Talking BET Un:Cut With Some of the Legends of BET Un:Cut

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Nelly

Tomorrow is America's 237th birthday, but it also has the unfortunate distinction of marking seven years since the demise of one of the finest series of music programming ever broadcast. BET Un:Cut was an hour block of hip-hop videos that aired at 3:00 a.m. ET that specialized in the racier side of the genre. It uniquely paired the biggest artists in the game such as 50 Cent and Nelly alongside any number of independent and underground rap artists across the country who reached a national audience thanks to a little explicit content.

Such a national platform proved to be incredibly valuable. Regularly getting a 0.3 in the ratings (roughly 215,000 viewers, unheard of for a 3:00 a.m. cable show) BET Un:Cut amassed a loyal cult following of club-goers, college kids, and horny insomniac hip-hop enthusiasts. Such attention allowed Texas rap group Danoiz to spark a regional mainstream radio hit with "Freak of Nature," as well as introduced the world to Khia's "My Neck, My Back." The show aired both the low budget "classics" like The Team Uncut's "Time For Freakin" as well as extravagantly hedonistic videos like Nelly's controversial "Tip Drill," whose infamous credit-card-buttcheeks-slide allegedly got the show into the hot water that eventually lead to its cancelation, and made unforgettable icons out of its most famous videos, many of which stayed in rotation for over five years.

It is with those heroes in mind that we caught-up with the legends of BET Un:Cut to find out what it was like being part of such a unique niche in hip-hop history.

(We'd also like to make a public plea to anyone out there who might have the final episode of "BET Un:Cut" recorded to please upload it, or at least the final montage that set these videos' most memorable moments to the tune of Boyz II Men's "So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday.")


Black Jesus - "What That Thing Smell Like"

How did you first discover "Un:Cut?"
Black Jesus: My man John Deloney who does camerawork for BET, and Kevin G, who was one of the producers of Un:Cut, were going to shoot a video for us. I had a song back then called "Can We Talk" where we sampled the old school Tevin Campbell. They were on the way out to shoot a video for us and Kevin G said "We have this show Un:Cut, and if you do the video for 'What That Thing Smell Like,' we can get you spins all the time!" We switched gears, went to the strip club, got some dancers and set the video off.

Do you remember your first time seeing your video on Un:Cut?
Yes, that was crazy. I was on the east side of Indianapolis, and we had just gotten back from the club, which was when Un:Cut came on.

Do you recall the first time you got recognized from being on Un:Cut?
Yes, the first time I got recognized I was headed out to LA and going to the airport. Someone was like "Hey, aren't you Black Jesus from BET Un:Cut?' and I was like "You watch that?" That was a good experience. Plus, I had a cousin that had gotten locked-up, and I didn't know you could get cable in prison. I went down to visit him, and they were all like "Yeah man, you're the reason we get up to go to work!"

I remember BET was doing a tribute to Patti LaBelle and she was [on 106 and Park] on the couch and AJ and Free asked her what was she listening to. She said "There's this video that comes on when all the babies are asleep. I don't know if I can say it, but it's called 'What That Thing Smell Like.'" I also ran into Beyonce and Marcus Houston, he was telling me they like the video. Also, we were out in Brooklyn going to an industry party and dead prez were there, telling us "We just wanna know what that thing smell like." There was also a drop from Lil Kim on her La Bella Mafia album where it begins with "That was Black Jesus with 'What That Thing Smell Like.'" It opened a lot of doors, giving us a national platform, letting people know who Black Jesus was. It's all been a positive experience. Sometimes I get a little embarrassed when I'm on a field trip with my stepdaughter and one of her teachers recognize me. You don't really want to be on a junior high field trip when someone says the name of the video, but then you realize, what's a teacher doing watch this kind of stuff?


Murs - "Risky Business"

How did you first discover Un:Cut?
Murs: I can't recall. There was just a group of us, we had one homeboy whose dad worked nights, so we would all be at his house every night playing Goldeneye, drinking and smoking. The first time I heard about it, I had passed out early and the next morning everybody was singing the "Zip-Loc Bag" song. I was like "I have to see this." We couldn't believe what we were seeing because some of the songs and videos were so bad, in a good way. I think the "Tip Drill" video is a national treasure. Me and Fashawn did a "Tribute to BET Un:Cut," but we used Monopoly money.

Did you make the "Risky Business" video with Un:Cut in mind?
Yeah, I was on Def Jux, and the stars aligned. My music is backpack, but I was a regular inner-city at-risk youth. I was doing all the things, drinking and smoking, I just wasn't rapping about it. I was never in-tune with that demographic, but I realized these guys were getting their video played without having to shoot on film or having any skills. I told El-P and the label and the other artists, and Un:Cut wasn't on their radar at all. I said "If you can give me 5K, I can make a hell of a video and I guarantee I can get it played on BET." I was a partner in a clothing store, and while in the shop I met a guy who was interning at a porn company that had just been elevated to director who was dating Dee, who directed "Risky Business." I said I had the money for the girls to shoot the video, and he invited me to go to the AVN convention and pick out any girl I wanted. He got sick, so Dee and I wound up walking the floor and picking out the girls. We had a great time and shot the video at the old Wu-Mansion. It ended up being one of the last times I saw one of my really close friends before he got shot. We were all able to share that moment before he passed, and he was on TV after that. I saw Shock G and Humpty Hump do yoga the next morning after partying harder than I've ever seen anybody party.

Do you remember your first time seeing your video on Un:Cut?
I never saw it on BET. I can't watch myself. I felt the affects, but never saw it. I was doing 200 shows a year at that point, either performing while Un:Cut was on, or in a hotel that didn't have BET.

Do you recall the first time you got recognized from being on Un:Cut?
Being the regular average black male that I am, I finally started getting noticed at Roscoe's [Chicken and Waffles] by people who never paid attention to me before then. I think that was before the hood was on the Internet, which is why it was so successful. There was a mall I used to go to every Sunday, and now people were like "You're that guy." I'm extremely thankful for BET doing something like that. It was entertaining many a night and it was my first national video. I wish they would bring it back.



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4 comments
Matthew Angelo
Matthew Angelo

hardly seems like a bad thing that that show went away

Osia Katsidou
Osia Katsidou

Alright... that song and video is the single worst thing that ever happened, in the history of the world. I swear, I feel like now I've seen it all!! I am not exaggerating one bit now!

ChazKangas
ChazKangas

@Matthew Angelo That's probably because calling its removal a "bad thing" doesn't do it justice. The modern absence of "BET Un:Cut" is nothing short of an all-out tragedy.

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