In the year since we last spoke with Gabe P, his brainchild, On The Radar Radio, has emerged as one of the most exciting hip-hop media platforms on the scene. With a combination of viral freestyles in their neon green-lit studio, one-on-one artist interviews and a weekly radio show with Power 105.1, OTR and Gabe have evidently taken the music world by storm.
Much of the brand’s character comes from its founder. The 27-year-old New York native has found a way to channel his immense passion for music through On The Radar to make one of the most genuine, diverse and all-encapsulating hip-hop platforms we’ve seen in a while.
Over the course of our 30-minute conversation, it was immediately apparent why On the Radar has found such widespread success. Gabe’s passion for rap, Latin music and Afro beats shined through, as he rattled off a list of artists that don’t scratch the surface of most people’s playlists. This versatility is part of the reason why OTR keeps fans coming back. “I don’t know any other platform that has ever been able to have that much diversity,” Gabe tells me on our hour-long Zoom call, excited to bring more burgeoning talent to the forefront of hip-hop.
This year, Gabe has been able to keep his commitment to underrated artists while also working with some of the biggest in the world. For many, the viral Drake and Central Cee freestyle was the first time they had heard of OTR. For others, it was the recent Concrete Boys freestyle: Lil Yachty‘s formal introduction of his Concrete label to the world. Either way, OTR has found a way to grow a fanbase of over 1 Million between Instagram and YouTube over the past five years.
We caught up with Gabe to talk about his start in the music industry, working with Lyrical Lemonade and the importance of consistency, among other big moments.
Read our conversation below!
EH: Tell us more about your background, what kind of music were you listening to as a kid, and who was putting you onto new music.
GP: “It’s funny because my background in music is extremely interesting. I grew up listening to hip-hop, but the music that was being played in my Puerto Rican household was a variety of Spanish music being played on a Saturday when my mom’s cleaning the crib, to my pops playing music from the Woodstock era and the classic rock era that is so revered nowadays. If I could describe my early 2000s music taste, it’s very much the Linkin Park and a Jay-Z Collision Course EP. I feel like that sums up perfectly what my early childhood music interests were because there wasn’t one genre that I was exclusively listening to. It was always a blend and a mix of both things.”
EH: What made you want to start OTR while working at Power 105.1?
GP: “I basically felt like there were a lot of great media platforms out in the world, but there wasn’t anything that was a representation of my generation, or what would be the next generation after me. I felt like, those artists just weren’t understood or all the way accepted by the current generation, which isn’t a bad thing, it just happens in every generation. We always see something like that. I’m about breaking those generational curses, and I think when I wanted to come up with On The Radar, I wanted to create something special; something that’s gonna be brand new, something that’s gonna be refreshing, and can be a hub for the new generation alongside the older generation. I want to bring everybody to one place and kind of give everybody a level playing field to do something special.”
EH: Each era of Hip-Hop has had its own distinct place for artists to freestyle. 2000s freestyles were characterized by Wayne and Killer Mike on Rap City, and the artists of the 2010s spit on Hot 97, Swae in the Morning and XXL. Do you feel that On The Radar is this next generations platform?
GP: “People love to make those comparisons and I don’t want to sound cliché, but I feel like OTR is the first of its kind. One day you could have Victony, who is a huge Afrobeat artist, or Byron Messia, but then like the next day, you’ll have Lil Yachty or Drake, and the next day after that you’ll have like, like B-Lovee, and other local drill artists from New York. I don’t know any other platform that has ever been able to have that much diversity. Shout out to my brother Zay who does From the Block, and Charlie Sloth from Fire in the Booth. But besides that, there aren’t too many other platforms that are able to be able to cater to that many different audiences. I’ve always been inspired by the Funk Flex, the LA Leakers, the Power 97s and you know, of course, the XXLs. But to me, OTR is an amalgamation of everything. We’re something brand new, so I wouldn’t compare myself to them. I would just say that everything that we do is inspired by them and we’re just building on top of foundations that were left before us so we could create our own new and unique legacy.”
EH: The Concrete Boys freestyle has everyone talking lately, how did that come about?
GP: “Man, I gotta give a big shout-out to my photographer Calvin. He was talking to Karrahbooo and helped set up the date and time for that. I met Karrah on the phone last year, so we were really locked in with each other first. We went out to Atlanta, we shot her freestyle, her Box The 40 performance and it kind of started from there. After that, we did Dc2Trill out in LA, so really when people say Drake is the reason why Yachty came to On the Radar, I’m sure that definitely is a factor in it. But I think it’s also because we really helped to break Karrahbooo.”
EH: Why do you think Yachty trusted you to introduce his label to the world?
GP: “I think Yachty saw that we were a viable platform for breaking artists and we already did such an amazing job, kind of beginning with Karrah. I love doing those label cyphers, we’ve done them before. So in my head, I was thinking how I would love to be the platform to help introduce these artists to on a bigger scale. Even though they’re very well known as they are within their fan bases and in music. I’m just grateful that Yachty trusted us when making it happen and again, thanks to Karrah and Calvin helping make sure that everything went smoothly. I’m super grateful.”
EH: What was it like being out in Chicago with Lyrical Lemonade the other week.
GP: “We shot a day at Lyrical. I think we had about 12 artists on the Lyrical basketball court. It was super dope. I’m super appreciative of Cole and Elliot for opening the doors to the office for us. This is something we’ve been talking about and planning for a while so I’m grateful that we were able to make it happen. I’ve been watching Lyrical for such a long time so being able to be at the office and bring the likes of Taylor Bennett, Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, and a ton of other artists was just a super dope full-circle experience out in Chicago.”
