Yo! MTV Raps Ends Its Historic Run: August 17 in Hip-Hop History
On this day in hip-hop history, Yo! MTV Raps says goodbye, Mary J. Blige releases her fourth album, Mary, Ludacris goes Incognegro, Xscape want to "kick it" with their boos and more. Check it out below.
Eightball & MJG are rap pioneers from Memphis, Tennessee. Under the tutelage of Suave House Records CEO Tony Draper, Premro "8Ball" Smith and Marlon Jermaine "MJG" released their debut album Comin’ Out Hard on this day in 1993. The title track sampled Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years" and Rufus & Chaka Khan's "Stay.” The song itself became a southern classic and have been sampled by Three 6 Mafia (the reflective “Da Summa”) and on Field Mob's bouncy crunk track “1, 2, 3.”
Back in 1993, R&B singer Joe Thomas (aka Joe) had hair, a talented voice and a sharp pen game. Born in Columbus, Ga. and raised in Opelika, Ala., Joe started singing in the church as a child and then began performing in local bands in the late '80s. After graduating from Opelika High School in 1990, he moved to New Jersey and started working at a local gospel record store.
In 1992, Joe got his big break when an opportunity to meet with producer Vincent Herbert resulted in him recording a three-song demo. The tape landed in the the right hands at Mercury Records and Joe secured himself a record deal. On this day in 1993, he released his debut album, Everything, which placed him among a wave of new R&B lions like Usher, R. Kelly, Jodeci and Keith Sweat.
Produced by Joe along with Keith Mille, J. Dibbs, and Dave "Jam" Hall, the project featured the singer belting out love anthems over New Jack Swing-esque beats. “I’m in Luv,” was a big radio hit for the singer during the summer of 1993. On “All or Nothing,” Joe yearns for the perfect woman to satisfy his needs.
At 45, Joe is still singing and entertaining crowds. He's currently an independent artist, which suits him just fine. "It's really gravy, it gives me a chance to build [my legacy]," he told DJ VLAD in 2014. "I got 20 years in the [music game] and it's about time [for me] to take charge."
The 1990s was the decade of the girl groups. TLC, SWV, and En Vogue were several of the women R&B acts that helped shape the decade with a new era of R&B. Jermaine Dupri, who produced songs for TLC, was looking for a female group for his So So Def label when he discovered Xscape. The quartet of Kandi Burruss, Tameka "Tiny" Cottle, and sisters LaTocha and Tamika Scott were discovered at his 19th birthday party in 1992.
To get the ball rolling with his En Vogue-meets-Jodeci girl group, JD released their first single, “Just Kickin’ It” on this day in 1993. The song was a major hit as the women sang about kicking it with their boyfriends —“I tell him to kick off your shoes and relax your feet / Party on down to the X-SCAPE beat / Just kick it, just kick it, just kick it.”
"['Just Kickin' It'] was just my vision of what I felt like the girls should be singing," JD told Complex in 2014. "I wanted a record that actually was a hybrid between hip-hop and R&B, so I wanted the hook to say something that was hip-hop but I wanted it to be a song."
"Just Kickin' It" was a smash hit. It stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-hop Songs chart for four consecutive weeks. It was later certified Platinum by the RIAA for 1 million copies sold. This set up the release of Xscape's debut album Hummin' Comin' at 'Cha, which dropped in October of 1993.
From August 6, 1988, to August 17, 1995, Yo! MTV Raps brought hip-hop from the streets to television screens worldwide. At its peak, Yo! MTV Raps aired seven days a week, and twice a day. But around 1992-93, the show’s was declining in popularity. As rap continued to infiltrate pop music there was no need for specialty programs like Yo! to help get the music to viewers. Network TV shows like Friday Night Videos were showing rap videos regularly and BET’s Rap City became the new flavor for kids to get their video fix. At one point, Yo! MTV Raps was airing only on Fridays at midnight and they didn’t have any hosts.
