Angie Martinez: Sophmoric Jinx?

posted August 23, 2002 12:00:00 AM CDT | 0 comments

Despite the fact I get her everyday on the air, I never listened to Angie Martinez outside the virtual space she occupies in my mind as a popular and often controversial on-air radio personality in New York. "Radio is bugged out because you go in a few hours and you disappear. People don't see you. When you're an artist you're much more visible." I was blind up until the grand entrance. Suddenly dark sparks whip to light before my eyes, and not for one of the more obvious, less temporal elements of human attraction. My mind sprints to gather composure for this special moment arranged only an hour before our eyes actually met for the first time while she scrambles for an important piece of misplaced paper. I can't remember the last time an interview with a rapper was as aesthetically assuring as this instance is assuming. I go down on all fours ready to help when presto! The resolution materializes before my eyes; transforming the chaotic scenario into a composition of composedness; delivering me outta my altered state of deer-in-the-headlightheadedness: It's Angie with outstretched hand...

"I'm in a different city every weekend. Who knows where I'll be in a few months. I'm taking a week off and I'ma do a west coast run. Do a bunch of shows, hit as many cities as possible. I'll take another week sometime in September and do the same thing." So much for a vacation. At least she'll be outta harm's way of the Jonestownian-like exercise in collective public awareness come September 11.

With her sophomore doloshot Animal House signed, sealed, and delivered for mass consumption, she doesn't look the worse for wear and tear. "I have to work ten times as hard to promote my album because I have a full-time responsibility at the radio station. Your average artist could do five or six cities a week. I have to grind harderinterviews all morning before I get on the radio, interviews all night when I get off." Angie lends credence to the line the game's to be told, not to be sold. "I have a song called 'Never' about my experience, feeling like I worked hard to have this position. It's my response to people who might doubt. I been doin this for a long time, at least respect my hustle. Nobody is gonna stop my momentum because I've always been driven." For anyone harboring false perceptions of her privedged position as a radio host to wrap musique think again. "I'm in one market, New York, a tough radio station. They'll support me to an extent. They'll put the record in but if the record doesn't test well the record's out. My records have to perform in order to stay on the radio. I have every other market to get on just like every artist. People think that I get all this airplay because I'm on the radio, it doesn't work like that at all."

At any given moment of existence when one ponders what's occasionally referred to as the infinite, the most pressing and eternal question to inevitably arise in the midst of time and space is: what is really real for real? A great deal of time and space has been set aside for this very question since her provocative debut Up Close and Personal. "Somebody asked me, 'Are you worried about the sophmore jinx?' I had freshman jinx! The first album nobody knows you and they not judging that hard. By the second album they feel like they can judge and they're harder on your music. I felt that pressure for the first one because of the whole radio thing and people already having preconceived. The second one I feel like it's my third because I've already been through that and I'm cool now. I'm comfortable. The first was good. I had moments and I learned a lot, but this second one was definitely a more comfortable experience." The definition of "real" takes on a multitude of connotations with any given person at any given time in any given situation, but in the context of the raptrap the word has increasingly come to be applied to the handling of one's beesness. It is in this aspect that you'll find Angie in her most animated and practical manifestation of a highly expressive artist when she discusses her new production company Animal House and her plans for the future. "I love making music and I love hip hop but eventually I'ma fall back. It's good to do this cause I love makin' music, the experience of actually making music with other artiststhe experience of doing it yourselfis the best experience you could have. The experience of knowing how to put an album together well is gonna help. Hopefully, I can find artists that'll make me work as hard for them as I work for myself." That could very well serve to silence the criticism of an overreliant diet of guest artists as a supplement to any lyrical deficiencies she might have as a clean lean microphone fiend. But then again, what connotation does "60 Billion Served" carry in this day and age in the face of grit and grind and the confidence of contentedness? "Whatever happens with this albumwhether it sells five copies or five million copiesI feel good about what I put out there and I know somebody is gonna feel me. There's real shit that I talk about and I feel like somebody's gonna connect with me on this album. That alone is great."

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