By Jasmine Washington
It’s hard to believe that hip hop, and all its modern day popularity, was not welcomed on mainstream radio a few short decades ago. Much like the plight of The Breaks stars Nikki, David and DeeVee, the struggle to get people outside of the culture to understand hip hop’s importance was real AF.
Behind The Breaks host and radio legend himself Sway Calloway caught up with three prominent DJs to shed light on hip hop music and it’s influence on the radio in the 1990s. Pioneering hip hop radio personality Kool DJ Red Alert, DJ Mister Cee, who’s responsible for discovering The Notorious B.I.G and acclaimed radio star DJ Enuff reflected on their individual journeys on the airwaves and the challenges they faced along the way.
Touching on topics like their transition from spinning in the club to on-air personalities, feuds with other DJs, and the taboo business of payola.
“I’m proud to say to this day, you couldn’t buy me. I say ’yo, I don’t play favorites. I don’t play politics. I play what I believe in.’ I don’t care how much you put in my face. Some of them quietly, later on in life say, ’Yo, man, we appreciate you being honest and truthful…’ I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sell my soul,” Red Alert proudly recalled.
Just like DeeVee was moved to do something radical after David died on The Breaks, this trio of DJs have been impacted by the deaths of music stars. Mister Cee, who was a close friend of The Notorious B.I.G, reflected on his loss and shared how the tragedy led him to create a special tradition.
“When Big passed in ’97, of course, I took it hard being my personal relationship with him but then the one-year anniversary of his passing, I decided to do a tribute on the air. That tribute lead to me doing other tributes. Unfortunately with other passings along the way, I didn’t really see other DJs taking that lead so I said ’I’m going to do it.”
Check out the rest of the interview above!
Be sure to tune into The Breaks every Monday at 10/9c, only on VH1!