One of America’s greatest treasures left us on Sunday (Nov. 8). Iconic television personality and game show host Alex Trebek passed away after succumbing to a nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer at 80 years old.
Having hosted a number of game shows in his career like “The Wizard of Odds,” “Double Dare,” “High Rollers,” “Battlestars,” “Classic Concentration,” and “To Tell the Truth,” he was mostly known as the host of “Jeopardy!” which he hosted from 1984 until his death. Over that time, Trebek became one of the most popular and well-known fixtures on television with millions of viewers tuning in to the show on account of his welcoming presence.
As Trebek became a major fixture in pop culture, people from all walks of life began claiming him as their own including the hip hop community, which has shown its respect for the now-late star on numerous occasions. From some of the greatest rappers of all-time peppering his name and references to “Jeopardy!” in their lyrics to others being diehard fans of the show, hip hop’s embrace of Trebek is longstanding.
First incorporating hip hop into the show in 1988 with a clue related to The Fat Boys, and taking things a step further with a category dedicated to the genre in 1992, “Jeopardy!” was one of the first mainstream programs to acknowledge its existence with Trebek as the voice ushering in this progression. Since then, Trebek and “Jeopardy!’s” relationship with the culture has only grown stronger.
While we’re unsure who the next host of “Jeopardy!” will be or the direction the show moving forward, what we do know is that Alex Trebek will forever be considered a beloved and honorary member of the culture for his contributions in helping spread hip hop to a global audience.
Here are 13 of Trebek’s most memorable hip hop-related moments during his illustrious run on “Jeopardy!” that will never be forgotten. Rest in power.
1. Trebek Shares His Knowledge of Rap Beefs
What’s beef, you ask? Well, when it comes to that of the rap variety, Trebek was well-versed, as evidenced by the clues given for the “Hip-Hop Feuds” category of one episode. The category touched on the backstories of some of the most notorious rap beefs of all-time including JAY-Z and Nas, Ice Cube and N.W.A., LL Cool J and Canibus, 50 Cent and Fat Joe, and Eminem and The Source Magazine.
2. Trebek Does A Medley of the Greatest Hits of the 2010s
Since “Jeopardy!”s inception, Trebek displayed a certain confident calm and swagger that has set him a part from the pack. However, when the show began incorporating rap-related questions and categories, the host began to flex his flow, particularly in a segment on the “Jeopardy! College Championship” episode called “Let’s Rap, Kids!” Spitting bars from some of the most popular rap songs of the previous decade including “Started From the Bottom,” “M.A.A.D. City,” “6 Foot 7 Foot,” “Famous,” and “Panda,” Trebek’s delivery was so smooth that it prompted fans of the show to place his rhymes over the actual instrumentals of those songs, resulting in another viral moment for Trebek.
3. Trebek Raps Lyrics From Cypress Hill, The Notorious B.I.G., MC Hammer, and Beastie Boys
As part of “Jeopardy!’s” Battle of the Decades edition, Trebek spit a few bars on the mic while reciting lyrics from some of the greatest rap anthems of the early ‘90s. While the most prolific “Jeopardy!” player of all-time Ken Jenning aces the whole category outside of “Sabotage,” hearing Trebek spout off key rhymes from classics like “Insane in the Membrane” and “U Can’t Touch This” is the true highlight of this clip.
4. MC Trebek In The Hizzouse
During one College Championship edition of “Jeopardy!,” we discovered what the title would have been if Trebek ever recorded a rap album: MC Trebek In The Hizzouse. In addition to being the actual name of a category on the show, it’s a role he assumes while rhyming lyrics to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” Nelly’s “Hot In Here,” Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice,” Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right,” and LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” — even adding a bit of improvisation where necessary.
5. Trebek Goes Viral Rapping “Jumpman”
Being that Drake is arguably the biggest star in music today, anything that’s deemed trendy or entertaining that’s related to the 6 God tends to blow, and Trebek confirmed this on all levels in this specific moment. When giving the tip to a trivia question about the Champagne Papi, Trebek reels off a few bars from Drake and Future’s 2015 hit, “Jumpman,” which sounded good enough to have been included on the record itself despite the host admittedly missing one of the “Jumpman”s in his delivery. The clip in question went viral, introducing a whole new generation to the exploits of MC Trebek.
