Did MTV Refuse to Air Black Musicians in the 80s?

According to Grandmixer DXT, MTV refused to air black musicians in the 80s because of Viacom’s inherent racism.

Grandmixer DXT is known as a pioneering DJ during the early stages of hip-hop.  In an in-depth interview with the Murder Master Music Show, Grandmixer DXT claims MTV didn’t air black musicians in the 80s due to widespread racism at the time.

Grandmixer DXT recently finished his work on the score of the HBO special, Defiant Ones.  He was in Herbie Hancock’s Rockit Band.  But, back in the late 1980s, DXT experienced racism from “everyone at MTV.”  According to him, Viacom’s MTV refused to air black people in videos at the time.

That’s quite an accusation.  But MTV is frequently regarded as being ‘white’ prior to the smashing success of Michael Jackson.  And Grandmixer says all you have to do is check out the tapes.

On Herbie Hancock’s music video, ‘Rockit,’ DXT did the scratches.  On the instrumental hit, he explained why black people didn’t appear at all.  The company simply didn’t want blacks appearing on air as it wasn’t “the right color.”

“The truth is MTV at the time didn’t play black people.  In 1983, MTV did not play black people.  Rick James had to sue them.  Let’s think about that for a minute and the insanity and how it affects progress.  You didn’t see me and the most you seen Herbie was on a little screen that you could barely see and that happened because of racism.

“That bothers me to this day!  It’s a form of insanity!  Your color is not the right color so we are gonna alter history.”

Having started in the music industry early on, DXT explained the disappointment he felt having experienced widespread racism.  He likened it to that of confronting white supremacy.  Although many people didn’t agree with what happened, they simply “went along with it.”

“I was very disappointed!  We were in London and they explained to me that ‘Rockit’ became a race record — but in the video age.  I was thinking about the old rock & roll groups where they would have animals on the cover instead of people and it was basically that.  It was the great moment of my life as far as my career was involved.  But I was dealing with white supremacy.  It was an actual race record that was the most technically advanced record at the time.  It was very frustrating and some people went along with it but I’m not that type of person.”

Unfortunately, says DXT, the racism didn’t only apply to MTV.  DJ equipment company Technics didn’t endorse him because of the color of his skin, according to his account.  DXT claims that Technics readily supported Japanese DJs, but not black ones.

Accordingly, DXT says the company later approached him to sign a turntable.  Here’s what went down.

“I couldn’t get Technics to endorse me at all and that was also racism.  They refused to give me an endorsement so I bought every pair of 1200s; I never got a pair free.  That’s what happens.  I was a pioneer at the beginning of it and carried the torch and had to deal with all the racism.  All the Japanese DJs got free turntables but I never got a pair.  I ran into Technics later at a conference and they asked me to sign a turntable and I respectfully declined.  They couldn’t give me anything at that point.  I no longer use Technic turntables and they did not see the vision or the humanity to recognize what I was giving to the world.  So when the shoe was on the other foot, I denied them.”

You can check out in-depth interview below.

Featured image from a YouTube screen grab

13 Responses

  1. yepper

    Who cares they are refusing to air white music today..

  2. The Ghost Of Jerry Garcia

    Just an FYI Daniel, refer to the bottom credit.

    “D. ST” stands for Delancey Street. Delancey Street is an “F” Train subway station stop in Lower Manhattan, NYC 🙂 ….. That’s the way he spelled it back then in the ’80s at least.

    Bata – Daniel Ponce
    Keyboards [DMX], Electronic Drums [Synare], Programmed By [Mini-Moog] – Michael Beinhorn
    Synthesizer [Fairlight CMI, Rhodes Chroma, Mini-Moog, Dr. Click Rhythm Controller], Vocoder [Sennheiser], Keyboards [E-mu 4060 Digital Keyboard] – Herbie Hancock
    >>>> Turntables – Grandmixer D. ST.

      • The Ghost Of Jerry Garcia

        Cool Paul ! That was then, this is now 🙂

  3. Lauren

    This is old news. Sony even sued around this whole thing. If a corporation made the claim then, you know something is not right. If you really want to know the whole story on that and the Michael Jackson video scenario, just research and start with Weisner. Fascinating stuff. It’s public. Not the first time African Americans have been kept at the door. But we always manage to break it down. Yay!

  4. John

    MTV Networks, is part of a giant corporation called Viacom. Sumner Redstone is the chairman of Viacom and owns a controlling amount of voting shares in that corporation, through Sumner run National Amusements. Viacom also owns Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks Movie Studios. Their impact is huge. Sumner Redstone is really Sumner Rothstein. He changed is name but is still Jewish. –Ever since the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, Jewish organizations have had a long standing record of supporting black causes. It is ironic that the efforts to promote black sympathies in the public schools is carried on by the very same groups who are determined to remove overt Christian influences in our schools.

  5. Tony T

    MUH RACISM… MUH RACISM… BLACK POWER!!!! I guess you aren’t even allowed to listen what you want. If you DON’T listen to vulgar rap you are a racist, Nazi, skinhead that promotes white power. Any healthy White society would recognize that black males are sexually aggressive and need to be kept away from White females, especially teenage White girls, through segregation, deportation, border controls, and various forms of population control. No healthy society offers up its virgins for rape, exploitation and HIV-infection by other primitive races, but that’s just what is happening in America and Europe.

    • Bonobo

      Sorry moron, but blacks aren’t the only ones attacking teenage white girls. They need to be protected from all men. Also, what do you think Brown Sugar was about? For a long time, the white man took his pleasure from black female slaves. Yes, reverse racism exists, and black criminality has frequently been rampant, but what goes around comes around, and you are totally clueless.

  6. Tony B!

    This is really old news. Sad, but still old news. And, the mindset still exists, couched in so-called “mass appeal” business tactics across the music business, and radio.

    Imagine a world where instead of focusing on maintaining their supremacy by any diabolical means necessary, more white people were focused on uplifting other people, instead of oppressing them. The gains our society would have made!

  7. Les Garland

    To whom it concerns:

    I am responding to the piece that appeared in your July 12th editon written by Daniel Adrian Sanchez. “Did MTV refuse to air black musicians in the 80’s?” The answer to this rhetorical headline is “NO, MTV did NOT refuse to air black musicicans”. That’s a serious and non-factual accusation that’s been refuted for decades. Simple fact-checking would reveal that Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” was a huge award winning song AND music video recognized with five MTV video music awards along with a Grammy. Another thing, my friend Rick James did NOT sue MTV. Lastly, Viacom had NOTHING to do with MTV in 1983. Using today’s jargon, Mr. Sanchez, I’d have say your article is ‘fake news’. I’m sorry Mr. Grandmaster DXT, your allegations are NOT accurate or truthful.

    Thank you.

    Warm regards,
    Les Garland (MTV Co-Founder / Senior Executive)

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Les thanks so much for responding. I got your email as well, I will publish your full response to this!

    • The Guy Doen them

      Well explain what happened. If it walks like a duck etc…. Too many artist and viewers noticed a certain lack of color on MTV during those times. So if it wasn’t racism please explain.