It's been 16 years since television's first national hip-hop show, "Yo! MTV Raps" made its bow in 1995 after 7 successful seasons on air. It returns Sunday at midnight on MTV2 with the 30-minute special "Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts" and its original hosts Fab 5 Freddy, Doctor Dre and Ed Lover.
The program will spotlight three influential hip-hop songs, A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario," Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day," and the Geto Boys' "Minds Playing Tricks On Me." The broadcast will feature back stories from the recording artists and reflections from some of their esteemed peers.
Fab 5 Freddy said "Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts" was a good way for the network to revisit the brand.
Fab 5 Freddy
Fab 5 Freddy (Fred Brathwaite) made such an impact as a member of the early 1980s New York graffiti crew The Fabulous 5 that he was invited to exhibit his paintings in Rome at Galleria Le Medusa with Lee Quinones. Rock stars like Blondie were so impressed with his work that he's referenced in the band's 1981 No. 1 pop hit "Rapture" and featured painting in the video. He was a creative force behind the 1983 movie "Wild Style," the first film about hip-hop culture and is pictured on the poster.
When "Yo! MTV Raps" creator Peter Dougherty received a positive response to the show's pilot in 1988 he sought out his friend Fab 5 Freddy to host. Freddy, who had just directed a music video for Boogie Down Production's "My Philosophy," knew Dougherty from New York's downtown art and rock scenes.
Freddy's work as a director continued throughout his "Yo!" run and beyond, including classics music videos, Queen Latifah's "Ladies First," Nas' "One Love," and Snoop Dogg's "Who Am I? (What's My Name?)." In 1991, he earned another film credit as an associate producer for the Wesley Snipes film "New Jack City."
Freddy has appeared in dozens of documentaries, specials, and movies over the years, and is an executive producer of the VH1 "Hip-Hop Honors," an annual tribute to pioneering rappers that premiered in 2004.
Freddy returned to his artistic roots three years ago. His latest creations involve remixing preexisting photos. One art series revitalizes pictures of boxers and exotic dancers by adding to them Swarovski crystals. Another work sets graffiti pieces atop of new backgrounds. His works were featured this past summer at New York's Gallery 151 and Los Angeles' Art In The Streets. Though there was no "Hip-Hop Honors" ceremony in 2011, Freddy says the show will be back in the Spring 2012. "It's been a successful show, ratings rise, it's not disappearing, trust me," he told Yahoo! Music.
Doctor Dre in Original Concept"Yo! MTV Raps" co-host Doctor Dre (Andre Brown) had a successful career in hip-hop before landing the gig on the pioneering video program in 1989. He was a member of the Def Jam Recording group Original Concept, toured as the deejay for the Beastie Boys, signed his Adelphi University classmate Chuck D and his group Public Enemy to Def Jam, and even wrote four songs for Run D.M.C.'s "Raising Hell" album, including the hit "Proud To Be Black."
Doctor Dre was originally hired as a producer for "Yo!," but when show creators Ted Demme and Peter Dougherty saw him on camera, they introduced him to Ed Lover at an audition and decided to pair them.
In 1993, two years before "Yo!" wrapped, Doctor Dre and Ed Lover starred in the movie, "Who's The Man?," and became the morning show hosts on New York's Hot 97 radio station. The top-rated show was so popular that it competed with Howard Stern. Doctor Dre left Hot 97 in 1998, but teamed with Ed Lover again to bring their radio show to KKBT in Los Angeles.
In 2002, they returned to New York for a stint on Power 105.1. After leaving Power 105.1, Doctor Dre focused on raising his children, son Arahmus, 12, and daughter, Angelique, 14, in his hometown of Westbury, New York. He gradually took on production work in film and television. But Doctor Dre didn't accept the offer to tape the "Yo! MTV Raps Presents Classic Cuts" special until first getting advice from his children. "My big job now is raising my kids," he told Yahoo! Music. "I sat down with my kids and they said, 'No Dad, we want to see you do it.'"
Ed Lover (James Roberts) was a member of the comical recording group No Face prior to joining "Yo! MTV Raps Today" as the co-host to Doctor Dre in 1989. Even before "Yo!" ended in 1995 after its seven year run, Ed Lover had launched a career as one of hip-hop radio's most prominent personalities.
From 1993 to 1998, Ed Lover and Doctor Dre hosted "Morning Show With Ed, Lisa And Dre" on New York's Hot 97. In 2000, Doctor Dre and Ed Lover took their radio act to Los Angeles for nearly a year and were back in New York by 2002, this time at Power 105.1 for another morning show opportunity. Though the show ended in 2004, Ed Lover returned to Power 105.1 in 2007 for a three year run. When that job ended in 2010, he immediately landed his current radio role, hosting Friday Night Flava on New York's 98.7 KISS.
In addition to co-starring with Ed Lover in the theatrical release "Who's The Man?" Ed Lover appeared in a number of movie and television shows including "The Hughleys," "The Jamie Foxx Show," and "According To Jim," in addition to taking on several televised hosting gigs. Puma released the Yo! MTV Raps Doctor Dre Ed Lover shoes in 2008 to commemorate their 20th anniversary. The following year, Ed Lover debuted his popular "C'mon Son" webisode series that is fueled by his comedic editorial rants on everything from hip-hop beefs to the Penn State Scandal.
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