Peter Rosenberg is undoubtedly one of the hardest working men in hip hop, and he doesn’t even rap. The voice of Hot 97’s Morning Show is notorious for promoting artists that are virtually unknown to the masses long before they catch wind. But as of late, Rosenberg has been hard at work promoting his own endeavors.
News recently broke that “the most important hip hop radio station in the world” would finally have its own TV show on VH1. “This Is Hot 97” will focus on life at Hot 97 and revolve around the most prominent personalities at the station, Rosenberg among them. Contrary to popular belief, the crew at the station is emphasizing that it is not a reality show. Rather, they are dubbing it an “unscripted comedy.”
Mass Appeal had the chance to chat with Mr. Rosenberg himself to get the scoop on the new series and his plans for SXSW this week.
On “This is Hot 97”
Mass Appeal: When did the idea of the show come about?
Peter Rosenberg: I first started hearing inquiries about it a year ago, but it was a matter of if we were gonna be able to make the show that we wanted to make. We didn’t want to do it if it was something that’s already been done. There was a lot of back and forth but Ebro promised us that we would only agree to do it if it was something we felt we all loved. It’s finally gonna come to fruition shortly.
MA: How has it been thus far?
PR: It’s been awesome. I mean we’re done filming now and I love what we did. I’m really proud of it. I’m pretty confident that if this show does huge numbers or does one season and goes away forever that I’ll always love it. You know it’s like, “Hip Hop Squares” was super cool and a great experience, but that said, it was a redux of a game show and kind of mindless, fun television. This show is much more than that. It’s something that is near and dear to me. Since I’ve been on the air at Hot, I always thought about how great it would be to have a funny depiction of what happens at this radio station. I think it was executed really well.
MA: What is it about “This Is Hot 97” that separates it from the typical VH1 reality show?
PR: Well it’s an unscripted comedy. A lot of other shows that have existed (on the network) fall under the guise of a reality show. It’s supposed to be cameras showing you what is supposedly ‘the truth,’ and we often know that it’s not. This show is sort of removed from that ideology and it’s just more of an improvisational, funny version of what life is at Hot 97.
It’s sort of like, ‘Here’s something that happened/is happening at work.’ We know what’s funny about this situation and we play that up. It’s just sort of like a hyper version of what we really are. I think that it will become much clearer after an episode to see what the show is really about.
MA: So the show is mainly focusing on the personalities at the station?
PR: They gave screen tests at the beginning of the show and they decided on seven people they wanted to focus on, and ultimately chose (Funk) Flex, Angie (Martinez), (Miss) Info, Laura (Stylez), Ebro, Cipha Sounds and myself. They made it about us but you know there are appearances by tons of people at the station, then the artists that sort of contribute to life at Hot.
MA: I imagine that the celebrities and artists play a significant role in the plot as well.
PR: Yeah I think that there are celebrities in every episode, at least one if not more. It’s got pretty good star power, the first episode has Kanye, Macklemore, and Maino which is a pretty interesting and diverse group to come out with. I was probably most psyched about our Mike Tyson episode. It’s the story of how Mike can’t get my name right, even though I idolize him he always calls me Dave [Laughs].
MA: Did having cameras around change the atmosphere of the station in regard to actions and things being said? Did it create a certain tension?
PR: It absolutely changes the way you do things. We definitely turned up for TV but instead of the traditional fighting and throwing a drink in someone’s face it’s more just being really funny and having ridiculous conversations.
It’s interesting because the Press Release doesn’t say reality. People only heard ‘reality.’ When people tune in expecting a reality show unfortunately they’re gonna be disappointed. However, people who tune in and hope it’s not another one of those reality shows are going to be so pleasantly surprised because like I said, no drama. Any of the drama is just fun and in good spirits. Think “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in the office more than “Love & Hip Hop.”
MA: The show’s focal point is comedy and that’s one of your strong suits. Do you ever see yourself possibly getting into standup comedy?
PR: What I would really like is this TV show to lead me into more television opportunities. I really love hosting; I would love to have a late night talk show one day. I’d like to be known as someone who does really serious interviews but really funny interviews. I happen to know a lot of people who bridge the gap between both and I feel that I can as well.
MA: Any chance that you’ll use this show as a platform to continue to push artists that are unknown to the masses like you have throughout your career?
PR: I spend a lot of my time promoting artists that I love, of which I see zero dollars from. I spend all of my time on this show promoting Peter Rosenberg, “Juan Epstein” and Hot 97. This is the thing, at the radio station we have a bunch of stars, I always thought of myself as a star. Yes, I’m a broadcaster and a radio host but I know that I have star quality in myself. We spend so much time focusing on other stars that I look at this show as us getting to be the stars.
MA: What do you have planned for SXSW?
PR: My main event is Friday night, I’m doing my own show. This one is called ‘Peter Rosenberg’s Rap and Wrestling.’ I’m hosting it with my friend Mark Henry from WWE, along with a bunch of other special guest wrestlers that will be co-hosting with me. It’s basically an amazing showcase with ridiculous wrestlers to help me introduce artists. It’s headlined by Slaughterhouse, Tyler, The Creator and Ab-Soul.
I think it’s one of the best hip hop lineups for all of South By. I have like 12 or 14 artists that really run the whole gamut as far as where people are from and the level that people are at. Then right when I get to town on Wednesday night I’m doing an event with G-Pen. That’s just me spinning 45s and it’s open to the public, it’s gonna be a late night deal.
MA: Who are you most looking forward to seeing?
PR: A lot of them are on my show honestly. You know Isaiah Rashad, Retch, Nitty Scott, CJ Fly, Alex Wiley’s on there, I really like Vic Mensa and Bishop Nehru, love that guy. Audio Push is dope, Nemo Achida. This kid Rav Simone out of Seattle is pretty crazy.
MA: Any survival tips for first timers?
PR: If you’re a smoker of any variety, pace yourself because you will have no voice. You get there like Tuesday/Wednesday and by the time Saturday comes around you’re just gonna be famished. My first year at South By I lost my voice so bad, I was hosting with Asher Roth for MTV and it was the first time I had done anything for them.
My other bit of advice is never stay for Saturday night. A lot of awesome stuff happens but the idea of the airport on Sunday morning is so bad. Ever since my second year I’ve just left on Saturday afternoon. Plus I need time to get back to New York and recover before Monday.
MA: What is one thing that you must have with you at all times while you’re down there?
PR: Something with Google Maps on it so you can find delicious barbecue. My Google Maps is Mark Henry who is a very large man and a resident of Austin so I get put on to the best. And he always has a car so he’s gonna scoop me up and take me someplace awesome. But you always gotta have a map so you can find some delicious barbecue.
MA: If you could pin any rappers against each other in a wrestling match, who would you choose?
PR: I’d make it a Tag Team Match. One tag team is Aftermath, it’s Busta Rhymes and Dr. Dre. They’d be up against the Smokaholics, Redman and Method Man. I would see Dre and Busta being big and powerful, but then you’d have highflying coming off the top ropes, aerial tactics from Red and Meth. You never know who’d jump in, it’s like Erick Sermon for Red and Meth, maybe Eminem runs in for Dre and Busta. It’d be a good one.
“This Is Hot 97” premieres Monday, March 31st at 10:30 ET on VH1.
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