The news of a rapper-packed revamp of Hollywood Squares has been greeted positively, not least because everyone has been able to join in the fun of Googling the demographic term “malennials” to find out if they are going to be allowed to watch the show. It’s also allowed some people speculate on which special secret rapper will get to occupy the show’s hallowed center square! So before Hip-Hop Squares premieres next month, here’s a look back on past instances of pre-fame and established rappers testing their mettle (mental and otherwise) on TV game shows.
6. Snoop Dogg on The Price Is Right
“The ranch is about two dollars, no more than two dollars for the dressing.” So advises Snoop Dogg, sizing up the price of a bottle of Hidden Valley ranch dressing. Taking to his role as celebrity guest with gusto, the Doggfather also confers with the crowd over the price of a pizza crust and decides that six dollars is “a good number” for a box of bird feed. Possibly not down to Snoop’s supermarket smarts, the contestant wins and rides off in a Cadillac in which Snoop had earlier hammed it up. It’s called wholesome family entertainment, people!
5. Master P and Lil’ Romeo on Halloween Squares
When you really put in the work and scrap through to the bottom of the ol’ barrel, you reveal, well, No Limit general Master P and his rapping son, Lil’ Romeo, appearing on a Halloween-themed edition of Hollywood Squares. While Ellen DeGeneres dons a wig of dreadlocks to hold down the center square, P and his progeny fluff a question about the second-most-used bill in circulation. But bigger indignity comes when the duo, clad in lurid red and yellow sportswear, is upstaged by Hulk Hogan sporting the same color scheme but embellishing his outfit with a feather boa.
4. Ice Cube on Chris Moyles’s Quiz Night
In which Dr. Dre’s old gangsta rap raconteur, Ice Cube, attempts to decipher a description of high cultural arts as explained by Dr. House’s old comedy partner, Stephen Fry. Alas, after Fry’s turn, Cube kinda cheats by sneaking a peek at host Chris Moyles’s answer sheet! The ever-adaptable power of street knowledge, eh?
3. Mr. Complex’s Hip 2 The Game
The hip-hop quiz show that never was, Hip 2 The Game was the brainchild of Pharoahe Monch’s longtime sparring pal Mr. Complex. Hooked around the idea of three rappers competing to answer questions about hip-hop culture (complete with the obligatory round titled Know The Ledge), a pilot was cut that included promo spots from De La Soul’s Posdnuos, DJ Premier and Common. Alas, none of the music networks bit on the idea when Complex pitched it around.
2. The Game on Change Of Heart
Even cold-hearted gangsta rap practitioners can get lonely, and so it was that Jayceon Taylor, who’d later go on to rap as The Game, appeared on the romantic reconciliation show Change of Heart back in 1998. Sporting his best black and white Hawaiian shirt, J.T. is subjected to a near-half-hour barrage of abuse and criticism from his ex-girlfriend, who opines how “he always [tries] to act extra macho and he’s not, he’s really sensitive.” The spot provided much amusement when 50 Cent stumbled across the footage during his drawn-out beef with Game.
1. Every Rapper Ever on The Weakest Link
A special episode of The Weakest Link provided a glorious watershed moment in the annals of rappers being allowed on TV: Reverend Run, DJ Quik, Nate Dogg, B-Real, Da Brat, Xzibit, Young MC and Jermaine Dupri faced off. Things the audience learn: Nate Dogg thinks the periodic element Pu represents water; Run is convinced Mount Vesuvius is in Great Britain; Xzibit knows a lot about Tupperware; and rappers are quicker-witted than Anne Robinson’s writers. (Sample jab from Robinson: “Nate Dogg, why are you keeping your hands in your pockets?” Nate’s response: “So I won’t steal nothing.”) Be warned, Hip-Hop Squares: the standard has been set.