You’re Watching Video Music Box is the latest documentary to premiere on Showtime as part of the premium network’s HIP HOP 50 programming. The film, which was directed by Nas, debuted on Showtime Friday (Dec. 3). According to the network, You’re Watching Video Music Box chronicles the untold story of the world’s longest-running video show. The series began in 1983 and was hosted by Ralph McDaniels. It gave a platform to up-and-coming artists like Jay-Z, Nas, Mary J. Blige, the Wu-Tang Clan, and many others before they became superstars.
The documentary consists of nearly 40 years of footage and contains interviews with artists and others in the industry who watched the show and helped it become a staple in hip hop. It also tells the story of how McDaniels became a hip hop pioneer and future historian.
In a new interview with The Source, McDaniels —who is affectionately known as Uncle Ralph — explains that the decision to release You’re Watching Video Music Box now, had a lot to do with the show’s “legacy.”
“As you get older in hip hop, you start thinking about not being missed in the conversation,” he said. “So let’s start to put some of this stuff out. For people that really follow the show, they’ve been aware of it, but the rest of the world doesn’t know as much. So, we just felt it was the right time.”
McDaniels also revealed that the documentary has been in the works for the last three to four years and that he’s “glad it dropped.” Elsewhere in the interview, the current Hip Hop Coordinator for the Queens Public Library in New York talked about adapting to being in front of the camera, which he said: “is not easy.” “I come from a place where I was a DJ and I worked in clubs. I just let the music do it, you know? So, I really was just taking what I was doing and putting it on screen and I just didn’t want to be seen at all,” McDaniels said. “But when the cameras started rolling… It was a little awkward at first.”
Check out You’re Watching Video Music Box on Showtime and peep the trailer below: