The legend of hip-hop is a storied one – a history that spans decades and thousands of miles. WVUM, UM’s on-campus radio station, is home to several specialty shows, one of which is “Hip-Hop Road Trip,” a fun and detailed look at the genre’s history through a geographical lens. The Miami Hurricane spoke with the show’s two hosts – Tristan Niskanen, a freshman English major, and Francisco Narvaez, a junior literature major – about what a map of America and today’s rap game have in common.
The Miami Hurricane: How would you explain “Hip-Hop Road Trip” to those still uninitiated?
Tristan Niskanen: The “Hip-Hop Road Trip” is a radio show that focuses on the hip-hop from a city week by week, city by city. We started in Miami and we plan to cross the country. During each show, we play two hours of music along with history behind the music.
Francisco Narvaez: The idea came about from watching hip-hop documentaries. I realized that they never played songs in their entirety, so you end up getting the history but not the substance. The way [the show is] set up is almost like a class.
TMH: What first turned you guys into such big hip-hop fans? Who were some of your favorite artists early on, and who do you think is running the game now?
FN: My favorite artists early on were Biggie, The Game, Earl Sweatshirt, MF Doom, Big L and Kanye. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Lucki, Future, Famous Dex, Jonwayne, Rejjie Snow, Das Racist, Denmark Vessey and Lil Wayne.
TN: From an early age, I got into hip-hop. My mom introduced me to Eminem first because she’s from Detroit, too. Early on, Kendrick Lamar became my favorite artist and has been my favorite since. Kendrick runs the game now.
TMH: Of all the cities on the “Road Trip,” which are some of the ones that you guys are most excited to musically explore?
TN: For me, I’m most excited for the Detroit show. New York has been my favorite so far. I’m excited for when we get to the West Coast, too.
FN: New York. The amount of history that city has in regards to hip-hop is incredible. It was so hard to pick the songs for that show; there was so much we had to leave out.
TMH: What are the most important things happening in Miami’s rap scene right now, in your opinions?
FN: People are breaking the rules, making their own genres – it’s crazy. XXXTENTACION is going to mess the game up when he gets out of jail with his metal-inspired sound. The opening of places like 1306 [a Miami bar and venue] has provided a place for these artists to perform, too, which always helps build the culture and create hype. It’s more Broward County than Miami that’s going to blow up.
TN: Miami is an interesting hip-hop city. From 2 Live Crew to Pitbull, there is a little of everything. Rappers like Kodak Black and XXXTENTACION are gaining popularity; but, in my opinion, the most important rappers in Miami’s rap scene now include Denzel Curry, Robb Bank$, Yung Simmie, Lajan Slim and Indigo Child Rick.
TMH: Any plans for mixing up or tweaking the format of the show in the future?
TN: Perhaps in the future, we might expand on just hip-hop or just America. So, in that case it would not be the “Hip-Hop Road Trip” anymore.
FN: I recently switched from just playing the songs to DJing live in the studio. After this season, the format will change slightly with different themes taking the place of cities.
TMH: Lastly, you guys mention having some exciting guests and surprises in store. Can you describe some of those that you’ve had in the past, and perhaps drop some hints of what listeners might be in store for in the future?
FN: We have all kinds of artists on the show. From people with platinum plaques like MadeinTYO to local artists like Starve Marve … The show is beginning to transition into a record label. We’re planning our first release this summer, and it’s going to feature songs from different artists we have on the show.
Catch “Hip-Hop Roadtrip” on WVUM, streaming or on-air, 12-2 a.m. Tuesdays. Check out the show’s Spotlight on WVUM’s website for more info: wvum.org/specialty-show-spotlight-hip-hop-road-trip.