“Reality rap” was once a phrase invoked by gangsta rappers to defend their music against moral outcry from the mainstream media and pesky suburban dwellers. These days, the term largely refers to the slew of emcees lining up to star in their own TV shows. While Boogie Down Productions associate Heather B gets a nod for posterity for her role in the first-ever season of MTV’s The Real World, and the sight of Run-DMC’s Rev Run closing out every episode of Run’s House by lazing in a bubble bath and typing out motivational mantras on his Blackberry has inspired its own Twitter feed, most times the results are a lot less decorous. So in somewhat celebration of the March 15th release of the debut album from $hamrock, the winner of Ego Trip’s The (White) Rapper Show, here’s a batch of rappers playing themselves.
The (White) Rapper Show‘s Dildo
Atlanta resident $hamrock may have technically won The (White) Rapper Show, but in the realm of melanin-deficient mockery, it’s vanquished contestants John “King of the ‘Burbs” Brown and obnoxious braggart Persia who earned the most shudders. After Persia takes offense at Brown’s “ghetto revival” spiel (which somehow involves a reference to couscous), she starts to freestyle-battle him, spitting something along the lines of “John Brown is the bitch and the clown of the house/I got a dildo in my drawer, I can put it in your mouth.” Which, er, she then proceeds to do. (Skip to around the seven-minute mark of the clip for the sloppy stuff.) If you were wondering, the dildo ended up being allegedly auctioned off on eBay; Persia was later sentenced to five years of probation after being caught with a loaded handgun; and John “I’m not a rapper, I’m an entity” Brown remains either the greatest-ever reality-TV-show ringer or hip-hop’s most deluded wheat-grain advocate.
Flavor Flav: Deadbeat Dad
Public Enemy hype-man Flavor Flav’s services to reality TV are more extensive than most, taking in an appearance on The Surreal Life (wherein he got intimate with Sylvester Stallone’s ex-wife, Brigitte Nielson), a spin-off show based around their ensuing tryst called Strange Love, and then the lonely-hearts vehicle Flavor of Love. But it’s the day he decided to take Nielson to church to meet his family that resonates most depressingly. Before leaving, Flav warns Nielson, “I don’t want you to go there smelling like that — no drinking or smoking.” It’s advice she heartily ignores, deciding instead to sup down white wine and then a sipper of brown liquor before entering the church. Some of Flav’s children turn up, one wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Winning Against Deadbeat Dads.” At that point a full-on slanging match goes down, with Flav accused of only giving his kids $50 a month in alimony, to which he responds by calling their mother a “greedy bitch.” This all occurs while Flav is sporting a black-and-white, pin-striped suit and hat ensemble straight out of the pimp-chic handbook. Chuck D, as you’d expect, was not pleased.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Welfare-Check Run
Here, MTV lucked out by shadowing the Wu-Tang Clan’s chief rogue for a day, during which he decided to rent a limousine, pack it full of his numerous kids, and then go pick up his welfare check and food stamps. This was while ODB’s solo debut, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, was still percolating around the top of the charts. As the late legend himself put it, “Rich, you know what I’m sayin’? Just look how I’m living, baby, you know what I’m sayin’?”
50 Cent’s The Money and the Power
As 50 Cent himself is fond of reminding people, he’s proved savvier than most rappers with business aspirations, not least with banking an estimated $400 million from his investment in Vitamin Water’s parent company, Glaceau. His attempt to translate that financial acumen into the competitive reality-TV show format proved less successful, however, with his Apprentice-styled show quickly canceled by MTV. The main problem was that every time Fif’ threw what should have been a ruthless insult at a hapless wannabe music mogul — “One handful of shit does not equal a fistful of dollars!” “You look like a poor man’s Lil’ Kim!” — he looked like he was biting the sides of his chipmunk cheeks to avoid breaking out laughing. An impromptu push-up contest, the sight of 50 himself wearing the classic businessman’s garb of an Argyle sweater-vest, and cameos from G-Unit investment banker Tony Yayo only served to seal the show’s premature fate.
