Not another piece of nostalgia. Nope. What this here today is just a simple observation that is perhaps extremely obvious: The content presented by BET once was skewed very heavily to a more mature audience. That notion is the inspiration for the positioning of BET as a media Benjamin Button as it were. Granted, with BET beginning in 1980 the era was dominated by “mature R&B” until the latter half of the decade when the youth movement of Hip-Hop and its associated hybrids could no longer be ignored.

But at one point before the scales tipped completely to all youth all the time there was a time when all this music co-existed. I’m not saying necessarily peacefully co-existing in some sort of delusional we are the world type of way… but a fledgling network that needs content and the intersection of a few nascent forms of music and a legacy music on the decline make for some interesting bedfellows.

I actually think that my generation(those who were elementary school age at the beginning of the decade of the 1980’s and heading to college towards the end of the decade and the beginning of the 90’s) truly benefited from this hodgepodge of music that featured everyone from Wally Badarou to Go West to UTFO all in the same hour. Try finding that wide array of music programming content in a media outlet today. You won’t and part of that is that times really have changed. Times always do change… at that time Cable TV had a captured audience, it didn’t have to compete with the Internet where everything is on demand. Part of the reason that viewers were exposed to so much diverse content is because they would sit through a number of videos in hopes that the video that they wanted to see would come on. Remember when the radio was like that as well? You couldn’t predict that you would hear/see the same five songs by the same two artists every hour, so you would wait and watch. Sometimes a tune would connect with you and sometimes it wouldn’t, but you had the experience nonetheless. Now? Now we deal with being so incredibly silo-ed (even though we are connected more than ever by technology)that we stay in our bunkers with our own private playlists of the niche, of a niche of a niche comprised of the music we like.

But there was a place and a time before BET turned into a baby, that you could expect to see and hear some of the good, bad and even ugly of all kinds of music that was being made before the network grew down and was able to say no.

Here are a few videos that I first saw on BET many moons ago that were in rotation that I probably would not have gravitated to on my own. They are in no particular order and by no means is this a comprehensive list.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.