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Angela Martinez (born January 9, 1971 in the Bronx, New York) is an American-based radio and television personality, hip-hop recording artist, actress, and model.
Martinez got her first break in radio at the age of 16 answering hot lines at the urban radio station Hot 97. There she met popular disc jockey Funkmaster Flex, and began working as his protege. Martinez quickly picked up on the craft of running a successful radio program. Executives at the station decided to give her a chance, even though she lacked on-air experience. After only 3 months working over nights, Angie was offered the 6-10pm time slot Monday-Fridays, following the stations headlining talent Wendy Williams. She quickly gained a large fan following, and the popularity of her radio show quickly began to surpass Williams in the ratings. Williams became very competitive and a silent rivalry between the ladies quickly ensued. The tension between them made afternoons at the station very uncomfortable. One night as Williams was delivering her trademark celebrity gossip, she announced that Martinez had been secretly dating rapper Q-Tip, and then questioned her position at the station insinuating that her famous boyfriend had played a role in her promotion. Angie had been in the studio preparing for her own show, and grew infuriated. She stormed into Williams studio and the two ladies began hurling insults back and forth, which led to a physical altercation on-air. Producers and security attempted to break up the fight between the two women. The entire altercation had been broadcasted all over New York City.
Station producers and executives of Emmis Broadcasting began reviewing their options. Since she had started the feud, Williams was released from her contract with the station and Martinez was given her 2-6pm time slot, the most desired time in all of radio. The Angie Martinez Show quickly became the most popular show in all of New York. Talks ensued for Martinez's show to become nationally syndicated. From 1996-2002, Martinez radio show was ranked #1 in the Arbatron Ratings. The time slot had only fallen from the top position three times, twice while Martinez was promoting her music, and once while she was on maternity leave. During the course of her program, she has had such high profile guests as Tupac Shakur, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z, Lil' Kim, Larry King, Dr. Phil, Naomi Campbell and Foxy Brown. Because of her radio success she has been dubbed "The Voice of New York".
In 2002 Martinez was hired by HBO to host a Letterman-Leno-esque late night talk show entitled "Stretch". All guests would ride in the back of a stretch limo on their way to an event, and Angie would interview them about their latest project, what they did to prepare for the event and then they would show up at the event and the pair would go inside together. It gave a very intimate look into a celebrity preparation. The show was successful and caught the attention of television producer Simon Fuller. Fuller thought that Martinez would be an excellent addition to American Idol. Martinez signed a contract to be the fourth judge alongside Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell for the 2, 3 and 4 seasons of the FOX networks ratings giant. After only four days on the audition trial, Martinez admitted to not being able to crush the dreams of hopefuls. She said watching the aspiring singers leave in tears and breaking down with their families comforting them was too much for her to take. Martinez asked the Fox Network to be removed from the program. Throughout the remainder of that season she was replaced with different guests judges such as Clive Davis, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Quentin Tarantino, Brandy and Marc McGrath of rock band Sugar Ray. When HBO decided to branch from one channel into 8 sub channels that would concentrate on a certain demographic, scheduling conflicts while filming "Stretch" ensued. With the new taping schedule, it was cutting into her time with her radio show and promotions, Martinez stepped back from the program at that point.
As an actress, Angie received small roles in independent hip hop films such as Blood is Thicker Than Water and Paper Soliders. She made her big screen big budget debut in Brown Sugar starring Taye Diggs, Queen Latifah and Sanaa Lathan. Critics praised Angie's performance, they were extremely surprised with her acting ability. Ebert & Roper labeled her "a natural". This led to her next role in State Property 2. Again Angie received strong critical acclaim. She has also made television appearances for MTV, VH1 and The FUSE Network, and was featured on Ultimate Hustler season finale with show creator and friend Damon Dash on BET.
