Photos & Text by Leonard Swann

The opening reception for The Box That Rocks on the first Saturday in March at MoCada(Museum of Contemporary Afrrican Diaspora Arts) in Brooklyn could have been a simple tribute to Hip-Hop pioneer and host of "Video Music Box" Ralph McDaniels for his 30 years of service to Hip-Hop, but it was much more than that. The exibition instead turned out to be a virual time capsule of Hip-Hop history itself, while still paying tribute to the enormous contributions of Mr. McDaniels.

"Video Music Box" is the seminal New York Hip-Hop program Hosted by Ralph McDaniels, Known to the New York Hip-Hop Community simply as "The Box" and "Uncle Ralph." The "Video Music Box" theme song 5 minutes of Funk" by Whodini, has become synonymous with Video Music Box, New Yorkers knew that 3:30 was the time to be in front of your television to catch the latest in Hip-Hop.The show which began in 1983 and aired on WNYC-TV Channel 31 in New York, was the first of it's kind with an emphasis on Hip-Hop, at a time when MTV was reluctant to even play established Black artist such as Michael Jackson much less rap music. Ralph McDaniels gave a platform to Hip-Hop at a time when there were very few available, and has become one of it's most important figures. Ralph can be considered the Don Cornelius of Hip-Hop. New York was the epicenter of early Hip-Hop culture and Uncle Ralph was the man who was documenting and broadcasting it all, always with a emphasis on the positive side of the culture. Numerous legendary Hip-Hop acts have made their breakthrough via Uncle Ralph and Video Music Box.

The Opening reception was attended by many figures from the Hip-Hop community who came out to pay tribute and show respect to Ralph McDaniels, Including DJ Bobbito Garcia, Graffiti artist James Top, Fab 5 Freddy and more. This in itself would have been enough for a great evening, but the icing on the cake was the actual display itself. A stunning collection of multimedia installations, that explore the history of Video Music Box. Included were graffiti, photography, video, and interactive displays, a total Hip-Hop experience for all the senses. Some of the participating artist included Fab 5 Freddy, Bobbito Garcia, Jamel Shabazz and others. By paying tribute to Ralph McDaniels, Mocada also pays tribute to Hip-Hop because the two are one in the same. After 30 years The Box is still going strong airing weekly now on WYNE-TV Channel 25.The exibit runs through May 28 at MoCADA with several other related events to follow.

@ Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art
80 Hanson Pl.
Brooklyn, NY 11217


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