Recently our hackles were raised after a concerned Park Slope resident (or, as reports increasingly indicate, a gifted troll) sent out a petition hoping to keep a new club from playing the hip-hop music (gasp!) in yuppietacular Brooklyn. We could not imagine the anarchy if rap music ever hit Park Slope: Think upended strollers and innumerable adorable pug dogs scattering toward Grand Army Plaza, causing winter-squash raviolis to rattle off forks at Al Di La. Uh, you’re all conveniently forgetting that the Rub throws a great weekly party on Fifth Avenue, and KRS-One was born in Park Slope, right?
Anyway, our favorite line in this ridiculous petition is the decidedly anachronistic description “another Yo MTV Raps ‘bling-bling’ vip club,” which moronically links a hit 1988 TV show with a hit 1999 song. Which got us thinking: Do today’s rock critics know more about the seminal Yo! MTV Raps than your average panic-stricken Brooklynite? And so we asked 15 music writers:
Who were the hosts of Yo! MTV Raps?
Should be super easy, right? It’s essentially the show that brought hip-hop to the suburbs in 1988, changing pop culture, fashion, and music forever. It brought radical politics to our living rooms and taught a generation of white kids to shave lines into their hair (sorry, mom). Was our panel of critics actually watching this landmark moment unfold? Or were they too busy waiting for Dave Kendall to play the new Mighty Lemon Drops? Our posse in effect consists of 15 professional and semi-professional rock writers, all given the usual rules:
1. I will not identify you AT ALL, so it is OK to be wrong. [We will say that our esteemed panel edits magazines, websites, and alt-weeklies. They have written for pretty much every outlet you’ve ever heard of, from Rolling Stone to Spin to Billboard.]
2. You can’t use Google.
The correct answer and some dropped science below:
The correct answer: Ed Lover & Dr. Dre on weekdays, Fab 5 Freddy on weekends.
Number of critics that answered correctly and got all three hosts: 8
Number of critics that got two: 4
Number of critics that got one or less: 3
Number of critics that went for T-Money bonus points: 0
Number of critics who somehow only knew one half of Ed Lover and Dr. Dre: 2
Number of critics that guessed Bill Bellamy: 2
Some other incorrect guesses: DJ Jazzy Jeff, Flavor Flav, King Ad Rock, Biz Markie
Number of critics who mentioned that they didn’t have cable growing up: 3 (and one who was stuck watching Pump It Up)
Number of critics whose dads owned the Yo! MTV Raps compilation on Jive: 1 (“He didn’t buy it for me, that shit was for him”)
BONUS QUESTION: Who was the show’s producer and co-creator?
Correct Answer: Ted Demme
Number of critics who answered this correctly: 3
Number of critics who guessed Russell Simmons: 3 (he didn’t invent everything!)
So yeah, the gas face to whoever didn’t know this. Yo! MTV Raps was essentially my first language, transforming me from a regular fat kid to a fat kid who could do the Running Man and write pause-tape raps about the Cub Scouts. I still keep the pilot episode on VHS tape in my closet and the first run of the trading cards in my mom’s attic. So, yeah, heartfelt thanks to Fab and Ed and Dre and Ted and T-Money for keeping my brain focused on memorizing Three Times Dope lyrics instead of on schoolwork, slowly sending me on the dubious career path of becoming a full-time music nerd.
OK, now let’s all do the Ed Lover Dance: