Date: August 6, 1988
The Moment: In the summer of 1988, over half a decade into its premiere on cable networks, MTV aired the first episode of a two-hour television block exclusively dedicated to rap music.
The Impact: Yo! MTV Raps was the first show to give exclusive time to rap videos, and thus, proliferated the market for them. Doctor Dre and Ed Lover became two of MTV's most famed VJ's overnight, and an appearance on MTV Raps was a must for any rap act on the rise or of the moment. The show became enshrined in plenty of rap songs, though ratings would begin to slip a few years into its existence once competition (like BET's Rap City) started to emerge as serious contenders for its audience.
The Upshot: Yo! MTV Raps had a fruitful, seven-year run and became a crucial component of early '90s rap culture. The show's creator, Ted Demme, went on to direct some critically and commercially successful films (Life, Blow) before dying of a heart attack at 38. Ed Lover and Doctor Dre continued to be old-school hip-hop luminaries in day jobs as radio hosts after the end of Yo! MTV Raps. MTV made several attempts at replicating the success of MTV Raps—including a 1999 reboot of the original show—but none popped off quite the same as the original.