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Podcast Review: ‘Drink Champs’

Chill with N.O.R.E and DJ EFN for “the most professional, unprofessional podcast.”

Audrey Arellano

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As part of our ongoing Music Journalism Course, our music team was asked to choose, listen to and write a reaction to an episode of a music podcast. 

I chose to review Drink Champs because I heard about this through a close friend of mine who had explained to me briefly what it was about. I heard “N.O.R.E. talking about hip hop with special guests whilst sipping drinks and smoking for an hour and a half” spill out from my friend’s mouth.

There was no need to twist my arm for me to look into this more thoroughly and have a listen for myself. Let’s face it though, any show with a slogan like “the most professional, unprofessional podcast” has got to be worth listening to and it was.

I was interested in N.O.R.E.’s thoughts, especially after a few red cups and blunts. I am not a die-hard N.O.R.E. fan, but you can find him in my music library. He has played an important role in reggaeton and hip hop,  breaking barriers between the two genres in the early 1990s. His co-host, DJ EFN, is best known as a Miami based DJ that has been in the hip hop game  since the early 90s as well.

This episode focused on Fat Joe. Joe and N.O.R.E. were on the same record label, Terror Squad, early in their careers. The two also had very close ties with late rapper Big Pun.

The podcast consists of Joe and N.O.R.E. reminiscing on times they had spent with Pun, where the state of hip hop is today, and the debate about how good of a year 2018 was for hip hop.

Joe touches on the struggle he endured not being fully accepted in the Latin community because of the music he made. He recalls one of the most defeating moments in his career when a Puerto Rican radio host asked — him on the air — if he thought he was African American because he associated himself with rappers.

He felt as if he had let his country down. 

If there was anything I was expecting out of this podcast, it was to get some good laughs and hear crazy stories. I have heard other artists say that N.O.R.E. is a hilarious and wild cat — and it feels like just what he is. His voice bounces off of the walls and fills every crevice, so you know he is there, as most Puerto Ricans do. He has a very in-your-face kind of personality. His hands wave fast past the mic as the topics of the interview change.

The podcast can be found on Apple Music, YouTube, REVOLT, and on the Drink Champs website. I chose to watch it on YouTube on my laptop with my undivided attention because I wanted to experience the podcast for all it is. This was the first episode of the podcast I had ever seen.

A small audience of what seemed to be friends of N.O.R.E.’s and living room set up gave the recording studio a real homey touch to it. I do believe the show took full advantage of the audio possibilities it had. I felt like I was lounging at a get together, listening to the Puerto Rican uncle I never had drop knowledge and tell me about his crazy lifetime stories. It was entertaining as hell.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Audrey is a Journalism and Creative Writing graduate from Southern California. Her passion for writing began when she was gifted her first journal on her eighth birthday. She has written for both her community college and university newspaper. Her first love is music. On her free time she likes to go crate digging at record shops, browse art galleries, travel, read, and go to the beach.

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