Cipha Sounds And Alicia Keys Have An Improv TV Show In The Works
The last few months have sparked major changes for the historic NYC hip-hop radio station, Hot 97. After Angie Martinez left back in June to join competing station, Power 105, one by one some of Hot's biggest names have also ventured off to start fresh somewhere else. Mister Cee, Big Dennis, and most recently Cipha Sounds, who took over Martinez's spot, have all parted ways in the last few months, after each serving the station for around two decades.
The station that New Yorkers have known for years is entering a new era, and fresh off Cipha's departure news, XXL caught up with the 17-year Hot 97 employee to get the inside scoop on recent occurrences. But first, the dirt: following last week's Juan Epstein podcast where in true Ciph fashion, the veteran radio personality vented his woes for all of the Tri-State's four million listeners to hear, people got a little more privy to the happenings inside of the station's offices and wanted answers. Cipha revealed that things got "weird" for him at the company due to the fact that Hot brought in yet another replacement for Angie's former slot, MTV correspondent Nessa, without giving him a heads up, along with a host of other mishaps.
From the effect of Angie leaving to what happened with his morning show prior to the station's current Ebro In The Morning, Cipha breaks down the final few months of his tenure, and unveiled a few of his new endeavors, like a VH1 show in the works with Alicia Keys. With his trademark humor that serves him well in his ventures in hip-hop comedy, Cipha discusses Nessa taking over his slot, what led him to the point of parting ways with his longtime employer and what he's planning to do next in terms of his comedy. —Miranda J.
XXL: What got into you and Peter Rosenberg on that episode of Juan Epstein that you just let it all out?
Cipha Sounds: Honestly, if you listen to Juan Epstein, we talk 100 percent honest all the time. There’s nothing about that podcast that’s different than any other one, it just so happened to be a hot topic at the moment and it spread around. You can go back and listen to years of Juan Epstein when we talk about what’s going on at the station. We’d talk about Ebro on there all the time. It’s just that, it was normal.
Did that have any connection with you and Hot 97 parting ways?
No, not at all.
Many people got that impression.
Yeah, I guess me leaving made people listen to it and there’s just foreshadowing. They look back on it and say it, "It was because of this...," When really, I was feeling upset for a while. It had nothing to do with the podcasts.
In the podcast you were saying that you gave new Hot 97 personality Nessa a call to congratulate her. What exactly did you say?
I said congratulations and that I’m a fan of hers. I love her on [MTV’s] Girl Code. I have a lot of friends on Girl Code and Guy Code. I said it’s a tough market, it’s a tough slot. There’s shoes to be filled with that slot, not even talking about me but just in general. I was just like, I don’t know what’s happening with me and the station. I don’t know where I’m going to be but if we’re in the same room, I don’t want it to be awkward, so I wanted to talk to you first. I just wanted to make sure that we’re cool.
So being that they decided to bring her in for the 3 p.m. slot [at Hot 97] that you had been given after Angie Martinez left, were you ever open to taking over another slot?
I was always open to anything at Hot 97. I’ve done... I have a joke at Hot 97, the only slot I can’t do is Klay Slay’s show because I don’t have all that street grimy hip-hop. I’ve done every single slot at Hot 97. I’ve filled in for Camilo when he used to have a Reggaeton slot. I could do the reggae show. I filled in for Flex at the beginning of my career. I filled in for middays, I filled in for Angie. Every weekend slot, I was always open to it. But it just got weird. Hot 97 is the kindest, bravest, warmest human being that I’ve ever known in my life.
You mentioned Angie, though, and in the last few months, you, Angie and [Mister] Cee have all left. What do you think this means for Hot 97? Do you think they’re just entering a new era?
That’s what it feels like. It feels like they’re going a different direction than they used to go. I don’t know what exactly it is. I think that if you’ve been in New York for a long time and you’re a native New Yorker like me, then it definitely looks different. But to them, I think they’re looking at it like, "Yeah, we want it to look different. It’s a new thing." I think maybe if I was doing that then I would just change the name because it’s a different thing. Like, if I had a store that sold sneakers and then the next day, I sold Tupperware, I would change the name.