With Hip-Hop now officially 50 years old, the culture has grown exponentially. From the sounds, to the artists, to the media, the genre we all know and love has evolved. And with that, comes conversation: such as the long-going question; “Who is the GOAT?” It’s a debate to this day that can actually end childhood friendships.. I’ve seen it. And now half-a-century in, that question can now even expand to other avenues of the culture. Who’s the GOAT DJ? The GOAT Hip-Hop journalist?
So who is the GOAT of Hip-Hop journalism? Over the recent weeks, that question has been the hot topic. From Rylo and Lil Baby crediting SWAY with that crown, to Elliott Wilson then responding, creating even more controversary, it’s turned into it’s own barbershop talk. Similar to naming Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z and Eminem as the undisputed Rap GOATS — its safe to say Sway, Angie Martinez, Elliott Wilson and Rob Markman are the Mount Rushmore of Hip-Hop journalists. And similar to your “Top 5” being somewhat personal, the same can apply for all debates. And to me, Rob Markman is the greatest Hip-Hop journalist of all-time.
So what better way to honor the greatest Hip-Hop reporter of all time and highlight his revered career, than with the official MX digital cover of August. I also had the privilege to sit down with Rob for an in-depth conversation, which you can read in full below.
MUSICXCLUSVES IS PROUD TO PRESENT: ROB MARKMAN | THE GOAT OF HIP-HOP JOURNALISM
It’s 1986. Hip-Hop is 13 years old and somewhere in Brooklyn, a young Rob Markman is reciting “La Di Da Di” by Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh. Traveling often between Brooklyn the Bronx to visit family, Rob was soaking in a new wave of culture and instantly gravitated towards it all. From people breakdancing on the street, to the graffiti on the trains, to the new fashion, Rob knew he was growing up in a special place. And a special time.
He also drew a lot of influence from his older siblings. His sister would bring home records, and his brother was a break dancer, so Rob was pretty much born into it all. All through his adolescence, Rob would study the culture, so much to a point, by the time “Illmatic” (Nas) was released, he was the one putting his siblings onto the music.
Rob also considers this time, his favorite era of journalism.
Ironically enough, Rob and I had a very similar high school experience. It took both night school and summer school for us to graduate within 4 years. Your typical subjects weren’t our strong suits, but when it came to any writing assignment, we would exceed expectations.
So Rob always knew he had a passion for writing. For Hip-Hop specifically though? Not just yet. Following graduation from Brooklyn Tech, Rob still wasn’t sure of his career path and would enroll into Hunter College for communications and media studies.
Similar to most people in their early 20’s, Rob was still finding his way.
- One artist you would want to co-write a song with: Cardi B
- One artist’s biopic script you would want to write: Hov
- One comic hero you want to write a comic about: Spider-Man
MAILROOM TO PUBLISHED WRITER
“I seen it happen.. [like] really close …. one day she was here with us .. and then one day, she was [there] with my favorite rapper.. like oh, this s*** could happen!”
During his college years, Rob worked at a female clothing catalog called Delia*s. With the flexible hours, it was the perfect job at the time to pay bills, but Rob knew there wasn’t a future there. However, little did he know, he was right where he was supposed to be.
Now seeing it’s possible following Amil’s quick, yet drastic career change, Rob was now somewhat optimistic. Sure enough, a friend of his would then give him a life changing opportunity and Rob wasted no time using it as his first stepping stone.
Now a fully published writer in multiple notable publications, Rob was looking to officially land a job at one of these outlets — even if it meant less money than the mailroom. And Rob did exactly that. He took a chance and joined the team at SCRATCH, the sister magazine of XXL, even though he was told it could dissolve in a few months. Unfortunately it did, but at this point Rob’s name was circulating through-out the industry. Even when he was laid off, Rob was already offered a position at XXL by YN himself in due time because of his talent.
“This is the future of the brand…”
Despite the fact that Elliott Wilson was fired before their meeting to make his hire official, Rob still credits Elliott for putting that in motion. As mentioned earlier, YN is considered one of the GOATs himself, and has been making it very clear across all socials recently that he is. Even it means coming across in a negative way towards his peers, which he has, including Rob.
Rob and Elliott have since spoke following their back-and-forth on Twitter — and have made it clear that the love and respect will always be there; Kobe and LeBron.
Xclusive Fact: Rob created the XXL Twitter account.
Although SCRATCH was a notable publication, XXL was Rob’s first experience at one of the major outlets (XXL, Source, VIBE, etc.) with a major role. Rob would quickly elevate through the ranks of the company, finding himself as Co-Deputy Editor.
Unfortunately following the 2011 Freshman cover-shoot, Rob knew he wouldn’t be around for the following year.
“Soon as Sway saw me.. yo’ you gon’ be on camera one day…”
Just three weeks after his XXL departure, MTV would call Rob for a writing position. Similar to his previous gig, Rob would quickly succeed and rise within the ranks. Now under the mentorship of SWAY, Rob would find himself tackling a new lane of journalism; on-camera interviews. And well as we know, the rest is history.
Name 3 deceased artists you would have loved to interview.
“Notorious B.I.G .. Big Pun .. Bob Marley”
“I [just] wanted it to be a brand synonymous with music.. with media…”
With journalism transitioning to digital and other forms of content; on-camera, podcasts, etc. — an unexpected opportunity arose for Rob. Known for transcribing lyrics, Genius was looking to expand as a company and knew Rob was the perfect man for the job.
Following meetings with the owners, Rob would secure a role as VP of Content Strategy and got right to work. He would help co-create segments such as Verified, Deconstructed Open Mic, and take his on-camera skills to a whole’nother level with ‘For The Record.’
By 2018, Genius was regarded as one of the top-tier music media companies and now had their own location in Brooklyn, the Genius Compound. Here they would host multiple events including their IQ/BBQ, and live interviews by Rob with the likes of Mariah Carey, T-Pain and many other legends. I had the privilege of attending many of these incredible events and let me tell you… what a time man.
Rob is currently still with Genius but much of his role has changed following the acquisition of the company by Media Lab. One change would be him now spearheading as a music executive to build up the distribution department.
In just his first year, Rob and Genius inked distro deals with a few upcoming talents such as Wynne, Lea The Leox and my guy, Ashoka, who I been rocking with for a few years now.
“It was a evolution of my career”
Following the acquisition of Genius by Medialab, Rob found himself at a crossroads with his on-camera content. Luckily another company would approach Rob to join the company. Rob again felt like is was the right fit and officially joined Amazon Music.
In March 2023, him, alongside Nyla Symone, Speedy Norman and Gabe P., would launch ‘Rotation Roundtable.’ Although Rob is the OG of the crew, the four have an undeniable chemistry that bounces of one another.
Rob also recently praised fellow co-host Gabe P., the owner of On The Radar, which is, if not, one of the top-tier Hip-Hop outlets currently.
Name 3 artists people should check so they won’t regret it.
“Wynne .. Lady London .. MYSELF!”
All-in-all, from accomplishments to his love for the culture, Rob Markman is my GOAT. I’m excited to see what he has coming next to expand on his already impeccable career, all while continuing to inspire the next generation and reminding us that we have a ‘write to dream.’
Rob, thank you for all the love and support over the years… DeBlasio out!