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Tuning in to MuchVibe [Article]

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Tuning into MuchVibe by Chris Shaban for HipHopCanada.com

I have said this so many times that even I am starting to get sick of hearing it, but I love writing for HipHopCanada. How else could a simple dude like me get the chance to find out the inner-workings of his favourite television channel. MuchVibe, the channel, for those of you that don’t have Bell Express Vu, Rogers Digital Cable or another satellite or digital cable provider, is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week smorgasbord of musical shorts and insightful looks at the hip-hop world (aka videos and features).

Take MuchVibe the show and put it on steroids. Instead of ‘a’ Vintage Vibe Video, you get an hour-long program. Instead of one or two Canadian videos an hour, you get all of them at your fingertips. All the newest and hottest videos combined with your favourites from back in the day all day everyday, no interruptions. Almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well it is, and with me to make sure you don’t miss a beat for a trip through the phenomenon that is MuchVibe (well, if it isn’t it should be) is Greg ‘Wunder’ Baptiste, Music Video Programming for MuchVibe (among other Much channels).

The idea for this article here started late this past summer. I was sitting in my office and doing what I usual do, flipping back and forth between MuchVibe and The Score. My concentration is often interrupted by the sounds from the idiot box so, as to help with my guilt of watching television while working, I had it on mute. As I watched the videos that occupied the screen I thought to myself, “Man, what an awesome job it would be to program those videos.” Going through the Much library and sifting through the whole urban catalogue, what an ill occupation (not to mention the little bit of power you gots). Then I paused, pulled myself out of the bizness, and as a fan said, “Man, what an awesome channel.”

This network is a hidden gem that has yet to be fully explored by the fans in our urban community. I began to think of a way that I could let the whole country know about this treasure and thus my wheels were set in motion. I got on the horn and hit up G at Much and said, ‘I need your help in putting together an article for HHC about MuchVibe.’ He was down, Much publicity was down and now 4 months, 3 less VJs, 2 previous HHC articles, and 1 cross-Canada VJ Search under my belt and my dream has become a reality. As with everything I write I believe in this channel here. Remember when I told you to support Project Bounce because it is keeping hip-hop music alive in T.O.; it is my pleasure to introduce to you its television counterpart, who is doing the same thing for the whole country.

MuchVibe is a test baby for CHUM (read: MuchMusic’s parent company). Along with MuchLoud and the newly added MuchMoreRetro (peace to Max B and Dan Daniel), these three digital channels are in the development phase of their life and their only real goal right now is to grow. They are not big sources of revenue for CHUM at the moment as the cost of the channel and initial subscriptions are both at a very introductory stage. I was concerned myself about how MuchVibe was going to stick around. Canada is rock and roll and not everybody is on advanced cable (and most dudes I know that are, are borrowing from the States). I asked G how this is going to float, and he said, “The fact that these stations (like MuchVibe) can survive in such a competitive, low revenue environment is due to the fact that the costs of running an all-video channel is not that overwhelming for a company like CHUM, who has an impressive infrastructure and many existing resources… So at this point I think we are way far from achieving the goals (as far as viewership) for the station”… a.k.a. Don’t worry about it, we know what we’re doing. All that is needed is the spreading of the good word.

Well, I still kinda got a concern that I need to have addressed. At no time is being in a ‘competitive, low revenue environment’ the most positive thing for business, so I pressed a little further. You have to be different, people buy the sizzle, etc etc, Mr. Baptiste, is MuchVibe carving a niche out for itself among the other digital channels? “I do watch other stations in the digital realm…MTV2 offers different genres where as we are genre specific. MTVCanada is like MTV in the States in that they primarily focus on lifestyle programming rather than videos. BET hardly plays that many videos (only the same ones over and over) and they never play any CANCON (Canadian Content, quickly: government regulation on how much Canadian music is played). “I feel like MuchVibe offers an alternative from most other music television stations just because we are all-urban, all-day and for the fact that we play 95% music videos and only one concert/ special per week. We also support Canadian artists to the fullest.”

The support for Canadian artists is my favourite thing about the station. No matter what time of day it is, if you sit in front of the screen for a regular 30 minute shift you will no doubt see at least two Canadian videos play. Whether or not you like that, or if you’re one of those people that make fun of the Canadian stuff when it’s on air (as perhaps we are all guilty of at one point or another), you must understand that this is a blessing for our business. Never before have so many Canadian videos run so closely together that we can view them back-to-back. We can place Canadian artists against Canadian artists to actually make an educated decision as to who holds this crown that so many weak rappers keep talking about. A fair battleground by which our music can be judged, and thus changed or improved. To G, the usual suspects like Kardinal, Glenn Lewis and Big Sox have always been holding it down, but he also says to watch out for up-and-comers like Point Blank, Live Motivatorz (of which he lends his talents), Syntifik, and Rochester aka Juice.

Every step forward that is taken to improve our country’s urban community is a positive one. This channel right here isn’t one step; it’s like a 100 meter dash. If you haven’t taken the time to check out MuchVibe, do it. I was just speaking with a rapper who just got the trial period (2 months free) for the digital channels and he said he can’t stop watching it. It is like a good drug. If you miss Rap City or MuchVibe the show, don’t worry. The same way MuchMusic repeats shows 45 times is the same way MuchVibe the channel repeats our shows. My hope is that this little journey into one of our brightest additions to the Canadian urban scene has encouraged you to do the right thing and get this channel. Peace to Mima and G for making this happen, let’s hope this is a shot of flour in the face of the sleepers.

Shabs’ 1st Sidebar: This last bit of info is for the cats in the business that want to know the process by which videos are selected and how they are judged. Take it away G. “The selection process consists of a weekly meeting in which a committee of 6-8 of us screens 40-60 videos per week. From these videos submitted we decide which ones are suitable for our stations and which ones we feel do not fit.” There is a wide variety of tastes that sit on the board and everyone gets to throw in their opinion. I hear people talking all the time, ‘I don’t want a panel of white rockers telling me that my video isn’t ‘urban’ enough, why am I not getting play?’ Let’s dead that notion right now. Once again let me pass the mic to my man G, “I am the primary video music programmer for MuchVibe the channel. I am also on the committee that decides what videos we will add to the station. I don’t have full control but my opinion as far as urban music is well respected in terms of what goes onto the air for MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic and especially MuchVibe.” Nuff said, if need be holla at ya boy…

Shabs’ 2nd Sidebar: This one I’m doing a little different. I know most of you are hip-hop heads and, of course, that’s all good, but I am going to tell you about a hot Canadian band that is about to make a big splash internationally. Their name is Last Supper and the album is Served. This 13-track main course is filled with some excellent rock and roll tunes that had this writer fist up and nodding yes, yes, yes…don’t stop a rockin’. Check for “Mary.” The instrumentation of this track is dirty and the way they jump you into the joint will send chills down your spine. They are doing it very hip-hop too as they have flipped the bird to the majors and have started their own independent label called Vamp Records. Check for the album, Served, go to http://www.lastsupper.ca or see them at a concert venue near you. As well my three favourite bands right now are Billy Talent, The Salads, and Three Days Grace. Oh Canada! Till next time… peace, I’m outta here.

Written by Chris Shaban for HipHopCanada

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