In 1996, Martinez was encouraged to give rapping a shot by friend KRS-One. She appeared on his track "Heartbeat" from his 1996 album I Got Next. After the song gained a strong fan following, another friend, Lil' Kim, offered her a position on a remix of her song "Not Tonight" for the Nothing to Lose soundtrack. Along with Missy Elliott, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez and Da Brat, the ladies enjoyed one of the most successful singles of 1997. It peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Charts at #2, and reached #1 on the Hip-Hop / R&B charts and the Rap charts respectively. The single sold over 1,000,000 copies and was certified Platinum. The ladies were nominated for two Grammy Awards that year, and were also invited to perform the song live on The MTV Video Music Awards. A major label battle began to sign Martinez to a recording contract. Her appearance on other rapper's material was in high demand. She recorded songs with Mary J. Blige ("Christmas in the City"), Terror Squad ("Freak Out"), N.O.R.E. ("Oh No Remix"), Beenie Man ("Tell Me Remix") and Funkmaster Flex & Big Kap's compilation album The Tunnel ("Wow"). She also recorded interludes for mixtapes by Kid Capri, DJ Clue and DJ Kayslay. In 1999, she appeared in the music video for Jay-Z and R. Kelly's "Guilty Until Proven Innocent".
On August 17, 2001, she finally issued her oft-delayed debut album, The Up Close and Personal Project. The album included production by DJ Clue, Doro, Salaam Remi, and RocWilder among others, and featured guest appearances by Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Wyclef Jean, Busta Rhymes and Kool G. Rap. The first single, "Dem Thangz" was produced by The Neptunes, and also featured background vocals by Pharrell Williams and Q-Tip. The track failed to make a strong impression at radio, but the album enjoyed strong first week sales. It debuted at #32 on the Billboard Hot 200 Albums Chart and #10 on the Billboard Hip-Hop / R&B Charts selling 69,000 its first week. The second single, "Coast 2 Coast" (Suavamente) featuring rapper Wyclef Jean re-sparked interest in the album. She promoted the album with magazine posters, in-store signings, club appearances and television appearances with MTV and BET. The record received mixed reviews from critics, but like Martinez herself, was strongly accepted in the hip hop community. The album sold a very respectable 325,000 units.
Following her first album's release, Angie began work on a second record. In order to build anticipation for the record, she appeared on BET's Rap City and began a nation-wide radio tour. She recorded a verse for the remix to rapper Sacario's "Live Big". It became the number one record in the tri-state area and coincidentally considered with the release of Martinez's first single from her second album, "If I Could Go" which also featured rapper Sacario and singer Lil' Mo. "If I Could Go" became a huge crossover hit on pop radio, climbing into the top 10 on The Billboard Hot 100 Pop Charts. It became the #1 played on urban radio in 2002. The album, Animal House (named after Martinez's own production company and recording posse), was released on August 21, 2002. It entered the Billboard Hot 200 Albums Chart at #11, and the Billboard Hot Hip-Hop / R&B Charts selling 92,000 units in its first week. The follow-up single, "Take You Home" featuring R&B singer Kelis didn't receive as much attention, did become a minor hit that winter. The album was more strongly received by critics and fans, and was certified gold by the RIAA for sales of over 500,000 copies. This made Martinez the first Puerto-Rican female hip-hop artist to ever receive an RIAA certified plaque of any kind. Following the release of the album, she was featured on a remix for labelmate Lil' Mo's track "Gangsta", and Nina Sky's hype single "Time to Go". Following this she announced she was retiring from the recording industry to concentrate on her other projects.
As a model, Angie has worked with many "street-casual" hip hop clothing lines. She modeled for Ecko by Marc Ecko, and also became the face of his label RED, which promoted a more fashionable women's line. She has also modeled for IceBerg, Mercedes-Benz and Lucky Magazine.
On April 13, 2004, Martinez teamed with rapper Missy Elliott to release their own collection of Adidas, Track Suits, sneakers, hats, etc. The label known as RESPECT ME, has been a huge hit with the company. Both women became the spokesmodels for the clothing line and appeared in promotion ads, posters and billboards. They also hosted the opening of the World's Largest Adidas store in New York City.
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