To many denizens within the Republic of Hip Hop—particularly from its younger sect—he’s an antagonist. An Oakland-bred, New York-based curmudgeon who exists only to terrorize rap’s current crop of would-be auto-tuned superstars. But to hip hop’s more seasoned occupants, Ebro Darden is a sentry—a warden of sorts who protects hip-hop from itself by ruthlessly vetting its deluge of solicitors.
From his base of operations—the cultural cornerstone and radio station Hot 97—his gavel is his microphone, his bench is a Hudson Square neighborhood studio, and his robe has been replaced with his trademark salt-and-pepper beard. And from this makeshift courtroom, landmark rulings are delivered daily—all courtesy of his popular “Ebro in the Morning” show that’s broadcast to millions of listeners every morning.
But instead of a jury of their peers, to the chagrin of the Republic’s inhabitants, the fate of many a rap career rests in the hands of Darden’s deputies—radio personalities Peter Rosenberg and Laura Styles, who collectively dismantle the pleas and testimonies of almost every Lil Yachty or Post Malone brave enough to take the witness stand.
As such, the latest to do so was Pompano Beach upstart Kodak Black. His forthcoming album, Dying to Live, summoned him into the lion’s den to receive either Darden’s blessing or banishment. And as you can probably guess, the final verdict was anything but favorable.
Read the rest at Playboy.