Since early Saturday morning, the people of Dallas are momentarily retiring their auxiliary cables and tuning into not one, but two new radio stations, both specializing in a virtually untested format. As we reported Monday, both Boom 94.5 FM and Hot 93.3 FM made an unprovoked about-face early Saturday morning: 94.5 scrapped the 12-year old K-Soul format and 93.3 began its uninterrupted Holiday programming -- both in favor of old school hip-hop.
With two coincidental competitors emerging just hours within each other, we've stumbled into a showdown. From the spectator's perspective, the two may well peacefully coexist, but where's the fun in that? Social media has been lit up for days debating which of the two newcomers is better, so we're here to weigh in the fighters and give you our assessment of who's the GOAT and who's the sucker MC.
Ain't No Half-Stepping. Let's start off with what we all know. Boom 94.5 FM is in this for the long haul. After 12 years of slow jams and black family reunion music, the format suddenly had to call Tyrone, as it was dumped in favor of late-'80s to early-2000's hip-hop. 94.5 FM currently has two other stations in Houston and Philadelphia following this formula and decided to bring the noise to Dallas. Hot 93.3 FM, on the other hand, may be faking the funk and living a lie. The Top 40 station hasn't officially re-identified as a classic rap station. Instead, the nonstop hip-hop on this frequency is what they're calling a "Hip Hop Holiday," old school rap music for the holiday season. Though this may be the testing grounds for a permanent format change, 93.3 seems to be playing with scared money, not fully committing to the changing tide. And for that reason Boom takes this round.
What You Know About The Dirty South? In the past 72-hours of commercial-free music on both stations, something felt noticeably dissimilar between the two, among listeners with moderate to advanced hip-hop literacy. Classic hip-hop covers nearly three decades of beats and rhyme so the programming variations are, in theory, ever-variable. There are icons of the genre, however, whose names never go unspoken, no matter one's proficiency. This includes Biggie, Tupac, Run-DMC and Snoop Dogg, among some interchangeable others. It's only in graduate level hip-hop conversations, it seems, that Southern emcees are recognized among the founding fathers and cornerstones of rap music's Golden Era. Boom 94.5 FM pays a significantly greater tribute to classic Southern hip-hop than Hot 93.3 FM. Between the street corners of upstate and the low-riders of the West coast, listeners can find themselves immersed in the Third Coast and Dirty South as Boom tends to toss Southern legends like Master P, Mystikal, Hot Boys, 8 Ball, MJG and even Fat Pat into the mix. The closest Hot 93.3 has gotten to our country roots is Ludacris. And that, my friends, is ludicrous.
Taking Over for the '99 and the 2000's. The turn of the millennium was as iconic a period in hip-hop as any. The lavishness and material of youthful, rags-to-riches bravado was in full-swing -- or spin, as the rims tended to do during that period, even when you stopped. Crazy to think that spinners and tall tee's are as much as 15 years behind us, ain't it? But whether you look back on that period with endearment or disgrace, the early-to-mid-2000s made international superstars out of rhyme-spitters and therefore is as pivotal as it is embarrassing. On the flashy, pop-oriented Hot 93.3fm, of 20 contiguous songs, 9 were from 2000 or later. Whether this is an advantage or not is dependent on your definition of "classic hip hop." The excitement of hearing Usher's "U Don't Have To Call" followed by Kanye West's breakout hit "Through The Wire" amidst spurts of Ja Rule/Ashanti duets is one rarely duplicated, and you'd have to be a real ornery one to not consider those classics. Boom has yet to show comparable post-2000 sensibilities.
Same Shit, Different Day. It's inevitable, a necessary evil and probably both the biggest downside and greatest upside of radio listening: repeating songs. If it's your jam then the high point of your commute to and from work is being able to spit its lyrics, word-for-word, in your front seat recording booth. But Sean Paul's "Temperature" being forced upon unsuspecting listeners once every hour is a torture worse than the sufferings described in track 9 of 36 Chambers. In an age of self-curated programming through Spotify playlists and Soundcloud feeds, the repetitive nature of radio is a clear and unavoidable disadvantage, a disadvantage softened only by selective repetition. It's probably not the best idea to lean upon Sean Paul's "Temperature" when variation gets low, Hot 93.3 FM. Your Top 40 is showing and that's not a good look.
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DJ Please, Pick Up Your Phone. Did the news announcing the format change seem a little one-sided? If so, it's because we only received one side. One of the two stations made themselves impressively accessible, contrary to the typical radio dial-in experience. The staff was welcoming and receptive, answering all interview questions with charm and detail. When he learned of our intention to cover the news of the station's changes, the general manager and program director showed a surprising amount of gratitude, offered a tour of the headquarters and requested to be contacted once the article had gone live, as to pump it through their media outlets. The other station wouldn't even answer the phone. Boom 94.5 FM, thank you for reminding us that there are humans inside these tiny, music playing boxes in our cars and homes.
At the end of the day, the station you choose is all on you. Whether this list is your Ether or Takeover shouldn't determine which station you choose to support. Hell, the fact that we have two frequencies kicking it on the old-school tip is both dope and mad historical. No one told us that the holidays were arriving early this year to bless us with the jams. And in a city where sports radio and pop music are king and queen, who'd have thought that some dusty old cassettes and scratched-up CD's from our old man and t-jones' stash would have the whole city celebrating damn-near unanimously? Rock on, Dallas, rock on.
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