For nearly four years now, Chaz Kangas has been playing hip-hop each Sunday night on Go 95.3 at 10 p.m. Do the math and you won’t be surprised to learn that this weekend's installment of Kangas’ First Impressions is, yes, his 200th.
A lot has changed since Kangas’ first show on June 5, 2016. “The show’s good now,” he jokes. “Those first shows were pre-recorded and I was very well coached." With a background in television, he had to train himself to speak more conversationally. “If I’d used my 'television voice,' that would be genuinely disturbing or at least moderately upsetting.”
Of course, a lot has changed outside the studio as well. In the COVID-19 era, the show has become not just a showcase of great rap, but a mass therapy session of sorts for people in isolation. “I have no roommates, no pets, no children,” Kangas says. “It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of coverage of those of us who are doing this by ourselves. So it’s good to have this block of time. It does to help us to know that there are others going what we’re going through.”
Kangas continues, “My whole experience with the quarantine has been unique. Last year I won a free cruise trip." The cruise Kangas chose, scheduled for the first week in March, would take him from New Orleans to Mexico. “I had a great time on the cruise. We had no wifi or cell phone reception, no connection with the outside world. We all get our phone service at the same, and each saw dozens of text messages asking how we were, and heard that the government was advising people not to go on cruises.”
Doing the show has taken on a new meaning for Kangas himself. “We have no control over our lives right now," he says. Our former lives are gone. What we’re feeling is our collective grieving for a world that’s no longer there. So much adivce you'd hear was to stick to your routine, but for someone like me, who spends so much of his life out at shows, there was nothing like that previous routine. So having these two hours that I can still control is important.”
For Sunday’s show, Kangas promises something of a retrospective. "With the speed that hip-hop changes, something that happened three years ago can feel like its from generations ago," he says. He’s also teasing some special items, including ultra-rare Childish Gambino tracks from Donald Glover’s NYU days, where he and Kangas were roommates. “He’s done all right in the 15 years since,” he jokes about his old roomie. “Somehow this has never surfaced on the internet.”
And like every week, this anniversary show will be a chance for show off the range of music he loves for listeners who love it too. “What I’ve always loved about hip-hop is that it’s non-homogenized music," he says. "it still sounds different all around the country. Port Arthur rap doesn’t sound like Houston rap, North Dakota doesn’t sound like South Dakota. With the show, I’ve had the chance to follow all these individual scenes--including the supervibrant scene in Minnesota."