Video Vault: 14 Artists Promote Their 1994 Album Releases on Yo! MTV Raps

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

It’s a must that we continue our feature focus here at NahRight on the greatness that was 1994. So much dope rap music was released twenty years ago, and we’ve been covering it steadily since the top of ‘14, from our album breakdowns of Gang Starr’s Hard to Earn with DJ Premier and Organized Konfusion’s Stress: The Extinction Agenda with Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po, to epic lists like our Top 20 Remixes of 1994.

This week, we dug up 14 clips (some short, some full, all classic) of artists promoting their 1994 album drops on Yo! MTV Raps—from Nas to Biggie to Outkast—for our latest edition of Video Vault. Yes, back in the day, Yo! was the home base for hip-hop on our TV dials, and Ed Lover and Dr. Dre, along with the on-location king Fab 5 Freddy, always made sure they had the hottest acts in the industry on the show as special guests. Check the throwback flavor below.

1. Artifacts

Redman’s cousin Tame One’s group the Artifacts came through the Yo! MTV Raps studio to talk about their debut Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which features the classic single “Wrong Side of the Tracks,” and also their tour with Common Sense, The Beatnuts, and Organized Konfusion. Now that’s a bill, right Peter Oasis?


2. Brand Nubian

Quiet as kept, Brand Nubian’s Grand Puba-less third album Everything is Everything is really dope. There are some serious gems on there for those out there sleeping, from joints like the live band-assisted “Down for the Real” to “Alladat” with Busta Rhymes. And to help promote their efforts, Lord Jamar and Sadat X (along with DJ Sincere) chopped it up on Yo! MTV Raps about the concept behind the album, their plans to release the next album with Puba on board, and much more.


3. Common Sense

Fab 5 Freddy brought Yo! MTV Raps to the Windy City for the first time to visit Common Sense (now just known as Common), and Com took him on a tour of the South Side of Chicago, stopping on 47th and King Drive to discuss local music history, and also how his father ended up on his sophomore classic Resurrection. He also explains his approach to the album, saying that he tried to be “real skillful” and come from “the heart and the mind.” It’s ill to think about how far both Common and the Chicago rap scene as a whole have come since Resurrection dropped. Lots of artists, from Kanye West to Lupe Fiasco to Chief Keef, owe Com a debt of gratitude for helping to pave the way for their success.


4. Gang Starr

We had the honor of speaking to DJ Premier about the making of Gang Starr’s classic fourth LP Hard to Earn earlier this month, and in this vintage Yo! MTV Raps segment, him and Guru speak on how they first linked up, and how Primo caters his production to the artists he’s working with. It’s not the full clip of the interview, but we’ll take what we can get, Internets. RIP Guru.


5. Jeru the Damaja

Brooklyn MC Jeru the Damaja dropped his DJ-Premier produced debut album The Sun Rises in the East not long after Hard to Earn’s release in ‘94, and during this Yo! appearance, he talks to Dr. Dre and Ed Lover about the origins of his rap name, dropping conceptual lyrics, how he initially linked up with Gang Starr, and how he was focused on “the bigger picture” rather than just album sales. And he also breaks down his beef with rap journalists, saying that “a lot of the time, they try to attack you with words,” and explains why a specific article ticked him off.


6. MC Eiht

Fresh off his appearance in Menace II Society, Compton rapper MC Eiht was in the hoouuuse with Fab 5 Freddy and his crew Compton’s Most Wanted for an extended sit-down to talk about his latest LP We Come Strapped. MC Eiht describes the content on the album, talks about the gang violence around his way, and also touches on how he directed the video for his single “All For the Money.” Jeaaaah.


7. Method Man

Method Man hopped on a New York Apple Tour bus with Fab 5 Freddy to talk about his solo debut Tical, and it’s definitely a classic interview, as they ride down 125th Street, hollering dudes on the street that Meth knows, talking about his “bus fetish” and how it was his idea to film the “Bring the Pain” video on a bus, and much more. And for you Wu heads out there always discussing who had the best solo album from the Clan, please do not neglect Meth’s debut effort. It may not end up with the No. 1 spot on the list, but it’s dusty as hell.


