By Bridget Bland
MTV has enlisted the help of some incredibly entertaining stars to host their annual Video Music Awards over the course of the past 27 years, and it was inevitable that some of these notable figures would have ties to the world of hip-hop.
Since the first MTV Video Music Awards, where Bette Midler and Dan Akroyd passed out Moonmen to the biggest music acts of 1984, the show has had its share of comedic geniuses on hand to host, like Eddie Murphy, Rosanne Barr, Ben Stiller and more recently, Russell Brand. They’ve kept viewers laughing in between music acts.
This year’s host, Chelsea Handler, also has close ties to the hip-hop community and, as we inch closer to the big show, we take a look at back at some of the previous years’ VMA hosts.
In 2005, MTV enlisted the help of Bad Boy Records founder Diddy to host the VMAs, which were held for the second year in a row at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. The music mogul, who has launched the careers of the Notorious B.I.G. and Mase, to name a few, also owns a posh crib in MIA. He remains one of the few non-comedians to lend his witty, fly personality to the show as host. The “Get Him to the Greek” star definitely took the gig seriously – holding a dance-off, awarding Gwen Stefani and Snoop Dogg $50,000 for the charity of their choice for winning his Fashion Challenge and sharing the wealth in the form of a $10,000 Jacob the Jeweler-designed watch given to a lucky audience member.
Chris Rock has been heralded as one of the most influential comics of all time, so it was only fitting that MTV would nail this “Saturday Night Live” alum to host the VMAs not once, but three times, in 1997, 1999 and (for MTV’s 20th-anniversary show) 2003. The Brooklyn native, who counts the Notorious B.I.G. as one of his all-time favorites, loves hip-hop so much so that he created a rap parody “No Sex (In the Champagne Room).” The “Everybody Hates Chris” creator also appeared in the video for Big Daddy Kane’s hit “Smooth Operator.”
Like other MTV VMA hosts with hip-hop connections (i.e., Chris Rock and Shawn and Marlon Wayans), Jamie Foxx also got his start as a series regular on a sketch comedy show, “In Living Color.” Foxx hosted the MTV Movie Awards in 2000 and that was such a success, he was asked to come back in 2001 to host again. And although these days he’s known for being an Academy Award-winning actor and Grammy Award-winning singer, its thanks to singles like “Slow Jamz” with rappers Twista and Kanye West and an appearance on West’s “Gold Digger,” which laid that platform for his solo platinum success.
Shawn and Marlon Wayans
Fresh off the success of their blockbuster comedy “Scary Movie,” these brothers hosted the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. They got their start on their big brother Keenan Ivory Wayans’ hit show “In Living Color,” where Shawn went under the stage name DJ SW-1 and spun the show’s tunes. He also was often a featured performer. After getting music out of his system, Shawn joined his brother Marlon and the two men struck out on their own as a duo with the sitcom “The Wayan Bros.”
For four straight years from 1988 until 1991, Arsenio Hall hosted the MTV Video Music Awards. The “Coming to America” star became the first African-American to get his own late-night talk show, “The Arsenio Hall Show,” in 1989. The Emmy Award-winning show put Hall in a position to introduce America to Lil’ Bow Wow, Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, and several other rap acts. He also became the first entertainment personality to bring President Bill Clinton on to play the saxophone.
The 27th annual MTV Video Music Awards will be broadcast live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday. The party starts with MTV News’ VMA Pre-Show at 8 p.m., followed by the main event at 9 p.m. ET.
Who was your favorite VMA host from the past? Let us know in the comments!