Are Reality Shows Good for Rappers?
What ever happened to rap? I can still remember in 2005 when The Game first came out with his debut album The Documentary, my college friends and I played it nonstop seemingly for weeks as we crowned it as an instant classic and a great addition to his G-Unit partner 50 Cent. Not only was The Game something we hadn’t heard before, but it was coupled with street credibility, flow, and a co-sign from Dr. Dre, Eminem and 50 Cent and the entire West Coast. The album had some of the best punch lines, storytelling, beats, and lyrics that the mainstream hadn’t heard since the days of N.W.A., and his far-reaching audience responded well to The Game’s arrival, selling over 5 million albums worldwide. His 2008 album LAX aside, the Game has continued to receive praise and record breaking album sales from fans and critics alike, setting him up for his fifth album Jesus Piece release in December.
Call me old-fashioned but I hate seeing people in a certain context outside of said context. I mean, can you imagine Biggie having a reality show with Faith Evans in the 90s about their relationship? While that’s probably not too farfetched now, but there’s just something about seeing people that you hold to a certain standard be filmed to the same accessibility that spoiled Housewives have made famous. The Game, in 2005, represented the reemergence of the West Coast and has done his job holding it down ever since—distinguishing himself even from the popularity of his neighbor Kendrick Lamar who has been on fire this year with his debut album Good Kid M.A.A.D. City. Though The Game’s life has been marred with some of the things that a “gangster rapper” needs in order to hold such a title like aligning himself with a gang, engaging in violent and illegal street crimes, his talent and capabilities to tell a story spoke louder than his life’s tribulations.
Seeing the Game in a reality show just confirms that the mystique, hype and allure of new and up and coming artists and entertainers alike is something of the past. The new rite of passage is YouTube and Vh1, where it used to be more home grown or grassroots, now in order to be relevant in America one must have a reality show full of performance-starved producers, characters parading as normal people, exaggerated drama, and God awful gaudy jewelry. Even though the Game does not engage in the normal bickering and traditional charades that your garden variety reality show offers, however, just being affiliated with a “reality show” demonstrates the shift in our culture and the necessary access that is now demanded by fans. Call me old-fashioned but I never thought the Documentary would be documented, but with all that said, I can’t wait to hear Jesus Piece.