8. Nas

Nas made his MTV debut on Yo! MTV Raps twenty years ago with Fab 5 Freddy for an exclusive in-studio discussion, touching on his debut classic Illmatic, his writing process, and also his experiences hearing hip-hop as a young kid in Queensbridge. Nas says in his raspy, laid-back tone, “I make my music straight from the heart, and from the thoughts of what’s going on in a black man’s mind.” Pretty crazy to watch this and think about how legendary he’s become since this interview. Also, peep our Mixtape Memories list of classic Nas cuts if you missed it.


9./10. The Notorious B.I.G. and Craig Mack

Though this aired at the top of ‘95, Biggie Smalls and Craig Mack were still in promo mode for their ‘94 album releases on Bad Boy (Ready to Die and Project: Funk da World), with label head Puff Daddy in the Bad Boy building as well for the interview to talk about how they got their deals with Bad Boy. That Sergio Tacchini shit is fresh, Big Poppa! You can watch additional footage from the episode via MTV, where Biggie also talks about wanting to be known as the “hardest MC” out in ’95, and kicks an acapella rendition of “Who Shot Ya” as well. RIP B.I.G.


11. O.C.

O.C. released his debut album Word…Life in ‘94, and in this brief clip, he talks about the origin of his rap name (it’s his initials), and discusses the LP’s artwork. Do remember that “Time’s Up” is one of the greatest rap songs of ALL TIME, and beyond that, Word…Life is definitely worth revisiting if you haven’t heard it in a while. Is there an MC out there that’s more underrated than O.C.? Now there’s a question that doesn’t have an easy answer.


12. Outkast

Before they were Grammy award-winning, international rap superstars, Andre 3000 and Big Boi were just some local players from Atlanta trying to put their city on the map. And with their debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik beginning to bubble nationwide, Fab 5 Freddy took a trip to their hood to visit the home of Outkast’s musical masterpieces—The Dungeon. 3 Stacks does the honors of introducing everyone in the click, from his partner-in-rhyme to the group’s affiliates, many of whom you’ll recognize from their album whether they made an appearance on it or were shouted out (we even get to meet Big Boi’s little brother). Then, in the second clip, Freddy takes a trip inside The Dungeon to speak to Organized Noize about linking up with Outkast, and talks to Big Boi about his influences. Crazy footage here.


13. Pete Rock and CL Smooth

To discuss the release of their sophomore album The Main Ingredient, Pete Rock & CL Smooth made the trip downtown from Mount Vernon to connect with Fab 5 Freddy in Times Square to talk about the making of the “I Got a Love” video, and also break down what else they had going on at the time, from Pete’s production work for Nas and Jeru to CL Smooth’s car wash business. Plus much more. Reminisce below, and peep our In The Lab interview with Pete Rock if you missed it.


14. Redman

For the die-hard Redman fans, there’s a lot of debate as to what his best album ever is. Here at NahRight, we’re Dare Iz a Darkside fans (as we discussed on episode No. 1 of our new podcast recently), and that’s what he was promoting when he touched down on Yo! MTV Raps back in ‘94 and ’95. In the first clip, filmed around the time of the “Rockafella” single drop, Red effortlessly kicks a funky freestyle for the cameras, before Ed Lover fucks up his flow to introduce Nas’ “One Love” video. Damn Ed, you couldn’t let him go a little longer? He was just starting to heat up!

And below, Fab 5 Freddy sits down with Reggie Noble (rocking the mean Helly Hansen jacket) out in Los Angeles to grub and talk about his history in the game, the Def Squad, and how he buried himself six feet deep to capture the image on the Dare Iz a Darkside album cover. Plus much more.

Props to all video uploaders, especially MTVdeejayedyk, and The Meaning of Dope.

Previously: Video Vault: 10 Hip-Hop Artists Go Shopping at Amoeba MusicVideo Vault: 5 Underappreciated ’90s Posse Cut Videos |  Video Vault: 5 Classic Snoop Dogg Performances of DoggystyleSongs | Video Vault: 10 Classic Showtime at the Apollo | Video Vault: The Top 20 Rap Videos of 1993 | Video Vault: 5 Classic Wake Up Show Freestyles | Video Vault: 5 Pre-Reasonable Doubt Jay-Z Videos | Video Vault: 7 Classic Smack DVD Clips