Angie Martinez: The Voice That Defined Hip Hop Radio

Angie Martinez's time in radio is full of prominent moments since she started her career as an intern and became an icon.

BYPaul Barnes
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Angie Martinez is one of the key voices in radio today. Known as “The Voice of New York,” she has been in radio for over 20 years. Her latest endeavor has been her podcast titled IRL, which has seen guests from the music and media world of all kinds and generations. However, she was at Hot 97, a prominent rap station in New York, before this. She later left for another New York outlet, Power 105. These tenures resulted in her induction into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2020. Angie also spent some time behind the mic as a rapper too. She built her reputation by working with prominent figures in both fields in the late '90s and early 2000s. With a résumé so expansive, it comes as no surprise she’ll be receiving her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2024.

Angie Martinez’s Time At Hot 97

Angie Martinez during Sizzla at Hot 97.1 FM - July 19, 2005 at Hot 97.1 FM in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Angie Martinez’s place in the radio world began in Miami at Power 96. While living in New York, her mom sent her to Miami for the summer to give her something to do that aligned with her love of music. While she only had an internship, the hustle and bustle of live radio excited her. When Angie returned to New York, she got a job at Hot 97. In an interview with Complex, she spoke of how the station played dance music and later crossover artists that blended dance and hip-hop. The true hip-hop songs were only played at night with fewer listeners. The station brought in Funkmaster Flex, who was an integral part of its transformation into a hip-hop station. Angie worked with him directly.

Working with Funkmaster Flex was how Angie Martinez first got her foot in the door as an on-air personality. In the same Complex interview, she spoke about how Flex was more comfortable talking to her than talking to the radio listeners. He would address her while she was in the room, and she would chime in so the people listening could hear her, too. This led to her being on air alone in the very late hours of the station, 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. The station liked how she handled the calls during that time, her genuine knowledge of the culture, and her technical knowledge of playing the music. They moved her to 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. That’s when she started doing interviews that began with local artists and soon progressed to chart-topping artists.

Angie’s Time At Power 105 & Beyond

Angie Martinez spent over ten years at the radio station Hot 97. In short, she said it was time to leave because she didn’t feel at home anymore. Upon arriving at Power 105, she was given a show named after her. With her years of experience, she was able to start her own podcast, IRL. Guests on this platform have ranged from Janelle Monáe to Derek Jeter to Taraji P. Henson. Martinez has also written a book about her life titled My Voice, released in 2016. She’s also done some acting, appearing in Paper Soldiers (2002), Brown Sugar (2002), and Paid in Full (2002). Most recently, she appeared on ABC’s special Hip Hop at 50: Rhythms, Rhymes and Reflections, where she hosted panels for figures in rap from the past and present.

Angie Martinez’s Rap Background

Angie Martinez spent her career regularly speaking with artists on the radio, but she also jumped into the rap world for a time. Her start in music came from legendary co-signs. KRS-One put her on his song “Heartbeat” in 1997, and she appeared on the platinum-selling “Ladies Night Remix” of “Not Tonight” by Lil Kim. This one also featured Missy Elliott, Left Eye, and Da Brat. Her debut album, Up Close and Personal, dropped in 2001 and was filled with features from titans in rap. These included Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, and more. The album’s lead single, “Dem Thangz” was produced by The Neptunes. The album peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop. She dropped her next album, Animal House, the following year.

Angie Martinez’s Legacy

Angie Martinez is an integral part of the culture of hip-hop. She’s been around long enough to see how it has transformed. She was a part of that change herself. As a woman in the industry, she was a trailblazer for those who came after her. She also saw how women have gone from being looked down on in the rap game to often outselling the men. Her love of the culture that started as a teenager ensured her interviewing skills were always top-tier. And her interviewees are legendary, ranging from Tupac to Drake and beyond. Her connections in the music world helped her build long-standing relationships and respect among industry professionals. Her getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is earned and well-deserved.


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