Ice-T Presents Mac Repair
Gangsta-rap icon Ice-T’s official contribution to the spectacle of rap reality TV is Ice-T’s Rap School, a spin-off show inspired by Gene Simmons’ Rock School. In some exec’s idea of an abrasive culture clash, it features Ice — a veteran of the mean streets of L.A.’s Crenshaw area, no less! — teaching a bunch of privileged preppy kids from a posh New York school about the art of rhyming. But it’s Ice’s own straight-to-YouTube channel, FINALLEVELTV, that takes the spoils. “Everyone has wanted to break their computer one time — I just did,” explains Ice in the highlight clip’s preamble. What comes next is a sterling example of a simple concept executed with stark economy: After frugally saving the laptop’s battery and explaining that “We’ve removed as much data from it as we possibly can,” Ice takes a hammer to his laptop and studiously rips it to shreds; his second buxom wife, Coco, can be heard almost crying in the background. Alas, a follow-up clip featuring Ice surfing the MacRumors forum looking for advice on how to jailbreak his iPhone has yet to hit the net.
Diddy’s Cheesecake Escapade
“By the time y’all get into Brooklyn, y’all can pick me up some cheesecake.” So instructs hip-hop’s most sweet-toothed of moguls, Diddy, whose insatiable hankering for Junior’s cheesecake sees him ordering Making the Band‘s aspiring artists to walk from midtown Manhattan to downtown Brooklyn to satisfy his stomach and ego. (“I like it strawberry,” Diddy adds, in the greatest ad lib he never whispered at the start of a Bad Boy remix.) More alarming, photographs soon emerged showing real-life rats frolicking inside the cheesecake counter at Junior’s.
Three 6 Mafia’s Adventures In Hollyhood
After scooping an Oscar for their Hustle & Flow soundtrack song “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp,” the Memphis rap mainstays sought to capitalize on their growing mainstream profile by moving to Hollywood and letting the cameras in on their rambunctious world. But things didn’t pan out quite as they’d hoped, not least with Juicy J and the boys soon getting kicked out of their rented abode after Big Triece, the group’s personal assistant and real star of the show, pees in next-door neighbor Jennifer Love Hewitt’s garden. (“Bad bladder,” he offers in mitigation.) After only eight short episodes, the group head back home to Memphis, possibly after having deleted Del’s “Pissin’ on Your Steps” from Triece’s iPod shuffle.
Cooking With Coolio
“You ain’t cooking with fire, you ain’t cooking with grease, you cookin’ with Coolio, motherfucker!” So signs off the “Gangsta’s Paradise” rapper after finishing up his Tricked-Out Westside Tilapia dish. In the only cooking series to include the phrase “knead it like your wife’s butthole,” Michelle Pfeiffer’s all-time favorite rapper also whips up Swashbucklin’ Shrimp, Cool-A-Cado, and Spinach Even Kids Will Eat (all recipe titles the chef’s own). Although after being caught with crack cocaine at LAX in 2009, there’s possibly an edgier take on a cookery show in the wings.
Coach Snoop Dogg
Having spent nigh on two decades presenting himself to the world as a weed-sozzled and pro-pimpin’ rapper, Snoop Dogg would seem an unlikely candidate to make the move into the world of amateur youth sports coaching. His credentials for the transition remain unclear after Coach Snoop, clad in a Roc-A-Wear tracksuit, yells at his kid’s football team to stop “talkin’ about vampires and Halloween.” Then the gangly rapper explains that his role in the organization is to “put the calmness in it” — hopefully not too calm, though.
Salt-N-Pepa: Whatta Manhunt
In which the female rappers from the heart of Queens are reunited on camera, with Salt (who has found religion and sobriety in life) deciding to help Pepa (who has endured a series of bad relationships, including a three-year marriage to Naughty by Nature rapper Treach) in her attempts to score a suitable man. Salt tries to hook Pepa up with a pastor at her church and offers advice like, “You know how we didn’t pay attention to red flags in the past?” In response, Pepa coins gems like, “A guy hit me in the head with a can of paint, and you know that story.” In hindsight, this one should have been a Nora Ephron movie.