GamerTag Radio Interview (October 2005)

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Archived Interview of the creators of Gamertag Radio from back in 2005. Originally published October 21, 2005.

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I’m here with the creators and hosts of Gamertag Radio, which you can be heard if you go to Gamertagradio.Com. So introduce yourselves.
Godfree: Godfree, founder of Gamertag Radio.

Nano: Nano, I started up with Godfree back in February to start Gamertag Radio.

What sparked your interest to make a radio show to cater to Xbox’s online gaming community?
Godfree: I actually had the idea a long time ago because I always wanted to do a radio show based on gaming and this was actually leading back all the way to 2000 or 2001. Back then I had another radio show online. Things went good with that show, but I ended up putting that show to the side for a while so I could focus on some more of the hip hop stuff that I was doing. But now with Gamertag Radio, we came out with an idea to do something for the Xbox Live community, especially for the fact that now the new Xbox 360 is coming out with stronger online features. It’s a good thing to do since at this point there’s like 2 million (plus) subscribers that are part of the community. So with those numbers, we had to do it.

Nano: At first I didn’t want to do it because I thought we would sound like a bunch of nerds, but I figured that if we do it with a hip-hop influence and put hip-hop beats in the background, then it’ll be something different then from what everyone else is doing. And with that, we can give people that don’t listen to hip-hop some exposure to it. We also want to give more exposure to artists that deserve it, that’s why we have the custom soundtrack of the week. It’s for that purpose. I mean there’s always these guys that hate on our show, especially the TeamXbox forum members. They’re always bad mouthing us and talking about how we’re ghetto and all that.

Ghetto? I mean I’m sure you appeal to a lot of people who aren’t in the supposed urban hip-hop scene.
Godfree: I mean, once in a blue we do play some rock, you know. But those people that talk about us there are the first ones to download the show and listen to it. The first hip hop artist that we had interviewed on the show was Tonedeff, who’s really known in the underground hip-hop scene. And he’s a big gamer. He let us interview him the week his album came out,. And the good thing is that Microsoft and all these big companies always check us out and give us feedback. To me, I always wanted to do something different because everyone’s in the same circle. This type of show [like Gamertag Radio] has never been done before.

What exactly is the radio show bringing forth to the table that has ‘never’ been done before?
Godfree: The whole hip hop and gaming thing. Podcasts are the biggest thing out right now. There are so many people that download shows at work and at home.

Nano: If you listen to all the other gaming radio shows online, they always talk about the same things and it’s always some geek talking about games. Its a boring ten minutes of straight talking. So I figure that we are doing good by talking about what people want to hear and putting some music behind it.

Godfree: A lot of people that are not into video games listen to our show. Our show got really popular not only because we’re the first ones to do something like this. But, at one point we were the first source to leak out information on Microsoft’s XBox 360 from a taping that took place at MTV. We got in a lot of trouble for that, but a lot of gaming sites were talking about us.

So you guys leaked information that was suppose to be exclusive to MTV? That’s actually real funny if you think about it. The hits must have been through the roof!
Godfree: Yeah man, I interviewed this group of people that were at the taping of that MTV special, where they were going to reveal the new Xbox 360 system. I asked them if it was okay to interview them and they agreed. I stressed to them that they didn’t have to reveal anything about the system if they couldn’t do so, but if they could, just mention whatever they were allowed to talk about. They said it was fine and that they could talk about whatever. So we got together and did the interview. They mentioned what games were going to come out, the design and pretty much everything that happened during the taping. Microsoft wanted to save all that information for the debut on MTV and we didn’t know that. So within an hour of us putting up the show online, Microsoft contacted us to take down the show. They did say that we could put it up next week after the MTV special aired. So we took it off, but it was a little too late because about 500 people downloaded it within the hour. And within a few days, people kept sharing it and it hit everywhere. Yahoo and a whole bunch of other hosting sites had it for viewing and downloading.

Any publicity is good publicity, so I mean I guess you guys definitely benefited from that. Now on to a different subject. So, hip-hop is traditionally known to have a rep for being foul. So is it hard to convince the majority of your audience that you’re not the example of the “bad” hip-hop stereotype?
Godfree: I mean we edit any curse words out. And that’s if there are any. But the main thing is that we are not the type of people to play the stuff that you see or hear on T.V. and radio. We support local artist and all of these artists that are coming up from somewhere else. And we may even play Kanye West, Common or anything with that type of vibe, because it’s something different than what the radio is playing.

