Yo! MTV Raps was originally conceived as MTV’s way of ghettoizing rap music. When the cable service was being criticized a few years ago for ignoring rap in favor of Whitesnake videos in super-heavy rotation, Yo! was hastily slapped together as a half-hour of rap vids tucked into an afternoon time slot with little chance of a long life. But it turned out that, gee, MTV’s predominantly white audience was interested in the most original new pop-music genre in a decade, and strong viewer response boosted Yo! to an hour.
The weekend version of Yo!, which airs Saturdays at 10 a.m., is overseen by the program’s original host, Fab Five Freddy; he’s low-key and sly. The daily edition is headed up by Ed Lover and Dr. Dre — they’re boisterous and witty.
While MTV systematically shies away from controversial videos — don’t go looking for the 2 Live Crew or N.W.A. to show up with any frequency — Yo! offers a good mixture of acts. You’ll see feminist Queen Latifah as often as chart-buster M.C. Hammer, and many up-and-coming acts as well. B+