'106 & Park' change hurts C'bean music
Curtis Campbell, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Popular United States-based urban television station Black Entertainment Television (BET) recently took flagship entertainment programme 106 & Park off the airwaves after over 14 years, shifting it to the Internet. The show was utilised by many Caribbean artistes to promote their music to a wider international audience. It also became the measuring stick of an artiste's international appeal, with a cameo on 106 & Park highly valued.
Now, however, the show will only be offered digitally worldwide. Still, according to Stephen Hill, BET's president of music programming and specials, it should not be seen as an indication that the programme is dying.
In a lengthy response posted on BET's official website, Hill wrote: "It's been a great 14-year run as America's top music/variety show on cable. And now that very valuable brand is going to take its talents to the digital realm. The interactive brand you helped build, 106 & Park, is alive and well ... and it's moving to the space in which our audience NOW interacts with music the most: online."
Hill also promised that BET would divulge more information about the show.
"It'll be very exciting to connect with the millions of people that are already engaged with 106 & Park and other BET digital and social-media entities and bring content that will further evolve the 106 & Park brand - and enhance the overall BET Networks brand. As we transition to the digital space, we look to continue 106 & Park's role as both a leader of and a mirror to youth culture. We'll have more information to share about how that is to roll out very soon," he wrote.
It leaves Caribbean artistes who saw the show as the number one television outlet to promote for their work to seek out other avenues.
Dancehall artiste Beenie Man, who is one of the few elite dancehall acts to have graced the platform on numerous occasions, told The Sunday Gleaner that the cancellation of 106 & Park from live TV is bad for reggae and dancehall; however, life continues.
"It is a big blow for reggae and dancehall music because a there suh we sell our brand to the world. If you not on 106 & Park, it's like yu never reach international levels. But at the same time, we can't make this get us down, because music is way bigger than the situation. I am sure other things will come up in the future.; 106 & Park was somebody's idea and other ideas will rise, so dancehall and reggae don't stop there," Beenie Man said.
The show is entrenched in the younger days of dancehall duo K Queens, who believe the shift to digital sets back urban music. "We grew up watching 106 and I believe every teen at some point dreamed of simply being in the audience or seeing their favorite artistes on it. But such is life. This will definitely damage the growth of urban music because 106 & Park is basically a show that you could count on to deliver urban music in its purest form to the world," Kaydie of the duo said.
"So this is not a good look, but we have to just continue make good music, and the international market will welcome us." K Queens recently signed a record deal with US-based company Osiris South Records.
Some of the Caribbean artistes who had their work featured on the iconic show include Bounty Killer, Gyptian, Mavado, Sean Paul, Shaggy, Elephant Man, Lady Saw, Shabba Ranks, Kranium, Mr. Vegas, QQ, Bunji Garlin, and Fayann Lyons.
The power of cable television to sell Caribbean music to a wider market is underscored by Daddi Barnz, manager of reggae artiste Chronixx, who recently told The Gleaner that Chronixx's five-minute set on Jimmy Fallon's NBC show catapulted the sales of his Dread and Terrible project, immediately sending it to number one on iTunes.
The project was also listed by Billboard as one of the highest-selling reggae effort for the year 2014.
Shad 'Bow Wow' Moss, 106 rapper and host of 106 & Park, now takes his talents to CSI Cyber for an acting gig. The rapper took over hosting duties on the show from 2012.
It is not yet clear if fans will be required to pay for streaming of the show online. However, several supporters have gone to BET's website to express their disappointment at the show's cancellation, while others blamed the hosts.
"Truthfully, the show should have ended when AJ and Free left, but I think the world had grown to love or like Terrance J and Rocsi. Since Bow Wow and his multiple co-hosts have been on there, I lost interest and felt like the show was pointless. If BET brought back old hosts, that would probably bring ratings back up," said April Tanea.