Welcome to Rap City celebrates the 50th anniversary of hip-hop

BET announces an original three-part documentary of its iconic music series, Rap City, as BET continues its year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. Produced by entertainment company Mass Appeal, Welcome To Rap City unlocks the Rap City vaults, airing never-before-seen footage of iconic hip-hop stars while providing viewers with a historic look back at the vital role of BET in amplifying the genre across three decades. Over three consecutive nights, the special features some of today’s hottest hip-hop stars, behind-the-scenes movers & shakers, and the original Rap City hosts who cemented this show into hip-hop history, including Big Tigger, Big Lez, Chris “The Mayor” Thomas, Hans “Prime” Dobson, Prince DaJour, Joe Clair, Mad Linx, J-Nicks and Q45. Welcome To Rap City premieres Tuesday, October 10th at 8 pm ET/PT, followed by BET Hip Hop Awards 2023.

“We are thrilled to commemorate Rap City, a series much like the genre that was ahead of its time, and proudly show viewers the impact this series had on music and culture over our three-night event,” states Sam D. Walker II, VP of Music Specials and Productions, BET. “Hip-hop is in the DNA of BET. With our esteemed partners at Mass Appeal, we can’t wait to showcase some historical gems from the longest-running rap show during the genre’s landmark anniversary.”

“As we celebrate hip-hop’s 50th birthday, we also have to honor the programs that have documented and amplified our culture,” adds Jenya Meggs, SVP of Partnerships & Content Acquisition for Mass Appeal. “Mass Appeal is proud to partner with BET to produce Welcome to Rap City and illustrate how this iconic television series provided some of Hip Hop’s biggest artists with a platform to reach audiences across the country.”

Making its debut in 1989, Rap City was the preeminent hip-hop series dedicated to rap music videos, important cultural commentary, and interviews with the stars of the moment, along with freestyles from artists including A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Geto Boys, Eve, Jadakiss, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Killer Mike, LL Cool J, Ludacris, OutKast, Snoop Dogg, The Diplomats, Trina, and many more.

Welcome To Rap City features sit-down interviews with Aiyisha T. Obafemi (Entertainment Executive, DTP), Rap City co-creator Alvin “The Unseen VJ” Jones, Chaka Zulu (Entertainment Executive, DTP), Rap City co-host Charlamagne Tha God, BET CEO & Chairman Emerita Debra Lee, DJ Drama, Kevin Liles (CEO/Chairman/Co-Founder, 300 Entertainment), media personality Mouse Jones, journalist Selwyn Seyfu Hinds , Shanti Hinds (Former Sr. Director of Marketing, La Face Records), Stephen G. Hill (Former President of Music Programming, BET), Tuma Basa (Director of Black Music & Culture, YouTube), former Rap City producer John “Dr. Teeth” Tucker, and many others.

The premiere episode looks at the early days of BET in Washington, DC, and hip-hop in the ‘80s. It explores how the increased popularity of hip-hop and the influence of the network sparked the creation of Rap City. Episode one also takes us through hosts Chris “The Mayor” Thomas, Prime, Prince DaJour, Big Lez, and the impact Rap City made by introducing some of the pivotal artists of today.

Episode two introduces a new host, Joe Clair. It also focuses on a legend’s final television interview, and explains the importance of Rap City as both conduit and catalyst for hip-hop music via videos. This episode also introduces Big Tigger and a new facet of the show that would change the culture itself: “Tha Bassment.”

The final episode finds Rap City moving from Washington, DC to New York and outlines the challenges it faced with a then-fledgling 106 & Parkappealing to the same young audience. Adding to the change in location, we have another huge change: Tigger leaving Tha Bassment, which leads to a revolving door of hosts. Digital media begins to pose a very real threat to the television and video landscapes, and by 2008, the show sees its final season.