I have been watching reality television since “Flavor of Love” hit our television screens. It’s been one of my guilty pleasures from a break from the “real world” craziness that is life. I consider myself one of those people who hates drama in my personal life but doesn’t mind seeing it unfold on television. I know it’s terrible, but they make it hard to turn away. Long gone are the days of women fighting for the love and affection of Flavor Flav, however that doesn’t keep networks from trying to fill the void it left behind.
Yes, I understand reality television isn’t exactly real. After taking a sociology class called Pop Culture my freshman year of college, I received a crash course in how they make reality television and trust…it’s very manufactured. Those producers are very tricky when it comes to getting that “money shot.” I know most people might think that would’ve turned me off, but it intrigued me even more. I went from just the casual viewer to trying to dissect how these reality shows are made.
I can’t stand to watch every one of them though, because some of them are more over the top then I care to see. The Love and Hip-Hop franchise has gotten so over saturated it’s not even funny, they lost me years ago. There is no music just messy love triangles and cat fights. I have pretty much lost faith in the whole VH1 network with the same recycled storylines because they are running out of ideas. However, WeTv has been on the rise with more interesting shows Marriage Boot Camp, The Ts Maddison Experience, and Growing Up Hip Hop.
The Growing Up Hip Hop franchise has been on air since January 2016 and I can’t help but ask myself is it running out of time? I first became interested in the show when it featured the original cast: Romeo Miller, Master P, Dame Dash, Boogie Dash, Pepa, Egypt, Kristinia DeBarge (of the DeBarge family) and T.J Mizell (Jam Master Jay’s son). The premise of the show was about the lives of kids with legendary Hip-Hop parents as they conquer the world under their own spotlight on their terms. Since then, there have been numerous seasons and spinoffs from Atlanta to New York. Thus, leading to an expansion of the cast and more explosive drama all originating from the popularity of the original show in Los Angeles.
Although, the spinoffs have gained notoriety, it has led to Los Angeles having to up the ante. This has unfolded in cast changes and even messier storylines. Most of these cast changes have been to its detriment. After Romeo and Master P left due to the producer’s constant fabrication of a romantic relationship between Romeo and Angela, the show has suffered a huge blow. Master P spoke out against the producers and exposed them in a video for trying to make this into something while Angela was grieving her former fiancé’s death. Their departure from the show has since left a big void to fill, as their presence was one of the most positive because they showcased a great father-son bond as well as Black business ownership and its importance to the culture. They have since tried to fill this void by adding a gang of characters, but their spots can’t be replaced.
The adding of new characters to the mix has made it hard to follow because they all have their own storylines that aren’t necessarily entertaining but serve as fluff instead of giving extra camera time to those who are the actual entertainment. The only talent they have is inciting drama and chaos, which is bound to happen on a reality show, but it’s been overbearing this season with the messiness.
Season six has been all over the place, because of the addition of characters and their lack of storylines. Sakoya and Savannah have been the firecrackers because almost every scene they are in an argument or fight breaks out. Sakoya is the daughter of JoJo Hailey (from K-Ci & JoJo). Sakoya’s storyline has yet to be flushed out. Savannah is Stevie J’s daughter, who was once reality gold, on “Love and Hip Hop.” Savannah is just like her father knows how to stir drama up for some camera time. Her personality on the show comes off as spoiled, entitled, and plain rude. Her original storyline revolved around how she was earning her money and a potential romantic spark with Boogie Dash, but now it’s been all about her telling other’s business.
On last week’s episode twenty-two “Twist & Shout,” her issues with Sakoya unfolded into a fight at Lil Twists’ freedom party after they had a show down about a twitter beef earlier in the season, which could have been avoided. Savannah was very disrespectful for bringing up Sakoya’s son in their argument, which is usual for her to step beside her self, causing the chaos to turn violent. If I didn’t like her already, this really sealed the deal for me because kids should always be off limits especially if you don’t have any. Parents are going to defend their kids, and the conversation was already tense with Savannah standing over Sakoya inciting her to act by telling her she wasn’t going to do anything. They are both way too much for me, and their camera time should be severely reduced.
