Eddie Francis is one of those guys. No, not Illuminati, but if there is a hip hop equivalent to winning the lottery, he’s the poster child. He was fresh out of high school in 1999, working as a janitor when he heard about a contest to be a radio DJ. He gave it a shot, and won.
Since then, he’s become one of the most heralded voices of his Seattle hometown, broadcasting via the No. 1 station in the city. Even when he was fired a couple of years ago, he was immediately hired back. And now, a mere 16 years later, he’s the guy next to Billion Dollar Dre at The Pharmacy, the producer/mogul’s new bi-monthly show on Apple Music Radio.
The Pharmacy opened last week (to rave fan reviews) on Independence Day. Although the fourth is Jay Z’s favorite number (hi, TIDAL), we won’t drum up any East Coast/West Coast beef with music streaming here. The crew is decidedly taking a one-love, b-boy stance with the program: the first session’s focus was J. Dilla.
Still in an it-was-all-a-dream-like state of mind, Eddie talked with BET.com about what’s next, whether or not he’s asked Dre to borrow any money, and that one time he almost got into a fight with Day 26.
How’d it go the first week?
It was great. I’ve never been a part of something that was so universally well-recepted ... I mean, I dealt with the online trolls through the medium of terrestrial radio so I’m used to the negative feedback, I was kind of waiting for it... but when it’s overwhemingly positive, you can’t help but feel good about it.
Yeah, trolls run the world out here on the Internet. Good, bad and indifferent. But we all want to know, how’d you get the gig?
So what happened was, a few months ago –– because we’ve been working on this for a while –– I’m at home, I got a phone call (big shout to Julie Pilot, who used to be my boss in Seattle a long time ago) ... She said it was going to be some kind of show with Dr. Dre, and as soon as she said that, I was in ... I blacked out. After she said, ‘host a show with Dr. Dre,’ I didn’t hear what she said after that. I talked to her for 20 minutes not knowing what she’s talking about to the point where later on in the day I had to call her back like, 'Okay, what are we talking about now?'
You mentioned on the first show that you didn’t have any vacation days saved up when you were audtioning in those initial meetings. You really took a chance, right?
I got to kind of a fork in the road, so it was like either pursue this or just kind of go on living my mundane life ... and I just decided I was gonna just put my eggs in this basket and see what this was going to lead to.
What was so mundane about life back home?
I had a whole other job ... I was doing radio and I had a different job... it was the day job that was killing me.
I feel you. Back to the excitement... now that you’re official, have you asked Dre if you could hold something?
Nah, nah ... you know, I keep it cool. To a degree, I believe me and Dre are friends. I don’t go down that route with him.
What about Detox, have you heard it? Are y’all sitting around laughing at us trolly outsiders because we’re still holding on to that album?
I couldn’t say that I’ve heard Detox. I definitely have heard some songs that no one else has heard, and let me just say that the man is a music genius. The things that I’ve heard are phenomenal, it’s crazy. I don’t know if that stuff gets released, I don’t know the logistics of that, I have no idea, but the man, he’s no joke in that producer booth.
Radio’s different, though. I heard Drake’s got the same time slot, are you going to give out relationship advice to compete?
Nah, nah, we not gonna compete with Drake, he actually has OVO [Sound] Radio in the same slot as us [on alternating weekends] so we want people to listen to Drake, so the next week people listen to us ... With us it’s not a traditional radio show, like we don’t want to do gimmicks, we don’t want to do, ‘hey let’s prank call people.’ Like if that’s your lane and you’re good at it, shout out to you, that’s great. We want ours to really embody music, it’s all about music, like our first show we did a J Dilla set ... big shout out to Jus Incredible, he’s our DJ on the show and he works his tail off ... We just want the music to speak for itself.
Coming from Seattle, how’d you get heavy into hip hop? I mean, we know about Macklemore and Sir Mix A Lot...
On the national scene, yeah, that’s what people identify with ... but we got a lot of local artists too, and it’s talent out there. The roots of Seattle are really engrained into music, I mean you gotta realize Qunicy Jones wrote music there, Jimi Hendrix and of course Nirvana, you know, a plethora of different artists.
Best interview so far?
I been blessed to have anything to do with radio. ... I think it’s a form that people a lot of times want to discredit and say that it’s not what it used to be, but I think when radio’s done right, it’s a beautiful medium ... I’ve met ‘em all. I’ve enjoyed interviewing Beyoncé, and Jay Z (over the phone), one of my most memorable is Ice Cube. T.I. was a great interview.
Stand out moment?
Two: I remember when Michael Jackson died. That day, I called my partner DJ SupaSam and I was like, ‘Yo we gotta just –– radio could be real formulaic, certain things have to go a certain way and every now and then you gotta buck the trends –– I was like, 'We gotta do something different ... we gotta go in the archives.' And it was one of those kind of things that kind of snowballed, a lot of listeners started calling up, people hitting us on Twitter ... That was one, and then July 4th, 2015 when The Pharmacy dropped. It was unbelievable.
Broadcasting in 100 countries, do you approach radio differently now?
Absolutely not. Here’s the thing that I’ve learned: people they understand genuine, they can feel geniuine. ... So, I don’t care if I’m in one city or 100 countries, I’m always going to be me. That’s what’s worked out for me up until this point, and hopefully people like it. Everyone’s not going to, but if you can please more than you disappoint, then you’re doing something right.
Craziest beef you found yourself in the middle of?
One time, I remember Day 26, Diddy’s band on Making the Band, yeah there was almost a physical altercation there. To be perfectly honest it was more my fault then theirs ... I put something on Twitter that I probably shouldn’t’ve but I didn’t realize the power of Twitter at the time and they got kind of mad about it ... We still did the interview and we were cool after that. ... And there was an interview I did with Chris Brown, I was doing mornings with Karen Wild in Seattle and I probably shouldn’t say this, but basically they told us we couldn’t bring up the Rihanna thing and Rihanna had just done an interview for Good Morning America or Today or something ... I asked anyway and then like the publicists got on the phone, it ended up being crazy and it ended up being on TMZ and all this stuff, and we had to take the interview down ... But I never intended it for it to be disrespect to Chris Brown, I just wanted it to be like his side of the story because I think people wanted to know that.
Top 5 on your playlist right now?
I’ma be honest, I been listening to a lot of Beats 1 just trying to get a feel for the station because as of this interview, we’re like barely over a week, so I’m trying to get familiar with a lot of the artists ... Some of my favorite MCs right now, the Meek album dropped, I like the Meek album, I still like the Wale album ... I’m a huge fan of Big K.R.I.T. and I like throwing in some old school UGK in there, Vince Staples, Vic Mensa, I know I’m giving you more than five... I’m a huge Dom Kennedy fan, especially being in L.A. ... Nipsey Hussle.
We know you’re still a Seahawks fan, but how’s L.A. looking overall?
Right now, I’m looking out the window of my apartment, I got some palm trees I’m looking at. It’s not as sunny as I would like it to be –– it’s hotter back home right now –– but I’m six blocks away from the beach... L.A. is a beautiful look. Went out to 1Oak the other night, the ladies in there were looking very delicious, so I think I’m going to fit right in.
We hear that. The Pharmacy airs again next Saturday (July 18), 3 - 5p.m. PT.
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