Fab 5 Freddy on The Creation of Yo! MTV Raps

Fab 5 Freddy: It was a guy named Peter Dougherty, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago, he was a friend on the downtown scene in New York. He knew moves I was making with the movie Wild Style, like, just doing my art, making moves on the downtown scene; having linked Blondie to the culture and that turned into a No. 1 record [“Rapture”] for her. So when the music was selling crazy with no marketing and no promotion, Peter was a big fan and he got with another dude that worked at MTV, named Ted Demme, who was also a fan of the music. And they were basically like ‘we should do something’ and MTV finally gave them a shot and Peter said I got just the person, I know him. He explained all the stuff I did, so they said ‘give it a shot.’ And that guy was me and the rest, they say, is history. It was the highest-rated show the minute it went on the air and that started the ball rolling.People tuned in, they liked what they saw. At that point in time – I like to point out – rap radio, where you could hear rap records on the radio all day, every day was nowhere in existence, except maybe AM radio in California, a station called K-DAY. But in New York, the shows were on the weekends for a couple of hours, so it was a revelation and people tuned in. The concept of my show, from the beginning, was I didn’t wanna be cooped up in the MTV studios like the other VJ’s that were on the air cause I just thought it was corny how that looked and they was on for real long spectrum of times. And Peter said, ‘How would you wanna do it?’ I said ‘Man, well I would be more comfortable being on the street, going to the basement, whether artists is making music in Harlem or the Bronx.’ See where they live, let’s go to Compton, let’s go to Liberty City in Miami, that’s what I did. I went to the 5th Ward [in] Houston with the Geto Boys, so I traveled around and took it to the streets and that was the blueprint and the formula that actually worked and spread the culture around the world.

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