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Fab Five Freddy

Fans of the Beastie Boys will always remember Fab Five Freddy from his reign as host of Yo! MTV Raps. Specifically the appearances that Freddy filmed in New York with the Beastie Boys while on location in Chinatown. Those episodes aired on MTV following the release of Paul’s Boutique in 1989, and helped to push the album to sales of 500,000 units. At the time selling half a million records seemed small compared to the success of Licensed to Ill. When a person watches those old television clips, it becomes apparent that both Freddy and the Beastie Boys were excited about that album’s music videos. Perhaps the coolest part of Freddy’s on-air time with the Beastie Boys was when they finally located the band’s old apartment on 59 Chrystie Street. If you listen closely during that clip, Freddy drops a few details about the wild Fourth of July party that the Beastie Boys had thrown on the apartment’s rooftop back in 1986.

Although many people consider 1986 to be old school, Freddy’s ties to hip-hop’s legends dates back much farther. For example, Freddy was heavily involved with the classic hip-hop culture movie the Wild Style. Even if you have never seen it, you have surely heard a portion of it incorporated into the opening seconds of the Beastie Boys’ song "Professor Booty." At the time movie was filmed, graffiti was still fighting for acceptance as a viable art form. Since Fab Five Freddy had emerged on the streets as a credible graffiti artist, it made perfect sense to have him work alongside of Charlie Ahearn and make the motion picture a reality. Fab Five Freddy also appeared in the music video for Blondie’s 1981 crossover hit "Rapture."

Even though Freddy had already has his share of camera time, it was not until September 17, 1988 that Fred Brathwaite would become a house-hold name. When Yo! MTV Raps premiered it was like the cannon shot heard around the world. Or as Freddy himself tells it, "…It was a big surprise to me when I was allowed to come in and be the face of real change as far as their (MTV) programming was concerned. Still, (the show was) a strange and amazingly pivotal occurrence in the story of hip-hop. Yo! MTV Raps was not only the first nationally broadcast television show to deal exclusively with the then developing hip hop culture in America, but was the only MTV program that was broadcast on MTV all around the world" (Mac interview).

During the second week of March 1999, MTV declared it to be "Hip Hop Week" on the station. As part of the week’s festivities, Fab Five Freddy was asked to host the airing of the hip-hop movie "Krush Groove." The ironic thing about this was that Fab Five Freddy auditioned for the role of Russell in the movie, but was passed over for the part. As you very well may know, the Beastie Boys appear briefly in it as do Run DMC and LL Cool J.

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