Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Yo! MTV Raps Turns 20. Time to Pour Some Out for the Homies

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of Yo! MTV Raps, which was quite possibly the greatest show in the history of MTV. Not only were the hosts super fly (yes, I am using early 90's hip hop slang for this post); beginning with old school rap/graffiti icon Fab 5 Freddy and continuing with Ed Lover and Dr. Dre (who were the Kenny 'the Jet' Smith and Charles Barkley of the rap game back in the day), but the videos documented some of the most important songs of the era. From Boogie Down Productions, to Black Sheep, to NWA, Yo! MTV Raps was a forum for every scene in hip hop (NYC, Philly, West Coast, etc.) to reach critical mass.

For me, Yo! has a much more personal meaning. It was my first introduction to hip hop music and it couldn't have done a better job showcasing the very best of the most prolific era of the genre. While I was only 10 years old at the time I first started watching the show, the memories are still quite vivid. I remember me and my brother waking up every Saturday morning and eagerly awaiting the start of the Yo! MTV Raps Top 10 Countdown. We'd pop a tape in the VCR and record each episode so that we could play our favorite videos over and over so that we could recite the words like we were make-believe MC's. It was through this show that I was introduced to artists like Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, EPMD, Gangstarr and so many more. Basically, I owe my whole love of hip hop to this show and I couldn't imagine how uninformed my understanding of hip hop would be if I hadn't grown up watching Yo! MTV Raps.

In honor of their 20th birthday, MTV has put together a bunch of online content celebrating the impact of Yo! on the hip hop scene. I especially recommend checking out the section listing the top 20 Yo! videos of all time. There's plenty of gems throughout the list. Of course, if it were up to me the following videos would've made the cut:

The Pharcyde - Passing Me By

Erik B. and Rakim - Don't Sweat the Technique

Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg - Deep Cover

A Tribe Called Quest feat. Leaders of a New School - Scenario

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