Rob Markman’s journey from esteemed music journalist to rapper

Morgan-Taylor Thomas

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Rob Markman has always been engulfed in the music scene. Even graduating with a bachelor’s degree in media studies, Markman struggled to find his place in both the journalism and music industries.

“I didn’t have any options,” Markman said. “I didn’t have any job prospects. It wasn’t like I graduated with a BA and the doors opened for me.” 

After being sentenced to a mailroom day job to pay his way through college, along with three years of freelance work for outlets such as The Source, Vibe Magazine and the New York Post, Markman found a home in music journalism. Now, the vice president of content strategy at Genius, the Hunter College graduate continues his journey into music, only this time he’s making it.

Before he had the official artist title at South by Southwest, Markman said he used to stand in front of Hot 97, New York’s first and biggest hip-hop radio station, handing out mixtapes to anyone who walked by.

“Artists and DJs would come in and out of the building, so before anybody knew who I was, I handed a CD to Kanye West,” Markman said. “I was also doing battles in and around New York City and open mics, doing whatever I could to be heard.”

Once he built a reputable name for himself within the journalism world, Markman said the connections he made ultimately provided him opportunities other beginning artists would not have.

“Logic invited me to perform with him at (a) sold-out Barclays Center,” Markman said. “I'm from Brooklyn, more specifically, Flatbush. Barclays is right on Flatbush Avenue, so this (was) like a dream come true.” 

However, Markman said he often shuts himself out of musical opportunities because he never wants it to seem like he’s leveraging a place in journalism for a place in music.

“It was a gift in that I met people along the way who could help me a bit with my music,” Markman said. “Once I became a known music journalist, I knew that if I did music, people would at least be curious. Even though I built these relationships, I wanted my merit as a musician and artist to be based off of the music and the art. I didn't want it to be because of who I knew.”

Even with an arsenal of A-list celebrity connections, Markman said a lot of people questioned him entering the music industry as a musician.

“I've interviewed the biggest artists in the world on the biggest platform,” Markman said. “Everybody from Jay-Z to Drake to Nicki Minaj, you name it. So people respect me as this esteemed journalist who interviews their favorite artists, and when I said I wanted to do music, it seemed corny to a lot of people.”

Nevertheless, his dedication to his own unique sound has left Markman gaining more respect than ever before.

“I had something I wanted to express musically,” Markman said. “Because of consistently putting out music, I've developed a sound that's my own. I'm not out here chasing trends. I'm going to do it my way, and I'm going to take the long route, and I think people see that and respect it.”

Although he’s not sure what the future holds for him musically, Markman said nothing encourages him more than continuing to be an inspiration for young creatives and fans.

“I'm confident that my music is going to make a difference in people's lives,” Markman said. “When I'm all said and done, the music that I'm creating now and will continue to create will help fuel people's drive to be their greatest selves. So you know, it might not be me getting that Grammy, but it might be somebody 10 to 15 years from now getting on that stage and picking up a Grammy and saying, ‘Yo, I used to listen to Rob Markman.’”