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Bravo’s ‘First Family Of Hip Hop’ Looks To Bring The Sugarhill Records Empire Back

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The thought of a reality TV show about hip hop could possibly split some old school fans into two, like those Kermit the Frog memes from 2016. Instead of the rational Kermit and the hooded, shady Kermit, fans would split into Rational Adult vs. Old School Fan. Those distinct perspectives would possibly preview Bravo's newest reality show, First Family of Hip Hop, with this ensuing dialogue:

Rational Adult: The First Family of Hip Hop?

Old School Fan: Oh, I know! Russell Simmons, Reverend Run and Diggy?

Rational Adult: No.

Old School Fan: Ummm. The Millers: Master P, Silkk the Shocker, C-Murder and Romeo?

Rational Adult: No.

Old School Fan: E-40, B-Legit, Suga T and D-Shot?

Rational Adult: Nope.

Old School Fan: Well, then who is the First Family of Hip Hop?

Rational Adult: The Robinsons.

Old School Fan: Who?!

Rational Adult: The Robinsons.

Old School Fan: The family behind Ruff Ryder Records?

Rational Adult: Nawl. Joe and Sylvia Robinson of Sugarhill Records.

Old School Fan: Ooooooooohhhhhh. Wait. Hold up. Did they pay Grandmaster Caz yet? You know his rhymes made the song.

Rational Adult: I'm not sure. I don't see why they would. Big Bank Hank said the rhymes were his.

Old School Fan: Yeah. Imagine that, claiming rhymes where you spell out someone else's name. Hmph, isn't that something. What about Wonder Mike and Master Gee? Did they get their names back yet?

Rational Adult: I don't know! Let's just watch...

Maybe those will be the thoughts of a handful of hip-hop heads as they tune into First Family of Hip Hop when it premieres on Sunday, January 15th. Some old school fans may alternate between defiant B-Boy stances or their heads down with a fist raised for the artists who got shafted after doing business with Sugarhill. While the rational adults will be possibly boo'ed-up on the sofa watching the show being somewhat surprised that Sugarhill still exists.

The show starts well because it is impressive that years after the label's last hit, the money is still in the family — a big-up to generational wealth. Then again, viewers that are parents will look at Joe and Sylvia's grandchildren and shout, "Those kids are spoiled!" But given the whole Empire-like premise of the show, the spoiled-kids-wanting-to-run-the-label storyline seems predictable. However, the Robinson's are compelling enough that perhaps the tug-of-war between the senior executive versus the young upstarts can work. Some characters are layered and intriguing while others are predictable, one-dimensional, and typical reality TV archetypes. The ingredients for formulaic reality TV are in place: relationship drama, over-glamorized characters and conflicting egos. However, the potential for something engaging or at least as endearing as T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle used to be, is also evident.

It may not be enough for some old school fans to relinquish their grudge against Sugarhill Records. People with young adult children still living at home may empathize with Leland Robinson, Sr. and his children's shenanigans. Divorcées may appreciate that a scene with Leland Sr.'s ex-wife and his recent girlfriend does not succumb to the cliched drama of wig snatching and champagne tossing. Building or re-inventing the company can set this series apart from others; that can be the winning storyline. Relationship drama and bedazzling but shallow caricatures can doom the show to being seen as reheated reality TV banality. Will it become Run's House or Luke's Parental Advisory? That remains to be seen; however, both rational adults and old school fans may agree to watch at least one more episode to see where things are headed.


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