All Articles Tagged "love and hip hop"
As told to Veronica Wells
I’m very fortunate to work in a pretty diverse environment. There are people of all races and backgrounds and even the people that are different from me, are liberal, accepting and openminded.
Of course, there are still White people. And my problem– if you want to be dramatic about it–is less about them and really more about me and how I believe I’m being perceived under their White gaze.
Let me explain. The phrase “water cooler talk” is real. In our office, which is pretty large, we have a full kitchen. And it was during what was supposed to be a quick snack break that one of my Black coworkers cornered me in an entertaining conversation. It started off rather innocently. My coworker, Roger, a gay man in his forties, was quietly humming a tune that sounded vaguely familiar. I listened, craning my neck to get closer to the sound.
After a few more seconds I realized it was Karlie Redd’s infamous “Pop Them Tags.” (I don’t know if that’s the official name of the song. But that’s how I know it in my heart and mind.) Immediately, I joined in on the chorus. “Louis, Gucci, Prada, Louis, Gucci, Prada. Pop them tags. Pop them tags.”
I was in a good mood so I added a convincing two step to go along with it. My coworker fell out! Literally. He flung his upper body on me in a fit of laughter. I had to steady myself so I didn’t tip over under his weight.
Now, we work in media. So this level of jubilation went unnoticed by our other coworkers. Somebody is always cuttin’ up.
Once we had composed ourselves and were able to speak again, my coworker exclaimed, “I had no idea that you watched ‘Love and Hip Hop!'”
“It’s not something I generally talk about at work. But yes, I love that show. I know it makes me feel a whole lot better about my own life.”
We were so deep into our conversation, happy to have found a common bond, that I didn’t even notice one of our other coworkers, Stacy, a White woman, walked in. Stacy’s always been cool people. So she felt comfortable jumping in the conversation.
“What makes you feel better about your own life?”
I literally felt my heart drop.
I was not about to tell this White woman that I watch “Love and Hip Hop.” For several reasons. I, one, didn’t want her to tell me she watched it too and begin throwing embarrassing stereotypes in my face. And I, two, didn’t want her to come home and catch the latest episode only to come back with quotables; or even worse, the assumption that I watched the show because I somehow saw myself in those personalities.
So I swallowed hard before saying, “Oh, just this show we both watch.”
Not really getting the hint, Stacy asked a very logical question, “What show?”
Roger, sensing the desperation of the moment, distracted her with a question about actual business.
“Stacy–I’m sorry to interrupt– but I’ve really been meaning to ask you about the feedback you received from that presentation you gave last week.”
There was a moment of hesitation before, Stacy, happy to talk about herself, launched into another story.
I finally filled my cup with water and narrowly escaped back to my desk. But not entirely comfortable.
Later, Roger sent me a text.
“These White folks can’t know everything.”
I nodded. He was right. But was it really so terrible for them to know that we watch and enjoy trash tv, like most Americans watch and enjoy trash tv? But another part of me knows that Black people aren’t seen like most Americans. The few spaces we occupy can end up reflecting the entire race in the eyes of the ignorant and unexposed. Our experiences are the same but perceived differently.
I pride myself on living for myself, abandoning respectability politics and being unfazed and unbothered by the White gaze. But today, when “Love and Hip Hop” and our enjoyment of it came up in the discussion, I realized there are still parts of me I have to hide.
We’re sure you already knew this but Erica Mena and Bow Wow are done. And in true former reality star, washed up rapper fashionm they’re using their social media platforms to talk about their breakup.
And then this one where she turned up a little bit.
Somebody was mad.
And what was Bow Wow doing during Erica’s outbursts? Well, he was galavanting about with his baby momma. He posted a picture of them in the club, left a comment under an Instagram video, with a bouquet of emoji flowers. He even flirtatiously called her “punk.” You know, in the same way dudes would call you “big head” not really knowing how to express their true intent or emotions.
Then earlier today, Bow Wow posted another image of himself and his baby momma hanging out in what looks like a home. There are no receipts but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the basement that Bow Wow and Erica occupied during their courtship and engagement.
Well, if she was being sly or coy before, that picture sent Mena over the edge. (Which makes me believe that it was indeed the basement.) Within the same hour, she tweeted this.
Don't be bitter,I'm allowing you to collect what's left of those CBS checks. I'm not showing the world who you really are.Be grateful for it
— Erica Mena (@iamErica_Mena) December 10, 2015
It’s funny Erica is talking about CBS checks, when Bow Wow was the one who made her walk away from that VH1 “Love and Hip Hop” money. Wonder how she’s feeling about that now.
Then, as if that were enough. She’s also alleging that he beats women.
I don’t feel comfortable saying whether or not this is true, so I’m just going to leave this here. I do feel comfortable saying that everyone involved in this situation is a hot mess.
When these two first got together, I knew they would never make it down the aisle. And here we are. With shots and allegations being fired.
What’s so interesting about it though is that both Bow Wow and Erica were on this very public crusade against his baby momma, so it’s funny that she’s the exact one he went running back to. It would be even more interesting if she were indeed the victim of his abuse.
These two are something else.
What do you make of all this?
As we told you last week, Love and Hip Hop New York star Mendeecees Harris was sentenced to 97 months behind bars after pleading guilty to narcotics conspiracy. The eight-year sentence was part of a plea deal he made earlier this year. Harris has since issued a statement about his conviction, stating that “I completely accept responsibility for all that is going on. My transition to be a better person a productive person started well before this case.”
But right before his sentencing, Harris and wife, Yandy Smith-Harris, were asked to share how they were coping with his legal woes and how they would cope once Harris was sentenced and had to report to prison. VH1 filmed their responses.
Yandy said that this time around, things would be different with her husband away because she could at least be prepared. In fact, the couple has already started to prepare themselves and their family for his time away:
“The toughest thing about being married and then having this gloom over you of the unexpected future is you never want to internalize living alone once you’ve got into a commitment with your best friend. The person you want to wake up with every day of your life for the next 60 years if you’re so blessed to have. So when I was told that I might have to spend one night without my husband, heartbroken is not even the word for it.
I sometimes put myself in a fairytale box where I don’t think about the negative. I don’t think about what could happen. I live for what’s happening. And what’s happening is, we have beautiful children. We have a wonderful marriage. We have a wonderful home that I actually love. So the thought of not having that–any bit of that missing, would break my heart.
This will be different from before when Mendeecees went away. This time, I can prepare myself. I can prepare my life. We’ve already started to prepare. I think knowing is half the battle for me, but the unexpected is what I really couldn’t deal with and where I had a hard time.”
As for Mendeecees, he said that filming this season of Love and Hip Hop was difficult because he went through a lot with his case. And while he wishes he wasn’t in his current predicament, he’s learned a great deal from his choices and their repercussions:
“It’s a lot of stuff going on with this case. Cameras in my face. You have your good days and your bad days.
You have days where you don’t even think about what’s going on, and then you have the days when you actually are stressed about your current situation.
This was a rough season, one minute you’re happy, the next minute you’re sad. You don’t know what tomorrow brings. It was just an emotional rollercoaster.
I’ve been out for almost two years. Been working. Been doing a lot of positive stuff and leading by example. I never asked to be in the predicament that I am. I thought I was doing everything right, but sometimes–I really can’t make excuses for why I’m here. But I learned a lot. ”
The Harris family is spending as much time together as they can before Mendeecees has to start his eight-year bid, including doing charity work in Harlem and bonding with his kids. If you want to see how Yandy and Mendeecees deal with this crushing blow to their family, you can tune into Season 6 of Love and Hip Hop New York, which premieres Monday, December 14 on VH1.
Check out their remarks about Mendeecees’s legal woes below:
Two seasons of Love and Hip Hop Hollywood have brought every bit of drama Mona Scott-Young’s bank account could have hoped for. Whatever our reasons for watching (I watch to unwind, so, no judgment!), we tune in weekly to watch the racy and the ratchet do what they do best: make complete and utter fools of themselves for millions of us viewers. What we don’t realize is that too many young couples tune in week after week, watching dysfunctional relationships pan out, believing that the drama, the rollercoaster ride, the “real” and unresolved internal issues are normal. Like the following “situationships”:
Singer Ray J is looking for any and every moment to be in the spotlight, and clearly he doesn’t mind what he’s famous for as long as he is. Pair that low ambition with his childish ways and you have the makings of one of the worst relationship role models ever to grace ratchet TV. He has cheated on Princess consistently for two seasons. He’s manipulated her and put her in more than one awkward situation with his exes. Yet, he continues. Why?
Princess Love, though she seems to be a real sweetheart, admittedly has paternal issues she is trying to work through. On one of the final episodes of the second season, she realized that she had issues with her father that needed resolving, put her foot down and told Ray J she needed to be alone.
But not so fast.
