Tampa couple's own hip-hop 'empire'

Mark Wilson reports

- In the late 1970's and early 1980's, Mimi and Darryl Madison were part of a burgeoning new musical movement that would grow to be called hip-hop.

Darryl was from the New York borough of Brooklyn, and Mimi was from Queens. In a strange twist of fate, it was a friend who brought them together. "It was love at first sight," said Darryl.

They were two of a kind with a single passion to be successful. They worked with future greats like Run-Dmc, L.L. Cool J and Heavy D just to name a few.

"He was in the video business, I was more in the back end of making up models, and styling," Mimi explained.

But it was a trip to Tampa that revealed unlimited possibilities. "We moved down here three months after we came here on vacation," Darryl recalled.

Mimi opened a beauty shop and success soon followed, but something seemed to be missing. Then an impromptu performance by their son sparked an old-school idea.

"My oldest son Darryl says 'I want to perform for you guys' and this is where the birth started," Mimi said.

And what was born? A groundbreaking new show called Hip-Hop 411 T.V.

Based in the Bay Area on Channel 44, a UPN station at the time, Hip-Hop 411 T.V. boasted a list of future stars that was impressive, almost unbelievable: Pitbull, Akon, and Fantasia to name a few.

"There's so many names, Vivca A. Fox, Ying Yang Twins," Mimi added.

And as they reminisced, more names came to mind. "Lil' Wayne.  We had T.I., we had Chris Brown, L.L. Cool J, Ja Rule," said Mimi.

There was even a spin-off called Hip-Hop Whipz that featured custom cars. "We converted it to a car show and we came up with an idea like 'Pimp my Ride' where we gave the cars away to the viewing audience," Darryl explained.

Darryl and Mimi's show lasted three years. Eventually, burnout and a lack of funding brought it to an end. "We did a show every single week for 28 straight weeks, a brand new episode every week.  When I look back on it now that's unheard of," said Darryl.

They were a part of something different and special in the Bay Area -- providing a launch pad in a new era of music and young performers who became big stars. 

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