All Articles Tagged "love and hip hop"
Now that we’ve said goodbye to 2014, it’s natural to use some retrospection to help guide us in the new year. Well, reality television can be a catalyst, not only for foolishness, but for lessons learned.
With that written, here are some of the lessons that reality television taught us last year.
Sil Lai Abrams, journalist, domestic abuse advocate and founder of Truth In Reality, doesn’t have any grand delusions that people will completely tune out of reality television. Nor is she really looking to shame anyone with a moralist message about virtue and respectability.
With that said, she does believe that reality television is creating a narrative around womanhood, particularly Black womanhood, that is both damaging and dangerous.
And through the Redefining HERstory Campus Social Action Program and Education Tour, Abrams is looking to inspire young people to – at the very least – think critically about what they are consuming.
On her campus tour, which began late last month at Grambling University and will be making its second stop tonight at 7 p.m at Kent State University tonight (Kiva Auditorium). The aim is media literacy. And during tonight’s event Abrams says she is looking to engage students in conversation on how sexist and racist stereotypes sometimes play themselves out on many of these shows.
After the event, the conversation will continue online for weekly #RealityInTV Twitter chats, where Abrams along with guest experts and media personalities including Roland Martin, discuss topics related to rape culture and institutional oppression, sexism in the media and male accountability. And it will continue on campuses as well, with watch parties and guest speakers, who will drive home messages related to anti-violence and women empowerment.
While the aim is to raise awareness and to alert young adults in particular to what she believes are destructive themes, the ultimate goal is to get young people, particularly young Black women to create counter narratives of their own to what they see in the media.
“Since folks are going to be watching it anyway, you might as well watch it and analyze it with them. It’s not about shaming or passing judgment. But as media consumers, you have to know what you’re watching and what the potential impact is having on how you view situations in real life,” said Abrams.
Like violence against women.
As Abrams suggest, the fairly recent rise in smack down and drag out relationship-themed reality television, like “The Bad Girls Club” and the entire “Love & Hip Hop” franchise, has created a narrative, which appears to both condone and normalize Black love steeped in violence and dysfunction. We laugh, mock and make snarky comments about how these women “deserve it” on social media, but rarely do we consider the context.
Like Mimi Faust from the wildly popular “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta,” who was stuck for 16 years in a traumatic relationship with music producer and fellow cast member Stevie J. Many people ridiculed her for staying in a clearly emotionally manipulative and abusive relationship for so long. However rarely did anyone consider that prior to landing a spot on the series, it was likely Faust was a pretty economically insecure single mother and that alone made her more susceptible to Stevie J’s exploits.
And then there was the much publicized domestic abuse incident involving former “Basketball Wives” stars Chad Johnson and Evelyn Lozada. Since Lozada was known for jumping on tables and basically bullying her fellow “wives” on the show, viewers had trouble seeing her as a victim in her real life relationship with the former football star.
“Basically most of the commentary around these incidences sided with the abuser and her perceived lack of proper behavior and decorum were viewed as the culprit. That is a direct result of conditioning,” said Abrams, laying out the connection between reality television and abuse. “There is extensive research, which suggests the viewing of violent images against women increase male aggression towards women. So these reality television shows, which feature violent images of women of color are contributing to the normalization and reinforcing of negative stereotypes that men who are violent or predisposed to violence use to justify and rationalize their abuse.”
There is also more nefarious correlation stemming from these images, which has little to do with abuse, said Abrams. In particular, the White gaze. She recalled a friend’s story about being in Eastern Europe and being confused with “Real Housewives of Atlanta” television star NeNe Leakes – in spite of looking nothing like her.
“It was the only point of reference they have for a Black American woman. So we have to remember that for lots of people, who never come into contact with Black people, this is the only narrative that they see. And that shapes perceptions of us,” she said.
