Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, a young Hip Hop fan had much to look forward to on television after school. If you were home early enough you could catch ‘Cita’s World’, ‘Hits from the Streets,’ ‘Rap City: The Basement,’ and transition into ‘106 N Park’ video countdown all by the time your mother even thought about making dinner. These days the youth doesn’t seem as fortunate. As a youngin’, I looked forward to seeing my favorite rappers set fire with Big Tigga in the booth. Now, we wait to see them losing themselves on a ‘Love & Hip Hop’ dinner date.
Where is the Hip Hop programming? Hip Hop television has changed to say the least. Joe Budden getting punched in the back of the head by Consequence, video honeys doing reality TV, T.I raising his children, and a daily dosage of ratchet etiquette is the norm. While shows such as “Master of the Mix” and “Gossip Game” pay homage to DJs and Hip Hop journalists, they water down the work that these tastemakers do and almost never highlight the importance of them. When the commercial for “Gossip Game” aired featuring a cast of a few influential women in the entertainment industry, I was excited- hoping it would accurately depict the day-to-days of women in the music industry. Having the VH1 platform and audience, I hoped “Gossip Game” was going to show aspiring women that hard work pays off, how to build networks, and most importantly affirm that they in fact do not have to pay off sexual debts to make their impact felt. Two episodes into the season and all we’ve seen are ratchet arguments, staged dinner dates, and again Hip Hop fighting Hip Hop.
In the middle of my disappointment, I woke up the next morning to a Vh1 Rock Documentary, “Planet Rock.” The same network that channels my culture’s inner ratchetness was showing a documentary of substance with the voices of the people I wanted to hear. This made me think; Is there still quality Hip Hop programming out there on mainstream networks? Are we just overlooking it? Are we allowing them to feed us this?
While I miss mama’s basement, AJ & Free, even Terrence and Rosci, we need to realize that those days are over. Headlines consume the media more than ever now. If it’s ratchet, it will sell. Do we want to be more than a hashtag or a blog post for a few hours? It is our duty as fans and potentially people to realize what direction we are taking it in. We could live for the temporary or truly build something that lasts forever. Where are we headed, Hip Hop? -wn?