On August 6th, 1988, one of the most important conduits of Hip-Hop culture that ever existed aired its first episode in the United States. However, Ted Demme and Peter Doughtery actually first developed the show for MTV Europe the year before.
First exclusively hosted by integral Hip-Hop personality Fab Five Freddy and later co-hosted by Ed Lover, Doctor Dre, and T Money, Yo! MTV Raps featured interviews with the hottest Hip-Hop artists, both up-and-coming as well as established.
However, it was about more than simply playing videos and talkin’ smack.
The show featured live performances in studio and extended conversations on the merit and art of the exploding genre who filled the spectrum of the myriad styles and geographic influences that affected the music at the time.
Hip-Hop has always maintained a strong connection with both the streets and the social issues plaguing the urban communities which give birth to the the genre’s stars. Over the last three decades, we have been gifted with lyrical descriptions of the struggles faced within our inner city landscapes across the country.
Ed Lover and Doctor Dre would provide comedic commentary and interact with guests, with Ed playing the straight man oftentimes. However, Doctor Dre’s fame would reach its pinnacle with the famed Ed Lover dance. The two-hour time slot was unprecedented for any Black aimed content, but Hip-Hop’s popularity and creativity was just catching its legs as an art form that was on its way to raking in billions in sales.
It was director and creator Ted Demme’s idea to make Ed Lover and Doctor Dre the regular hosts of the show, and Fab 5 Freddy stayed on as the weekend host.
Though it only ran for seven years, it is still the template of what a well run Hip-Hop video show looks like, and it’s also a perfect snapshot of the music that drove Generation X in its mid-teens and early adulthood.
There were so many signature moments captured on Yo! MTV Raps, and here are some historically dope ones.
Fab 5 Freddy and Tupac
Tupac talks to Fab 5 Freddy about his childhood and how it influenced his music in this throwback moment from Yo! MTV Raps.
Yo! MTV Raps The Last Episode Freestyles
Notorious B.I.G. and Craig Mack
Craig Mack and The Notorious B.I.G. explain how they met Diddy and signed on with Bad Boy Records in this 1994 interview with Yo! MTV Raps.
Busta Rhymes breaks up with Leaders of the New School on air
The rap group shows signs of tension and actually breaks up on camera. They weren’t even able to finish this segment and disbanded soon after this shoot. I think that Busta Rhymes kid went on to have a decent career afterwards.