Ralph McDaniels’ interview

You are one of the original NY Video Jockeys. What are your thoughts on the current state of NY music videos?

Right now NY music videos are in a state of limbo because there are a lot of videos out that major networks only play a short part of. There are so many [videos] out that people don’t have the opportunity to see. So Video Music Box comes into play where we give opportunities for a lot of these artists that have great messages and great videos to have their videos seen as well as onfumes.com

Are there any New York artists that don’t get enough exposure with their videos?

Right now there is this artist who’s just starting to get some radio play, Mims. We’ve been playing that on Music Box for a very long time and for a while his video was out there. MTV had it, BET had it, but he was only getting play on the Video Music Box. Now Capitol records signed him and hopefully we will see him getting more play. It’s a different story that the money is involved with a major label and such are the politics. I don’t think it’s fair because there are so many good artists out there with so much potential and a good message. Young people – their message should be heard. It was all about the music before and not about finances and I hope we can find a balance between the two.

Music videos deal with partying and beautiful women or struggles and life in the hood. There are ugly and beautiful parts to it at all times. What is your favorite kind of a music video?

I’m a director as well, so I gotta say to make a good video it at least gotta go with the song. A lot of times you can have beautiful women and cars and jewelry but it doesn’t go with the song. If it goes together with the words that’s fine. I have no problem with the beautiful women and such as long as you find the balance in it.

What were your favorite videos of ’06?

One of them I played tonight and it didn’t get a lot of air play. St. Laz, Starve the Ghetto, which I though was excellently shot and I thought was a good song. I think it will go a long way and will be really big. I hope it gets out, G-Unit is looking at him. Then anything by Kanye is always makes you think and of course Lupe Fiasco, I like him as well, I thought he had a really good video in ’06.

You do work with Serius Satellite and Hot 97 and Video Music Box. What part is your favorite?

I like Video Music Box the most because I have the opportunity to do what I do. Nobody tells me what to do. Then you get to deal with young artists and some of the veterans of the game. No politics just kick it, like I’ve had for the last 24 years now.

If you were to make a conscious prediction, where do you think Hip Hop music videos are going?

I think music videos will be like onfumes.com, that’s why we started it. People don’t watch TV as much as they use to, but they can go online and see these things. So hopefully they can see more quality stuff instead of just 20 seconds of it or a ringtone version of it. There is a lot of quality stuff there that doesn’t get airplay and people loose interest and just turn off. With Video Music Box we give just as much quality as it’s always been and it the people’s reaction, it amazes me. I mean, tonight we had a real decent turnout and I’m happy with that.

You take a less commercial approach than MTV or BET. Is that by choice or is it because the commercial music video arena is too populated already?

I do that because it’s how it started. I’m a realist. I understand the commercialization of music but I feel better on the real side. Look, I work at Hot 97, it never gets much more commercial than that. I understand what it is to be commercial and what’s that all about. But I think that there is a certain soul that comes from real writers and people talking and how there is a step up from some people who are still grinding.

How would you suggest for an average Hip Hop lover to get their videos? TV? Some online resource? Downloading?

We’re in the process now of going to record companies and taking some of their archives, videos they are paying no mind to, and putting them on DVD. That should be pretty interesting.

What label do you think makes the best videos now? G Unit, Def Jam, Bad Boy, Dipset?..

I’m a Dipset fan right now. They are the underdog and I always go with the underdog. I like Jones, what he’s done. Plus I like Cam, Juelz and JR Writer. But I dig 50 cents. I understand the whole G Unit and I understand that hustler mentality and that’s what they represent and that’s important. So they are doing their thing and breaking down doors. Look what Jay Z has done in the last couple of years, it’s amazing. I think that’s important.

Are there any things people should watch out for specifically now?

I think the short film area. There are a lot of stories that are being told out there that [get help] from popular music. There are areas for people to get more socially conscious, not just songs but different issues. I think that it’s important. We have to take time to listen, just breath and listen to what’s going on in the world.

If someone wanted to do what you do, make music videos, what would you suggest for them?

I went to college. I went to school for film and television and I would suggest that. You can learn a lot. I think its something that’s necessary. And then I went on and people showed me about film and I learned how to take that median and learn it. Anything is possible.

How much longer do you plan on doing your work?

I don’t see end to it, so I’ll be doing it for a while. I’m enjoying it too much. It’s my art, so I look forward to being creative all the time and getting feedback on it. I like working on film and music videos and getting a message across.

What is your main message?

It’s all in the stories and the main thing is that we have to love each other. That’s what we’re here on the planet for. Yeah, we wanna make money and do some good things and be nice, but let’s learn to love each other and I think everything will be allright from there.