In step with the wave of reality shows starring black women in relationships with famous or wealthy men, VH1 debuted Love and Hip Hop this week. The show, dubbed a "docu-series" by VH1, chronicles the lives of five women connected to hip-hop either by the men they love or by their aspirations to become successful musicians.
Rapper Jim Jones' girlfriend, Chrissy Lampkin, is the show's narrator and the sassy firecracker determined to get Jim to fully commit and settle down, even if it means she has to propose to him. Fabolous' baby mama, stylist Emily Bustamente, frets over Fabolous' refusal to publicly acknowledge their eight-year relationship.
Female rapper Somaya Reece, the outspoken, voluptuous ex-fling of rapper Joe Budden, is willing to do whatever she has to — even squat in her producer-friend's tiny attic — to find success as a rapper. And the former first lady of G-Unit, singer Olivia Longott, tries desperately to reinvigorate her nearly dissolved singing career.
But one of the more unexpected roles belongs to Mashonda Tifrere, Swizz Beatz’s ex-wife, who does a turn as the Fairy Godmother of Hip-Hop Women Scorned. Her firsthand experience of losing her hip-hop lover without completely losing her mind practically grants Tifrere oracle status, and in the first episode, she doles out much-needed advice to Bustamente.
But let's be real: This reality show is far from reality, and features more of the same cattiness we've sadly come to expect from shows of this sort. The predictability is nauseating, with any seasoned reality-show viewer already knowing which cast members will clash. It's obvious that Chrissy would not take kindly to Somaya Reece's private meeting with Jim Jones, an occurrence that culminates in a verbal spar between the two in a nightclub bathroom. Naturally, it sets the stage for a season-long quarrel.
Nonetheless, Love and Hip Hop may be worth watching. The show's approach is counterintuitive for the genre. In Real Housewives or Basketball Wives, monogamy isn't outright rejected, since the family-values facade is central to their husbands' images and careers. In hip-hop, bachelorhood is the gold standard, so to get a small glimpse at these rappers' attempts at commitment — albeit lukewarm, reluctant and perhaps disingenuous — is still entertaining.
View the full video of the first episode of Love and Hip Hop on VH1. The show airs Mondays at 10:30 p.m. ET/9:30 p.m. CT.
In other news: Slide Show: Ten MCs With College Degrees.