I'm not a fan of the vh1 reality shows in all honesty. Ever since the Flava of love part whatever, I've felt they have been trafficking in ratchetness and absurdity, highlighting the worst parts of people, and especially urban artists and wanna-bes. Even more specific, the black woman has been a target of their degradation. Now, this isn't to really say none of you should watch it, I'm just stating how I feel about it. This is the water cooler talk, the conversation on 'black twitter', and in high school lunch rooms around the country. As a half an hour or an hour of escapism, it is what it is, but the problem is it is serious and not just a moment to release. These people become the new idols and role models in our culture.
Now I wasn't intending to talk about the young ladies on the show or their effect on the culture overall but rather the effect on the careers of the rappers who are regulars on this farce of a show. The first season featured Jim Jones and Juelz Santana in limited roles. We can both see where the careers of those two are right now, down the drain. In taking it to Atlanta, we witnessed the ending of what was left of Lil Scrappy, Stevie J, and Benzino. and now one of my favorite rappers, Joe Budden has shown up to embarass himself amongst this mockery of television programming.
Why is this a mockery? First off the situations these people are put in are so unlikely and unbelievable. Just about every episode there are two women talking to each other about where their personal relationships went wrong, usually at some mid-level lounge with a conspicuous amount of fellow customers who are halfway paying attention yet don't seemed alarmed by the raised voices. It's this, while I'm trying to go to sleep, I see my wife watching this nonsense with Joe Budden and Tahiry going over their failed romance once again. The entire exchange is so forced it's almost hilarious as Tahiry throws her glass down and storms out, knocking dishes over in the process. It's bad enough to be stormed out on, but the pitiful acting job Joe does of trying to feign surprise is just awful. Then there are the vests. The entire episode has a plethora of vests of failure.
When you look at it, reality tv from artists doesn't do anything for their careers because it forces us to acknowledge their flaws and over exposes us to the things about them we had an inkling that we might not like. Through music, we get snippets of their lives and it is presented in a package that puts everything in a 'past light'. On a Reality show, these things seem much more immediate and to see the artist going through the warts instead of just telling us of how they overcame said issues. It brings them down from the pedestal that we put them on. Watching Stevie J scrunch up his face or go and ask Benzino for advice (in the most unmanly way as possible) isn't the image of masculinity that an artist, especially in the arena of hip-hop, that needs to be seen because it isn't what's expected. Does that mean it's wrong? Nope. It's just awkward to watch and while women may enjoy watching Scrappy fight over a woman on TV, the male fans whom he relies on see him as making a sucker move. No one wants to support the sucker.
Trying to use a show like love and hip-hop as a platform for a mix tape or album just isn't the proper channel. Just showing up there reeks of desperation and attention whoring. It's even more confusing to see Budden, who is at the highest point of his career, on the show truly airing out what same may consider his 'suckerness' that he normally channels into his music. From the cheesy set ups to listening to the people on the show struggle to recite 'lines' to make things interesting it all serves to ruin the fragile image he has been able to craft over the years. It really shouldn't be that different, but it is.