5 Fantastic Late Show Hip-Hop Moments

David Letterman and Jay-Z

David Letterman and Jay-Z

The '80s saw the concurrent rise of two highly influential movements that would shape entertainment for the next 30 years, AND they came from the same place. Yes, the New York hotbed of creativity launched both hip-hop culture and David Letterman's brand of innovative comedy, both changing the way media is presented and how society communicates forever. The handful of times these two juggernauts intersected, it was absolute television magic.

While the final episode of The Late Show with David Letterman aired last night, bringing Letterman's broadcasting tenure to an end, we at Gimme Noise have decided to continue the conversation with our five fantastic Late Show hip-hop moments. These five made us just as happy as when Lizzo made her national television debut on the show last October.

Puffy's Top Ten List, 2001 During the sample-heavy heyday of Sean "Puffy" Combs's Bad Boy Records, it seemed like anything was fair game to appear on a Puff Daddy track. Well, almost anything. Before he was media darling Diddy, Puff was typically seen as being very serious, making his 1998 Top Ten List "Things You'll Never Hear on a Puff Daddy Song" all the more surprising and hilarious.
Letterman Coins "Funkmaster Flex Night," 1993 If you listen to New York hip-hop radio, you've probably heard David Letterman's voice more times than you realize. DJ Funkmaster Flex has for decades used the dry vocal sample of some adult male saying "Funk...Master...Flex Night," and it wasn't until very recently that the source came to light. The sound clip comes from Letterman's interview with Rosie Perez; it's very funny.

See also: 11 Memorable Bob Dylan TV Moments

The Beastie Boys Bring It to The Five Boroughs, 2004 Fellow eccentric New York originals, the Beastie Boys made a number of appearances on The Late Show over the years. Some were more instrument-based, some were experimental (including giving Paul and Dave cameras to film the performance), but our favorite has to be their big 2004 return to the show that saw them coming up from the subway and entering the theater for some nonstop "Ch-Check It Out" action.

Jay-Z, Letterman, and Network Television's Realest Hip-Hop Conversation, 2010 By his seventh and final appearance on the program, Jay-Z became one of Dave's best guests. Their relationship was built on a mutual dry wit and shared a desire to cut through the talk-show facade turned their interactions into the most respectful of bromances. Throughout the years, Jay covered everything from the fallout with R. Kelly to the real reason behind his retirement to his marriage on the show with more candid directness than he'd ever given any hip-hop journalist. But his last appearance to promote his 2010 book, Decoded, allowed Dave and Jay to discuss how Jay came across his craft and brought the realities of life in Brooklyn projects to every home with a TV.

Will Smith, at the Least Likely Time, Gets Jiggy With It, 2015 Finally, when longtime friend of the program Will Smith came to surprise Dave to promote his latest film a few short weeks ago, his stroll to the couch took on a different action. As Paul Shaffer and the band played Smith's 1998 hit "Gettin' Jiggy With It," the former Fresh Prince started dancing and surprised the audience with his entire classic first verse. The brevity of his performance shows a subtlety that could only happen on Dave, and is another reminder why he'll be missed.


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