We sat down with Parker and he shared with us his favorite Twin Cities memories, thoughts on the B96 format change, and his plans for the future.
Gimme Noise: When you first came to the Twin Cities, what did you expect?
Mr. Peter Parker: I honestly didn't know what to expect. I had never been to the Midwest until I moved to MN, and it was a complete culture shock for at least 2 years. I drove 21 hours with $300 of someone else's money in my pocket and slept on the floor for 3 months when I came to the Twin Cites. All I was looking for an opportunity to do radio full-time in a Top 20 market, something a lot of people told me I would never do.
What else did you find yourself doing in MN you thought you would never do?
I never thought I would have a chance to relax and enjoy life. As a professional entertainer it can be very stressful--you are basically gambling with your life every day. I was totally burnt out BEFORE I came to MN and lost 2 grandparents and 3 friends who were murdered the first month I moved out to MN. It was like a horror movie. I got a great chance to develop my talent, and at the same time, relax and grow as person in MN. I am sooo thankful for that.
Describe your contributions to the Twin Cities hip-hop scene.
I am proud to say, in my opinion, that I put every local artist that deserved the opportunity on B96 and gave them a chance to showcase their talent. This is not something that happens in other markets and I had to fight for it. It took me 2 years of having #1 ratings books on a station with half a market signal to convince the "powers that be" that the MN scene was deserving of that exposure. It was all out of respect. I did a ton with local artists in Boston before I came to MN, and it was just a natural progression. I was once a local talent and no one helped put me on, and I am the type of person that wants to share the love. I honestly take "presevation of the culture" very seriously. All I wanted to do was leave the Twin Cites a better place then I came into. That was my way of saying thank you to the people of MN. I can't tell you in words how much their support means to me.
What were some career highlights while living in the Twin Cities?
Hosting this years Soundset festival with the Rhymesayers crew was definitely a major highlight. I never rocked with 20,000 people before, it was 10 years in the making. Having that crew respect me and offer that opportunity is un-real, Rhymesayers is the most incredible independent machine I have ever seen. Not to mention their ability to make real Hip Hop that connects with the masses. I have never seen anything like it. On the B96 side of things, interviewing Ice Cube, RZA, David Banner and the dozens of my idols that I had the chance to build with was priceless. I am in this business of Hip Hop because of Ice Cube and Public Enemy. Bottom line. I got a chance to thank Ice Cube for "Fucking my entire life up" and he took it as a complement. [laughs] Really? The entire last four years was a career highlight.
What was your first reaction to the change in format to Top 40 at the old B96? Do you agree with them, that Hip Hop has declined in popularity? Were ratings really declining?
At the end of the day, B96 was a marketing machine that worked closely with national advertisement agencies and major record labels. If we didn't provide the numbers as a station that they needed to make the money that was expected, it's a wrap. I have tons of respect for people like Sam Elliot, Steve Woodbury & John McMonagle over there. We all did what we could, and I have no regrets or reservations when I say Northern Lights Broadcasting did what they HAD to do. Me nor anyone else could have carried a station like that on our backs. We won as a team and lost as one. Hip hop isn't the major commodity with the masses as it was 8 years ago. Last year only 2 rap albums went platinum (Jay-Z & Eminem) and no one in Hip Hop went gold. Does that mean hip hop is dead?? No fuckin' way. It goes in cycles, and sometimes you have to destroy to rebuild. I think we are in a new golden age as far as the culture goes and the independent scene is much more exciting than anything the major corperations has to offer. Props to B96. RIP.
What piece of advice can you leave for the Twin Cities hip-hop artists?
Build your brand, we can argue all day about who sounds good and who we "like," in the business of music it all bout facts over feelings. You can say so-and-so is wack, but if dude has 5 million youtube views and sells 8K itunes downloads independently, dude is hot. Bottom line. Music and culture will always be taste driven, but business is about numbers and facts. Build the size of your brand and the business will follow. Cross promote and master new media, cd's might as well be 8 tracks. The Internet is king. Face the future and be progessive with how you market your products. It may be a piece of art to you, but basically you're selling a can of pop. It's all Pepsi vs Mountain Dew, same thing, same company, different flavor and distinct different brands.