The Voice of New York

Growing up in New York City means something different to everyone. Some of my most fond memories are playing in the fire hydrant on a hot summer day, begging my mom for a few dollars so I can buy a limbel from the neighbor on the 3rd floor and hanging out with my sister and cousins on the fire escape of my Abuela building than rushing back into the apartment when I saw my moms car turn the corner of the block. With good reason she didn’t want us hanging out there. Abuela lived on the 5th floor and my mom was constantly arguing with her of how dangerous it was. And of course I remember tuning into Hot 97 with Angie Martinez as I scrambled to straighten up the house and clean any dirty dishes before my Mom got home and started bitchin’ (I’m definitely going to get a nice phone call after that).

Like most young girls in New York City, I looked up to Angie. She was and still is well respected in the hip hop community. Famous for her Radio Show on Hot 97, her straight forward interviews and guest appearances on a couple of rap songs. You never knew who was just going to swing by the station on any given day. Everyone loves Angie and when you heard her voice through your radio you shut up and listened. Even if you didn’t agree with what she was saying you couldn’t deny that her delivery had to be respected. You could feel how genuine and real she is in her tone. She’s most definitely a Radio Legend!

51krkAWdIhL._AA300_Fast forward to about 2 years ago, Angie Martinez had just published her first book and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I’m not sure what I was more excited and intrigued to read, her life story or the parts of her infamous interview with the late TuPac Shakur that never made it and why? Before I was able to purchase the book Ed surprised me with it. I was super excited! I finished the book in a matter of days. It was truly inspiring. Reading about all the things she endured to get to where she is and through it all how she still managed to remain humble and true to herself. There were definitely parts of her life that I can relate to now as an adult who is still learning and figuring out her place and purpose in the world.

One day after work, Ed and I were walking to the super market when we passed a restaurant/lounge with a poster of Angie’s  book cover saying she would be having a Q&A that night!!! I couldn’t believe it! I knew I had to attend. I’ve probably never in my life shopped so fast. I must have just grabbed what I would need for the next morning and probably even forgot a thing or two. As we were walking back home with the groceries Ed stops and says “Look at her right there” I thought he was kidding and kept it moving, while Ed walked up to a black car. I had no time to waste. I needed to get home and change my clothes. Next thing I know all I hear is the same voice I’ve been listening to since I was in 12 years old say “Hey, whats going on?” I froze for a second before turning around, there she was sitting in a car recording me on Snap Chat. I was looking a hot mess, grocery bags in hand filled with tomorrows breakfast, and all of a sudden I became camera shy and stunned. I was on The Voice Of New York’s Snap Chat!! WHAT!!

She gets out the car, shorter than I expected her to be and gives me a hug. Still not being able to muster up the courage to say anything but “Oh my God! Hi” she asks if we’re going to the Q&A. Ed answers for me with a definite yes. I finally come to my senses and tell her I had to go home drop off my bags, change my clothes and get my book. She says “Okay, hurry! I’ll be waiting for you inside”

I practically ran the 3 blocks to my house, throw my groceries in the fridge without even bothering to take them out the bags. Open up my draw, thinking this is not the time to need to do laundry! I didn’t know what to wear, which is nothing new but I didn’t even have my favorite shirt or jeans or dress to throw on! I grabbed a plain dark green tank, a pair of shorts and threw on some Nikes, asked Ed a million times if I looked fine. His answer is always yes, but sometimes I think he will tell me I look great just so I can hurry up. Ed is the best at getting me organized when I’m in a rush but still need to check myself out in the mirror 50 times. He had my book, my wristlet and keys in hand while he waited patiently by the door. Finally I was ready.
img_2115We walked into the restaurant where we were instructed to go downstairs to the outside lounge area. We walk into the patio where she’s up front in the middle of answering someone’s question. It’s a small venue so she spots us as we find a seat somewhere and excitedly acknowledged our arrival. “Everybody say ‘Hi’ to my friends! I just met them outside. Did you bring your book?” Have you ever felt embarrassed but gassed up at the same time? Well that’s how I felt, embarrassed because I hate being put on the spot. But when someone you admire calls you a friend even though you just met them you can’t help but for feel a little full of yourself.

Everyone was going around asking question and when I got a little comfortable with the crowd I mustered up to courage to ask a question.

“Out of all the relationships you’ve made throughout your career, what made you asked J. Cole to write your foreword?”

A foreword is an introduction written by another person, which usually comes before the preface. And J. Cole had written the most beautiful foreword I had ever read. As a hip hop lover it warmed my heart and sat with my soul making me scream YAAASSSSSS!!! Snaps and all! I’ll admit, Ed helped come up with the question, I was to caught up in the moment to think of what to ask her. That was one of the first things I thought when I was reading the book. I would have thought she would have asked Funk Master Flex or Jay Z to write her foreword being as though her career had grown up with them.

Her response to my question was simple, she has asked a few people to write a blurb, which are those comment type things in the back of the book. Well, J. Cole’s “blurb” ended up being “a whole essay long” she knew she couldn’t ask him to shorten it. Like me, it warmed her heart. She decided to keep it as her foreword.

The event went on with waiters passing around free beer and appetizers. After a while my nerves settled and I was comfortable enough to ask more and more questions. The crowd was so small it was like we were all members of the same book club. We laughed and we teared up as we all went around explaining the impact Angie had on us growing up and especially during 9/11.

The night had come to an end a little too fast, even though Angie stayed well passed her expected time to just hang out with everyone there. It definitely was awesome kicking it with some you admired growing up. I will carry the memory and inspiration of that night with me forever. I am forever grateful to Ed for giving me that courage to simply say Hi and pinching me to insure me that I wasn’t dreaming. And of course to my empty fridge for forcing me to walk passed the restaurant on my way to the supermarket. Without them I would have just had a regular Thursday night at home.

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Look at the smile!!

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