On the show's final episode, hosts Ed Lover, Doctor Dré, T Money, along with DJ Skribble and original Yo! host Fab 5 Freddy bid farewell and invited a slew of lyrical emcees to bust a final freestyle for the viewing audience. Rap legends Eric B & Rakim, KRS-One, Chubb Rock MC Serch, EPMD, Redman, Method Man, Special Ed, the late Craig Mack and more participated in the lyrical cypher. And it was truly epic - A Top Five "Best Hip-Hop Moment" for sure.
"I just felt it was amazing, man. When you’re living in the moment, you’re kinda looking around like ‘wow, this is crazy,’" recalls Ed Lover (via Vibe.com). "What else could we have done with all of those guys on set but a freestyle session?"
DJ Skribble, who was DJing on the final episode, concurred. "It was a who’s who on that last episode and I was a maestro and that was one of the most memorable moments in hip-hop for me [and] especially for the Yo! MTV Raps brand."
Check out Yo! MTV Raps last episode Freestyle - Part I and II - below.
On this day in 1999, Ludacris dropped his debut album on his independent label DTP Entertainment. Guest appearances on the album included I-20, Pastor Troy, Fate Wilson and Chimere with production assists from Jermaine Dupri, Organized Noise and Bangladesh.
The standout track on the LP is the sexualized club hit “What’s Your Fantasy” featuring Chicago rapper and DTP affiliate Shawnna. The success of Incognegro helped him parlay his record deal with Def Jam Recordings. In 2000, dropped his major-label debut (and second album) Back for the First Time where most of the tracks from his first album was featured except for "Southern Hospitality," “Phat Rabbit," "Stick 'Em Up" and a remix of "What's Your Fantasy" featuring Trina, Foxy Brown and Shawnna.
“Recording my very first album was like a dream come true,” Luda told MySpace Music in 2013. “When I did this complete Incognegro album, I knew that I had matured and this was the time that the Man Upstairs wanted me to share my music with the entire world.”
By the time Mary J. Blige released her fourth album, merely titled Mary, on this day in 1999, she was still evolving as an artist. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul was no longer under the guidance of Andre Harrell or Diddy, and started taking full control of her career decisions.
Credited as an executive producer on Mary, MJB enlisted top-notch producers Babyface, Chucky Thompson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and others to delivered a polished R&B sound on the LP. Throughout the album, the veteran songbird is singing about love and the ups and downs that come along with it.
On the Lauryn Hill-penned “All That I Can Say,” she tells a prospective lover to love her just as she is or leave her alone. On the emotional track “Your Child,” Blige sings about discovering her boyfriend fathered another child outside of their relationship. We must also mention that MJB sang a duet with the late Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin on the sista-kick-your-unfaithful-man-to-the-curb song “Don’t Waste Your Time.”
“Aretha is a gift from God," said Blige of her passing. "When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing."
Blige's tenacity and hard work on the project paid off. The album sold 2 million copies in the U.S. and garnered her three Grammy Awards nominations: Best R&B Vocal Performance - Female ("All That I Can Say"), Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group ("Don't Waste Your Time" with Aretha Franklin) and Best R&B Album (Mary).
After numerous delays, Mobb Deep finally released their fourth album Murda Muzik on this day in 1999. The LP’s centerpiece is the Grandmaster Melle Mel-sampled street banger “Quiet Storm,” and the remix featuring Lil’ Kim. The song, which is now considered a classic in Mobb's catalog, was originally slated for Prodigy’s solo album but he put it on a mixtape and it started getting major spins in the clubs. When it came time for Havoc and P to drop Murda Muzik, they had to put the track the album. And the rest, as they say, is hip-hop history. “That was a good vibe. That’s definitely God at work,” said the late rapper Prodigy about the song’s notoriety (via redbullacademy.com). “I definitely think we’ve been blessed, our career is blessed. When we get that inspiration, it’s not only ourselves, it’s also God at work.”