It was a sad day when Yo! MTV Raps ended after a remarkable seven year run. Tonight we’re indulging in a healthy dose of nostalgia by watching the debut of Yo: The Story of Yo! MTV Raps, which includes Tupac’s unforgettable “thug life” rant against the Hughes brothers and Mike Tyson punching host Ed Lover. And what would a look at the story behind Yo! MTV Raps be without a classic freestyle farewell from countless emcees? It’s only right that the likes of Salt-N-Pepa, Rakim, KRS-One, Redman, Method Man, Flavor Flav and others send off the show properly. Read more…
Ice-T wants rap to be respected as an art form. As director of the documentary Something From Nothing: Art of Rap, Ice-T interviewed 52 rappers and had 35 more in queue. It seems that rap’s global influence is undeniable, but that doesn’t mean the genre is respected in the way jazz or Rock is. As Ice-T put it, people think rapping is easy and anyone can do it. Through the Art of Rap Ice-T uses a legion of rappers to showcase the intricacies, complexities and technique of the music that formed in the late 70s. Read more…
Well, ladies and gents, it looks like our Bracket Madness has come down to the final two. Running for the proverbial throne of the Greatest MC of the Yo! MTV Raps Era is … drum roll please… KRS-One vs. Rakim! We’re popping our popcorn for the showdown, as this one seems like it’s too close to call.
In Round 2, KRS-One won over his West Coast opponent Ice Cube, while Rakim annihilated MC Lyte (we still love you Lyte!) with a huge victory. Now it has come down to two heavyweight emcees known for their hip-hop legacies. Will it be the philosophizing battle rapper KRS-One or the lyrical mastermind Rakim?
For your enjoyment we’ve included two videos of the emcees in their heyday. We admire the imagination, creativity and simplicity of the videos in the pre-bling and booty generation. Reminisce on KRS-One’s “My Philosophy” vs. Rakim’s “In The Ghetto.” Then, vote for your favorite emcee of the Yo! MTV Raps era. Voting ends Monday, 04/30 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.
Everything about the Rakim vs. MC Lyte match up for Bracket Madness is so hip-hop. Legendary rappers who’ve been around since hip-hop’s nascence? Check. Male and female? Check. And lyrics that cannot be denied? Check. As it stands now, MC Lyte is trailing behind Rakim, but we have a feeling her fans won’t let her go down without a fight. Anything can happen between now and Friday, April 27 at 11 a.m. ET/PT when the votes are closed.
Being the hip-hop enthusiasts you are, we know we don’t need to remind you of the fire both rappers have spit in their prime. But we will anyway. Listen to MC Lyte’s master storytelling in “I Cram to Understand U (Sam)” : “‘Cause to me, oh my gosh, he was one in a million. I shoulda knew the consequences right from the start. That he’d use me for my money, and then break my heart. But like a fool in love I fell for his game. But I got mine, so I show no shame.”
Now, if Rakim & Eric B’s “Paid in Full” doesn’t remind you of a time rappers told a vivid picture with lyrical poetry, we don’t know what will: “A pen and a paper, a stereo, a tape/ of Me and Eric B, and a nice big plate of fish, which is my favorite dish/But without no money it’s still a wish/’Cuz I don’t like to dream about gettin’ paid/So I dig into the books of the rhymes that I made/So now to test to see if I got pull/Hit the studio, ‘cuz I’m paid in full.”
You decide. Voting for this round ends on Friday, April 27 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.
Ice Cube and KRS-One are such different rappers that the only way to match up the two are literally comparing bar for bar. While Ice Cube’s catalog may ring more bells for most folks (because who doesn’t know “It Was a Good Day”), KRS-One’s “The Bridge Is Over” is a classic in its own right. Ultimately, whether KRS or Cube make it through to the next round of Bracket Madness to battle it out against either MC Lyte or Rakim for the best emcee of the Yo! MTV Raps era, is up to you. Before you decide, check out three verses from each that emcee that get get the people going…because it’s provocative!
The results are in from the Round One match up of the best MCs of Yo! MTV Raps era. The king of battle rap KRS-One beat Chuck D by about 34%. Listen, that’s better than the landslide win Ice Cube had over Fresh Prince racking up 84% of the votes versus 14%. We still love the freshest prince of Bel-Air, and he could rap the theme song to “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to us any day.
With only a six percent difference, it was a close call between LL Cool J and Rakim. Ultimately, one of the greatest emcees of all-time, Rakim, came out victorious. Queen Latifah lost to MC Lyte, which we think has everything to do with Lyte’s indelible first album that has been deemed a classic.
