For those of you who are XM Satellite Radio subscribers and hip-hop heads, you may have had an unpleasant shock this week. The familiar voices of Leo G and MzKitti completely disappeared from the airwaves as XM's merger with Sirius Satellite Radio made them take an "either or" approach - either 66 Raw or Shade 45 had to go. Gone are the days when I could just turn on XM and hear their familiar voices, or one of the resident "Shoguns" like DJ Bedz doing party mixes and playing exclusive new tracks, or hear repeats of the excellent "Subsoniq" progressive hip-hop show.
I'm sure someone out there is going to argue that Shade 45 is still a rap channel. No question that any channel which carries Eminem's name and label is going to be 100% dedicated to hip-hop, but it's just not the same. 66 Raw had a unique "flavor" if you will, owing to the fact XM was based out of the D.C. area and the whole channel had this "Chocolate City" vibe you just don't get on Shade 45. It's also disconcerting to get used to a whole channel's programming, lineup and radio hosts only to have some higher authority decide "No, you never really liked this - YOU'LL LIKE THIS BETTER" and not have any say in it whatsoever. Imagine if after years of watching Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch, the Discovery Channel was suddenly replaced by VH1. Just because they both air "reality shows" doesn't mean you're going to be happy that everything you previously enjoyed is now gone.
And what about the DJ's that were on 66 Raw? The Shoguns are pretty well set as they only did one show a week and all have careers as mixtape and nightclub assassins, but it's still one less paid gig. MzKitti and Leo G are the biggest losers here, as they were the afternoon and drivetime hosts, the "King and Queen of Raw," and you can't be the King without a country to call home. I'm not sure I'd be happy with hearing them on Shade 45 anyway, nor do I think Subsoniq would fit in well. I suppose I won't be hearing Monie Love's radio show any more either. It's really sad that XM didn't poll the hip-hop segment of their audience to see how they'd feel about this first, but I guess this is just one more reason to let my subscription expire and save $10 a month.
So what's the future for 66 Raw? Is it gone forever, temporarily unavailable, or still available if you have some mega-ultra-secret radio receiver that nobody's told me about yet? You can't listen to it on your receiver, and you can't listen to it through the web either - the channel's homepage points to Shade 45 now. As MzKitti USED to say, somebody let me know what's REALLY good.
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