6. Trebek Pokes Fun At Nerdcore Hip Hop
Being efficient at delivering a timely punchline is one of the many similarities between being a rap artist and a game show host, and during his legendary run, Trebek showed his ability and willingness to get off a great joke on numerous occasions — even at the expense of an unsuspecting target. One contestant, Susan, found this out firsthand when she shared her passion for nerdcore hip hop, which she described as sub-genre for people “who identify as nerdy, rapping about the things they love — video games, science fiction, having a hard time meeting romantic partners.” After hearing Susan’s description of nerdcore hip hop fans, Trebek responds, “Losers, in other words,” before attempting to lighten the blow by assuring that the jab was in good nature.
7. Trebek Penalizes Contestant For His Lack of Slang
Trebek’s street cred got a significant boost upon taxing a contestant on the show $3,200 for not properly distinguishing the difference between a paradise where gangsta’s live in harmony, and a paradise for “gangsters.” This mix-up, spurred by a trivia question involving Coolio’s massive smash from the soundtrack of the 1995 film Dangerous Minds and poet John Milton’s 1667 collection, “Paradise Lost,” was a display of Trebek and the show’s respect for the nuance within hip hop culture.
8. Trebek Raps Migos and JAY-Z
In light of Trebek’s viral clips rapping lyrics, Business Insider sat down with the legendary host and got him to read aloud lyrics from songs like Migos’ 2014 chart-topper, “Bad & Boujee,” and “I Got The Keys,” DJ Khaled’s blockbuster collaboration with JAY-Z and Future. Acknowledging the clips popularity within the pop culture canon, Trebek admitted that he had no idea what he was reciting after reading off lines from “I Got The Keys,” which made his proficiency and knack for flow even more impressive and lighthearted.
9. A Contestant Confusing Queen Latifah For Ellen Degeneres
Being an award-winning actress, host, and one of the greatest rappers of all-time should make you a household name and a pretty big deal to even the most casual followers of pop culture. Unfortunately, a show contestant named Emily missed that memo about Queen Latifah while answering a question on “Jeopardy!” by mistaking her for Ellen Degeneres, who has never had a rap career, making it one of the more egregious fails from Trebek’s tenure as the host.
10. Kid Cudi Gets Mistaken For Uncle Kracker
Another major lowlight on the part of a contestant when it came to their rap knowledge was when Myra mistook Kid Rock affiliate Uncle Kracker for Kid Cudi, who, aside from being different races, make entirely different styles of music. Also, the fact that Uncle Kraker’s picture was shown as a clue makes this case of mistaken identity even more unforgivable.
11. Trebek Becomes A Member of #FutureHive
When Future’s single “Mask Off” became a sleeper-anthem, inspiring a viral social media challenge and various references to the song in pop culture, Trebek revealed that he was a devoted member of #FutureHive by properly pronouncing Future’s government name, Nayvadius, while asking a trivia question on “Jeopardy!” While the contestant, who mistook Nas as the creator of hits like “Turn On the Lights,” continued the show’s trend of stumping participants with hip hop related questions, Trebek’s nod to the Freebandz general lends further credence to his status as one of rap’s favorite game show hosts.
12. Trebek Runs Through The Classics
The ‘80s and ‘90s were the decades when hip hop exploded into a global phenomenon. “Jeopardy!” contestant Mary aced the rap lyrics while Trebek spit lines from “The Message,” “Juicy,” “No Sleep Til Brooklyn,” “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” and “Timebomb.”
13. Trebek Raps Theme Song From “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
One of the more iconic sitcom theme songs for the hip hop generation is the opening of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” rapped by Will Smith himself. So, when Trebek reeled off a portion of the verse. as we all like to do from time to time, while providing the clue to a question, the moment was an indelible one and was a reminder that beyond the camera, the host was truly one of us.