To the interviewee who recorded me, I get it now
If you’re being interviewed by the press, be your own advocate
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on March 14, 2021.
I walked into the high-rise building, figured out which door and floor to go to, and smiled when I saw 10 eyes on me. This wasn’t a normal assignment for me. As an entertainment reporter, I was used to picking out my own music artists to interview. However, this magazine really wanted this group to be interviewed. They weren’t known nationwide, but at least two of them were very well-known on the Chicago hip-hop scene.
To this day, a very famous Chicago rapper constantly brings up one of the group members. It’s wild to see how small but big the third largest city in the United States is. But at the time I walked in the door, I had no clue who any of them were, so I was neither impressed nor nervous. I was just curious why the magazine editor was so adamant that I talk to them, so I figured they must be dope. (They are. Collectively and individually. I found that out later once I saw them perform.)
I’m fully aware of what Jay Z said on “Reminder”: “All bloggers with comments, please, I come in peace.”
Four of the five were warm and friendly. I liked them immediately. But then there was a fifth member who spent majority of the time staring at me suspiciously. He didn’t speak. He didn’t shake my hand. He just nodded at me and looked like he was ready for me to leave. It felt like a middle finger without raising his hand. I looked back at him with the same energy. My hands work, too, bruh.
When I sat down with a fresh drink from their manager, I started my tape recorder and got ready to ask the questions I’d prepared beforehand. The Suspicious One pulled a notebook out of his back pocket and started taking notes as I talked. I explained to him that he didn’t have to do that. I reminded him that I was recording the interview to make sure I didn’t misquote him. His response, “Nah.”
I looked at him a little longer than necessary. The other four members of the group could sense that this could get awkward. I was trying to decide whether all this attitude was really worth the interview for a music group I didn’t even know. But the other four were so nice that I just didn’t want to throw up the deuce sign and leave. So I started talking to the rest of the group and pretty much ignored the fifth guy, unless he chose to voluntarily add his feedback. When he did, I listened attentively and went back to asking questions to the rest of the group.
He caught on, stood up, and handed his notebook and pen to another group member, telling him, “Take notes.” The young man who he tried to hand the notebook to waved his hand away and turned back around to talk to me. The Suspicious One glared at him and walked off into another room. No love lost for me. If he’d have left the entire building, I would’ve lost no sleep over it.