Abrams said that she is no stranger to the lives lived by many of the characters on these reality programs (you can watch this short tour promo clip, which explains more her personal story). Her past includes being a former high school drop out, who struggled with an alcohol dependency issue before going into modeling and eventually the music industry, She was also a single mother with little education as well as a survivor of sexual assault and violence. Those vulnerabilities are the major reasons why she does not sit in judgment of their choices.
But she is concerned about whether or not, these images, which are highly edited, filtered and even scripted, are really letting us see these women’s full humanity or are these women just caricatures, being exploited for cheap entertainment. “There is a lack of balance in the portrayed. When go across all media, we are portrayed as centers around historical racist stereotypes which have been recycled and rehashed for entertainment today,” she said.
With violence infiltrating every aspect of popular culture and media including sports, film and music, It’s hard to say if the onus of these negative images lands squarely at the feet of Mona Scott Young. However Abrams is certain that violence has been a driving narrative of young women, between 18 to 49. She notes that “Love & Hip Hop” is tied for number three in ratings besides WWF wrestling.
“So when the top shows we consume are centered around patriarchy and pushing patriarchal themes, it’s easy to see how abuse is normalized and even how this culture of rape is shaped. That’s why it is imperative that we address the young people, particularly women, to let them know that this sort of behavior is not okay.”
Although a final itinerary has not been finalized, Abrams said the Redefining HERstory tour will be making a number of stops on campuses across the country. She also hopes to work with local organizations in vulnerable communities to reach out to even younger-aged women and men.
In the meantime, Abrams is offering a free downloadable media kit, which was created by developmental psychologist Dr. Scyatta Wallace of JANISAW, a consulting company specializing in leadership development and life skills programs for teen girls and young women, to help educators, youth counselors and other folks have similar conversations with young people in their own communities.
“Even before we take action, first we need people to understand that there is a problem. And then you have to engage them and then they have to become personally invested in the issue. Because what we are talking about here is personal agency. We can’t say that we want greater and more varied public images of Black women and women of color in the media, if we keep supporting those images we don’t want.”
When singer Olivia, the former first lady of G-Unit, joined the original installment of Love and Hip Hop in New York in 2011, she was joined by her manager and good friend Rich Dollaz. He supported her career when other people weren’t feeling it and was even crying over the state of it in one scene from season two (“I put my life on hold so you can win! I just want you to win!”). But as the show went on, she focused on trying to build her career while he made the poor choice to work with and sleep with Erica Mena. Eventually, these two drifted apart and instead of doing so peacefully, things got ugly. Just last month Rich threw some subliminal shade the singer’s way:
“Looking 4 n excuse why u don’t succeed when the answer is right there it’s U ur wack u have no personality nobody f-ck with u rip ya career.”
Well, in a chat with The Breakfast Club to promote her new book, Release Me: My Life, My Words, Olivia spoke on falling out with her former friend and manager. She also randomly revealed that she dated “It Wasn’t Me” singer, Shaggy, for THREE years, but that he cheated on her. She also said that she and 50 Cent almost made something happen back in the day. Here are the details:
Her Years Dating Shaggy
“That was my man for like three years. That was the first older dude. You got to try one. But he was a cheater.
He never had a password on his phone. You know old ni**as, they don’t know no better. So something told me to check it. I had a gut feeling one day when he was in the shower and I was like, ‘let me just look on the counter real quick.’
I just left. He came out the shower and was looking for me, he came out the crib and was banging on my door. I wouldn’t f**k with him.”
Her Time On “LHHNY”
“It was another stepping stone. I’m not mad I did the show, I’m just a little upset at what it turned into.”
If Doing Reality TV Hurt Her Career More Than Helped It
“No, it didn’t. “December” came out on the show, it was #1 of course. Then “Walk Away” came out, #1 again. Then I took the song from ol’ girl [Erica Mena], that went #1 too, so that didn’t change nothing. They miss me in the music. I’m still doing the music. But they didn’t take me seriously because of your boy [Rich Dollaz], that had nothing to do with me.”
