"Yo! MTV Raps" was the first TV show to bring hip-hop to the masses. The ultra-cool rap video program is one of the highest-rated on MTV. Planned as a one-hour special two years ago, it has since bugged-out into an electronic house party weekdays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. "MTV Raps" plays it all--from the militant (N.W.A.) to the mainstream (Young M.C.) to the controversial (2 Live Crew).
The program's slick host and creative consultant, Freddy Braithwaite, better known as Fab Five Freddy, is happy that "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" has stormed NBC, because he feels it opens doors for other rappers. But he points out that D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince are a far cry from the stark realities of the street.
"I like them because they're honest," said Braithwaite, 29, a storied New York City graffiti artist, deejay and actor. "But the majority of people who really get behind this music, that's not their story. 'Parents Just Don't Understand,' that don't-worry-be-happy attitude, that just doesn't go over on the streets. It doesn't make it tick, you understand?
"There's very few people at the core, at the root, who understand what this (hip-hop) is about. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, in the way they're perceived on the streets, they've lost a lot of their credibility. They're a 'Cosby' family kind of rap group, which really doesn't reflect the majority of black people in an urban situation. They just don't live like that. It's a lot rougher.
"When network television gets involved, they always end up softening the situation. There are too many people who have to get their hands on things. I couldn't see (a network) giving a show to Public Enemy, but I think that would be the (rap group) to actually do. Because when you listen to what they're singing, 'Fear of a Black Planet,' that's what's happening on the streets. You want to know what's really on black youths' minds? Listen to Public Enemy."