosenberg: I’ve learned that people really do think I’m rather self-involved. The whole time I thought they were joking, but they really believe it.
Cipha: Yeah, we’re definitely not joking [Everyone laughs]. Well, I learned that I really like being on TV, but I also know I’ve been learning a lot behind the scenes and hanging out with production often like every day.
Laura: It was a really cool learning experience, and guys, I just realized that I’ve never been on TV before.
Cipha: No? You’re weren’t on some weird Telemundo s—?
Laura: I mean, maybe something really small, but nothing like you guys. You guys, this is my first TV show.
Cipha: Well, welcome!
Laura: Thanks guys!
So of course, there are also the haters out there who aren’t too happy that Hot 97 is on a reality TV show. How do you guys react to the comments?
Laura: Well, a lot of the negative comments, too, people feel like we’re selling out to reality TV. And they thought we were going to part of some ratchet reality show, you know what I mean. But I think when people really get to watch the show and really enjoy it, it’ll prove that we’re putting something positive to the table, which is what we’re doing.
Being on ‘The Hot 97 Morning Show,’ you guys really have to get into work early, and filming can be in the afternoon or even the evenings. How do you deal with all that and keep up the energy?
Laura: It was definitely exciting and exhausting at the same time.
Cipha: Yeah, it was tiring.
What’s a typical day for you guys then?
Cipha: Well, they first give us an overview the day before [shooting]. Then we’ll get off the show at 10AM, and the girls go off to hair and makeup. They have a full glam squad. They’re in there for two years. The guys just sit around there and wait. They have this rusty razor. No barber, no [new] razor, no nothing. [We] just wait around for the girls to be done.
Laura: That’s not true. No, listen, we also have interviews to do. Sometimes we’re not done till 11AM or 12PM, then we head into hair and makeup usually we’ll be on set till 1:30PM.
Rosenberg: Or somebody will say Angie can get in till 3PM, and we’ll just have to wait. So there will be a lot of days of just waiting around the station or shooting around the station.
Laura: And then there are days when we’re shooting till 8PM, and it’s f—ing rough, man. But we’re signed up for it, and we really like doing it.
Cipha: And all the camera people are a bunch of dudes. There are no hot women.
Laura: Well, what about Bianca?
Cipha: Yeah, Bianca’s cute, but she’s a lesbian. You know…
Laura: And being on ‘The Morning Show,’ we have the hardest shift because we have 16-hour days sometimes.
Rosenberg and Cipha, Miss Info called you two “rap Teletubbies” on the first episode, and now that’s been floating around the internet. How do you feel about that new nickname?
Cipha: [Laughs] We hate “rap Teletubbies,” and we hate “Ciphanberg.”
Rosenberg: Yeah, “rap Teletubbies,” what does that even mean? [Laughs] I resent that almost.
Breaking news, Cipha and Rosenberg don’t like the Teletubbies.
Cipha: I watch a lot of crap TV and a lot of weird s— and never got the Teletubbies. She could have called us, I don’t know, Dora and Diego, or freakin…
Cipha: Or ‘Dorego.’ [‘Teletubbies’ are] just some weird LSD s— to me.
So is filming over for you guys?
Rosenberg: No, the cameras are around. We’re not even back to normal yet. We’re still shooting. I think it will be a hit. We’re guaranteed a season two, I’m saying it!
Laura: We’re sayin’ it!
Cipha: I don’t know if there’s gonna be a season two, but you know what, there will be!
Watch ‘This is Hot 97′ on Mondays at 10:30PM on VH1.