Yo! MTV Raps is a two-hour music video program that aired on MTV Europe from 1987 to the mid-1990s and on MTV US from August 1988 to August 1995. The American version (produced by Ted Demme and Peter Dougherty) was the network’s first hip hop music show, and was based on the original MTV Europe show, which debuted one year before the American version. MTV Raps aired a variety of rap videos, interviews with rap stars, live in-studio performances (on Fridays), and comedy. From 1990 through 2005, MTV Brasil aired a Brazilian version of the show called Yo! MTV. MTV Germany will also broadcast a music program and playlist in 2023.

Fab 5 Freddy hosted the original version in the United States. Later, the show’s main host was Doctor Dré, Demme’s high school classmate, who hosted with him on weekdays. T Money, a member of Doctor Dre’s Original Concept group, soon joined them. Fab 5 Freddy went on to host on weekends. The initial lineup of the show debuted on MTV on August 6, 1988, with only Fab as the host.

Ed Lover created his own dance called the Ed Lover Dance (which was normally shown on Wednesdays) on the weekday version titled, Yo! MTV Raps Today (which began on March 13, 1989). The Ed Lover Dance was set to the song “The 900 Number” by The 45 King.

Sophie Bramly, a French journalist and producer, created and hosted the program Yo! for the then-new MTV Europe in 1987, featuring Afrika Bambaataa as the first guest. N.W.A., Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Ice-T, De La Soul, Eric B. & Rakim, EPMD, and Ultramagnetic MCs were later invited. The following year, Run-DMC presented the premiere episode in the United States, with DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince as the first guests and Eric B. & Rakim’s video for the title track from the album Follow the Leader as the first video broadcast on the show. The pilot was one of the most watched programs on MTV at the time, with only the Video Music Awards and Live Aid garnering higher numbers.

The first video to be shown on a regular-season episode was “Chain Gang” by Shinehead. Meanwhile, Ice-T’s “High Rollers” video was the first to be broadcast on the weekday show. Dr. Revolt, an early graffiti writer, designed the iconic Yo! MTV Raps logo. Nigel Cox-Hagen developed the animated program opener, which was animated by Beau Tardy.

You can see clips from Yo! MTV Raps here:



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