On the other hand, one addition that is proving to be very fruitful is the presence of Lil’ Twist. Twist is very laid back in most of the scenes that he is in, giving the show a very much needed fresh look. He brings a lot of lighthearted moments to the show with his comic relief. I must admit I have been rooting for Lil’ Twist since his early Young Money days with hits like “New Money” and “Love Affair” back when I was in middle school. Lil’ Twist has that star quality to be quite the reality personality, but also a great rapper in his own right. Lil’ Twist has been featured on the show since season four, and has proved his spot on the show to be irreplaceable.
He’s being given a second chance after his troubled past and jail time; he is ready to turn his life around. When the show gets heavy with drama you can expect him to keep everyone laughing. Twist is often the one getting everyone together with his parties and means well although some of these gatherings end in drama, he still tries to play peace maker. He is one of the reasons I still watch the show because he isn’t focused on fighting with the cast, and he has great relationships with most of them.
If anyone deserves their own show it should be him for the simple fact that he makes great television. I would like to see him on his road to redemption and musical comeback which seems very promising with his single “Street Kontrol.” I could see him using this platform as a launching board to present his new music and growth from the teenage version we were introduced to in the past.
Another member of the cast I enjoy watching is Briana Latrise. She is the daughter of Kendu Issacs who the former manager and ex-husband of Mary J. Blige is. She is the most misunderstood on the show often being labeled as an alcoholic and troublemaker, but other than Lil’ Twist she keeps it the most real. She is open about her past as an addict and holds nothing back when she is given her two cents. Briana is quick to call somebody out but doesn’t mind owning up to her own narrative. She has come a long way on the show from showcasing her issues with addiction and being a victim of domestic violence. I identify with her as a creative who is serious with her art. She is a wonderful artist who does it all from painting, photography, to music. Briana does not fit any of the boxes or labels, she is truly a one woman show.
Briana Latrise also has her own incense business called The House of Blk, which is thriving with her homemade incense, sage, and other products. I am glad to see her being true to herself and the show giving her the role of narrator on the episodes. I just wish they would focus less on the addict storyline and more on her hustle as an artist because she is one of the few who has stepped out of their parents’ shadow. She is also one of the few women on the cast who doesn’t care about showcasing a materialistic life but is focused on showing who she truly is hair combed with weave in or not. She deserves more camera time on things that matter in her life whether it’s an art showing or promotion of her black owned business, hopefully WeTv will stop dropping the ball with her.
While I won’t touch on every cast member without it turning into a never-ending essay, I can’t leave out Sam and Egypt. Their storyline on the show has officially run its course. I had high hopes for Egypt who is the daughter of Pepa and Treach, but Sam is weighing her down. He is an instigator, who cannot stand on his own. Sam is living off Pepa and Egypt, instead of doing something to provide for Egypt as her soon-to-be husband. He causes a lot of problems on the show and has also caused a rift in the family specifically Egypt’s close relationship with her cousin Tee Tee. Egypt can really thrive in her career as a model and musician without him in her corner, but only time will tell.
I don’t know if Growing Up Hip Hop should be canceled, but it needs to be revamped. As it stands now, I don’t think the show will survive many more years on cast additions alone. There appears to be too many cooks in the kitchen. Their purpose has yet to be identified because the fights for camera time are taking away from others who have promising storylines. The way I see it Lil’ Twist and Briana Latrise are the show. I will stay tuned to see if the second half of season six can turn itself around, because I don’t want to see it go downhill the way most reality shows do.
Source: Videos and Images are from WeTv’s Growing up Hip Hop/YouTube
Beautifully written post! I agree with your detailed review and think that growing hip hop needs to be revamped as well.