An Oral History of the Very First Episode of Yo! MTV Raps

“We want to let everybody know where it’s at / It’s right here: Yo! MTV Raps.” Those words, rapped in unison by DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Fresh Prince (a.k.a. Will Smith), and Ready Rock C on August 6, 1988, served as the official welcome to Yo! MTV Raps, the network’s first show dedicated entirely to rap music. Part of a weekend of MTV programming devoted to hip-hop music videos, the episode was technically the pilot for what would quickly become one of MTV’s most popular original shows, spawning weekly installments hosted by hip-hop legend Fab 5 Freddy and, soon after, daily episodes presided over by the beloved New York comedic duo Ed Lover and Doctor Dré. But when that very first episode of Yo! MTV Raps debuted, it wasn’t really a pilot yet — it was more like an experiment…

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