According to last night’s Love & Hip Hop Hollywood reunion, the couple is not only together, but they’re engaged. He has written her a song, and they’ve professed their love for one another on Instagram. And yet, smiling while sitting on one of the plush reunion show couches, Princess admitted that Ray J is a bad influence on his friends when it comes to staying faithful.
This foolishness has become the new normal, what many young bloods are aspiring to and that is a huge mistake. Yes, reality TV is mostly for entertainment, but the cycles of brokenness it can promote definitely are no laughing matter, especially within the Black community.
Former B2K member Lil’ Fizz referred to women he has been casually dating as appetizers and main courses when explaining to former girlfriend Khamiya why he was not ready to settle down with her. To his credit, during the reunion show he apologized for what he said, stating that he would never want a daughter of his to be referred to in such a disrespectful manner. Apologies aside, the fact that his original statement has become the go-to way that a lot of men look at and interact with women has thrown a major wrench in how we communicate and build relationships. Too many of us lack the ability to think about building relationships because we’ve been basing our communication on texting and social media: I’ll get back to you, with half answers, when I’m ready messages; social media likes and DMs — “He liked three of my pictures in under one minute, I think he likes me!”; and the romanticized one-night stand. While reality television and social media makes this all look so glamorous and “cool” we are actually suffering major setbacks and malfunctions due to short attention spans and non-committal behavior.
And to anyone who watched this season, it is clearer than ever that Moniece Slaughter has been crying out for help for some time, and it’s no laughing matter. While some of the things she’s said (“I want you to stay…forever!”) to Rich have been quite funny, the underlying issue is not. The girl is at war internally. She’s at war externally. A young mother who is trying to balance what being a parent entails while trying to pursue her dreams and secure a loving relationship. Who’s to say if she should even be pursuing a romantic relationship until she has done the self-work necessary to be whole?
One huge lesson Millennials can learn from Moniece and Rich Dollaz’s connection is that one cannot rush or manipulate a relationship into growing faster or lasting longer than it is meant to. Reality television has warped our perception of relationships, and we believe they grow perfectly and fully over a few nights of drinks, dinner, and sex. Wrong. All wrong.
But no twisted “relationship” hurt my heart more than Nia Riley’s situation with rapper Soulja Boy. Constant and shameless cheating. A refusal to commit. And don’t get me started on the verbal disrespect. Soulja Boy called Nia Riley everything but her name when she confronted him about cheating on her with her former best friend, Nas. And after viewing the episode in which R&B legend, a.k.a., Nia’s father, Teddy Riley, tries to talk some sense into his daughter about Soulja Boy’s less than caring ways, the rapper responded by tweeting “F— Teddy Riley. That n—- lame.”
Stereotypes are reinforced, and all of the wrong things are condoned: It’s ok to throw a hissy fit when you get caught in a lie and are told that you’re wrong. There is no need for calm discussion and understanding. And when all else fails, call people names because THAT’S how you win an argument. Take no responsibility for improper behavior. Make no real effort to treat your loved ones better. Just curse them out, throw some jewelry on them, and rely on the fact that they care enough for you that they’ll be back.
Take these shows with a grain of salt. They are entertaining on the very thin surface, but just beneath are a host of traumas and internal struggles that are not meant to be made fun of, lauded or applauded. Understand that there is more to love AND hip-hop and that we’re all made for greater.
Follow Ashley on Twitter: @ashleylatruly
You know, I wanted to like Erica Mena. For a second there, I thought she could be a misunderstood woman trying to make her way and feed her family through reality TV. However, it’s her shenanigans off-camera lately that are a bit unsettling. Ever since Shad Moss, aka, Bow Wow popped the question, she has really been feeling herself. And while there’s nothing wrong with being happy about a new chapter and winning romantically, she hasn’t been a gracious winner. In fact, she’s been a bit mean: to her exes, to her former castmates, and as I found out this week, to the mother of Bow Wow’s daughter, Shai. I tried to hold my tongue, but after watching her tell another woman that she’s “just a BM,” I can’t deal. Hey, sometimes finding love can go to your head (check out our comical video on the subject). But the following behaviors are not a good look. Ladies, here are 10 things you shouldn’t do once your man puts a ring on it, as inspired by Erica Mena.
In the real world when engagements don’t end in a marriage, it’s something like a scandal. A big one. Speeches have to be made, explanations have to be given and everything else. But in the world of celebrity, particularly reality stars, engagements rarely end in marriages. Did you notice? Check out the couples who just couldn’t seem to make it down the aisle.
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