As you know, MTV turned thirty this week, and man, oh man, what a three decades it's been. No matter who you are, or what side of the music spectrum you represent, the influence of Music Television on popular culture cannot be denied. This is true especially in the development of the hip-hop movement.
Yo! MTV Raps first premiered on August 6, 1988. Ratings were so good, the show earned a weekly slot hosted by Fab 5 Freddy, which then became a daily show hosted by Doctor Dre (not the similarly monikered Dr. Dre, lauded producer/rapper of NWA fame) and Ed Lover. Through music videos, live performances and epic hip-hop moments, Yo! MTV Raps ushered in one of the most important eras of rap music on television. Here's five of the top rap videos to air on the program.
5. "Follow the Leader" - Eric B. and Rakim
There was no more appropriate track than "Follow the Leader" to set this rap segment apart from any other music channel. Besides the brilliance of both Eric B. and Rakim, the song's title would prove prophetic for the rest of Yo! MTV Raps' run as the leading hip-hop music show for years to come.
4. "By the Time I Got to Arizona" - Public Enemy
By all standards of videos played on television in this day and age, Public Enemy's scathing denouncement of white supremacy in this controversial video can be seen as mild. In 1991, however, the video was considered too violent and was later pulled from Yo! MTV Raps rotation, causing some dissension within it's already declining viewership.
3) "Down with MTV" (Taken from the cult classic "O.P.P" by Naughty by Nature)
The good folks at MTV thought it would be a great idea to remix this joint into a marketing hit, and they hit the nail on the head. Featuring the faces of almost every other personality affiliated with the channel, this was one of the cooler moments that showcased the channel's VJ persona.
2. Fab 5 Freddy interviews the Wu-Tang Clan
Nothing beats this classic moment where the entire Wu-Tang Clan mobbed up to MTV studios for an interview with Fab 5 Freddy. These guys were tough and gruff and had an absolutely commanding presence. One of the largest rap groups in the game, this clip is one of very few early interviews with all of the members present.
1. Yo! MTV Raps last episode freestyle
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Rakim, KRS-ONE, Erick Sermon, Chubb Rock, and MC Serch. Dude! Whoa! This might be one of the illest hip-hop ciphers ever recorded in rap history. A great end to an era when the show closed in 1995.