Special to South Florida Times
He grew up in Patterson, N.J. into the realm of hip-hop — watching music videos in the 1980s featuring rappers who looked like him and came from similar backgrounds, coolly telling their stories using creative lyrics set to base-filled beats.
Now at age 37, Rahman Ali Bugg is the producer of the upcoming special, MTV2 Presents: Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts, scheduled to air at midnight Dec. 4.
The special is unique as it ushers in the return, if only for one night, of one of hip-hop’s most influential music franchises — Yo! MTV Raps — which first aired in 1988 and ended in 1999, later titled simply, Yo!
Bugg and the show have a long history.
As a 19-year-old undergraduate in Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in 1993, Bugg was accepted to an MTV summer internship in New York City. He later graduated in 1996 with a bachelor’s in Film Television-Radio-Film Production.
“When I got accepted, they asked me where I wanted to go, and I specifically said Yo! MTV Raps,” said Bugg, who currently resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. “It wasn't until I got an internship there that I thought that maybe I can do this as a career.”
His paid internship at MTV ran from June to August of 1993. He has worked with the network each year since, starting as an unpaid production assistant to his current role as a freelance producer. Bugg has also served as a director for the network’s reality shows Making The Band II and Run’s House.
He credits Jac Benson II, a producer of Yo! MTV Raps for taking him under his wing, and having a positive influence on his career.
MTV2 is a music channel geared towards an audience in their teens and early 20s. As producer of Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts, Bugg plays a major role in introducing a young audience to the early hip-hop music that influenced him so much.
“What rap and hip-hop did for me as a kid was made me see that things were just possible,” said Bugg. “My dream was to be a part of television. I could have a voice in this culture through television.”
The original hosts of Yo! MTV Raps — Fab 5 Freddy, Ed Lover and Dr. Dre — will be featured in the special as well as interviews with many notable present and past hip-hop artists. Bugg and his crew traveled to cities including New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston and Los Angeles to conduct interviews.
The retrospective will examine three classic cuts: Scenario by A Tribe Called Quest, My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me by Geto Boys and It Was A Good Day by Ice Cube.
“We wanted to choose cuts relevant to the MTV2 audience, artists they would recognize and that speak to the heart of what hip-hop sounded and felt like then,” said Bugg.
He explained that Scenario represents the pure beats, rhymes and wordplay of traditional New York hip-hop, while My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me represents the introduction of introspective rap, dealing with deep personal issues. Bugg suggests the work of rapper Eminem as a modern-day example. In addition, It Was A Good Day offered an alternative view of West Coast rap from the gangster rap lyrics that made it famous, showing a different side of Los Angeles and its culture.
It can be argued that many of the messages in today’s hip-hop are alot different from that of hip-hop’s forefathers — sometimes leaving an older generation of fans yearning for the tracks of yesteryear. Bugg believes the initial message remains. “I think we still as a culture are able to express good ideas through this music,” said Bugg. “In terms of the messages, hip-hop is diverse. There are still artists who offer a lot of positive information, but they might not be the popular voices. And, as a society, we can choose what is popular.”
Though Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts is scheduled only as a onetime special, Bugg says it could be a vehicle for the “old school” to help the “new school” remember its roots.
“Hopefully this special gets people excited,” said Bugg. “Hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to highlight more cuts.”
IF YOU WATCH
What: Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts
When: Dec. 4 at midnight ET/PT on MTV2
For more information: mtv.com/mtv2
Photo: Rahman Ali Bugg, producer of MTV2 Presents: Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts.