Can You Name These Artists Who Appeared on Yo! MTV Raps?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo

Not many Yo! MTV fans recall that hip-hop legends RUN DMC served as the show’s hosts for its pilot episode. The group returned as performers in the first season and inspired the creation of the show’s Live Fridays segment.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince appeared on the show’s 1988 pilot episode and they hold the distinction of being the very first artists to perform on Yo! MTV Raps. Of course, the young pair were just starting and were not as well-known as they were destined to become.

Tracy Lauren Marrow, more popularly known as Ice-T, was a guest on three episodes of Yo! Also, Ice-T starred in the1993 movie "Who's the Man?" with three of the show's hosts, Ed Lover, Doctor Dré and Fab 5 Freddy. The movie also served as the directorial debut of Ted Demme, co-creator of Yo! MTV Raps.

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, did more than just one show with the Yo! MTV Raps crew – he was there for a whole week of shows! It was an experience Yo! host Doctor Dré describes in a 2018 interview as “the ultimate.” Dr. Dré describes James Brown as “the basis and backbone of hip-hop.”

Early in his career, MC Hammer appeared on Yo! MTV Raps promoting his soon-to-be world-famous style of rapping and dancing. Some viewers may not have realized it at the time, but there was another up-and-coming star in that Yo! episode – Jennifer Lopez is one of the limber dancers highlighted in the segment!

Bobby Brown spent 1978 – 1985 with the hit pop group New Edition before venturing out (in a big way) on his own. He did a full week of Yo! MTV Raps shows with Doctor Dré, Ed Lover and the rest of the Yo! crew.

When LL Cool J (Ladies Love Cool James) appeared on Yo! MTV Raps in 1991, he treated the audience to his hit song called "Mama Said Knock You Out" – the title track of his fourth album. That album went on to achieve Double Platinum status.

Ice Cube is well known for his successful solo, as well as for being a part of N.W.A. However, before all of that, he was one-third of a group known as C.I.A. (Cru' in Action!). Ice Cube’s Gold-certified song called "It was a Good Day" has a line about Yo! MTV Raps, plus in one episode, the Yo! team interviews Ice Cube at home.

Antonio Hardy, better known as Big Daddy Kane, took to the Yo! MTV Raps stage in 1992 to perform "Set It Off," "Raw" and "Warm it Up, Kane." His performance is still hailed among the most outstanding of the show’s entire run.

Wu-Tang Clan formed in Staten Island, New York in 1991 and many fans can still recall its performance of "Da Mystery of Chessboxin" on Yo! MTV Raps in 1993. The group has had three albums certified platinum so far, including its fabulous debut album, "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)."

Episode one of season one of Yo! MTV Raps with host Fab 5 Freddie was recorded in the rehearsal area used by Salt-N-Pepa. Things came full circle when the group made an appearance on the show’s final episode.

There is no question of the enormous effect Notorious B.I.G. had on hip-hop in its developmental period. The Yo! MTV Raps audience was given firsthand experience of his talent for rapping when he appeared on the show. The posthumous release of Notorious B.I.G.’s second studio album, "Life After Death," gained Diamond certification from the RIAA.

A Tribe Called Quest took to the Yo! MTV Raps stage in 1991 to perform "Check the Rhime" from their second studio album, "The Low End Theory." The performance includes group member MC Phife Dawg, who died in 2016.

Leaders of the New School started as a 4-member group which included Busta Rhymes. The group formed in 1989 and experienced some measure of success but it was their epic appearance on Yo! MTV Raps which fans will never forget. In a segment with host Fab 5 Freddie, the group ended up arguing and basically broke up on air!

EPMD (Erick and Parrish Making Dollars) released their first album, "Strictly Business" in 1988 and kept the word “Business” in the titles of all their albums released since then. The duo treated the Yo! MTV Raps audience to "Crossover" in 1992.

Also referred to as LOTUG, Lords of the Underground formed in 1990 and released their debut album, "Here Come the Lords" in 1993. They appeared on Yo! MTV Raps that same year and performed the song "Chief Rocka" from the album.

Gang Starr appeared on Yo! MTV Raps in 1992. The duo took to the stage to perform their single "Take it Personal" which was featured on their third studio album called "Daily Operation."

Known universally as a rapper, Tupac Shakur was also an actor. He starred in the 1993 film "Poetic Justice" alongside Janet Jackson. He appeared on Yo! MTV Raps to promote the movie in a now infamous interview.

Pete Rock & CL Smooth appeared on Yo! MTV Raps in 1992 and treated fans to a rendition of their soon-to-be classic "T.R.O.Y." along with another of their songs, "The Creator. " Both songs were featured on their debut album, "Mecca and the Soul Brother."

In 1991, Naughty by Nature released their debut, self-titled album which featured the hit song "O.P.P." (sometimes referred to as "Down Wit’ O.P.P."). Yo! MTV Raps host Ed Lover played a hand in getting the group and station to do a "Down Wit’ MTV" version of the song and video, which was featured on Yo! and became a big hit.

Yo! MTV Raps’ format included in-studio performances and interviews, but quite often, the show went on-location to wherever the artists were. The N.W.A. interview happened in Compton, California following the release of the group’s (soon-to-become-monumental) "Straight Outta Compton" album.

