In 1984 a music video show began airing on WNYC-TV, a public television station owned by the city. It was the first TV show documenting hip-hop music and culture, and it’s still on today.
In the ’80s, hip-hop heads ran to a TV at 3:30 p.m. six days a week to catch the latest rap, R&B and pop videos on Video Music Box . MTV declined to air almost all of them and commercial radio wasn’t playing hip-hop either, except on Friday in the middle of the night. So Video Music Box was the first and best place to hear and see the rapidly evolving hip-hop culture act out its dreams, its jokes and its dance moves. In between videos, the show aired live performances and conversations with hip-hop luminaries and movers and shakers in the community, all shot on the street and in New York City-area businesses.
Some people call the time when Video Music Box was at its height — about 10 years from the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s — the golden era of hip-hop. The period produced rap music and videos with a mostly East Coast sensibility that valued cool, heady lyricism and family, both honorary and blood.
The man who created and still hosts the show, Ralph McDaniels, was there for all of it, and he’s got the footage to prove it. He broke legendary musicians and put young black entrepreneurs and entertainers on TV. Because McDaniels also worked with the giants of young hip-hop as a music video director and producer, he’s earned enough affection and respect over the years to be widely known as Uncle Ralph.
McDaniels has stories we want to share, so every other Friday on The Record he’ll pick a classic video and take us behind the scenes of the golden era of rap. We kick it off with Big Daddy Kane’s 1988 hit “Ain’t No Half-Steppin’.” [via]