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‘Yo! MTV Raps’ Returns With Wiz Khalifa, Young Jeezy

Daniel Boczarski, Redferns

After 16 years off the airwaves, MTV’s seminal hip-hop program ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ is poised to make its return, in a 30-minute retrospective dubbed ‘Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts.’ HuffPost Black Voices gives an inside look of what to expect when it airs Dec. 4.

The special will feature a venerable selection of artists from the ‘MTV Raps’ era, including A Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube, Scarface, Questlove, Naughty By Nature and Busta Rhymes, somewhat randomly paired with newcomers like Wiz Khalifa and Young Jeezy, waxing nostalgic over three classic videos, the Geto Boys‘ ‘Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me,’ Ice Cube’s ‘It Was a Good Day’ and Tribe’s ‘Scenario.’

“The concept is actually every episode, hoping that it gets picked up as a series,” explained writer-consultant Shaheem Reid. “We’re going to be looking back at some of the classic videos from the ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ era. We have brand new interviews with the artists about the making of the song and the making of the video, and then we’re also going to incorporate the interviews with some of the artists of today talking about the impact of all of those songs and videos.”

Created by Ted Demme and Peter Dougherty, the iconic show originally premiered in 1988 with host Fab 5 Freddy, who, out of concern over being overexposed, handed hosting duties over to Ed Lover and Doctor Dre in 1989. In 1996, the show was rebranded as ‘Yo!,’ which ran, hostless, until 1999.

“‘Yo! MTV Raps’ is such an iconic brand. There’s something exquisite about it that a lot of people have had the opportunity to appreciate, and the experience of a lot of people getting their first taste of hip-hop globally via ‘Yo! MTV Raps,’” former host Ed Lover said. “It brought all of the hip-hop community together; it brought all the people together who love hip-hop music. So I think it’s a wonderful thing that MTV2 has decided to do something with ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ the brand.”

“The importance of the show back then was MTV’s first foray into hip-hop music. … I think ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ had the greatest impact on hip-hop in anything that ever existed,” Ed continued. “Because we took it from a regional genre, as far as the artists are concerned, to an international genre. ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ was on all over the world, almost in every country. I’ve met people throughout my travels and they told me that they started to speak English because of ‘Yo! MTV Raps.’ It made hip-hop music a global powerhouse. It made people a lot of money because it went global. And that’s what ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ did.”

In 2008, ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ celebrated its 20th anniversary with a tribute show during MTV’s replacement show ‘Sucker Free,’ hosted by Freddy, Dre and Ed Lover.

‘Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts’ will air immediately after the first annual Sucker Free Awards, which premieres Dec. 4 on MTV2 at 11PM.

Watch Wiz Khalifa in DJ Drama’s ‘Oh My’
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