Music Television YOU Control

The other day on m’man Combat Jack‘s Daily Mathematics, I cited that as much as BET‘s programming sucks today, it’s always been more or less a glorified music video channel. Sure, I’ve been interested in a few non-musical things they aired back in the day, but for the most part? It was all about the videos. But when my TV wasn’t locked in on that channel, it was on “Channel 37”, better known as The Box.

For those who don’t remember this station or never heard of it, lemme explain. It was a TV station that ran just like a jukebox. It had hundreds of videos, and each video had its own 3-digit code. The names of the videos and the codes would be displayed at the bottom of the screen, and for $2.50, you could call in and request a video by punching the code in on the phone. In hindsight, the idea of paying to see a video sounds like something a ruh-tard would do, but it was some innovative shit in the pre-YouTube era.

The Box was also known for airing videos that were banned from MTV and BET. Before sexual content and T&A became more accepted by those stations, The Box was runnin’ them with no problem. 2 Live Crew‘s “Pop That Coochie”, Sir Mix-A-Lot‘s  “Put ‘Em On The Glass”, Adina Howard‘s “Up & Down”, all them freak-ass videos Madonna did… all over the screen at any time of day. It was also the place to catch unedited versions of videos that were cut up elsewhere due to violence. There was no chance of catching Biggie‘s “Warning” with the Scarface-ish ending or Dr. Dre & Ice Cube‘s “Natural Born Killaz” elsewhere, but they were getting called up on The Box like mad.

Me and my older brother both watched the hell outta The Box. I’d be downstairs and he’d be upstairs, and whenever a good vid came on, we’d be yelling “Yo… 37!” up and down the steps. I even went to school with a buncha Box junkies. One of us could say a part from a commercial or video that only aired on that channel (like this piece of hilarity), and everybody knew it. I watched it so much, I started knowing the numbers to the damn videos. Each time a person called in and made a request, it was shown on-screen, and I’d know which one was next on some “ohh, #405– ‘Brooklyn Zoo’ comin’ on” shit.

HOWEVER… there was this one lil’ slight minor drawback, and anyone who remembers will agree. Because it was totally controlled by the callers, muhfukkas could call and request a video as many times as they wanted. That meant whenever a popular new vid would drop (i.e. Bone Thugs“Crossroads”), you might see that shit 10 times over the course of one hour. Sometimes, just as it was going off, someone would call and request it again, and it’d pop right back on. Some days, shit just went overboard- I’d be like “aight come on, how many fukkin’ times y’all gon’ watch Kris Kross? They gonna jump higher this time?”

Ahh well, can’t win ’em all. The positives of The Box outweighed that lil’ negative by far. Whenever BET wasn’t poppin’ and MTV wasn’t playin’ jackshit I wanted to see, I could always count on channel 37 to come thru in the clutch. Where else was I gonna get to see those priceless low-budget Miami Bass videos with all the ass in ’em, or groups like Jamiroquai waaay before the mainstream caught wind of them?

Around 2000, MTV bought the The Box, and it got replaced by MTV2 in most cities. It was bound to die out anyway with the growth of the internet, and even if it had thrived, the advent of YouTube would’ve killed it for sure. But from its early years as the Video Jukebox Network (when Luke and Hammer practically RAN it) through its peak of popularity around the mid-to-late-’90s, “Music Television YOU Control” was the spot.


27 Responses to Music Television YOU Control

  1. Mark Dub says:

    I had memorized the numbers for a couple of my favorite, uncut videos as well. Let’s just say that I almost went blind whenever I saw the code for Luke vids come up. LOL!

    • Danj! says:

      “Pop That Coochie’… the ‘Me So Horny’ with all the thongs in it… those two alone = nutso! Also, one of my guilty favorites- WORK IT OUT WORK IT OUT WORK IT OUT NOW! haha


  2. Mark Dub says:

    My freshman year of college, one of Adina Howard’s dancers was in a few of my classes. I was SO infatuated. She was a celebrity in my mind, and I’m shocked I didn’t get a stalking charge. LOL! Ah…memories.

    • Danj! says:

      Haaaaaa! I was about 15 when Adina came out and I was in LOVE with her. If I had made it in the music biz, she woulda been the first singer I woulda called for a ‘collab’, lol.


  3. n.ka says:

    Oh the Box! I didn’t know of its existence until summer 1998 when I moved from a severely repressive town (BET only showed after 9 pm–just in time for Video Soul/Comic View, the radio only played black artists after 7pm, and MTV wasn’t really playing what I wanted to see/hear) to a larger city.

    I couldn’t afford to call in, so whenever my siblings and I got bored watching the same video on the Box all day we’d watched Friday or Forrest Gump. Good times.

    • Danj! says:

      Wow… I didn’t know they did stuff like that in some towns. That’s wild. If you don’t mind me asking, where was that?

      I remember The Box being different in other parts of Maryland though. I went to the ‘burbs one time and there was like 5 rap videos available on the whole channel, and they played Offspring and Pearl Jam all day, lol.


  4. jayehunnie says:

    Oh my beloved Jukebox Network (“The Box”) how I miss you so! In the immortal words of Oaktown’s 357, The Box had me “cold, going mad…cold going mad”.

