During the summer of 1995 (damn, I feel old), when “Martin”, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “Married….with Children” (ask your parents, kids) were still dominating prime-time television, “X-Men”, “Spider-Man: The Animated Series” and “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” (cheesy as it was, it was a VERY addictive show. And the first movie wasn’t bad either) were the must-watch after-school shows on TV, and I was eagerly anticipating the release of “Batman Forever” (which I will argue was THE biggest summer movie of that year) in theaters, an urban music video TV program block – the first of its kind on Trinidad & Tobago television and Trinidad & Tobago Television (or TTT for short) crept its way into my childhood.
That program was called “Party Flava by Request”, a 2 1/2 hour series that started after “The Young and the Restless” (yes, folks, before the ZeeTV soap opera explosion of today, the two most popular soap operas on local television were “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”) and ended before “Sesame Street”. Hosted by radio personality O’Brien Haynes, “Party Flava by Request” was a showcase for music videos within the genres of hip hop, R&B, reggae, dancehall and soca. Viewers had the option of either writing to or calling the show, requesting (hence the title) a particular music video that was aired on the program.
For a person who never got the chance to experience music video TV stations like MTV, VH1 and BET in my childhood, “Party Flava by Request” was a breath of fresh air for me! Like MANY Trinbagonians, I literally grew up on seeing soca, calypso and parang music videos on television (which I couldn’t escape since they were usually played between shows from morning to evening). Thanks to “Party Flava”, I finally saw the visual treatments for the radio songs that were on heavy rotation, including some others that missed my radar.
“Party Flava by Request” introduced me to music videos from immensely popular artistes in the mid-to-late ’90s, from Shaggy, the Notorious B.I.G., Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Busta Rhymes to Lauryn Hill, Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah and Janet Jackson. The visuals, music and lyrics for videos like Michael & Janet Jackson’s “Scream”, Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance (Stay with Me”), Buju Banton’s “Wanna Be Loved” and Lauryn Hill’s “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” ingrained themselves into my brain, and helped fuel my passion for music.
When I finally got cable in early 2000 (yep, I’m a late bloomer), “Party Flava by Request” had ended (I believe it stopped its broadcast in 1999, if I’m not mistaken). My replacement for that show was BET’s “Rap City (Tha Basement)”, a series that for eight years (until its final broadcast in 2008) helped me develop a love for hip hop. But still to this day, even when I continue to listen to albums and songs from the 90s (*cue VH1’s “I Love the 90s” theme song here*), I can remember a song, a video, an image, an artiste, a lyric, an instrumental – hell, a cadence – that I heard and saw on “Party Flava”.
What I have for you ladies and gents is a YouTube playlist that I created over the past few days, based on music videos that I remembered being shown on “Party Flava by Request”. Some of these videos you may have seen before, and most of the songs themselves you’ll instantly remember, simply because they were, and still are, classics. Some videos – I guarantee you – will have you asking yourself: “There was a music video for this???” And then they’re a few that you may not have seen before (the songs of which I stumbled on during my regular trips through 90s musical nostalgia), but I can assure you – THEY WERE ON THE SHOW! Either that or my mind’s playing tricks on me. Hmmm.
At the moment, I have over 100 videos on the playlist, but with every discovery of a long-forgotten song from the 90s and a music video for said song with decent-enough quality on YouTube, I’ll continue to update it. If you grew up on “Party Flava” and were a huge fan, then I STRONGLY recommend you check out this playlist. If you were too young to remember it, or you never heard of the show at all….well…at least you’ll get the chance to see what songs/videos were big back in the days. And while you’re at it, feel free to share the playlist with your friends, fellow music fans and of course, your brothers and sisters of the 90s.
Long intro aside, turn up your volume, click on the link below, hit shuffle (if you like) and bask in the nostalgia that was, is and always will be “Party Flava by Request”.
“Rap City Tha Basement” playlist coming soon! 😉