It’s getting down to the nitty gritty in round two with only four emcees left gunning for that #1 spot. East Coast word slayer KRS-One knuckles up on West Coast reformed gangster Ice Cube. Meanwhile, the street poetry spitting Rakim takes the raw female emcee MC Lyte.
What are you waiting for? Vote for the emcee you want to see advance to round three. Voting ends Friday, April 27 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.
It’s always bitter sweet to see the ladies pegged against one another since so few female emcees break through the glass ceiling of hip-hop. Queen Latifah and MC Lyte proved that women had something to say, something worth listening to, and ultimately demanded the same respect as their male counterparts. That’s why precisely why they’ve been chosen for their fans to vote for the Greatest MC of the Yo! MTV Raps Era.
MC Lyte’s critically acclaimed first album, Lyte as a Rock, debuted in 1988, while Latifah’s All Hail the Queen was released a year later. “Ladies First” was one of the most popular songs from Latifah’s first project, and still gets crowds bumpin’ when it comes on in the clubs today. MC Lyte’s breakout singles include “I Cram to Understand U (Sam)” and “Paper Thin;” the latter topped the Billboard Rap charts at #1. Lyte made a name for herself with her uncensored lyrics, and we loved every minute of it. Both women continued to make records throughout the 90s, but by the mid 90s, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown had changed what it meant to be a female rapper with their explicit lyrics and barely there outfits.
You can’t mention female emcees without noting the contributions of both Latifah and Lyte. That said, whether it was the woman empowerment vibe Queen brought, or MC Lyte’s unapologetic no nonsense hardcore lyrics, you can only pick one. Vote for the femcee you want to advance to round two. Voting closes Wednesday, April 25 at 4 p.m. ET/PT!
Now that you’ve had your nostalgia fix with 40 Greatest Yo! MTV Raps Moments, we’re letting you decide the eight greatest emcees of that era. It’s the ultimate face off! You vote for your favorite contenders hoping they advance to the next round. But only one will walk away with the coveted title of “Greatest MC of the Yo! MTV Raps Era.”
In Round One, Chuck D. takes on KRS-One, and Ice Cube is matched up against Fresh Prince. Both Chuck D. and KRS are said to be at the top of any lyricism list. That will be a close call. With Ice Cube and Fresh Prince you have a west coast, former N.W.A. member versus the fun “Parents Just Don’t Understand” creator. We’re not even sure if that’s a fair match up. How will you decide between LL Cool J vs. Rakim? And, of course, we couldn’t leave out the women of hip-hop with Queen Latifah vs. MC Lyte.
Vote for your favorite emcee if you want to see them take the crown! Round One is open from 11 a.m. today to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. Round two opens from 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25 to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 27. The final round voting opens at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 27 and closes at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 30. Check back daily to see who is on top.
[Photo: Getty Images]
With MTV officially celebrating its 30th birthday today, music nostalgia is in the air. But for each music fan, the initial introduction to MTV’s music programming was unique and personal, and likely rouses up flashbulb memories to this very day. Speaking only for myself, that initiation process started with YO! MTV Raps.
After being on the air for almost seven years, MTV first aired YO! in April of 1988. While other television outlets like BET were showcasing African-American culture at the time, MTV, quite frankly, wasn’t really in the business of having black artists’ videos on the channel. And hip hop, specifically, was certainly not yet used as a vehicle of pop culture; if it wasn’t an indisputable, mainstream force like Michael Jackson, you probably wouldn’t see African-American artists on-air besides an occasional crossover video from Run DMC and Jazzy Jeff. Unless you witnessed hip hop music and culture bubbling within New York City’s five boroughs or other domestic regional pockets first hand (or watched Video Music Box), the genre probably hadn’t really made its way into your world yet.
From it’s inception, YO! MTV Raps curated an balance of hip hop via in-the-moment self-exploration. Since hosts Fab 5 Freddy, Doctor Dr? and Ed Lover didn’t have quite enough content to populate the show’s segments at first, videos from other genres like reggae, funk, R&B and soul were peppered-in to help hip hop’s still-developing definition expand its scope. From that fundamental, harmonious and educational coexistence came more of the same, and soon light-hearted videos like Digital Underground’s “Doowutchalike” and “Humpty Dance” were seamlessly airing beside Public Enemy’s political anthem “Fight The Power” and sonically dynamic “Passin’ Me By” from The Pharcyde, and the South’s sexually-charged posse 2 Live Crew were showcased just as much as funky artists from Queens like A Tribe Called Quest. Additionally, lyrically savvy Juice Crew member Big Daddy Kane would spin alongside the West Coast’s gangster juggernaut N.W.A., and strong female voices like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Roxanne Shant?: all women who didn’t need to sell sex to survive.