The Ebro Darden Interview


The Major Leagues vs the Minor Leagues. Program Director of New York’s famed radio station Hot 97 Ebro Darden comes on the Combat Jack Show after a heated Twitter exchange with CJ to discuss the current state of radio, wtf is up with its playlist, why certain records don’t get air play during primetime, why records by Trinidad James get love over New York City artists, what’s really going on with Hip Hop culture and an apology to Sean Price. #OccupyHot97 indeed.

Video, Part 1:

Part 2

Part 3

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  • JFlo

    Where’s the podcast at?

  • Loch

    great interview.Ebro dropped some facts on the radio game

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  • Skeematics SIC Beats

    1st off, fuck all these excuses, Ebro just sound like he is just trying to keep his comfortable job, and rightfully so. But at the expense of one mans job, the few people who are still listening to FM radio have to continue listening to the same bullshit ass music. That’s the bottom line with this dude.

    But who cares anyway? the 17 to 30 year old aint listening to FM radio. We in an iPhone era, we make our own playlist, regardless of what’s playing out there. We go to shows and we got youtube!! Who the fuck is still walking around New York with a radio tuner!?!? HOT 97 is trying desperately to hold on to a rapidly dying old way of listening to music. Let them.

    “Why rage against the machine when you can just unplug it” – Phonte of Lil Brother

    • BenHaMeen Button

      True indeed Gawd true indeed.

    • Dee el

      Amen!!! That dude, as I’ve said before, is half full of shit. He’s not a program director, he just chooses the records they give him. If it’s all about research, how do new artists get on the air. There are plenty of non mainstream artists that make sonically solid records. Who’s doing the research? Who chooses the call out songs? Fukouttaherewiddat!


      Yeah, I don’t listen to Blazin Hip Hop and R N B for Sean Price. I only really listen to it in the car or something. I go to the radio for one thing and I go other places for some more gritty, or less one-dimensional raps.

    • Itoi


  • Petro3

    If you look at the whole picture, it puzzles me how someone as unprofessional and delusional like Ebro ended up in a position that he is. Doesnt speak good of Hot 97.

    • BenHaMeen Button

      Hmm I don’t think he is either of those things though. He actually is intelligent and knows the reality of radio today.

  • hiphopsince74

    Prodigy interview was the first time I heard you guys thru 2dopeboyz. I’ve caught up to all your interviews by now and im addicted. Newmanati and shoemanati! Im from Chicago and Jordans are the shit!
    Keep it up !

  • bigfamily

    Best show ever. When you have a straight interview, this format works. 90 minutes no breaks. Salute.

    • Combat Jack


  • T-Bag

    Great show!

  • sloppy seconds

    To touch on what Ebro was talking about in regards to the hip hop community supporting only those that are struggling…

    When an artist is hungry/struggling their art tends to have more of an edge. When said artist becomes comfortable their art tends to lose that edge as art is, in some ways, a reflection. So maybe their loss of support by the hip hop community MIGHT have something to do with receiving major backing but can also be attributed to their music getting watered down. This needs to be addressed, as well.

    Great interview as flawed as I found it, but then again Ebro did say himself that he was saying
    these things to create conversation.

  • T-Bag

    Ebro stated the facts, he’s trying to keep his lights on and food in his stomach why can’t you dudes understand that. He’s working off numbers and that’s that.

  • Scott Free

    Best show in a minute. I was struggling for a while with all the fanboy stuff.

  • cad 5000

    I just want hot97 to stop calling themselves the place where hip hop lives, because hip hop doesnt live there at all. I perfer the name, the place where music for females and preteens lives. Stop calling what you distribute hip hop. Hot is no different than z100 or any other station who would sell themselves out for ratings.

  • Boothe

    Ebro was well prepared, and made so many good points that the other end of the discussion seemed like devil’s advocacy.

    One point that was brought up often was “Well, back in the day…”

    I’m not sure why it’s so hard for many to understand that the game is so far removed from back in the day. Do we really expect the radio station to cater to those with romanticized visions of “my kind of Hip Hop”? The music has changed so much, and the programming in effect will shift to reflect ‘what’s hot’.

    The station has too many stakeholders to please for them to be worried about balance. There’s a wide variety of styles out there, and if any are interested, it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to find out more about these artists and their music.

  • JustEnjoyThisShit

    What was up with the format? Is this just an exception or did you change all that?

    • Combat Jack

      Different format only for this part of the episode. It was the first time we recorded in a different studio (Hot 97) and the show in its entirety was close to 4 hrs. Because the issue was very topical, I wanted it out asap. We ain’t changing it up for ya’ll. Stay tuned.

      • JustEnjoyThisShit

        Glad to hear that, thanks.

  • chris m

    Scott Free, what did you find fan boyish?

    • Scott Free

      I feel like is rambling during interviews. When someone like Ebro, Shyne, Bomanti come to the interview, they have something to say. They do all the work. But like Fabolous, Big Boi, and the worst Rza, they aren’t going to spill the beans. And Combat and Co aren’t going to ask any pressing questions.

      • chris m

        fair enough. so you’d prefer no guest to bigger name that’s less likely to open up?

        (though I did think Fab in particular revealed more of his personality than he has in other interviews I’ve heard….)

