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‘Uncle’ Ralph McDaniels Shares Hip-Hop’s Dirty Secrets


The word “revolutionize” gets thrown around haphazardly to any form of innovation these days. However, it is impossible to look at the present landscape of Hip Hop currently and not notice that visual representation for songs are necessitated. That was all made possible by one Queens hip hop enthusiast whom is so beloved in Hip Hop circles that he is often referred to as “Uncle Ralph”. Ralph McDaniels, the founder of the first known television show to showcase Hip Hop music videos, Video Music Box spoke on PNC Radio’s The Combat Jack Show about his history and shed light on some secrets from Hip Hop’s past and future.

[ALSO READ: Uncle Ralph McDaniels Honored With Tribute]

Russel Simmons Used To Look Like A Crackhead 

Combat Jack: “Russell looked like he snorted coce.”

Ralph McDaniels: “Right.”

Before Russell Simmons went on to co-found Def Jam Records and become worth $340 million he was a loquacious upstart promoter in the early 80s. Mr. McDaniels recalls how the Phat Farm founder’s attire was in such dissary it was a shocker when he became the success story he is today. Just goes to show, the clothes do not make the man, the future does.

YoMTV Raps was directly inspired by Video Music Box

Combat Jack: “You knock on MTV’s doors, they say no. A year later, they come out with [Yo! MTV Raps].”

The burgeoning culture of Hip Hop was changing by 1988. Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff had released He’s The Rapper I’m The DJ,  Run DMC and rock legends Aerosmith released the “Walk This Way (Remix)” and MTV gave Hip Hop a nationally recognized platform to showcase their music videos with the seminal program YO! MTV Raps. However,  Uncle Ralph claims MTV rejected him in 1986 when he presented his Video Music Box program to be featured on MTV because “middle America was not ready to have this music on their televisions.” The late Ted Demme was the co-creator of the epochal  and apparently had more than a little help with its creation from Mr. McDaniels’ endeavors:

“[Ted Demme] told me years later that he solely watched Video Music Box. That was his only reference for what was going on. He definitely took plenty ideas from Video Music Box.”

Nas’ “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” Video Shoot Ended In Gunshots

“Only [Nas’] people were standing around so it had to be one of his people.”

Rappers’ unruly entourages have been a mainstay in the Hip Hop community since its inception and in the early 90s, violence erupted almost daily. The majority of the scenes for “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”, Nas’ first music video in promotion of his canonical classic Illmatic, were shot away from his Queensbridge stomping grounds due to ongoing beef. So it is no wonder that after McDaniels promised Maria Davis no violence someone from Nas’ camp let off a few gunshots right next to Uncle Ralph. Sometimes it really is not hard to tell who will start trouble.

Bonus: Ralph McDaniels helped RZA direct his unreleased movie in support of his Bobby Digial album entitled Bobby Did It (shot in Pennsylvania). He even has the footage lying around in his storage.

Big Daddy Kane Paid A Guy Off For A Shooting He Didn’t Committ

We were got upstate and then somebody says ‘This dude is bleeding.’ I’m like, ‘Why is he bleeding? What happened?’ He thinks he has a gunshot.”

While not a complete case of what Nas calls “accidental murders”, Big Daddy Kane’s phantom gun shot is quite peculiar. While on the road to upstate New York to shoot Kane’s “The Symphony” video, the Long Live The Kane MC’s Derringer accidentally went off and struck one of the passengers. Due to all gunshot wounds admitted to hospitals being reported and investigated, the shooting victim was given Big Daddy Kane’s Nefertiti chain in exchange for his silence.  That peace offering did not last very long:

“When they got back to Brooklyn, Kane’s thugs came and juxed dude up and took the Nefertiti chain.”

African American Smithsonian Will Include Video Music Box Footage 

“[The Smithsonian] has an African American Smithsonian that will be opening in 2015.”

The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex with 19 museums, nine research centers and over 140 affiliated museums internationally. Basically, most of the cultural footprints of legends such as Martin Luther King Jr, Leonardo Da Vinci and others are housed in one of the many institutions. Ralph McDaniels revealed on the Combat Jack Show that the people at the Smithsonian approached him about having a section in the soon-to-be-built African American Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

A huge step in Hip Hop’s continual quest for cultural equality in America.

[ALSO READ: J. Period & Ralph McDaniels Honor B.I.G. With Video Remix Collection]

Check below for archival footage of Nas’ Illmatic  release party by Video Music Box:

  • DollasTX

    BIG

    • Indeed!

      • johnblacksad

        how the derringer go off like that?! Kane wild for that one!

      • DollasTX

        I used to keep the derringer in my backpack when i was hoopin’ in college … Smallest pistol I ever seen in my life

      • Ninjaz never learned to handle one? Hammer cocked? Round in heads? No safety? + Finger on trigger? + Flashing / Playing

        You ain’t that tough ya
        Choose the right friends
        You ain’t that tough now
        Don’t make your life end
        Come with it
        You walk around the town like you a big man
        But you never know now that there’s always a bigger man
        You sling the M-16 and flash the M-1
        But you don’t know what you’re doing, never learned to handle one
        But true, all you friend thinking you a gangster
        While your mother tried to warn you from certain danger
        So when you in your room, you’re playing with your Mac-10Fully loaded automatic, just you and a friend
        You’re posing aw dey mirror like you a gangster clown
        But the Mac-10 go off and your friend go down
        Uh oh, what you gonna do now?
        Uh oh, they gonna blame you somehow
        Uh oh, tell me what you gonna sayUh oh,
        look, them cutting you away
        Come with it
        Your father telling you “Now son just go to school
        Don’t go acting like no fool and don’t go acting too cool
        “You get to the school, meet up with the right bunch
        Just a group of kids with no names taking people lunch
        You join the click because you wanna meet some girls
        And you want a little prestige in your little school world
        One day you’re walking with your crew along the road
        And a member of your crew pull out a gun and unload
        Him shoot a parked car and all you run far
        You and your friends laughing like you a superstar
        You get home and you thinking it was fresh
        And a cop meet you there with a warrant for your arrest
        Them ask, “Who shot the gun while you walking down the street?Didn’t you see the little boy there in the back seat sleep?
        Now the boy dead, we want to know from you
        Who shot the car up, are we gonna take you?”
        Uh oh, now what you gonna do now?
        Uh oh, boy, them gonna blame youUh oh, now tell me what you gonna sayUh oh, look, them cutting you away
        Come with it
        You ain’t that tough ya
        Choose the right friendsYou ain’t that tough ya
        Don’t make your life end
        Come with it
        White kids, you living in the whitest part of town
        You are a white kid but you know, you hang around
        So you and your friends thinking that you are all that
        When you see a youth walk by and yes the youth is black
        One kid say “Hey, what you doing on the block
        We don’t want no niggers here unless he is a cop”
        So the kid pull out a big baseball bat
        And them slap him with the bat just because the kid was black
        Now the kid fell down but still alive
        So he reach in his pants and pulled out a four-five
        Pop, one friend drop and everyone run
        Out of all the white kids now you the only one
        You start cry ’cause now you gonna die
        And it’s all because what your friends did to this guy
        Uh oh, what you gonna do now?
        Uh oh, he gonna blame you somehow
        Uh oh, what you think you gonna say?
        Uh oh, now them cutting you away, check
        Come with it
        You ain’t that tough now
        Choose the right friends
        You ain’t that tough now
        Don’t make your life end
        Come with it
        You ain’t that tough now
        Choose the right friendsYou ain’t that tough now
        Don’t make your life end

        KRS ONE – UH OH LYRICS

      • Anthonyd Smith

        One of my favorite songs off of Return Of The Boom Bap! Nice post

      • You actually have a fav off that?

        Too many bangers to choose from for me….definitely a str8, through & through play!

      • johnblacksad

        they don’t call him Blastmaster for nuthin…

      • MiiUziWeighsATon

        Kane was a real goon before all the suits and dance routines…I remember Bizmarkie doing shows and bringing out this skinny black nigga who could rap his ass off to share the stage and everytime I saw this nigga he always had some type of bandage on his face or a bandage wrapped around his head and his hands would always be swollen from punching the shyt outta a nigga…that was Kane…he was a Timberland boots with black hoodie nigga and at Latin Quarter I peeped him wit two ratchets up under the hoodie…Kane just always had that street aroma to him….until he started in with the suits and songs with the Temptation

      • Bumpy Johnson

        trust me it happens.. somethin was wrong with my safety on it. i took the clip out n the bullet from the chamber..then tried to fix it, n everytime i moved the safety the hammer snapped back. if i wasnt careful n took the bullets out that bi!ch wuda went off. n if my jeans rubbed my hammer while i was walking home it woulda went then too…alot of foo’s shoot their brothers all the time.

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  • Tea Clarke

    One of the best reads from AHH, about dame time!

    • Keith N.

      You didnt like our analysis on violence in Hip Hop and what is real and what is not real?

  • FatPoppy

    The Symphony was Marley Marl’s video not Kane

  • speedy37

    The good old days.

  • blackie_chan

    King A never admitted to getting the chain taken back. That part might be false. Ask Kane.

    • Keith N.

      I’ll contact Uncle Ralph

  • Bumpy Johnson

    this is the best sh!t ive ever read on this website.

  • Damien the demon beats

    great 90’s story

  • scullyson

    Video music box…….it always seem like that show was too short. If yo a%# aint tune in on time or miss part of the show you was S.O.L. lol…..Sh#t was bangin tho.