Gather around for a history lesson kids.
Once upon a time MTV used to show music videos. Some of you may not know MTV actually stands for “music television.” Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, one of the channel’s most popular shows was Yo! MTV Raps. It showcased all the latest videos from the biggest stars in hip-hop, and introduced up and comers that would become legends. It was originally hosted by Fab Five Freddy, whose reputation in the New York rap scene gave the show credibility. He was followed by Dr. Dre and Ed Lover, who brought a more fun, comedic vibe to the proceedings. Unfortunately, it eventually became a casualty of MTV’s move away from music. Now the network’s parent company ViacomCBS is bringing it back on its streaming platform Paramount+.
Per a press release provided to The Root, the new Yo! MTV Raps is set to premiere on Paramount+ Tuesday, May 24. The new series is hosted by rapper Conceited and DJ Diamond Kuts, and will feature “live performances, cyphers and lifestyle content.” Rapper Freddie Gibbs will appear on the first outing, with artists IDK, JID, Latto, Saba, Shenseea, Tee Grizzley and Trina among upcoming special guests. And if you’re looking to catch up on classic episodes, Paramount+ will also begin streaming 50 original editions Thursday, May 5.
I cannot overstate how essential Yo! MTV Raps was to the growth of hip-hop. The show helped take rap music from a genre only certain people knew about into the global phenomenon it would eventually become. It also brought a Black audience to what was originally a very white MTV. When the channel started in the early ‘80s, the only Black artists in regular rotation were Michael and Janet Jackson. Sure other videos would pop up occasionally, but they weren’t heavily featured. Yo! MTV Raps made the channel feel like it was more than just something for the white kids.
If you’re a hip-hop fan who wasn’t born in the ‘80s and ‘90s, you absolutely need to go back and check out the original. Then you can come back for the revival premiere Tuesday, May 24 on Paramount+.