NEW YORK — It's that time of year again: The weather is getting colder, days are becoming shorter and legends of hip-hop are being honored.
The premieres Monday at 10 p.m. ET, and rehearsals were held Wednesday and Thursday at the Hammerstein Ballroom to make sure the honorees were recognized in style.
Those being honored this year include Slick Rick, the late Isaac Hayes, Too Short, De la Soul, Cypress Hill and Naughty by Nature. This is the fifth class of legends to be nominated; past honorees include Snoop Dogg, the Wu-Tang Clan, Run-DMC and Rakim.
"We're here to be a part of something historical," Gym Class Heroes frontman Travis McCoy told MTV News. "It's like the all-star game of hip-hop."
Another West Coast act being honored is Too Short, whose career has been anything but. The MC has been in the game for more than 20 years, spawning hits such as "Short Dog the Pimp" in the late '80s and a guest spot on Snoop Dogg's "Life of Da Party" earlier this year.
A video was played during the rehearsal in which Naughty by Nature recalled being accosted by New York crowds early on in their career because they were from New Jersey. They eventually grew to be loved, no matter where they performed.
While Slick Rick and De la Soul rehearsed their sets, Wale, Busta Rhymes, Spliff Starr, ?uestlove, Bun B and Biz Markie mixed and mingled. The ballroom was more like a family reunion then a rehearsal.
The only non-rap artist being celebrated is Isaac Hayes, and while the late musician never spit a bar, his work helped inspire many MCs. From the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Warning" to the Geto Boys' "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," Black Moses had a lasting effect on hip-hop.
While Biz Markie played a sample of one of Hayes' songs, a cipher featuring Mos Def, Busta Rhymes and others broke out. The Biz playfully stopped the beat, interrupting the freestyle session causing participants to yell, "Yo, keep playing that!"