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R.I.P. Rap City

Rap City was a great show that had a great influence on me. I wouldn’t love music the same way I do without it. Towards the end, it went off the deep end and started to lose it’s mind, but for a good deal of time it was the best show on TV. Rap City we miss you. Column below. Music comes today!

Rap Show will be missed by viewers who seek good music

November 17, 2008 by Opinions

Column by Wesley Robinson

For me the worst part about growing up is losing all the things that have brought me entertainment in my early years. Music, sports and The Simpsons will always provide regular entertainment until I die. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, American Gladiators and Marvel and DC Comics have come back revamped and with major popularity, but they don’t have the same feel as when I was a kid. And of course there are also those things that fade away and will never come back.

Last week the Kernel highlighted the end of TRL, which was a staple of MTV programming for almost half of my life. An undeniable force in music for 10 years, TRL was a huge part of the musical interests of our generation. I remember watching all of the Blink-182, N*Sync, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Beyonce, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Eminem videos just like anyone who watched TRL. As a fan of hip-hop, I would have preferred to see different outcomes with the countdown, but I guess I can’t complain about the results because I never voted—that’s because I had Rap City to turn to.

B.E.T.’s Rap City had more of an effect on me than TRL could have in another 10-year run. On Nov. 8, 2008, Rap City said its final farewell, but will never be forgotten by people like me who have been influenced by its existence. For a couple of weeks, I read on the Internet that Rap City was being canceled. I honestly haven’t watched the show regularly since around 2003 for many reasons and it really didn’t process that the show had ended until I got a Facebook message from fellow UK student Michael Tarnofsky. He reminded me of the huge story about TRL going off air after 10 years and pointed out that Rap City had gone off air just a week earlier after 19 years of broadcasting.

I’m not the only person greatly influenced by Rap City. It guided us through the growth and changes of hip-hop, and even though it is gone I think I can say that this generation is eternally grateful for almost 20 years of entertainment.

I remember beginning my love of the show during the golden age of hip-hop, when I wasn’t allowed to choose the music I listened to. I liked the Michael Jacksons and MC Hammers, but artists like Tribe Called Quest, Naughty by Nature, NWA, Wu Tang, LL Cool J, De La Soul and many others graced my television screen when my parents weren’t around. I didn’t know what any of them were talking about, but all the older people I wanted to be like watched Rap City. And whenever I could, so did I, regardless of the possible punishment.

As I got a little older, Joe Clair put me on to new school artists like Nas, Jay-Z, Common, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., OutKast and others while reminding me of the early 1990s and the pioneers that paved the way for the new school. Toward the end of Joe Clair’s and Big Lez’ respective tenure as hosts, and during the early part Big Tigger’s takeover when Rap City went to the basement, I really started to love the show. Consequently, it became more rap entertainment and less hip-hop conscious and lyrically based material I heard my older cousins and family friends listen to. Still, I loved watching Missy Elliot, Puff Daddy, The No Limit movement and early Ca$h Money Movement, from what I lovingly refer to as the “shiny suit era.”

From the time Rap City went to the basement until the end, it trended more toward rap and the more chart-topping hits, and I stopped watching. I still have love and respect for the show that taught me about the art, culture, music and style of hip-hop. Since I stopped watching, I didn’t get that same first-hand introduction to the artists. I still have record labels’ Web sites, blogs and the radio to tell me what I should be listening to. But there’s no more freestyle booth, DJ Clue or whoever on the turntables; no more top 10 countdowns to help familiarize me with an artist without all of the packaging and marketing. That hour or two of watching an artist sit down and talk life, play pool and spit out a few lyrics really went a long way. I think Kanye West is the last artist I really feel a strong tie to and that is because of Rap City.

I thank Rap City for shaping my hip-hop/rap interests and introducing me to my favorites like Redman, Joe Budden, Jay-Z, Just Blaze, Royce Da 5’9, Fabolous, Ghostface, Method Man, Jadakiss, OutKast, Mos Def, Timbaland and many, many more. Thank you Rap City for teaching me how to appreciate music and understand what is good and bad music. And finally, thank you Rap City for 19 years of giving people like me a solid alternative to mainstream pop music.

They will try to bring it back in some form, but it won’t be the same…


  1. 11/20/2008 at 12:44 pm

    that is sad.. i will miss it too. i usually have that on over mtv. i liked seeing the artists chill there 🙂 sorry for you loss. good blog 🙂

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