Joe Clair is one of the definitive hip-hop VJs and media personalities. As the music and culture exploded onto the mainstream radar throughout the 1990s, Clair’s easygoing presence on BET’s “Rap City” brought the fans into the world of legendary artists like Nas and Snoop Dogg in a way that seemed grounded and real. Before the glitz and the gossip took over, Clair was a part of a cadre of young television and print journalists that documented hip-hop’s classic period. Now, he’s back to reinvigorate hip-hop journalism and interviews with the new Web series, “The Booth.” And he’s determined to elevate the art form once again.
“I think I set a precedent for a type of interview back in the day,” Clair says. “I try to make sure the questions I’m asking are what the people want to hear, as opposed to what you hear from other outlets. When a cat drops an album, everybody asked the same five questions. I would try to ask questions more about family or where you are creatively or what’s up with your kids. What I bring to the table this time around is just a broader conversation. We are now global and our conversation should reflect that. People in Beijing may be watching it. So let’s bring something interesting to the game.”
“In my eyes, hip-hop journalism got funneled into the same category that hip-hop got funneled into: underground gets very little play and it’s about whose hot right now. It’s turned into a lot of gossip, a lot of mudslinging, quick buck-type tactics [and] gimmicks,” he adds. “Get Twitter buzzing.”