Yo! MTV Raps went out with a bang. Its final episode which aired on August 16, 1995, was something hip-hop fans will never forget. In tribute to the show, many iconic rap artists, including MC Serch, treated the audience to a masterpiece example of what freestyling is all about.

Geto Boys released their third studio album "We Can’t Be Stopped" in 1991 and by early 1992 it was certified Platinum. The group appeared on Yo! MTV Raps later that year, and they entertained the audience with "Mind Playing Tricks On Me," one of the hits from that album.

Mary J. Blige released her debut album, "What’s the 411?" in 1992. That same year she appeared on Yo! MTV Raps to perform the single after which the album was named. She has since gone on to achieve superstardom with records certified everywhere from Silver to Triple Platinum.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard started out as one of the founding members of the Wu-Tang Clan. He gets dubbed the “Elvis Presley of rap music” by host Ed Lover when he makes a rather interesting “Drunken Master” style appearance on Yo! MTV Raps.

Also known as Large Pro and Large Professor, he was going by the name Extra P when he joined other big rap names on the final episode of Yo! MTV Raps. Extra P showed off his freestyling talent with the best in the business in an episode considered to be very fitting to the role the show played in the development and exposure of hip-hop.

Nice & Smooth formed in 1986 and enjoyed moderate success thanks to their catchy, upbeat lyrics. One of their most popular songs was "Hip Hop Junkies," which was featured on their second album, "Ain't a Damn Thing Changed." The duo performed the song when they made an appearance on Yo! MTV Raps in 1991.

Originally made up of KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock, Boogie Down Productions formed in 1985. The group broke up in 1992 but not before taking to the Yo! MTV stage to perform "We In There" from their fifth and final album.

Onyx has been together since 1988 and made a memorable appearance on Yo! in 1993. The group was back again as one of the artists featured in the Yo! MTV Raps: 30th-Anniversary Experience in 2018.

Redman’s career as a rapper has not stopped him from enjoying success in other fields. He has taken on acting and hosting, as well. It was as a rapper, however, that he appeared on Yo! MTV Rap for its final, outstanding episode in August 1995.

The hit 1992 film "White Men Can't Jump" featured two soundtracks, the second of which was made up of just six rap songs. One of those songs was "Fakin' The Funk" by the group Main Source, who did a rendition of their song on Yo! MTV Raps that same year.

Dana Owens, better known as Queen Latifah, made more than one appearance on Yo! MTV Raps. During one visit in 1991, she took some time to talk about the film Juice, which starred Tupac Shakur and K. Kain, and in which she had a supporting role.

The duo of Eric B & Rakim came together in 1986 and were stalwarts of the hip-hop genre in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Rakim was a part of one of Yo! MTV Raps most unforgettable freestyling performance.

In full, his stage name stands for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone, and he is considered to be one of the pioneers of hip-hop. KRS-One showed off his enormous rapping talents when he joined other rapping stars on the final episode of Yo! MTV Raps for an impressive freestyling event.

Jamaican-born Chubb Rock dropped out of med school to pursue his true passion – hip-hop. He had significant success in the 1990s and was a part of the lineup of stars which closed off Yo! MTV Raps with an extraordinary freestyling performance.

Method Man and Redman are well known as a rap duo and have even done some acting together. Their chemistry was evident in their performances on Yo! MTV Raps and the pair went on to star in the 2001 stoner film "How High."

Public Enemy did a rendition of their hit song Can't Truss It when they took to the Yo! MTV Raps set in 1991. Public Enemy is viewed as one of the legendary rap groups and was honored in 2013 by being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Fu-Schnickens released their debut album "F.U. Don't Take It Personal" in early 1992 and it went on to be certified Gold. One of the highlights of that album was La Schmoove which the group performed when they visited the Yo! MTV Raps set in 1992.

Special Ed released his debut album in 1989. He was just 16 years old at the time, and the album was appropriately titled Youngest in Charge. When he appeared in the closing performance on Yo! MTV Raps’ final episode in 1995, he held his own freestyle with some of the best in the business.

Comedian and rapper Biz Markie has been referred to as the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop.” He can be considered an MTV regular, but as the station puts it, he “found a home at Yo! MTV Raps.”

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Image: Music Television (MTV)

About This Quiz

Get ready for some old school poppin' rap! Relive some of the best moments of Yo! MTV Raps and its most memorable guests.

Yo! MTV Raps debuted in 1988 and for the next 7 years, it introduced viewers to some of the biggest names in hip-hop. In fact, many of them were on the show before they even became celebrities. For instance, do you recall the DJ, or the royal rapper who was featured on the very first show - before they went on to superstardom? We just gave you a hint, now check out the quiz for the right answer!

Along with up-and-comers, the show also featured many legendary names in entertainment, as well. Did you know that the iconic singer (and mesmerizing dancer!) called the "Godfather of Soul" was on Yo! He most definitely was and he even gave the Ed Lover Dance a go! He is on this quiz, too! Get started to find out who else performed on Yo! MTV Raps.

If you are a true fan of hip hop or you never missed an episode of Yo!, then you will have no problem acing this quiz. You will be dancing like it's Wednesday once you see your score! So, hurry up and show us what you've got!

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