This week, Rosenberg finally lured Minaj back to Hot 97’s Manhattan studios to talk it out. Water flowed dutifully under the bridge, but Minaj managed to leak a few drops of poison into the currents.
“I never found you funny. I never found you entertaining. I never found you smart. I just found you annoying,” the rapper and recent “American Idol” judge said. “You don’t have enough of a résuméto make those comments.”
Had Rosenberg printed up a copy, Minaj would have seen a résumé crammed with gigs the 33-year-old landed for being funny, entertaining and smart. Ego, pluck and imagination helped, too.
“The only reason I’m on Hot 97 now is because I knew it’s where I wanted to be 15 years ago,” Rosenberg says. “If you’re in hip-hop radio, this is the station to get to.”
His DJ dreams started in the mid-’90s in a MoCo bedroom, where he would post up behind his turntables, pretending he was live on the air at Hot 97.
Two months before his first class at the University of Maryland, he snagged a slot at the campus radio station. He eventually joined WJFK’s talk radio scrum but was swiftly ejected after squabbling with shock jock Don Geronimo. And in 2007, he made a surreal leap — from DJing at the McDonald’s in Adams Morgan to DJing at the most revered hip-hop radio station in the country.
On Sunday, when Hot 97 hosts its 20th annual Summer Jam at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Rosenberg will take the stage with a much bigger, much different reputation. Originally hired to play the role of Hot 97’s resident rap enthusiast, he’s now seen as some kind of cultural sentinel. Or, worse, a scold.
“A lot of people come into the station now. . . . It’s like, ‘Watch out for Rosenberg!’ ” he says. “But I’m the geeky hip-hop dude! I was trying to be the good cop!”
Rosenberg catches himself: “Maybe I shouldn’t compare myself to a cop in hip-hop.”
At 5:58 on a recent Monday morning, he spins through the revolving doors of 395 Hudson St. in Manhattan — teal Nikes, Redskins T-shirt — up the elevator and into the studio, where he lands in a swivel chair at 6 on the dot and instantly starts gabbing with his co-hosts, K. Foxx and Cipha Sounds, about rumors of a new Beyonce baby bump.
“He’s a fan of the culture and he’s funny,” Ebro Darden says during a break. As Hot 97’s program director and Rosenberg’s morning show co-host, Darden says he hired him because “there are people from all walks of life here, and he brings that other perspective.”