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Hip-Hop News: Hot 97 on Negative Publicity
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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
3/17/2005 9:10:35 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Jadakiss, 50 Cent, Ja Rule, G-Unit, The Game and Eminem.

Late last week the rapper Jadakiss had a personal message for his rival 50 Cent: "You should just sell clothes and sneakers 'cause out of your whole camp your flow's the weakest." He chose not to relay the message by fax or two-way pager, nor did he pick up the phone. Instead, Jadakiss turned to an outlet that has become an increasingly popular avenue for communication and conflict within the world of hip-hop: the radio station Hot 97.

 

He could not have chosen a bigger megaphone. Hot 97, which is owned by the Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corp., is the No. 2 station among listeners in New York City and has been No. 1 in the city's 18-34 demographic for nearly a decade. It earns an estimated $40 million annually in revenue, putting it in the top five of Emmis' 25 radio stations. But in recent months the station has been buried in bad publicity. Critics contend that Hot 97 (WQHT-FM) has tilted from credible arbiter of rap trends to ratings-hungry promoter of violence and racism.

 

Two weeks ago, gunfire erupted in front of Hot 97's Greenwich Village offices, shortly after 50 Cent announced on the air that he was booting his protege, the Game, from his G-Unit clique. The incident, coincidentally, occurred on the first day of the rapper Lil' Kim's perjury trial, stemming from her account of a 2001 shoot-out in front of Hot 97. All of this follows the monthlong battering Hot 97 has endured for airing a song mocking victims of the tsunami tragedy.

 

Out of control?

 

The effect has pointed up, at the very least, how commerce on the cutting edge of hip-hop culture can go awry. And the recent events may impose another real-world price on the station: The landlord of the building that houses Hot 97 has threatened to oust the station, citing a track record of shootings, fights and "severe verbal abuse of security and building management personnel."

 

Emmis executives say they are simply trying to maintain their balance.

 

"We don't want to do anything that provokes or encourages or escalates any kind of violent behavior between camps," said Rick Cummings, president of Emmis' radio division. "By the same token, I can't have the radio statio

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