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Ralph “Uncle Ralph” McDaniels is a hip-hop culture pioneer, entrepreneur, and visionary who created Video Music Box, the first music video show focused exclusively to an urban market—broadcast on public television. Widely recognized by the music industry as the original tastemaker of the streets, McDaniels became more commonly known as Uncle Ralph in 1995 when Kool DJ Red Alert started calling him that on his radio show.
The Brooklyn, New York-born McDaniels is president of Uncle Ralph Productions, has worked as on-air radio personality at New York’s WQHT WRKS 98.7Kiss,Siruis Radio and was executive producers of The Bridge, which he also hosts. He is also a co-owner of VideoMusicBox.TV. McDaniels' influence in hip-hop culture stems from the astounding success of his 30-year hip-hop music tv show and spans over 40 years through the millions of viewers, fans, and consumers who have supported him throughout his endeavors in radio, television, and the fashion industry.
Video Music Box
Growing up in both Brooklyn and Queens, McDaniels, aspired to be a DJ. He attended New York Institute of Technology, where he studied Communications–TV–Film and graduated in 1982. It was at this time that he started noticing an alarming array of talented hip-hop artists, whom he wanted to give a platform. He approached a local TV station with an idea to host a music-video show. It was not enthusiastic about McDaniels' idea but did allow him to host a popular local show with the same concept, Studio 31 Dance Party on WNYC-TV. After about a year of hosting that show, McDaniels got the opportunity to produce a show Video Music Box. It was not long before VMB's 6-day, 60-minute public television viewership began to grow far beyond what any of the cable networks had expected. By 1995, Billboard magazine recognized the show and awarded VMB as the Best Local R&B/Hip-hop Regional Show. Additionally, the show was also notably voted as the Top-10 Greatest Hip Hop TV Moments by VH1 in 2003. By 2005, over 192,000 households per week were regularly viewing VMB.
Film and Production
The success of Video Music Box became just one brick in the foundation that McDaniels would lay in hip-hop culture. It was not long after VMB started that McDaniels began to grow tired of the substandard quality of some of the videos that he aired. He partnered with childhood friend Lionel C. Martin to founded Classic Concepts Productions, a film- and video-production company that produced over 300 music videos, commercials, films, and documentaries between 1987 and 1997. Classic Concepts was instrumental in producing videos for such greats as Public Enemy, the Notorious B.I.G, Big Daddy Kane, Nas and Wu-Tang Clan — with McDaniels producing and Martin directing these clips. An inmate from Rahway State Prison wrote McDaniels about a government-sponsored hip-hop music program at the prison and McDaniels immediately took an interest in the story and went to the prison to film a documentary about the program called The Lifers' Group at Rahway State Prison, which was nominated for an Emmy in 1990. When film production began for Who's the Man? starring Ed Lover and Doctor Dré, McDaniels was called upon to play himself.
With radio, TV, and film under his belt, McDaniels had his feet firmly planted in almost every facet of hip-hop culture. In 1996, he would go on to add fashion to his repertoire with the creation of a New York Urban Fashion show called “The Phat Fashion”, which would feature the urban clothing lines of designers such as FUBU and Karl Kani, the clothing of which he helped popularize. He later launched of "Uncle Ralph's Urban Gear", a Brooklyn-based clothing store and T-shirt line. By 1997, McDaniels was hired as an on-air personality to host a hip-hop radio show on New York's Hot 97 that reached over 6 million listeners within the Tri-State area. He joined R&B station WRKS 98.7 in 2011,until it was sold.
Recognizing a need to keep up with today’s technology and sense a of responsibility to his audience, McDaniels developed the Video Music Box archives and offered MTV and VH1 access to feature music programming from his vast library of over 20,000 hours of video. In 2006, McDaniels was approached with the idea to create an online version of his groundbreaking show. McDaniels later officially launched Onfumes.com, an interactive video hosting/on-demand Web site where registered users could have unlimited access to McDaniels' archived collection of hip-hop and R&B videos, never-seen-before interviews, behind-the scenes footage, and access to up-and-coming urban artists and filmmakers.
Additional Awards & Honors
- 1993- America’s Best & Brightest Award, Dollars & Sense Magazine
- 1994- Awarded Role Model of the Year by the City Council of New York
- 1995- Award for Emmy Nomination of The Lifers Group at Rahway State Prison, Billboard Magazine
- 2001- Honored by Urban Network Magazine for dedication & service
- 2007- Heineken Red Star Soul Award recipient
- "Ralph McDaniels". Retrieved 2008-09-14.