At one point in time, Rap City was one of my favourite video music shows. They always played the videos that you would never see on other music video shows in the continent. I know this for a fact, because I lived in NY for years and never saw much underground content like what I used to see on Rap City. Today, if you YouTube old hip-hop videos like Main Source, Leaders of the New School or Gang Starr, chances are someone found the video from an old Rap City episode.
The former hosts of Rap City, Michael Williams, Oliver and Namugenyi Kiwanuku, were personable and conducted their interviews with ease. They clearly researched before interviewing with artists and treated every artist, whether mainstream or underground, with the same respect and admiration for their work. Many of their interviews were quite memorable and I personally appreciated all of the shine that they gave to underground hip-hop artists, especially our homegrown talent.
Now fast track to 2011. I was excited to hear that Much Music was going to re-launch the show LIVE for one hour weekly. I immediately thought of several local individuals that would be great at hosting. The show relaunched with a new host, Tyrone “T-Rexxx” Edwards on January 13, 2011. T-Rexxx is affiliated with 1LoveTO.com and hosts many hip-hop events in the GTA.
I took note that there is now a NEW generation of hip-hop, but I still expected Rap City to be knowledgeable about hip hop music and culture. You need to be familiar with the old school in order to be familiar with the new, right? I also know that there is a difference between hosting an event and hosting a live show on camera. I actually missed the first couple of episodes and finally tuned in for Episode 3. Nobody could tell me that T-Rexxx was not reading straight from the teleprompter or some hip-hop cue cards!!! He didn’t seem comfortable and I figured “well hey, it’s only show number three he will get more comfortable with time”. So I sucked up my personal opinions and continued to tune in.
The set for Rap City looked like a Sultan’s Tent with wide, tacky couches! In my opinion, the set definitely did not represent the look and feel of hip-hop. These oversized couches created a distance between the guests and the host, and allowed unnecessary audience members (or random “eye candy”) to end up chilling on the couch.
The freestyle battles definitely need to be reworked. I have never witnessed such a horrible display in a freestyle battle. Honestly, with the exception of a few local emcees, most battle emcees were mediocre; some lacked the essence of freestyling, period! It made me wonder if they respect the craft! My 4 year old could probably battle better than much of what I witnessed, I’m not even sure if the emcees had to audition to participate.
The best part about the new Rap City was the local guest DJs featured on every show. Sometimes we forget that hip hop started out with the DJ. Rap City pays homage to their importance by featuring a new DJ each week, allowing them to promote themselves.
The actual music video content has been good and balanced. Rap City has featured a lot of Canadian content, current videos, and the best part, old school videos close to the end of each show.
Rumours of the show being cancelled were recently exposed on social media. T-Rexxx confirmed on twitter that “the show isn’t cancelled…Season 2 isn’t a LIVE show so no DJ, no live audience, no couch”.
..so they just got rid of one of the best parts of the show, “The Guest DJ”! Smh. The show time slot has changed from Thursday at 10pm EST to “I-don’t-have-a-clue-and-refuse-to-search-in-TV Guide” o’clock (insert shocked look here). Apparently, Much is airing re-runs twice a week.
Much definitely needs to re-work the show’s format. Maybe consider throwing in a female co-host, guest hosts and more interviews in the mix. Just my observation.