DJ Semtex On How Hip-Hop Changed The Podcasting World

In the latest instalment of In Pod We Trust in the current issue of Music Week, we speak to DJ Semtex about his incredible show Hip-Hop Raised Me.

Launched in January 2021, the show has featured a number of high profile stars including Busta Rhymes and, most recently, a tribute to Pop Smoke with the late star’s manager Steven Victor. While the podcast’s title spins off his 2016 book of the same name, Semtex was quick to point out that its roots go much further back.

“It starts with me being a fan more than anything else,” Semtex explained about its inception. “I wouldn’t have been able to do the book if it wasn’t for years of being a fan and just appreciating the music. So, after years of DJing,and doing radio, and being fortunate enough to interview some of the greatest stars, that put me in a position to do the book. I could never have done it if I didn’t do X amount of years on radio and working with, and talking to, artists. So the book came out of that and then the podcast is an extension of it. It’s like the director’s cut of the book. With the book I wrote 80,000 words and it was never enough. To this day, with the way that music is evolving so fast, the way that technology is evolving, we can safely say we’re exposed to more music in our lifetimes than at any other point. That means there’s more documentation to be done of the culture, there’s more things to be looked into. There’s more artists to be researched. It just gives me a platform to go in depth and continue the mission.”

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Semtex is, of course, no stranger to the podcasting world, having previously hosted Spotify’s Who We Be Talks and even appearing on the cover of Music Week alongside Ms. Banks.

“This is a continuation of what I’ve been doing; it’s that uncensored, raw and uncut conversation,” Semtex told Music Week. “I hate the promo cycle, that’s what I avoid. I’m not here to do that. It’s a privilege to talk to artists, whether it’s Busta Rhymes, or JI The Prince Of NY– one of the newest artists. I’m a nerd, basically. I feel it’s part of my duty and responsibility to present and celebrate this culture in the right way.”

Hip-hop brought way more immediacy and impact to podcasts than any other genre of music could

In an unread extract of our interview, Semtex offered his perspective on the impact hip-hop has made on the podcast medium…

“It’s injected the medium with excitement, passion, and that immediacy of needing to know,” he said. “There have been episodes with Joe Budden where you have to listen to it immediately. The Nore energy with Pharrell was incredible [on Drink Champs]. Very few people could have got that moment with Pharrell. With people like Nore and Joe Budden, they’ve achieved so much in their careers, they’re at points where they can tell stories themselves, or bring perspective, which overflows outside of what they do with music. You can’t get that anywhere else. With Joe, I know him from when he was an artist, and he wasn’t that straightforward an artist. He questioned a lot of things. And I think that’s what makes him so great. He went through the experience of having hits and then not having hits, he went through the experience of being an incredible, revered rapper when he was doing the independent thing, but not getting acknowledgment he should have gotten in the mainstream. Some artists either just disappear or get frustrated and they look like they’re mad, but they’re not – they’ve just not been able to express how they felt. Joe Budden has managed to perfectly channel how he’s felt and who he is, and in a way that relates to other people who feel the same way. When he was talking about leaving Spotify – you had to watch that episode. The one with Pusha T and Steven Victor? It’s must-listen-to podcasting.”

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Semtex went on to explain how podcasts have become so deeply ingrained in people’s lives, and how hip-hop has played a huge role in that…

“Podcasting is a new platform compared to TV and radio, but it is a part of everyday life,” he continues. “Hip-hop really brought that home with way more immediacy and impact than any other genre of music could. Hip-hop is born out of the streets, it’s the voice of the voiceless, it’s kids turning nothing into something, year in, year out, month, in month out. You’ve seen it with films now, you’ve seen it with podcasts, and you’re gonna see in other areas: people from all across the world have just embraced it more than ever.”

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