For three generations, we’ve all wondered at those mysterious coordinates. “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?” the theme jingle goes. Yet for the past four-and-a-half decades, at one point or another, you found yourself parked in front of the ’tube watching Big Bird’s gang school you on the alphabet, arithmetic and other early education.
Sesame Street, the late Jim Henson’s iconic children’s show, turns 45 today. And since November 10, 1969, it’s grown parallel with hip-hop, the subculture DJ Kool Herc simultaneously brewed up in the Bronx. The two phenomena would eventually intersect, and over the years, Common, Ice-T, MC Lyte, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Wyclef Jean, Macklemore and will.i.am all made cameos. Just last month Ice Cube—also born in ’69—dropped in to teach Elmo magic tricks (and the word “astounding”) before transforming into an actual puppet ice cube (complete with goatee!).
So as Sesame Street and hip-hop both inch toward half a century, we’d like to propose more mingling of MCs and Muppets. For the TV classic’s 45th birthday, we present a wishlist of rap guests who should definitely kick it with Cookie Monster and co.—plus five more who’d be better off never GPS-ing the directions.
Segment: OVO Bert and OVO Ernie Do Numbers
Synopsis: Wearing matching sweaters, Drake, Bert and Ernie teach kids to count from zero to 100, real quick. Episode ends with Hoots the Owl perched on Drizzy’s forearm.
Rapper: Slick Rick
Segment: Stay Away from D. Rugs
Synopsis: The legendary hip-hop storyteller kicks a cautionary tale about why smoking is icky. A red-eyed Snuffleupagus kicks the habit (and begins wearing an elephant eye patch).
Rapper: Lil B
Segment: If You’re Happy and You Know It…
Synopsis: The Based God plays Master Chef, teaching young’uns how to scramble eggs and flip pancakes. He swaps the happy dance for his own cooking dance.
Rapper: Kendrick Lamar
Segment: Good Kid, Grouch City
Synopsis: To the tune of K Dot’s “i,” Oscar the Grouch learns to love himself, finally dumping his garbage can get-up and replacing it with a Muppet-sized Dickies coverall and Nike Cortez sneakers.
Rapper: Pusha T
Segment: My Name Is My Name
Synopsis: Play the name game with one half of the Clipse! King Push helps you put your name in a rhyme, whether you’re Tameka eating a slice of pizza or Jerome sitting home alone. He’s cut off after offering to teach you how to turn white squares to greenbacks, though.
Who’s not invited:
Rapper: 2 Chainz
Segment: All I Want For My Birthday Is…
Synopsis: It’s Grover’s bornday! And to celebrate, the rapper formerly known as Tity Boi brings out a giant cake, from which some scantily dressed big birds of his own jump out. Surprise!
Rapper: Kool G Rap
Segment: Saying Silly Sentences on Sesame Street
Synopsis: Known for his heavy lisp, G Rap storms off the set after being tasked with reciting the tongue twister, “Sasha sells seashells by the seashore, son.”
Segment: Spelling Beez in the Trap
Synopsis: The letter of the day is “F,” so Fab tutors children on how to spell vocabulary words like “foto,” “funy” and “fenomenal.” Ludacris makes a surprise cameo.
Rapper: Nicki Minaj
Segment: The Twerk Fairy
Synopsis: Fairy-in-training Abby Cadabby watches in awe as the Queen Barb teaches viewers how to twerk and Sammy the Snake slithers along to “Anaconda.” Oh. My. God.
Rapper: Kanye West
Segment: Elmo’s Yeezy’s World
Synopsis: After leading a chorus of children in singing the hook to “We Don’t Care,” Kanye rants for the remainder of the episode about how kids are marginalized by the school system. When Elmo interrupts, ’Ye snaps: “You ain’t got the answers, man!”
John Kennedy is a writer, editor and tortured Knicks fan who represents Queens, but stays out in Brooklyn. He’s written for Vibe, Billboard and XXL. Tweet him at @youngJFK. (Nas slander will get you blocked.)