    *two kudos*

    • Danj! says:

      Speakin’ of 3.5.7…. they ran the shit out of their videos out here too. My sister Tara was like their #1 fan.

      “B Angie B- tell ’em your story!” LOL

      But yeah, even before it became the Box and it was the Jukebox, that was some all-day-long TV for sure.


  5. Justin Time says:

    Yo you know what I loved about the box, it first showed NWA videos. 1st time I ever seen Straight Outta Compton.
    But lemme test ur remember they used to show Sucess & Effect..”Roll It Up My Homeboy”?..That song was wiggedy wiggedy wack but back then it was hot!

    • Danj! says:

      Yup… they also showed NWA videos when the other channels were scurrrrrred. The ‘Appetite For Destruction’ joint w/ the shootout at the bank especially.

      And yeah, I def. remember ‘Roll It Up My Homeboy’. Shit was AWFUL, but I used to laugh at it. That and Yung-N-Restless “B-Girls”- “B stands for Bronco, Benz, BMW, Bass, Bangles, and a pair of Bars…”



  6. MsYoung81 says:

    The Box (Jukebox) was the shit. When all the controversy was going on about Madonna’s “Justify My Love” The Box is where I went to see what the hell all the buzz was about. I did hate the fact that sometimes the videos would be stuck in a loop becuz of ppl ordering back to back. I remember when this B Angie B song got stuck in a loop for over an hour.
    Wouldnt nothing else play, but this song. It almost drove me crazy. Thank God that Mtv back then actually played music. LOL

    Back to the “white music” thing from your last entry. I think The Box kept my white side alive. I got exposed to a lot of good music from The Box. Nirvana, Deftones, and this classic joint here. Hahahaha Mtv said Hell to the no for this video ever getting played. Even to this day they wont play it. Mtv didnt play a lot of stuff. There are still some scenes missing from this version.

    Shoutout to you for putting the links to videos I had completely forgot about. You already know Luke was my idol. LOL But I had forgot all about “Pop That Coochie”. I could kill you for the Half Pint joint. I laughed the entire time. Im wondering how in the hell did I see all these nasty ass videos. LMAO “Put em On the Glass”, “The Up and Down” with Tyson gay ass LOL and my favorite joint, “Natural Born Killers”. That beat is sick. I swear. Good job Danj of bring back some good ass memories. I wonder what these youngins are going to have for memories? LOL

    • Danj! says:

      Wow @ the B Angie B shit… hahahahaha

      Do you remember that time ‘Come & Talk To Me’ by Jodeci came out? Shit made NO sense how they ran that in the hole.

      They def. weren’t playin’ that Prodigy joint on MTV. Matter fact, a few years after it came out, they finally played it on some ‘one time only’ shit cause they were doing a ‘most controversial videos ever’ countdown or something. Shit was def. off the wall. But lo & behold, The Box didn’t care!


      • MsYoung81 says:

        I remember the Jodeci joint being stuck in a loop for a while too. I also remember Dru Hill “In My Bed” Remix actually being stuck for a half an hour. Like the same part of the video played like a skipping record. smh LOL

        That is how I got to see the original Prodigy video becuz of the little thing Mtv did. They need to play that shit again. It was hilarious. Yeah, best believe that The Box aint give a shit about none of that. If you paid, it got played.

  7. Justin Time says:

    Yung & Restless?!?..YOOOOOO I totally 4got about them silly ass dudes. Crazy thing is I still remeber that wack-tastic hook with all words beginnin with the letter b..lmao

  8. i loved the box! the video that was ran over and over was gangsta lean! i had the video numbers memorized too!

    • Danj! says:

      Ohhhhh yeah… ‘Gangsta Lean’ was all over that shit. I think that’s one of the most comically awful yet enjoyable songs ever.

      “Cause God’s got his back, I said GOD’S GOT HIS BACK!”


  9. Adenike says:

    I loved the box! As a London UK native it was the only way we could keep up with all the cool US shit, that the mainstream UK took two years to catch up with!
    They still ain’t learnt, stuff be dropping in the US in January and then officially come out here in September when the vibe and thirst for it is gone, but as well as the pirate and specialist radios stations which we’ve always had, we have now got the internet for the visuals, so it don’t matter anymore. I guess the internet is the new box, as we do control it by getting hold of stuff and playing it when we damn well want to! lol!

    • Danj! says:

      Good point! I was telling someone the other day that we do still have The Box- it’s the computer now, haha.

      Now if the internet was as widely used back then as it is now, and there was stuff like Youtube… I might’ve needed to go to some meetings for internet addiction.

      So what were some of the vids that got played most in UK?


  10. trish says:

    there was a music video I had seen on the box unfortunately it is barley a memory but I know I loved it is was kind of a riot girl act and the video was here with a giant lollipop and lots of half naked men.

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  13. jay says:

    yep, the box was hot!!! It would still survive today, even with youtube. There’s watered down music on the radio and tv, where else can you go to find regional type artist on the come up?

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  15. Drenin jones says:

    I think we should come together and try to get Viacom to bring back the box music network back to the real world of music.

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