EH: Can we expect an OTR and LL partnership anytime soon?
GP: “As of right now, we haven’t talked about anything but look, we have the label now. So, you know, I would love to figure out some way in the future once we have artists on a scale where it makes sense to do something with Cole. That would the coolest shit ever to have our own artist who’s popping and have Cole do a video. Definitely on my bucket list.”
EH: Tell us more about your collaboration with Puma.
GP: “Puma signed up with us to do this tour throughout the country. They came on as a sponsor. We show Puma love on all the videos and they’ve really been a great partner helping us bring OTR to all these cities. We’ve done Atlanta, NOLA, LA, Philly, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Pumas definitely been a great partner in all this and I think it’s a great collaboration. For them to bring OTR around the country for the 50th year of hip hop to help celebrate hip hop culture is super tight.”
EH: You talk about the new OTR label. OTR has quickly become a platform that can shine a light on new artists, what’s your plan to expand this role?
GP: “We have On The Radar Records, which we already started today. We put out a three-pack with 917 racks called Mood Swings, so definitely go check that out. We also have a three-pack out with Skodi from Florida called Gotham Nights and a bunch of other singles as well as a ton of freestyles out on streaming. Hopefully by the end of November, we’re going to be putting out a tape: Very sexy drill, New York-focused. [The goal is] to take OTR and then expand it into On The Radar records, where we’re going to be working with a lot of collabs on what upcoming artists have as well as bigger artists. Hopefully we’ll do a venture with a label in the future so we can actually go off and sign, develop, and manage artists. That’s how I’m taking On the Radar from a platform to a record label to beyond that as well.”
EH: OTR is consistently putting out more content than any other platform, can you tell us more about your content strategy and the mentality of having as many artists as possible on the show?
GP: “There’s some people who criticize it, but at the end of the day, we could have a B-Lovee, a VicTony and a Yachty in the same week, or even in the same day — even though all those people have very different audiences. I noticed that as I travel around the country, and as we bring On The Radar around the country, because you know, here in New York, when I walk around, people are always talking about 401, D Thang, obviously New York artists. If I go to to Africa, they’re only going to be talking about Nasty C, Victony — and if we go to the Caribbean, they’ll be talking about Mr. Vegas or Byron Messiah, or we just did something with TJ that’s going to do incredibly well. I think that’s the perfect example of what we’re building. Yeah, we’re putting out a lot of artists, but people know us for different things. With On The Radar, you’re allowed the freedom to pick what you want to watch. Everybody gets to eat. On The Radar is like a buffet.”
EH: Where do you see On the Radar in the current media landscape?
GP: “It’s interesting because in the hip-hop media landscape, obviously we’re here to continue to push the culture forward and break new artists, but I also like being a platform where everybody feels comfortable pulling up. Nobody feels like they’re going to be pressured to do something they don’t want to do or talk about things that they don’t want to talk about. It’s kind of like a safe space. I came up under Angie Martinez and the one thing that I always admire Angie for is creating a comfortable environment for the artists in the studio, so I’ve based my model for OTR around that. Being able to create an open space for artists to come and express themselves how they want to express themselves is so important for a media platform.”
EH: Where do you see On The Radar in five years?
GP: “I want to have a bunch of platinum records under my belt over the next five years. We’re also getting ready to go overseas soon. We’re working on this international tour where we’re going to hit Canada, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, London, Italy, Germany, Paris. I really want to be able to become the biggest music platform in the world so we’re really working on diversifying. One thing we’re also working on that’s super crazy and people aren’t expecting On the Radar country. Bringing country artists up to On The Radar to do live performances is very exciting for me. We’re going to be doing more DJ sets again, we kind of stopped doing them for a while because we were traveling so much. So we’re getting back into our DJ set bag. Look out for more genres coming to On The Radar.”
EH: You mention going on this International tour, where are you finding these artists?
GP: “There’s like a bunch of different ways. Even though OTR is mostly hip-hop right now. I’m still very much tapped in with a lot of Spanish artists. It’s never just me finding the artists. There are a lot of great people around me, who are always putting bugs in my ear like ‘Yo, you should tap in with this artist or that artist.’ This one kid out there who I f–k with, Young Chimi. I followed him for a while on social media but my boy Slater who is an artist from New York, actually hit me up and was like ‘Yo, Chimi’s trying to get on the phone with you, he wants to come to OTR. He can’t come to the States right now but if you ever plan on coming to Puerto Rico he’s down.’ Things like that are pretty cool because although my platform is mostly rap based, we have had a ton of great Spanish freestyles on the show that do get recognition over on the islands too. That to me, is just incredible.”
EH: What advice do you have for kids trying to make it in the music or music media industry?
GP: “It sounds cliche, but I think that music is all about consistency. No matter what area of the game you’re in, whether you’re a label or you’re making music or running a podcast or a platform like mine, it’s really about consistency and staying in front of people’s faces. Everything moves so quickly nowadays that it’s easy to get lost in the sauce and the madness of social media. I always tell kids that consistency is really everything because I’ve been at this for five years, I’ve been in the industry since I was 19. I’m 27 now, but I still feel like I haven’t even reached a fraction of the things that I wanted to achieve, right? So I’m still even at the point now where I’m like I have to still wake up every day, put my pants on, and be consistent with what I’m doing because of how much I still have left to do in this game.”
Listen to “TEASE ME” below!