Ed Lover, Still Hustlin’ 15 Years After “Yo! MTV Raps”
Casual hip-hop heads might only know Ed Lover for his radio stints with Hot 97 and now Power 105.1 FM or even his comical new web series, “C’Mon Son,” but that man’s history in the game is much deeper than that. Alongside longtime partner Doctor Dre—and Fab 5 Freddy—Ed co-hosted Yo! MTV Raps which served as the premiere program for the nation’s dose of hip-hop videos and artist profiles. During its seven-year run, the show featured memorable interviews with the likes of 2Pac, Wu-Tang Clan and Naughty By Nature, among others.
Since then Ed has evolved into a regular fixture in hip-hop, as the Queens, NY native brings his levelheaded and insightful humor to the world of celebrity news and gossip for a much-needed reality check to the madness that is “Hollyweird.” With today (August 17) marking the 15th anniversary of the final episode of Yo! MTV Raps, XXLMag.com caught up with the former-rapper-turned-media-maverick to reminisce on hip-hop, talk radio politics and air out a few stars like Chris Rock and Will Smith for abandoning the urban audience. It’s no holds barred.
XXLMag.com: One of the reasons why Internet radio is so popular these days is because many people complain that traditional radio plays the same songs all day everyday. Do you see that situation as something that’s hurting hip-hop radio?
Ed Lover: Radio is a huge business and owned by corporate America. Once it becomes a business then they will do what they feel is right for their business like any corporation. So with radio the bottom line is making money. They will play the hits that drives people to the radio station. They are not there to break records. If it’s a hit they will play it.
XXLMag.com: Many years ago there were radio stations that would break new artists and introduce people to the latest underground sound making waves. So do you feel that the corporate ownership is hindering the evolution of hip-hop music?
Ed Lover: I think it’s bad for independent artists but I also think that cream always rises to the top. So if you got something hot it won’t be hard for you to make it. I don’t understand how people can have that attitude about anything when artists like 50 Cent and Drake come out of nowhere and they become big stars.
XXLMag.com: Some people suspect that stars like that usually have the support of payola systems to help them breakthrough. So how prevalent do you find that to be during your years of radio?
Ed Lover: I’ve had people approach me for payola but I won’t lose my lucrative job for a little bit of money for a record; that doesn’t make sense. I’ve never seen it going on but I'm quite sure it does. Maybe I turn a blind eye to it but I don’t deal in that arena with people that do that.
XXLMag.com: Another issue with radio is the fact that we have many DJ’s, most visibly DJ Khaled who are now also stepping out in front of the scenes. You’ve also done that in your career so do you feel like that should be a non-issue?
Ed Lover: I don’t see anything wrong with being more than what you are at the time. I've known [DJ] Khaled since he was selling bootleg cell phones. So for him to do what he’s doing is wonderful. He has the personality and skills and knows good music. What I think is wrong is people trying to copy and not finding their own way. I think the DJ goes from breaking records and giving other artists a chance to being more concerned with his own music and projects, and that’s what most [people] complain about. I don’t think [DJ] Khaled is guilty of any of that but I think certain DJ’s are guilty of that. That’s where the problem lies and that’s why Jermaine Dupri had something to say about DJ’s a couple of years ago.
XXLMag.com: Would you put out a single or album again?
Ed Lover: If I did record something—sometimes I do get the itch to record—it would have to be something special like a parody record or up-tempo club record. I think Jay-Z has the 40-year-old market on lock and I'm not as good as him. So I will leave it alone to the people that do it best.
XXLMag.com: Sometimes when celebrities crossover into the mainstream market they forget the urban audience that helped make them stars. Do you find that a lot of celebrities are still open to urban radio?
Ed Lover: I haven’t had problems with the artists. I've had more problems with these Black stars who do movies and feel like they don’t need to talk to their audience anymore. That’s ridiculous. I'm in the No. 1 market in the country, New York City, and Chris Rock will do Good Morning America, but not radio. It could be them saying it or the point people for their project making the decision. Will Smith has yet to come through and I don’t know what that’s all about. You would think he’d say that’s my man Ed, so let me visit him. I don’t understand when you feel like you bigger than urban radio. We blindly follow everything so if the audience puts the pressure like you don't support the urban market then we won’t go to your movies, they will change their mind. As long as we follow they will do whatever they want to do.
XXLMag.com: In your “C’Mon Son” Web series you regularly talk about celebrities the same way bloggers do. What do you think of celebrities who are sensitive to anyone who says anything negative about them and choose to publicly retaliate?
Ed Lover: I think it’s ridiculous since everybody has their opinion. You got to remember everybody won’t like everything. When I first did “C’Mon Son,” people said some things that could have really hurt my feelings but you won’t please everybody. So you look ridiculous yelling about somebody hating. There’s a difference between hating and not liking something. If you have no campaign to shut that person down then you’re not hating on them. People don’t know that there’s a difference
XXLMag.com: What is up next for you?
Ed Lover: Right now I’m working on taking the Web series to national television. It will be the same format but with some skits involved in it. I’m also doing my radio and just doing my best. I got lucky to make a living in hip-hop. —Souleo
Yo! MTV Raps last episode freestyle, Pt. 1 feat. Rakim, KRS-ONE, Erick Sermon, Chubb Rock and MC Serch
Yo! MTV Raps last episode freestyle, Pt. 1 feat. Redman, Method Man, Extra P, Special Ed and Craig Mack