It’s like the first two-thirds of one of those Chappelle’s Show “When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong” skits. Peter Rosenberg, Hot 97 radio DJ and esteemed New York hip-hop paragon, got his station in a bit of hot water yesterday when his insulting comments about a certain Nicki Minaj single (“I know there are some chicks in here waiting to sing along with ‘Starships’ later…Fuck that bullshit. I’m here to talk about real hip hop shit.”) at the station’s Summer Jam music festival led to Young Money head honcho Lil Wayne forcing Nicki to pull the plug on her performance. You’d expect the fallout today to probably include a contrite apology from Rosenberg for his faux pas, probably blaming heat stroke and/or prohibitive water prices for his poorly-thought-out comments.
Not so fast, FM listeners. Turns out that not only is Rosenberg not apologizing, he’s doubling down on his prior comments. He explained on Hot 97 this morning:
Hey, I went out there, I was hosting, I was in the zone of doing real hip hop…I just said what came to mind and everyone made a big deal about it… Now the Barbz are all hitting me and asking me to apologize. There’s a get-me-to-apologize movement, to which I can say… I’m absolutely not apologizing because I didn’t do anything wrong…I said the same thing I’ve been saying — let’s keep it real, Nicki — I have been saying this for six months. I’m not gonna change my stance ’cause I’m at Summer Jam…
Rosenberg also expressed his opinion that Nicki’s response to his call-out should have been to “[get] on that stage and [make] a movie.”
There are a number of issues to unpack here, obviously. First off, there’s the question of whether or not Nicki deserves such scrutiny for releasing an obviously Top 40-baiting single such as “Starships”—and naturally, as a pop blog, we’re inclined to side with her, and say that “Real Hip-Hop” can mean many things and just because Nicki releases a song with big sing-along hooks and RedOne production doesn’t make the song antithetical to the Hot 97 M.O., nor does it mean that Nicki is turning her back on her roots. (Nicki’s labelmates Lil Wayne and Drake have both been guilty of releasing similarly non-RHH singles but never seem to get the same flak for it.)
And even as Hot 97 may spurn a song like “Starships,” they’ve certainly embraced plenty of other Roman Reloaded cuts—”Champion,” “I Am Your Leader” and especially “Beez in the Trap”—closer to their general line of thinking. So it doesn’t really make sense to us to call out one of Nicki’s songs when much of her other discography still provides your station’s bread-and-butter—and it makes especially little sense to do so while she’s hours away from headlining your own festival where you booked her as a marquee artist.
But more importantly than whether Nicki “deserves” to be chastised for her un-hip-hopness, there’s another pressing question here: Is it really worth it for Rosenberg to risk his career defending his stance? Regardless of whether or not he’s justified, he’s putting his station in an incredibly awkward position here by forcing them to choose whether or not to back him, and risk permanently alienating Nicki (and the entire Young Money label by extension) in the process. It seems to us like if Hot 97 is put in the middle of a beef between one of their dozens of on-air DJs and the most powerful label in hip-hop, it’s gonna be pretty hard for them to side with the former. Is having defended the tenets of “Real Hip Hop” gonna be comfort enough for Rosenberg when he gets downgraded to a volunteer late-night DJ on WNYU?
We do admire Rosenberg a little for sticking to his guns, however misdirected they may be—he’s clearly a man of principle, for better or worse. But as fans of his less musically conservative moments, we hope somebody at Hot 97 gives him a gag order before he really sets himself on fire just to protect the memory of EPMD and Boogie Down Productions. Oh, and maybe silence Funkamster Flex while you’re at it, too: