Every Canadian rapper I have ever met has said the same thing - that somewhere they have a box filled with old VHS tapes of episodes of Rap City on Much Music. I have one too. Tons of tapes. I also recorded videos from City Limits and The Wedge and a bunch of other stuff. Growing up, I was a Much Music junkie.
I can’t quite remember when I first got MUCH on my TV at home. It was in the mid-80s, I guess. I remember that in those early days, they played the video for “Fish Heads” by Barnes & Barnes all the time, which was the greatest. I loved that it seemed to be a bunch of weirdos who worked there. And VJ Erica Ehm was the foxy weirdo that I - and every other boy - was in love with. Erica Ehm…
The first hip hop videos I remember seeing on Much Music were “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “Pee Wee’s Dance” by Joeski Love, “Jailhouse Rap” by The Fatboys, “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, “Rock Box” by Run DMC, “She’s On It” by The Beastie Boys, “The Bridge Is Over” by Boogie Down Productions, “The Freaks Come Out At Night” by Whodini, “Tramp” by Salt-N-Pepa…
Seeing these videos provided me with a valuable education. I was already steeped in the music, but there was so much about hip hop culture I didn’t have access to in rural Nova Scotia. Seeing how my favorite artists presented themselves helped shaped my identity! My connection to the music I loved was strengthened.
I’ll never forget the day I got this call from my friend, Bruce:
Bruce: “Did you just see that?!”
Me: “No. What?”
Bruce: “They just showed an interview with Public Enemy on Much Music!”
I couldn’t believe I had missed it. I immediately went to work on an impassioned letter (on paper), explaining to the powers-that-were at Much that I NEEDED to see that interview. I begged them to air it again. A few weeks later, someone from the station got in touch to let me know they would run the interview for me and to let me know exactly when it would air, so I wouldn’t miss it. When they did run it, they mentioned that they heard from me and played the video in its entirety, which they hadn’t done the first time around. At that point (I was probably 16 years old) it was one of the greatest things that had happened in my life. I couldn’t believe it! And that interview was incredible. It was so important to me to hear what Chuck and Griff and Flav had to say. My mind expanded to the point of exploding.
In those days, I never imagined ever being on Much Music myself, but it eventually happened. Sometime around… 1997, maybe… the video for “To Mock A Killingbird” by The Sebutones (Sixtoo and I) aired on a program called Much East, which ran on Sundays. For four minutes, I felt like the most famous person in the world.
I always thought being a VJ/host on Much Music would have been the coolest and funnest job in the world. Some time in the late 90s, the network conducted a nation-wide VJ search. I actually went to the open casting call in Halifax and auditioned. Believe it or not, I was wearing gold teeth that day. Needless to say, I didn’t make the cut.
I still break out my old Much Music tapes and watch them once in a while. My collection is meticulously organized. The memories come flooding back. Much Music has changed a lot since those days, but many things have stayed the same. When I heard last week that Much Music was playing the video for “Super Pretty Naughty”, I was psyched. It was the same feeling I had when they played my first video and when the video for “Wicked and Weird” went into rotation back in 2003 (I think it was). And same as always, whenever the video plays, I get messages from people all over - family, friends, people on Facebook - telling me, “I just saw your video on Much Music!” It still means something. It still helps a musician get their song played on the radio. It still feels like a big accomplishment.
So, thanks to Much Music for all the support over the years. And a shout out to everyone who has a box of tapes filled with videos they recorded while watching the station through the years. There’s gold in them boxes.