  • FreshTaDef

    As a Bay Area fan of Combat Jack I thought this Episode was great as it shed some insights as to why I stopped listening to the local “where hip hop lives” station but at the same time as a grown ass man realizing that if it don’t make dollars…and I think the difference for me as someone who used to hate on the local hip hop radio station is that now I have to keep the lights on and having to come to terms with that duality of life where you have time for shit that you believe in and other times where you gotta handle your business. Keep up the good work combat jack crew. We’re listening.


    The show was cool but I still dont like that Ebro edomite/nigglette.
    Next time I see son I’m hittin him with my car.
    How come he couldnt come to your facility like everyone else?
    The Combat Jack show with that BIG ass SNOT97 banner behind yall
    was an ancient house nigga trick Combat you shoulda blurred that shit out..
    Outside of all that systematic lab rat – test tube talk Ebros been PROGRAMMED
    to beat us in the head with I enjoyed the interview.
    Trust me hes not going to check out “Rocky Marciano”s Reloaded..
    His body language yelled “Nope!!! Fuck Yall Niggaz!!!!”
    Fuck TWAT97 tho.. I only tune in 4 times a year and thats during February
    for Mister Cee’s Black Fist Fridays series and Im willing to bet they wont even
    have it this year based on Ebro’s “meters” “percentages” and “numbers”
    I wish he’d just get a gun and blow his shit all over the medicine cabinet for real.
    Turn Off The Radio!!!!!!

    • BenHaMeen Button

      jeez son. Ebro actually came off as a good dude to me, He’s a bay area Hip Hop head I think he knows good music as well as the rest of us. But when it’s your job on the line you might think differently.

      • PARIAH

        Benhameen you just want a job up there at ROT97 nigga
        Im sure Flex & Mister Cee’ll welcome you with opened arms..
        Be careful!!!

  • T-Bag

    Are you guys going to post the whole 4 hours at some point?

  • Scott Free

    Appreciated the Combat Jack fam participating on the comments.

  • Aivery

    This was a phenomenal interview, it was candid and honest. This is a fine example of the progression of hip hop.

    • withDrawn

      ebro and hot ninety seven DO NOT promote hip hop, do you really see this as progression?
      its more like sonic fast food that causes disease and kills its consumer ninety seven is the rap music McDonald’s and the ebro guy is ronald McDonald.

      • Combat Jack

        I doubt the system will change. But I think Ebro putting everything out on the table, going so far as to pulling the curtains to expose the great Oz is helpful to many, including myself. Discouraging? Yes. But I think any artist can benefit once given the blueprint to the new world order.

        • Pascalogic

          …I do agree that exposing all that info was a great learning experience for us all…but what Ebro is basically telling us is that Hot97 does will not take any risks…and will only make straight bets…He reduced our beloved art form to a datasheet…Yes I get it, it’s his job…keep the lights on…You are the Reese Lancing of this hip hop shit…I understand it all. I also understand your theory, however ridiculous…that these underground artists don’t really need you…

          Sure your “time spent” might go down if you play Sean P but hip hop in its nature is filled with creatures of habit and just like you’ve convinced your demographic to listen to Nicki Minaj, you can convince them to listen to Nitty Scott…It’s all cyclical in the end…your advertisers will come back, they will have to be where cool lives… and you will win in the end.

          That’s like AMC not taking a chance on The Walking Dead…because they had Breaking Bad and Mad Men on their roster…

          In a nutshell…I was enlightened but still very disappointed with what Ebro said…I do understand his challenge (I actually work in digital advertising)…But by playing it safe and not challenging the status quo…Hot97 is no longer a leader and actually stunting the growth and development of the culture in the mainstream.

          “There’s a way to do it better—find it.” – Thomas Edison

          good show though…


        • Return Of The 64oz

          yo combat is it possible for you and the crew to stream live all day on new years eve? that would be the illest shit all year!!! like a combat jack marathon from like noon til the god hour with mad guests. I hope yall do a new years eve show. hopefully sadat x will bring back True Wine Connisuers as well. peace

      • Aivery


        I am speaking in terms of the evolution of hiphop in the media. This was an interview with a baggy saggy jeans wearing bearded program director in the media and radio capitol of the WORLD. I think you are referring to the product that hot 97 puts out. I am not completely happy with the product that hot 97 puts out but im not completely happy with hiphop either. But there is progression in hiphop on a corporate level.

  • Zee

    I understand their rationality behind basing everything they do on statistics.

    But I don’t care how many overplayed radio songs with 90+ ratings you want to play. If listeners knew that everyday at whatever time for however long there was gonna be NOTHING but hardcore hip hop i.e.(wu tang, d-block, bronson, a$ap, curren$y, jeezy, ross, meek, nas, game, freeway, slaughterhouse, etc) played. There’s no way that wouldn’t be your highest rated time slot.

    The fact is everyone knows the radio plays shit music. Censorship plays a big role in that imo. So they’ve basically dug their own ditch and left themselves with a demographic consisting mostly of teenage girls.

    • BenHaMeen Button

      @zee I agree with your points but I don’t think they are losing by having an audience of teenage girls, as teenage girls spend tons of money and are influential on teenage boys.

  • Steve Jones

    Just seeing this, great discussion. This should be watched by radio students and all aspiring artists

  • freedelivery85

    good stuff…much respect to E..he definitely knows what he talking about