Navani Knows Radio: The Halftime Show 15th Anniversary Special

halftime 15th flyer

For the past 15 years The Halftime Radio Show has set the bar and become a rite of passage for breaking Hip-hop artists. It’s a place where people go to get the sound and the quality they have come to expect from NYC radio. After 15 years and outlasting many other shows of it’s caliber this is def a huge feat to celebrate. It’s a testiment that although how people consume music is changing, there is still a need and a niche for displaying the craft of Djing, freestyling and all the aestetics that drew most of us to Hip-Hop to begin with. Tune in tonight as the crew celebrates it’s 15th Anniversary with a slew of legendary guests DJing, producing and spitting live from 10:30 pm – 1 am on 89.1 FM and on Ustream.


Navani Knows NAStalgia: A Nas Fan Necessity


I’m still salty about Nas’ Grammy snub this year but luckily DJ Petey Cologne and DJ J-Smoke dropped a project to help distract me. The homies dropped the NAStaglia mixtape recently and I am still rocking it pretty frequently (yay for replay value). I know, I know what you are thinking, “Another Nas inspired project? Haven’t there been enough? What could possibly be different?” I hear ya. But I am here to report that this mixtape does have something different to offer and is def worth the download.

The project came about when Petey was asked to create a mix to accompany the release  of a Nas tee. He explains:

I was approached by Carlos from Classic Material to put a Nas mix together to coexist with a Tee he created. Carlos is the homie and Nas is one of my all time faves, so it was a no brainier to accept the offer.

Shortly after I ran into J-Smoke of the Motherf***in Allies at The Halftime Show. I’ve been a scratch nerd and a huge fan of the legendary crew since day one. I immediately thought it would be ill to collaborate with someone as talented as J. Fast forward a few months, and you have the official release of NAStalgia.

As the clever title suggests, NAStaglia is a conceptual trip down memory lane of Nas’ career, the more off beaten path. It’s a journey all Nas fans are sure to appareciate. Maybe I am just biased because I’ve seen first-hand the effort that went into taking this idea to the end result. Whether it was watching Petey approach the right people for drops,  him coming into The Halftime Show describing the intro and having us listen to different parts or going over different concept  ideas for the artwork – there was nothing left to chance when it came to NAStaglia. Everything was precisely thought out. That is what happens when people take their craft seriously, and yes, if nothing else this project illustrates there are still people out there that treat DJing as a craft. I am happy to see all the pieces come together. You can tell from listening to the intro it took a while (DJ Eclipse comments that it’s seems like two years already and DJ JS-1 orders them to hurry up and finish, lol) but was worth the wait. Yeah, it’s funny to give them grief about it now, but it’s refreshing in this day and age where people rush projects to saturate the internet in the name of relevance that there are still those who choose quality over quantity.

Some highlights include –  well let’s start with the fact that it is true to my definition of a mixtape – it contains actual blends. These days’ people label anything with songs on it a mixtape. But on NAStalgia you’re not just going to hear the mainstream Nas songs, but demos, original samples and B-sides BLENDED in a mix. For me, I got giddy when I heard the sample for “Phone Tap” in the intro (that was new to me) and the “Stillmatic” blend was a totally fresh take.  I enjoyed the “One Love” remix with Sadat X, and the sample of “Sugar Man” was new to me too. The “You’re Da Man” blend was one of my favorites. Of course, D-Stroy’s story is classic but the placement of it made it even stronger. I was excited to hear one of my fave songs “Doo Rags” make the cut, I think that song is often overlooked simply because it is on The Lost Tapes. Last but not least, the signoff with wise words to live by from Nas himself ties it all together nicely.

The fact that projects like NAStaglia continue to be inspired by Nas is a greater testament to his success and influence as an artist than any Grammy Award in my book.

