Last weekend, pioneering urban music channel, Channel AKA—more popularly known as Channel U (until 2009)—ceased broadcast, making way for Massive R&B over on Sky 373. Instrumental in helping to launch the careers of today's biggest grime and rap artists, the early days of Boy Better Know, Bashy, N Dubz, Lethal B and the likes remain closely tied to Channel U.
Managing to overcome several parent company liquidations, Channel AKA had fallen into the hands of different owners over the years, and just last year, "unsung hero of the grime scene" and founder, Darren Platt, sadly passed away.
Among the many, many tributes to the platform over the weekend, talk of keeping Channel U's legacy and perhaps its trove of amateur gems alive, began to spread on social media. Thanks to the ingenuity of Channel U fan Samuel Wood, its classics can still live on via a new site dedicated to all your favourite Channel U vids. "Streaming the bangers you grew up on 24/7," Channel U Online posits a trip down memory lane for the most ardent fans of the channel's golden era.
"Channel U meant everything growing up," Wood tells Complex. "It was the first time I saw people like me, from ends, on TV. It was real and unfiltered. I felt represented."
With a background working with tech startups within marketing and strategy, this brief side project takes Samuel back in time, as he recounts the profound effect his introduction to the music had. "I got so gassed that I turned my parents' basement into a full-on recording studio and had ten-plus man in my house practically every day, paying to record. Vibes on vibes."
Head to www.channelu.online now.