Musical Youth became the first black act to get regular rotation on MTV when "Pass The Dutchie" was added to their playlist, preceding Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean
" video by a few weeks. The MTV airplay helped break the song in the United States, and it entered the Top 40 on January 15, 1983, reaching its peak position of #1 on February 26.
The video was directed by Don Letts, a black filmmaker from England who would later work with The Clash, directing their "Rock the Casbah
" clip. Letts was aware of the color barrier on MTV and went out of his way to make sure the kids appeared as non-threatening as possible in the video. The network flatly rejected Rick James
, but they were OK with little kids singing in British accents.