How Rich Dollaz Changed After Getting On The Show
“That’s not the guy that I knew. We were super cool. When I tell you that was like my brother…so to see certain things transpire and just to see him act a fool or want to do things for the ratings or want to be around certain people for the ratings, it rubbed me the wrong way. I was like, ‘if this is what you want to do, then you go do that by yourself. I don’t want to be a part of it.’ It’s unfortunate. You can’t get mad if we out and they want my picture and not yours. They don’t know you. You’re the manager! I never understood that.”
Crushing On 50 Cent While In G-Unit
Yeah, he was cute. We was having a conversation just saying you know, ‘I’m attracted to you.’ Okay, ‘well I’m attracted to you too, but we can’t do nothing cause it’s going to mess up everything.’ So we left it there.
You can check out Olivia’s chat with The Breakfast Club below. Do you think reality TV changed Rich Dollaz and hurt her career?
We told you earlier this week that VH1 is bringing you yet another installment in the “Love and Hip Hop” franchise, and that is the Hollywood version of the show. It will star Ray J, Soulja Boy, Omarion and many more people trying to make moves in the industry. VH1 described the upcoming program, which will debut on September 18 at 8 p.m., like this:
“A new group of R&B and hip hop hopefuls have their eyes on the prize and are ready to deliver the shock, drama and scandal as only the #1 social show of the summer can do. With the music industry constantly evolving, these artists’ unwavering ambition keeps them hustling to stay at the top and willing to lay it all on the line.”
And just that quick, a teaser has been released of what viewers can expect from the show when it finally premieres. In it, we see quick glimpses of Soulja Boy, Ray J and Omarion moving around with the women in their lives. And near the end of the short trailer we find out that Omarion’s girlfriend, Apryl Jones, doesn’t get along too well with her man’s mother, Leslie Burrell. When asked how by Jones how she feels about her, Burrell tells her, “How I feel right now, I do not like you.”
Not going to lie, this show looks like it will be entertaining (with a side of ratchet), and wherever Lil Fizz goes, my eyes will follow. But check out the teaser for yourself below and let us know if you think you will tune in come September.
Love & Hip Hop Hollywood
This cute little guy is Kameron, the son of former B2K member Lil Fizz (he was the one with the curly hair always trying to rap).
Fizz’s real name is Dreux Frederic, and he will be one of the new cast members of “Love and Hip Hop Hollywood” alongside the likes of Ray J and former B2K bandmate, Omarion. He has been doing the independent rapping thing since the group split in 2004, as well as a little bit of acting (did anybody see Steppin: The Movie? Yeah, me neither). And during that time he had a son, cutie Kameron Frederic, with ex-girlfriend Moniece Slaughter. The little guy is growing up fast, and as you can see, he looks a great deal like his handsome pops. Ten years later and I’m still out here fawning over Lil Fizz. He still looks good!
But back to the task at hand…check out more shots of Kameron and his pops below and on the next page.
Though known most for their larger than life personalities, crazy drama, and wild antics, reality television stars are more than just primetime entertainment. Many of them have successfully launched their own entrepreneurial ventures, helping them to branch out beyond the television world. One example is Erica Dixon, cast member on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and founder of Klass 6 Hair and Klass 6 Dress Line.
We caught up with Erica to ask her about the inspiration behind the “Klass” lines, what’s she learning about running a business, and advice she has for ladies who want to start their own ventures. Check out the interview below.
MadameNoire (MN): How did your experience on Love and Hip Hop inspire you to start Klass 6?
Erica Dixon (ED): Being on a reality show, seeing others have that motivation to go ahead and pursue whatever their dreams or aspirations were [inspired me]. Klass 6 was something that I always wanted to do. I wanted to put something out there for the ladies. With Love and Hip Hop, I had that platform [and audience] to go ahead and do it. I told myself that I was procrastinating. What was I waiting for? Let me go ahead and do it.