Listen below and check the download courtesy of 2 Dope Boyz:

Artwork by ArtekNYC

Navani Knows: Halftime Celebrates Nasty Nas

Since I was 16-years-old, memorizing the lyrics of Illmatic off of my tape player, I’ve had a special affection for Nas. He seems like one of those people that if we ever met we’d click, have deep thought-provoking conversations about life and be instant friends. At least in my head we are. But I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that feels a certain respect/admiration for him and his artistry, as many anxiously anticipated the release of his new album titled, Life is Good

Whether you love him or hate him, it’s pretty clear people care about what Nas has to say. He causes controversy and creates a dialogue with every album. No matter how you feel about his catalog, you pay attention because he makes you think about something. People actually continue to purchase his CDs which says something in itself. It makes him an interesting persona. Part of the joy of being a writer for me is learning the stories behind the persona. I am always excited to hear behind-the-scenes tales, like when I talked to DJ Eclipse about his experience with the making of the classic album Illmatic. When you hear those stories it makes you feel one step closer to knowing who that person really is.

To follow in that vein, The Halftime Show decided to celebrate the release of Nas’ 10th studio album in our own special way. In this special edition show the gang gathered up some of the most influential and classic artists to have worked with Nas and took a trip down memory lane of his career, which now spans 20 years. If you missed it, watch below as Large Pro, Faith Newman, and DJ Premier dish about the signing of Nas, producing tracks for Illmatic, and his early shows – all set to a special mix by DJ Eclipse.

Video streaming by Ustream

Life is Good is in stores now

Navani Knows: Counting Down to the Halftime Show 14th Year Anniversary

After covering many of the classic Halftime Anniversary shows as a journalist this year everything comes full circle for me as I am now on board as a member of the show and helping to organize the show itself. It’s been such a great experience! This year the show is taking a break from the usual chaos of having 30 mcs and 4 producers and numerous Deejays all in the house and instead taking a step back to reflect on the ealry years. This edition of the Halftime Anniversary Show will feature highlights of the early years, from 99-01/02 with freestyles from artists like Ghostface, Big L, Eminem, 50 Cent, Redman  and a lot more! Tune in this Wednesday, March 7 @ 10:30- 1 AM on 89.1FM or

Check the Deets:

Navani Knows Cyphers: Evidence, Hieroglyphics and Rasheed Chappell Freestyle

When DJ Eclipse presented the opportunity for me to help out on the Halftime Show on WNYU while DJ SKizz took a sebactle, it was a no brainer. It’s a dream to “work” somewhere where you are surrounded by so much talent. Plus, you never know what kind of great moments you’ll witness. Take for instance the show on sept 7th, right after Rock the Bells in NYC went down. It was a rainy day, and there were a slew of guests still in town from the west coast invited to come in including Evidence, Fashawn and Sould of Mischief. But the show started and no sign of anyone an hour and a half in. Turns out Evidence went to midtown to the wrong show and couldn’t catch a cab back downtown cause it was “Raining Cats and Dogs” (ok obvious pun, sorry). Fashawn was stuck in Jersey which was getting flooded. It was looking real bleak. But then, at the stroke of midnight, kind of like some Hip-Hop Fairy Tale, Souls of Mischief, Evidence and randomly Rasheed Chappell all arrived at the same time. PHEW. It ended up being a classic show. Especially the freestyle cypher that ensued at the end. Rasheed who just came simply to see Evidence as a fan, was invited in and the rest is history. Check it out below:

Photo via Robert Adam Mayer

Navani Knows: Masta Ace’s Tips for Staying in the Game

While the trend of late in the industry is the disposable artist: those who make one hit and then disapear two years later, there are still veterans that continue to keep a stronghold in the game…

Masta Ace being one of them. The highly skilled Brooklyn born emcee is best known for his vivid storytelling skills that influenced many including the likes of Eminem. He has a career that spans over 20 years and yet is still relevant today. All you have to do is look at the faces of up-and -coming rappers when they are in the room with him to understand the magnitude of his influence and respect in the game.

I was able to catch up with Ace at the 13th Anniversary Halftime Show and find out what his secret to continued success and relevance in this fickle industry is. He had this to say:

Continue to be a fan. You gotta be fans of all the other emcees and listen to everything and be a sponge and soak everything up. You see what dudes are doing and how they rhyming that way you can always continue to reinvent yourself and what you do.

Wise words. Except, he is currently not a fan of anyone at the moment as he is working on his own projects. In preparation he explained that he tends not to listen to other artists to avoid being influenced when writing. What exactly is he working on you ask? I thought you might. He is working on an album over all MF Doom beats AND a documentary about his life which includes a coinciding album produced by Marco Polo.

Photos via robert adam mayer

Navani Knows: The Halftime Show Turns 13!

