Photo Courtesy of Marisa Mendez
Hot 97’s Marisa Mendez shares her journey in radio.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in your career?
I got started in high school when I was a huge fan of Dipset, mainly Juelz Santana. So I would search him on the internet and see what he was about (this was way before the Myspace era, around 2002 or 2003). My research eventually helped me meet producers, rappers, engineers, and all these other people in the industry. Later on, Karen (Civil) helped me get the internship at Hot 97, under Flex because she had interned here, too. I interned with Flex for two semesters, and after my internship was over I came back a year later to visit and he told me he was starting “In Flex we Trust” and he asked me if I wanted to write for his blog, and I was like cool, and we just started working and never stopped.
What would you say is something that separates you from some of the people in this field and industry?
I think I’m really super candid, I have a really crazy personal life, and I’ve always been kind of proud to celebrate that. I never really shied away from it, and I think that’s what makes me more relatable. I don’t know if you want to call that “sex positive” or whatever, but I think it stems from that. I’m a hip-hop kid, too, so that definitely plays a part in it. I think that’s why dudes rock with me, because I know my music and girls rock with me because they’ll be like, “I get life from your stories!”
How do you deal with your haters? Since you’re so open with your lifestyle, how do you deal with the hate that comes with it?
I think getting into this (industry) you know what you’re getting into. I’ve had a lot of talks with my mentors and my peers that have been here a long time before me, the Ebros and Flexes. They would always let me know ‘this is the path you’re taking, this is what’s going to come with it, so make sure you’re ready for it’. I don’t wan’t to say I’m used to it, but I also don’t want to say it gets any easier. If you’re having a bad day, and someone is calling you all types of names…it sucks it never feels good. They don’t understand my character and they don’t care to listen to all the stuff they just hear one of the salacious things and they’ll be like “this girl is just trying to get a name off who she’s messing with or what she’s doing.” It’s not that at all I just happen to share whatever I’m doing, it’s not like I’m trying to make a come up off anything. It’s just a part of my journey and it happens so I share it. I just tune it out, and the people that do support me count ten times more than the people that don’t. You’ll see one positive comment among a sea of bad ones and it helps.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I wouldn’t say I’m a full time feminist. I don’t want to put a label on anything because one wrong step or something someone doesn’t agree with, and it’ll be, “Oh you’re not a feminist.” I’m all for women celebrating their bodies, sexuality, equality, and doing you.
Can you talk about your “Marisa Explains It All Podcast” and how it got started?
In 2014, I ended up at the same event as Peter Rosenberg and I was telling him a crazy story of how I went out with this guy and I didn’t know he had his girlfriend. I was laughing about it because I could cry about it, but I find things so funny that I laugh at it. He was like, “Yo you’re insane you need to do something”. People always tell me I have the craziest stories. Since high school, everyone told me they were going to miss my stories. Podcasts started becoming the wave at this time, and one day Joe Budden tweeted that he wanted to start a podcast. So I told Rosenberg and we all linked up and started the podcast a month later, I did that for a year and some change. So we had fun on the podcast and told my crazy stories, and people always told me I don’t get to talk enough and I should do my own thing. So this past summer we had a falling out, and everyone was asking me what I was going to do next. After he announced my departure on his show, I got a crazy response and I decided to start my own podcast.
Would you say you have role models or people you look up to in the industry?
I mean Angie Martinez first and foremost hands down. I’ve worked with probably almost every celebrity I’ve ever wanted to work with but I don’t think anyone made me feel as surreal as she did. I got to work under Angie from February 2014 to June 2014. I’ve worked with Flex and Ebro, some of the most respected OGs in this industry. But with Angie everything felt so surreal, we’re both women and Latina so I just felt like that’s so dope to me. She just gets respect and trust from artists and I’ve always loved that. I also like Amber Rose and respect the message she’s trying to send. Role model? Not necessarily, I don’t always agree with the way she goes about doing the things she does, but I do respect what she does and the narrative she’s trying to change.
How would you describe your personal brand?
A sexually liberated girl in a hip-hop world. I love pop culture. I love hip-hop, and I love talking about sex.
As of right now, who’s on your playlist?
Ty Dolla $ign is number one. I love Kehlani. I like Lil Yachty a lot; I can’t say he’s someone I listen to all the time but I have so much respect for someone who can put together melodies and hit records. It’s not all about bars with me, and as young as he is he really understands marketing and branding and all that stuff and I really respect that. I like Machine Gun Kelly; he’s such a dope rapper all around. IamSu from the Bay … I really love Cali hip-hop. I love YG.
Are there any affirmations you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
Yes. I wear it on my wrist everyday. It says, “What’s for you will not pass you.” I just believe everything will work itself out as long as I work hard and put myself in the right places.
Do you feel like continued education is important?
I don’t want to tell kids not to go to school. I do think there are experiences in college that you can’t get anywhere else. I’m happy to have my degree because God forbid this doesn’t work and I want to go work a regular 9-5, I can do that. If you’re just going to school and putting yourself in debt just to say you did it, then no I don’t think you should do that.
How do you stay connected with fans?
Instagram and Twitter are @MarisaMendez. My Facebook is LifeIsTremendez. My website is www.LifeIsTremendez.com. My Snapchat is Marisa.Mendez
What’s something you want everyone to know?
I just really want to make sure people don’t discredit a woman just because she likes to have sex.