MN: What made you focus on fashion and hair with Klass 6?
ED: I did hair and fashion because that is what I am all about. I’m a female. I love to have my hair done and I love to have on a bada$$ dress. I’m not going to sell a dress or hair to somebody that I wouldn’t wear or buy. When you see me, I always have my hair in. I may not always have on one of my dresses. I do like to help other brands, but the majority of the time, you will see me with my own products.
K. Michelle’s biggest “problem” is that she is loud, unapologetic and at times obnoxious. But one thing I will give her is that she is rarely wrong.
Okay, she can be wrong as hell at times, but she is at least on the right track. In this case, I’m speaking in particular about her off-the-cuff comments made indirectly about Iggy Azalea. According to Necole Bitchie, the R&B singer and reality television star wrote this on Twitter about the Australian MC:
“How can you be from another country and rap like you’re from Memphis TN? But u don’t hear me though #offended”
That is a good question, but not everyone thought so. Just ask gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who replied back to K. Michelle saying, “@kmichelle I think you chose the wrong hashtag and meant to say #jealous instead! x”
Zing! Honestly, it went on a little too long from there, with the both of them zinging each other until they got bored and moved on to zinging someone else. Nevertheless, the main gist of Perez’s critique of K. Michelle’s tweet was that she was just jealous and bitter because she is not as successful as the “Fancy” rapper is.
Is K. Michelle bitter? Maybe. According to Yahoo, the 23-year-old rapper from down under is the first act since the Beatles in 1964 to hold the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (the two singles are “Fancy,” which is #1 and Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” which features Azalea, and is at #2). The article also says that “Fancy” is #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. With that kind of momentum, you could certainly understand why the R&B singer’s eyes might be a little green.
But according to Billboard, K. Michelle’s Rebellious Soul album debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 album charts and number 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts respectively, which is not bad for an artist, who was mostly known before the album release for shaking tables on Love & Hip Hop ATL (and an even briefer stint on Love & Hip Hop NY). Plus, her singles really didn’t get lots of radio play. And K. Michelle didn’t get many major endorsements from mainstream publications – although the gossip blogs and sites always kept her name relevant, which I imagine contributed to album sales. Azalea, on the other hand, would be embraced and celebrated in even the most un-hip-hopiest of places like Forbes Magazine, which would also use its platform to brashly declare that she “runs” a genre, which women have been grinding in forever; a genre where Nicki Minaj is still active (and has sold an impressive amount of albums), and a genre of music that has helped our most legendary femcees thrive.
Point is, K. Michelle has had some big success in her career – not as much success as she could have had already, and likely not as much success as Azalea is going to have. And granted, K. Michelle has had some “issues” over the years professionally. Some people have said she is difficult. She’s said some things to fans on social media that aren’t too nice. And her performance on Love & Hip Hop was oftentimes described as brash, slick talking, made-up like a Barbie and ratchet. However, isn’t that the image that Azalea sells to us?
Or at least parts of it. The marketable parts. Like the Southern accent. The dialect. The mannerisms. The styling. Even down to the big ol’ booty. Azalea, who just a few years ago was just another blond haired, blue-eyed struggle rapper in her home province of South Wales Australia, has been able to come to America and grab all sorts of attention – and all the financial gains, professional opportunities and open doors, that comes with it. And she has been able to do it while there are countless of hungry and waiting originals littering the ‘hoods and urban areas of America. I mean, if this is not the prime example of how our jobs are being shipped overseas then I don’t know what is…
And sorry folks, bouncing for a few years (seven to be exact) around the South before hooking up with T.I., moving to Cali, and signing a modeling contract with Wilhelmina is not struggling. Even for a natural born citizen, those are some extremely long odds. Nor is it enough time to adopt language patterns – which only seem to come out when you are rapping. That is just mimicry mixed with plain ol’ affirmative action and branding. Oh, and a bit of novelty sprinkled in with it all too.