Nano: Basically we stray away from the commercial music. And as for the cursing, a lot of these sites don’t support that. Microsoft will not put a link to your site if you have cursing on it. A lot of companies will look at the site and listen to the show, you know.

Yeah you definitely have to look out for yourselves in that aspect because you never know who’s listening.
Godfree: And you know, when I mention the show to people, they think its something for nerds and all that. But you gotta’ understand that the video game industry is a big business. For example, Cool N Dre have a four year contract with EA Sports. That’s a nice check right there. There are a lot of artists that are getting paid and getting support by being involved with these games and soundtracks. So this business is something different that not a lot of people see. Honestly, we gotta take advantage of this opportunity right now.

Nano: And you have to understand that hip hop already has its audience. Gaming is getting bigger and bigger every year. Hip-hop is full of people that love it or hate it. It’s always a new beef and a new complaint from everyone. I like to listen to hip-hop, but it’s not a business I would want to get myself directly involved with. It’s just a bullshit industry to me or at least the people that are in it.

Godfree, you were involved heavily with the Miami hip hop scene and I know you still are, somewhat. You’ve been apart of The Cipher, promotional companies and were deep in with Luna Empire camp. What made you step back from the scene and move on to other ventures?
Godfree: It’s exactly that, it’s the local scene. I just got really tired of it all. I mean a lot of people think that me and the rest of the Luna Empire have been beefing but its not like that. I’ve been working at the music thing since I was very young. Peedo, Gato, and Lee are my family. So there’s no beef. As a matter of fact Peedo & Gato are working on a major project. We still have plenty of support for them; I just wanted to do something different. The support down here in Miami for their own artists is very minimal.

Nano: Everybody down here is very closed minded and only think about supporting their friends or their local artists. They don’t like showing any love for artists that have a different style or a different sound from what they are used to.

Godfree: And on the show, I still support all of my peoples including Garcia and all them cats. It’s good for them to get a new fan base that would not normally listen to them. But hip-hop is just kind of corny down here. In Houston and New York, their local scenes are so huge. It wasn’t like that back then. Back then in the Hoodstock and Rhythm Rocker days, hip-hop had appreciation. There’s no more of that.

Everyone is on some “get in, get your money, get out and don’t look back”.
Nano: Yeah and I just don’t know what it is. People only care about themselves now. None of that unity exists anymore. Money corrupts everyone I guess.

Godfree: Me personally, if I see something that’s wack, I’ll speak on it. For example, the Miami Award’s were straight up wack. People think 305hiphop.com handled that, but they just handled the nominees. The person in charge of the actual awards was actually the one that had the final decision on all the winners. And the thing is that sponsorship played huge role in those awards. It’s all about money. There were a lot people that deserved an award and didn’t get one. Garcia, for one deserved something, straight up. Nobody gave him props. That’s the game of hip hop. But that’s the main reason I left. I just got tired of this shit.

Alright so onto a show that you may have heard about more recently; the Star and Buckwild morning show, which is obviously a syndicated show that is broadcasting from New York into a South Florida market. Its been on for a few months now and honestly I wanna know if you think that a show like that is going to last in South Florida?
Godfree: Hell yeah it’ll work. I definitely think so. The thing is that they speak the truth. And all these deejays that have been on the radio before them, didn’t speak the truth or were too afraid to do so. Star has been speaking the truth before he was involved with radio and before he was in The Source. I think it’s a great idea to bring them on to Miami’s morning show line-up. It’s something different because there are too many people that are kiss-asses in the industry.

Nano: I like them because they speak their mind. They don’t care. They started off in New York and have created such a huge name for themselves. New York is the entertainment capitol of the world, so I think they are going to have a major impact anywhere they broadcast their show.

Back to gaming, so I know that Gamertag Radio is an Xbox-based show but do you guys step into the Sony side of things?
Godfree: I did get a PSP and a PS2. Both are collecting dust. I sold my PSP the other day and it has a lot of potential, but right now there’s not enough games. Sony is just thinking about selling UMD movies. I heard a story that last month at the Tokyo Game Show, Peter Moore (Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Marketing and Publishing, Xbox) & Ken Kutaragi (President, Sony Computer Entertainment) bumped into each other at the event. Ken asks Peter if he would like to come and watch the Metal Gear Solid 4 movie, and Peter says, “No thanks, but would you like to come over to our booth and play some games?”. I think Sony got owned with that one.

