HERITAGE: Link Up TV Take A Deep Dive Into The Story Behind Channel U (2023)

HERITAGE: Link Up TV Take A Deep Dive Into The Story Behind Channel U (2023)

February 28, 2023

There's no overstating the importance of Channel U. Pre-social media, this was pretty much the only way for fans outside of London, specifically the reaches of pirate radio, to get access to the grime, rap and garage stars of the early 2000s.

Launched, according to co-founder Stewart Lund, on Valentine's Day 2003, it proved to be a life-changing new avenue for young Black artists. DVD series like Aim High, Practice Hours, Risky Roadz and a small handful of others had already started give fans a chance to actually see the artists they listened to, and for artists to reach fans beyond the reaches of pirate radio, but they had their limitations the production process was cumbersome.

With Channel U, artists had instant access to the country. All they needed was a video; the interference and censorship that had excluded them from radio was virtually non-existent. It was a bit chaotic, a bit rough and ready, but it was about as pure as the music industry has ever been. Some of the production values might have been a little raw compared to the slick treatments even unknown artists can put together today, but there was an electricity about it all that hasn't been repeated since.

After rebranding to Channel AKA and shuffling between a few different station slots, it ultimately went off air in 2018 (save for a one-off return in 2020), but it's far from forgotten. Much has been written about it before, but this Channel U doc, created by Link Up TV Originals, is probably the most in-depth look at Channel U's impact on both fans and artists. Even if you're not old enough to remember it, or perhaps especially if you're not old enough, this is an unmatched opportunity to get familiar with the legends who laid so much of the groundwork for everything we enjoy today, including quite a few faces often unfairly left out of the conversation.