So yeah, K. Michelle should be offended. And quite frankly, we all should. Not because Azalea is a white girl rapping, but because she should be able to rap in her own voice and dressed in her own roots and language patterns and find an audience. And the black, brown and yes, those authentically ghetto white girls too, should not have their art, culture and identities separated from them and commodified by society, which does not want to give proper attribution or allow for them to share in the profits. And I’m not talking about mass media and the record companies. I’m talking about us folks, the consumers of these images, who continue to support the minstrelsy of poor folks from the ‘hood while simultaneously hating the actuality of their lives.
K. Michelle has me about to cry in this mug. Today, just in time for Mother’s Day weekend, K. Michelle released a new single called “A Mother’s Prayer” dedicated to her son Chase. The visuals show a single mother working hard to raise her son until she, with the help of the boy’s father, send him off to college. Not only are the visuals beautifully done, the lyrics are very touching.
Last night I prayed on a fallen star
That you’d never have a broken heart
Though the world gets cold just remember who you are.
And I pray that you never have a rainy day and
No matter what the people say
Even when it hurts, it’ll be ok
The first time I saw you
I knew my life had changed
I would have been dead and gone
But I found purpose when I brought you home
And even though I’m not there to tuck you in everyday
I’m not far away.
This is what a mother prays
When I’m on the road
And can’t see your face
This music will never take your place
I love you Chase
I love my Chase
So sweet. Here’s what K. Michelle had to say about the song.
“My son Chase is the center of my universe. My fans and media don’t often see him in the spotlight with me and that is because I work really hard to keep his childhood as normal and carefree as possible. I think the most difficult part of my job is not being there each night to tuck my son in, but the sacrifices I make while working are all with his better interest in mind. Being a mother is the most challenging and rewarding part of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
I can certainly respect K. Michelle keeping her son away from the limelight. People can be cruel. You can check out the video below. And then tell us what you think about the song, pass or play?
The majority of our televisions remain glued to VH1 for their reality shows like Basketball Wives LA and the Love And Hip Hop franchise. Despite the success of all its shows, documentaries and editorial content, Variety says the network has laid off over 10 staffers. These lay offs occurred in the New York location in the development department. Two major executives, Brad Abramson and Kari McFarland, who were the vice presidents of VH1 East Coast production and development, were included in the staff who were let go.
In a statement released to Variety, a VH1 spokesman said:
“With ratings on an upswing and the pace of development increasing cross platform, we felt it was the right time to examine our overall production and development structure in New York. It’s imperative we accurately structure our teams to deliver the content that our growing number of viewers want from VH1 today.”
You can take away from the statement that, with the network’s success in the 18-to-49 age group, they need team players who are willing to take risks in order to remain relevant. VH1’s programing chief Susan Levison who was hired last year, has focused on restructuring the network. Therefore, she hired television veteran Nina Diaz who serves as the senior vice president of East Coast production and development. The network plans to hire people with the expertise in multi-platform programming because they plan on expanding the use of its app.
Last season of Love And Hip Hop New York, left us with tons of drama we were glad we didn’t have in our personal lives. The main story line and love triangle of LHHNY’s season 4 revolved around Peter Gunz, Amina Buddafly and Tara Wallace and during the reunion show, Amina Buddafly announced she was pregnant with Gunz’ child after he told viewers his relationship with Buddafly was a mistake. Despite these circumstances and Gunz continuously denying their relationship the two have remained together and it actually looks like Gunz might have the potential to be a decent father based on his Instagram posts.
Today he posted a sonogram picture of his and Amina’s new bundle of joy, allowing fans to pour in their love and support. In the caption for the photo he simply wrote: “My wcw… its a girl!” which is breaking news for fans who were curious about the gender of the couple’s first child together. Though we still don’t have a due date, we can’t help but wonder if their might be a premiere date in the works for some sort of Peter + Amina + baby reality show. You know Mona and VH1 love a spin-off…Either way, congrats to the happy family!