So hip hop isn’t the only industry with beefs, huh? (Laughing)
Nano: RightÒ€¦but everyone always says that the other company is biting and stealing there ideas in specifics to graphics, better games, ram and all those small details. And the biggest subject is about sales. Sony actually came out first and was the first to have DVD on a console. Microsoft then came out with the Xbox and a lot of people weren’t taking them serious, mainly because a lot of US-based companies tried to make their own consoles and failed. But Xbox was the first console to come out with a hard drive and this was something very different and new that the gaming industry really needed.

So which system is honestly the superior gaming system out of the upcoming PS3 and Xbox 360?
Nano: Playstation has a better system overall in reference to sheer power. Xbox is right behind them, but they are just relying more on their online services and easy development. The new Playstation 3 is way stronger than the Xbox 360. But people need to understand that a great system isn’t based on power but instead on the games that will be offered with the gaming console. So far a lot of developers are not making games for the PS3 due to costs of developing games. Many developers are becoming more and more discouraged about the difficulty of developing games for the PS3, sooner or later they will have to look towards the Xbox 360 to make there games.

Godfree: Me personally, I think Sony is just hyping it all up. They took too long to jump on the online services aspect. With Sony, making your system compatible with the online features was a mission because you had to buy everything separately. With Xbox, everything came standard and was all in one package. Like Tomonobu Itagaki from Team Ninja once said when talking about the new PS3, Ò€œif you compare horsepower, it doesn’t always mean that the car with the most horsepower will win the race.Ò€ And I completely agree with him on this.

Godfree: The good thing about the Xbox 360 is that every game is going to have a custom soundtrack where people can actually connect their Ipods and download all of their music into the system. Everything on the Xbox 360 is going to be based on customization. Xbox Live is going to have a new look and will have some very cool new features that will please many people whether you are a hardcore gamer or just a casual one. They are changing the look of their official website, Xbox.com, and will make it more user friendly for every Xbox 360 owner.

I guess time will tell. And more specifically with Xbox itself and the online community. If you can talk a little more about both since that is what Gamertag Radio is more focused on.
Godfree: I mean the Xbox 360 is going to launch with around 15 games. They’re actually paying more money to create games and hiring more people because they’re making all the games in HD (High Definition).

Nano: You’re going to have the change to High Definition, you are also going to complete access for custom soundtracks in any game you choose with large hard drives (20gb,40gb, and 80gb) and on top of all that you can download more levels, new characters, soundtracks and items directly into your Xbox 360. The reason why we’re doing an Xbox based radio show is because the community in the Xbox world is a lot better than the Playstation community. On Playstation’s community, you have one screen name for every game. You have to create a new name for each game and never have a steady friends list. But for Xbox Live, it’s more like AOL, where it’s one screen name and everyone knows you by that one personalized gamertag.

So who else is part of the Gamertag Radio staff?
Godfree: Bam, who does the engineering. Sharpsound, who does like a 7 minute mix for the show every month or so. CyberAthlete is one of our writer/reporters from Chicago. And Miss Irie is our webmaster and sometimes she does do interviews and joins us in a few episodes. Trixie from Xbox.com/Microsoft has also recently joined the GTR staff and contributes to the show with news and any new information that is out in the Xbox side of the world.

Nano: Other than that, we’re trying to keep the staff pretty small. We don’t want to make the team too big because everybody starts to try to jump on the bandwagon. Everyone thinks that by being involved with a show like ours, you’re going to get free stuff. Honestly it takes a lot hard work to get anything that we have gotten so far. That’s the main reason why we like to keep the staff at such a small number.

What’s the projection for the next couple of months with the show? Where do you think you’re heading in the more immediate future?
Godfree: We’re just going to keep doing the radio show and see what’s going to happen. A lot of people want to sponsor us now but we are still just trying to wait and see what happens. We started off with nearly 500 listeners and now that number is in the thousands. Everything is cool so far. We’ve been featured on Microsoft, Xbox.com, Gamespot, IGN and so many other sites. We are also going to be featured in the UK OXM magazine and disc. Also we will be coming out in MTV’s True Life in November. There’s so much more to come from us.

Nano: We’re going to keep trying to get a bigger audience, more exposure and sponsorships.

Definitely, so any last words?
Godfree: Thanks to RobLove, Wrekonize, Mayday, Luna Empire, Counter Flow, and Tonedeff for the intros on our show and for all of the support. Any artists out there with good music, contact us and we’ll see if we can get you on. Remember it’s a whole new audience, so these people can end up liking your music and supporting you. Most of these people have credit cards so they will buy your stuff.

Word. Thanks for supporting The305.Com guys. I see nothing but growth and much success for you guys and Gamertag Radio. Keep hustling and doing what you are doing. Peace.

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