In August of 1988, a little show called Yo! MTV Raps premiered on the then-fledgling MTV Network. Hosted by Fab 5 Freddy — and, later, Ed Lover and Doctor Dre — the show, which ran from 1988 until 1995, was a cultural touchstone, and is perhaps single-handedly responsible for making Hip Hop viable in the television medium.

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The show was originally co-created by Ted Demme, the late critically acclaimed actor and producer (Blow, the semi-autobiographical film starring Johnny Depp as George Jung, was perhaps one of his best-known creations), who went to school with Ed Lover. While Ed Lover and Doctor Dre were the main hosts of the show, they were often interspersed with news snippets provided by Fab 5 Freddy, and — in later years — Love and Dre were joined by T Money, who was in 1980s rap group Original Concept with Doctor Dre.

The event at the Barclay’s Center on June 1, 2018, was not only a retrospective that featured video tributes from the likes of Eminem, Redman, and Method Man but was a live concert that featured a medley of some of the greatest Hip Hop hits of the 1980s and 1990s.

Some of the featured artists were pretty well-known — ONYX, for example — but others were only for hardcore ‘heads to remember (Special Ed, anyone?).

The variety was definitely there — the East Coast was represented by Nice and Smooth (“Is Funky”) and Young Black Teenagers (“Tap The Bottle”), while the West Coast showed up strong with the likes of Yo-Yo (originally “discovered” by Ice Cube). Flavor Flav, of course, took the stage without Chuck D. Although his clock was significantly smaller, his energy was just as high as it was during Public Enemy’s prime — and he wasted no time in thanking Yo! MTV Raps for giving Public Enemy the first mainstream platform of their career, as well as the careers of many other rappers who otherwise wouldn’t have become successful.

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He also credited both the show and the audience, for being instrumental in getting Public Enemy into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, Black Sheep also announced that they would be dropping a new song.

In between sets, Ed Lover and Doctor Dre shared some of their favorite stories about their guests — and we even got to see Ed Lover do his famous Ed Lover Dance! — and brought out other special guests, such as Ralph McDaniel, the host of Video Music Box, a local New York television show that many considered the precursor to Yo! MTV Raps.

DJ Scratch and DJ Skribble also took turns on the one-and-twos, but the highlight was when Kid Capri got on the boards and got the whole stadium cheering and dancing. Bring it back to the castle, Kid Capri!

More than a few shots were taken at the so-called “mumble rappers” of today, much to the cheers of the crowd (which skewed much older than a typical Hip Hop concert of today). And the party atmosphere was all-too-evident, as everyone in attendance had no intention of sitting in the seat provided for them with their ticket purchase.

The night concluded with some performances from some of the biggest names in Hip Hop, like, ever. Everyone from Kool Moe Dee and the Juice Crew, to Fat Joe, put in an appearance on Barclay’s stage. It shall also be written that MC Lyte, Yo-Yo and Roxanne Shanté represented for female rappers — past, present and future.

The night, however, wasn’t just for reminiscing: more than 20 years after it was last on the air, MTV has announced that Yo! MTV Raps is being relaunched, and reimagined, for the digital generation. Claiming that the new version of the show will feature both a “linear and digital platform,” it’s unclear about the direction of the new show. Will it feature new hosts? Will it be broadcast live from Wyoming? Will we ever get a similar Ed Lover Dance?

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It’s unlikely that the new version of Yo! MTV Raps will have the same cultural relevance as the original — and still the best — version of the show. However, it will be interesting to see how the new version of the show condenses the most important elements of Hip Hop into just a few hours, especially in the age of the digital revolution.

Check more photos from the YO! MTV Raps 30th Anniversary Live Event down below.

YO! MTV Raps 30th Anniversary Live Performance

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YO! MTV Raps 30th Anniversary Backstage

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