At the Universal Hip-Hop Parade for Social Justice in Brooklyn earlier this month, Ralph McDaniels, the television host known as “Uncle Ralph,” was selected as “The Grand Marshall.”
For those who know anything about McDaniels, he has probably done more for the promotion of hip-hop than anyone else in the game.
McDaniels is the driving force behind “Video Music Box,” which started back in 1983 on WNYC, the city’s public television station.
It was the first hour long show that played rap videos, while MTV, VH1 and other mainstream outlets refused to give emerging rappers the time of day.
“Hip-hop is never gonna go away, it’s always gonna be there,” said McDaniels. “People used to say it was a fad. Every five years someone says it’s a fad and I’m like, ‘It’s been 40 years now.'”
Hip-hop was born in the Bronx thanks to Clive Campbell, known to millions as DJ Kool Herc, who in 1973 singled out the instrumental portion of R&B records in the recreation center of his apartment building in Bronx.
Uncle Ralph says he is not surprised that hip-hop has become a global sensation.
“It’s come a long way,” McDaniels said. “Billions of dollars have been made off of something that we started that was all about fun.”
At the parade, which traveled down Marcus Garvey Boulevard in Bedford-Stuyvesant, fans of Uncle Ralph and hip-hop say the music form has stood the test of time.
“You put hip-hop in the parade, and that name hip-hop, it’s extra special for Zulu Nation being that we’re the ones that coined the term,” said one fan.
“It represents hip-hop, it keeps the culture, and it gives a chance for independent businesses and people who are about the culture to come out and reach the people and for the people to see what hip-hop is about,” another fan said.
“Video Music Box” is still going strong on cable.
Uncle Ralph is considered hip-hop royalty and beloved by some of the biggest names in the music industry, because he believed in hip-hop when few others did.