While rap music now enjoys the perks of mainstream popularity, its roots irrefutably lie in the underground. With infectious hooks, profound lyrics and catchy beats, it was only a matter of time before the general populace not only accepted hip-hop, but also adopted it as a lifestyle. Much of the blatant commercialism associated with mainstream hip-hop seems to run contradictory to the spirit of anti-commercialism and social commentary original hip-hop artists pushed out of their car trunks and on street corners.
Although times have changed, underground music isn't without it's champions.
Since December 2008, radio host Yaya Martinez has been at the helm of The Pulse, Power 98.3's underground hip-hop show that airs every Friday night from 1 to 4 a.m. Starting as an intern, Martinez learned the ropes and helped usher in the program that gives a new generation of underground artists a platform to be heard. "A lot of times there are newer artists that come around, that maybe wouldn't get to shine because they're a newer generation of underground hip-hop, and we cater to this newer audience," Martinez says.
Yaya was cool enough to let Up On The Sun into the studio with our cameras during their late-night broadcast. Follow the jump for more about the show and see what you normally only get to hear on the airwaves.
"We bring to the surface artists that probably wouldn't have been heard before, unless somebody were on the Internet constantly," she says. "We bring it to radio as opposed to just posting a dope song on a blog and hoping somebody hears it."
Aside from playing dope shit you normally don't hear in the daytime, The Pulse crew chop it up with drunken callers and regularly invite guests into the studio. "My resume's pretty ill when it comes to interviews," she explains. That list includes the likes of Tech N9Ne, Jayrock, and Kendrick Lamar to name but a few. Since the show runs during graveyard shift hours, Martinez also maintains a strong web presence replete with videos of those interviews, which she shoots and edits herself.
"You gotta give people more content to run with ... and people don't want to try too hard to find something, they want easy access," she says about the program's Googlability. (Note: Spell check isn't calling me out on that word?)
The night owl programming also yields a wide range of listener interaction.
"[People] will call in drunk sometimes saying, 'can you play that new Lil' John,'" she says with a slur. "It all depends on the day, but callers are a lot of fun because it's so late. Some of them are drunk and some of them are feelin' the music. They get real excited that we are spinning this kind of music."
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Along with Yaya, the voices you hear on the air belong to Rickochet and Jacque, while DJ Fresh 85 and DJ M2, who hold down the music.
"What we bring as a collective is something that would not work without everyone," Martinez says. "You can't move a bus without the wheels. And the content that we carry on our bus is something you can't just get anywhere. That's the good music that we spin every week and we're just going to keep doing that until they pull the plug."