Nowadays, reality shows dominate the tube. Nearly every station has one, but let’s be real, there’s nothing real about reality TV except the scripts. Before Love and Hip Hop, there was a show that actually captured Hip-Hop artists in their true form—Rap City: Tha Basement. Several people hosted Tha Basement throughout its 19-year stint but the most memorable was from 1998-2005 when Big Tigger was the trademark host just like AJ & Free were for 106 & Park. This marked an era in TV before the obsession with reality TV, when people cared more about the music than the drama. You’ll wreck your brain trying to find an TV show on air now that’s really all about the music. But that’s just one of the reasons why we miss Tha Basement.
Rap City was so real. From the couches to the graffiti on the wall in the booth, something about it was just authentic. Even though it was a staged set, you could tell artists were comfortable in the basement because their interviews were always so candid. You have to remember that this was before social media took over the world. Before artists could post a freestyle to their Twitter, or let’s take it back even further, their Myspace, their had to spit something in the booth.
I don’t know what it was about the booth? If it was the signatures of all the people who came before you or just the fact that you had to be in the moment? But when you stepped in there you had better come with something hot, because word still did spread, and if it garbage, well…
It was a test of your true skills as a rapper. And as far as TV shows are concerned, there’s nothing out there quite like it since it ended in 2008.
What were your favorite freestyles from Tha Basement?