In announcing Darden’s expanded role at Apple Music, the service’s global director of editorial, Rachel Newman, tells Billboard, “We’re excited that Ebro is joining us in a full-time capacity. Having dedicated his life and career to hip-hop, R&B and pop music, he has so much to offer. One of Ebro’s most defining characteristics is that he has great ears for where R&B and hip-hop are transcending and evolving to beyond even the borders of the U.S. He’ll obviously take a leadership position for us not just in hip-hop and R&B but also in the communities where the music is made, which is also exciting and something unique to Ebro.”
Outlining his immediate goals, Darden explains, “First things first is making sure that we’re firing on all cylinders in the best way possible, helping consumers find the music that they love and also helping artists connect with consumers in a real way. Once I learn about what’s needed to achieve that, it will be about looking ahead and figuring out ways to serve the communities where hip-hop and R&B music is made. Black music comes from the community. This is music made by people living real lives and artists speaking on behalf of those real lives."
“If we’re doing our job,” Darden continues, “we’ll be able to get down at the community level and connect with people to not only help artists service their communities but help those communities thrive. This is a global position as well. So, as we build this out, I’ll be doing the same thing I want to do in America in the U.K., Africa, India, Japan, Brazil and other countries. I’ll be wherever R&B and hip-hop are being consumed and working to create communication amongst communities around the world through Apple Music — making sure that black music is getting recognized and developing the next superstars.”
Darden initially joined Apple Music in 2015 as an anchor host of the company’s Beats 1 global live stream alongside Zane Lowe and Julie Adenuga while simultaneously launching his own influential show on the streaming service. In the three years since its launch, his show has featured insightful conversations with a diverse slate of established and emerging artists. Guests thus far range from talents such as Meek Mill, Cardi B, Migos and Chance the Rapper to Ariana Grande, Janelle Monae, J Balvin, H.E.R., SZA, Khalid, Miguel and Jennifer Lopez.
Darden’s tenure at Hot 97 includes a four-year term as the station’s music director from 2003-2007. Promoted to program director in 2007, Darden helmed that post until 2014. During the period between 2008-2013, he also served as VP of programming for Hot 97 parent Emmis Communications’ New York City properties.