To this day, one of my fondest moments in my career would still be the night I covered the 10th Anniversary of The Halftime Show with host DJ Eclipse. That night featured almost all my fave producers and emcees in one room. Legendary artists like Alchemist, Da Beatminerz, DJ Premier, Masta Ace, Joell Ortiz and more all crowded around the studio of the college station. As a fan, I was in heaven. These were all people I grew up listening to and studying and to see them all in action at one time was amazing. As if that wasn’t enough, watching the chemistry between the up-and-comers and the legends reminded me of why I love what I do: documenting Hip Hop. So, when I ran into Eclipse earlier this year and he invited me to cover again, it was a no brainer.

March 2nd The Halftime Show celebrated it’s 13th Anniversary and it was just as monumental. Again there was a stellar line up (The Audible Doctor, Marco Polo, Frank Dukes, & Mr. Green, Boogie Blind, DJ Precision, Artifacts, John Robinson, Masta Ace, Neek The Exotic, PaceWon, Punchline, Rah Digga, Soul Khan, Wise Intelligent to name a few). And again, it was amazing to see Hip Hop executed in it’s purest form.  If I was geeked,  I wondered how it felt for show host and organizer DJ Eclipse to still be doing this after 13 years. Here he dishes on his most memorable moments of Halftime Show history and why it has stood the test of time:

NavaniKnows: How does it feel to be still on the radio after 13 years and one of the last independent radio shows left on air?

DJ Eclipse: Still feels great!  Even after 13 years I still love going up to the show and playing new music.  Breaking new artists.  Seeing their expression of thanks on their face for having them on the show.  That’s my fuel to keep going.

NK: What can you attest to the longevity of The Halftime Show?

E: I think that our listeners still enjoy being able to hear quality music and artists presented in a quality style.  Over the years I think we’ve lost some of that tradition of what we expect to hear from DJs and so you now have mix cds with no mixing, mix shows with music no different from what day time radio is playing and DJs that last week were MCs.  That’s not interesting to me.  Hip Hop was always about being fresh and new and talented.  I want to push the movement forward not set us back.

NK: Masta Ace referred to The Halftime Show as a rite of passage for any emcee on his journey up the ranks. How does that make you feel? What do you say to that?

E: It’s dope that artists of his caliber see it as that because that’s exactly how I try to portray the show.  I see it as an outlet for artists that have talent that others need to hear.  I’ve learned what I like from listening to shows that came before me and I try to improve on that and present the best show possible.

 NK: One highlight for me last night was to see both members of the Artifacts rock together, when 3-4 years ago that would not have happened. How did that come about? What were some highlights for you about this anniversary show?

E: I wish I could take credit for those guys getting back together, but that’s something those brothers worked out on their own.  It was really just about timing now that they are working together and also in town as they are about to hit the road for some shows.  But I have history with those guys.  When they were brand new on Big Beat I was working with O.C. over at Wild Pitch and we traveled in a lot of the same circles.  Those are two great guys and I’m extremely happy they’ve put their differences behind them.  One of my most memorable highlights from last night was watching the expression on the faces of the next generation of MCs like Rasheed Chappell and Blacastan light up when dudes like Wise Intelligent or Masta Ace rocked the mic.  You can literally see culture being passed down and appreciated by the younger generation.  And those dudes are upholding it nicely!

NK: I know there have been so many memorable moments on the show throughout it’s course. Last time we spoke at the 10th anniversary you mentioned how people like Kanye and Eminem started their career there. What other fave moments can you share (ever)? In the last year alone? 

E: Anytime you have an artist up that eventually achieves such commercial success as Em, Kanye or 50 did it’s of course a thrill to know you had them on your show early in their career before any of that success mattered.  Q-Tip rhyming forever about the history of ATCQ was dope.  Akinyele basically taking the show over was another great time.  Talking Melle Mel and Jazzy Jay’s ear off for the entire show about their history.  And then more recently appearances by guys like Dres from Black Sheep, Ma Dukes, Vinnie Paz…too many to recall.

Check out what artists had to say about The Halftime Show in my recap on Culture Vault Radio. The Halftime Show airs Wednesdays at 10:30 pm on 89.1 FM/

Photo via Rob Adam Mayer