Looking back at the TV shows from our adolescence is a great way to open up a box of nostalgia. It reminds you of old friends you'd watch "The Cosby Show" with, foods you'd eat while watching "Thundercats" and, in the case of "Yo! MTV Raps," those classic beats that made you wave your hands in the air like you just didn't care (but you did!). MTV's seminal hip-hop show is something we can all wax poetic about, so we asked four of our favorite comedians to look back and tell us what video most stands out for them.
Mike Burns on D.O.C.'s "It's Funky Enough"
I didn't have cable as a kid, but every day after school I'd go over to my friend Zac's house to watch "YO! MTV Raps." Zac was a meticulous collector and a cohort of mine in the hustling of Starter jackets, hats, Air Jordans, Air Flight 89s and the like. For lack of a better term, we weren't what a**holes considered to be "wannabes," we were just kids from Saginaw, Michigan, with taste. I took a lot of s*** from people when I was in high school because I wore Jordan 5s and 6s. They wore Birkenstocks and liked the Grateful Dead. Both of which I did, and still do, suck a d***. Zac made several ongoing mix VHS tapes compiled from "YO!," which he still has to this day. They're so beautiful to watch. I couldn't tell you exactly what the first video I saw on "YO!" was. It might have been Rodney O. & Joe Cooley's "Get Ready To Roll" or Big Daddy Kane's "I Get The Job Done." But whenever anything came out on the "Ruthless" label, from Michel'le to Above the Law, I bought it and locked in. D.O.C.'s "The D.O.C. & The Doctor" and "It's Funky Enough" probably influenced me more than any other solitary thing at that point in my life. Sadly, D.O.C.'s voice box got destroyed in a car accident and we never got to see the full potential of whom I consider to be one of the greatest MCs of all time.
Listen to his podcast Gentlemen Scumbags
Scott Moran on Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance"
I remember it like yesterday...seeing the video for Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance." That song blew my mind. I had never heard a song so funny, yet with such a great message of unity--no matter what color/race you are, we should all party together. It was such a different statement than what was being said at the time. I knew that Digital Underground really meant it and these guys were a different type of cool. So I set out to party with them. Long story short, I sent Shock G my phone number to their fan club address and he actually called me a year later. I was in tenth grade at the time. We stayed in touch, and over the years, have become close friends. We have partied and traveled around the country a lot, and as it turns out...I was right. Digital Underground are the coolest, friendliest and most intelligent bunch of people I've ever partied with. They mean what they say! Thanks for exposing me to them, "YO!"
Sara Schaefer on Positive K's "I Gotta Man"
One of my favorite videos from the "Yo! MTV Raps" days was Positive K's "I Gotta Man." Aside from the Queen Latifah and Yo-Yo videos, there wasn't much by way of a strong female voice. I loved how that song put the guy in the weak position and gave the girl the power. I also loved to fantasize myself having that exact conversation with a cute boy at the mall (not unlike the "Top That" scene from "Teen Witch"--which was the COOLEST). My favorite part of the song is definitely when the girl is listing all the ways her man is better than Positive K--and he keeps arguing each of her points--UNTIL she says, "My man buys me things and he takes me out!" And he responds, "Well you can keep your man, 'cause I don't go that route." S*** girl, you totally called his bluff! Also, fun game: every time a stranger speaks to you, sassily cut them off and go, "I gotta man."
Listen to her podcast You Had To Be There
T.J. Miller on Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear"
Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear" really put that flava in my ear, whereas previously I had just been having flavors in my ear: cinnamon, blueberry, red. I remember really loving how weird he looked but still looked hard-core. That's what I've always striven for, to look weird and still be hard-core. And to use the past tense of "strive" more. I loved his rhyme style and I remember thinking, this is it: One day I'll make the weirdest hip-hop/pop/folk album (The Extended Play E.P.) and I'll be kicking mad flava in others' ear. Angry flava. Or irritated flava. That's it. I've got the brand-new flava in ya ear, I'm kicking irritated flava in ya ear. Boy have things changed; now spellcheck thinks I'm trying to say, "I'm kicking mad lava in your ear," and I had to tell Onyx that we can't "slam" and "let the boys be boys" anymore. Now we have to make them act more effeminate and metrosexual. And don't get me started on what happened to Salt N' Pepa's "Whatta Man" because that guy is like 63 now.
-T.J. Miller, "The Barely An Emcee"
Listen to his new album The Extended Play E.P.