On this date in 1989, BET debuted Hip Hop’s youngest syndicated video show, known best under the name Rap City, which was a spin-off of Rap Week hosted by long time BET VJ Alvin Jones aka “The Unseen DJ.” Rap City was an underdog competitor to MTV’s Yo! MTV Raps, however, the appeal of Rap City was not only the guest DJs but more importantly Rap City‘s catering to the up and coming rappers seeking some shine to get on.
Rap City featured numerous hosts including the original “Mayor of Rap City” comedian Chris Thomas, Joe Clair, Big Lez(Leslie Segar), and the longest tenure was held by Big Tigger. Lasting almost two decades, Rap City’s coveted freestyle booth, otherwise known as “The Basement”, was where guests on the show would go in the booth and unleash their bars, luring hosts Joe Clair and Big Tigger into their zone to spit their hottest off the dome bars.
BET canceled Rap City in October 2008, airing its last episode in November 2008, ironically hosted by Big Tigger and special guest Eminem. BET replaced Rap City with The Deal with DJ Diamond Kutz, however, to little fanfare.
Salute to the pioneers of Hip Hop visuals at BET and everyone who was a part of making Rap City a piece of Hip Hop History!