In August 1988, a new music television show went to air giving much needed exposure to hip hop music and culture in a move that would revolutionise music television for ever more. Although rap videos had made occasional appearances on the largely rock biased network in its early years, Yo! MTV Raps was the first show on US MTV to focus entirely on hip hop and its huge success paved the way for the integration of hip hop music videos into the station’s regular rotation, hip hop ultimately coming to dominate the mainstream video playlist in later years. Commissioned by Ted Demme and Pete Dougherty, the content of the show was based to some extent on the MTV Europe Europe show simply named ‘Yo!’ hosted by Sophie Bramley which went to air approximately one year prior.
Hosted by Ed Lover & Doctor Dre with outside reports from Fab 5 Freddy, the show’s mix of videos, interviews, scene reports and light hearted comedy presentation style was key to its success. The show ran until 1995 when it was rebranded simply as Yo! and continued to run under that name until 1999.
VH1 produced a great documentary on the show which tells its story and that of rap music’s development on music television including some interesting commentary on how rock-rap cross over from the likes of Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys was instrumental in allowing rap music to break through the rock dominated playlisting on the early ‘80s.
Watch the documentary here.