Reality TV: Good for Hip-Hop?

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I know that just by glancing at the title of this article many of you have already began cringing in your seats. I know you already hear the faint “Flavor-Flaaaaaaaaaaaaav” from off in the distance telling you how wrong this article is going to be from the get-go. There is no arguing that the hip-hop industry has had its share of embarrassing moments brought about by Reality TV. Whether we are talking about Flavor Flav on VH1’s once popular Flavor of Love showering with two women or Kanye West’s public refusal to appear on Keeping Up With the Kardashians (despite his remark that there is ‘Nothing more that I love in this world than [Kim], and me’), it seems as though Reality TV has taken hip-hop nowhere and has done nothing to truly benefit the genre and those involved. Just as food for thought, here’s a pretty good reason why Kanye has avoided making camos on Kim’s hit show.

However, there have been situations in which Reality TV has subtly and explicitly benefitted the genre and those involved. It has made some stars into who they are today, and has cleaned up the images of those whose reputations may not be accurately reflected by the music they put out or their notoriety in popular news sources. Here are a few examples of where we’ve seen this happen:

Riff Raff

Chances are if you hadn’t seen MTV’s From G’s To Gents, you probably would not have known about Riff Raff until he really hit the scene in 2011 upon signing to Soulja Boy’s label, S.O.D. Money Gang Inc.  Riff Raff has stated in interviews that he believes From G’s to Gents didn’t really contribute to his growth in popularity within the hip-hop industry, but I would say otherwise.  Immediately after the airing of From G’s to Gents, he was contacted by rapper/comedian Simon Rex, who further boosted his fame by creating the rap trio Three Loco, which included Andy Milonakis.

Their music garnered viral success via social media and youtube, and as his internet success grew, Soulja Boy—who also grew from from viral youtube success—took attention.  Now, Riff Raff has become a household name in the mouths of hip-hop lovers out there. View Riff Raff’s eclectic style in his new video for his latest single, “Tip Toe Wing in My Jawwdins”

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niHSDx4Y_zs

 

T.I.

T.I. is definitely given a bad rap and is generally ill-perceived. The media is constantly talking about T.I. and his new beef. He even tried to go after Floyd Mayweather over a few comments that were definitely in bad taste concerning relations with T.I.’s wife, Tiny.  However, T.I.’s show, T.I. & Tiny’s Family Hustle, depicts T.I .in a different light. He is depicted as good to his family and very invested in his craft. It is also speculated that the show, and possibly this depiction of T.I. as extremely dedicated, helped boost projected album sales on T.I’.s albums that were released during the first two seasons of the show.

Check out T.I.’s recently released single, “Paperwork”, featuring Pharrell.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJFg4aFU_2E

 

 

Run’s House

 

Popular in the mid-late 2000s, Run’s House depicted the life of Joseph Simmons, the famous Run-D.M.C. rapper, and his family.  This show presented the same familial atmosphere one would expect from a reality show, but it did something vital in terms of how it depicted the hip hop industry. There was a lot of time spent in the show looking at the production of music being released by many members of the family related to the events going on in their lives. What this did was show the positive side of what rap could be about. Much of Reality TV exploits the negativity that can be found in stereotyping rap artists and the lives they live, and Run’s House is the perfect example of Reality TV doing the complete opposite. Although some of the members of the Simmons family did not experience the success they had hoped the show would be able to help provide (Sorry, JoJo), some are becoming more well known, with Diggy Simmons putting out an EP sometime soon.

 

So maybe Reality TV can do some good for the hip hop industry. I think as long as there are the Run’s Houses out there to counteract the Flavor of Loves, Reality TV can continue to provide benefit to genre and those who perform it.

 

 

Image Source: nytimes.com

 

References: hiphopdx.com; laweekly.com; ltinocoenglish1.weebly.com

 

What We ThinkAlex Horowitz