This will be fun
Consider Khia. I loved her 2002 single “My Neck, My Back,” a disgusting sex song as cold as it was nasty. The track’s beat was luxuriant spaceship electro stuff, its pinging synths meshing beautifully with its heartbeat drums and fake-Timbaland bass-thumps. The thing would’ve worked just fine as an instrumental, but Khia’s vocal was what put it over the top. In a flat, affectless, matter-of-fact monotone, she demanded that some dude lick her asshole in the plainest terms possible. Off the top of my head, I can’t name another sex-song quite so completely lacking in emotion. It was like Khia considered analingus to be her birthright; hardly any male rappers can maintain that level of detachment when they’re talking about this stuff. In heavily edited form, “My Neck, My Back” managed to rack up some pretty serious airplay, something I just can’t imagine happening now. After that song, Khia didn’t quite disappear, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of reason to pay attention to her in recent years. She did some horrible single with Janet Jackson, she had meaningless beefs with a few other Southern female rappers, and she gave a whole lot of hilariously self-aggrandizing interviews. And now she’s a contestant on the reality show ego trip’s Miss Rap Supreme, competing against a bunch of women who have never been anywhere near a contract. This is weird. Khia’s been talking about how the show is a great marketing opportunity for her, but she’s not going to get any good attention from it unless she wins the thing, and even then she’s not exactly going to be catapulted back to the top. And she’s not going to win the thing. On the show’s first episode last night, she had to write a verse on the spot, and she basically just said “respect me” over and over. It was weird and funny and uncomfortable, and she would’ve been sent home if the German chick didn’t forget her lyrics. Also, she acts like a complete asshole to all the other contestants, she looks like a dinosaur, and she’s made me think that she might actually be mildly retarded. Plenty of quasi-celebrities have made asses of themselves on reality TV, but I can’t think of any who have done so quite this spectacularly.
Khia’s participation in Miss Rap Supreme is probably the most fascinating thing about the show right now, which is saying something. I’m sort of ridiculously amped for this show, to the point where I completely forgot to watch the CMT Awards last night because I knew the premiere episode was coming on. Last year, the ego trip people came out with The (White) Rapper Show, probably my favorite reality show of all time. The (White) Rapper Show had a lot of fun with a self-consciously ridiculous premise, but that didn’t stop its contestants from gradually becoming sympathetic or its final elimination from developing some serious good-vs.-evil overtones. Even if the show had its foundation in snark, it became impossible to stay annoyed at all the candidates when the show’s producers were exposing them to every humiliation they could think of every week. And the show also made room for plenty of rap-dork pandering; I have especially fond memories of Bushwick Bill’s cameo on the make-a-video episode. A year after the show wrapped up, none of the contestants has gone on to do anything notable, give or take a few viral John Brown videos that I didn’t watch. But that’s beside the point; the show made us care about all these freaks even as it piled consternation on them. Miss Rap Supreme should operate differently from its predecessor. By switching the focus from white rappers to female rappers, the ego trip people have created a bigger challenge for themselves. The white rap dude is sort of a mass-culture cliche, and it’s long been OK to make fun of them, but there’s no real model stereotype for the female rapper, and the show probably won’t be so quick to make them look ridiculous. But this year’s cast of contestants seems to bring the same mix of sincerity and delusion as last year’s, and it’ll be fun to see what ridiculous challenges they’ll have to face.
I didn’t much like the first episode of The White Rapper Show; it seemed at first like a shrill parade of stock one-dimensional freaks, and the contestants only got to develop personalities later. The same is basically true of this year’s show; it’ll get better as the shittier contestants get eliminated and we get to know the remaining ones. Right now, there are just too many contestants and too many shitty rappers. And this show suffers from comparisons to The (White) Rapper Show in a few other ways. MC Serch is blessedly still around as a host, but the acid Prince Paul has been replaced by the bland and generic Yo-Yo, who wasn’t actually ever all that popular herself. It’s sort of lame that they’re staging the show in LA rather than New York. The first couple of fights between contestants were pretty fun, but there hasn’t yet been anything as severe as Persia smacking John Brown in the head with her dildo. And someone really needs to come up with a catchphrase as soon as possible; it’s hard to quantify how much all John Brown’s “Hallelujah Hollaback” stuff brought to the table last year. There could also stand to be some more actual rapping. My early favorite is probably the Lady Twist, who does the Midwestern double-time thing really well, but we haven’t yet seen her rap for more than like two seconds. Some of these problems will probably fix themselves as the show goes on, and some won’t. But the timing of it, this show starting just as the end of the writers’ strike is manifesting itself, means we’ll finally have some good shit back on TV. Also: Khia! Seriously! What the fuck!