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'Love & Hip Hop Houston': Perfect For Reality TV, If Not Real Life

Houston and reality television aren't exactly right for each other.

There is a Hollywood aspect to the city: the glamour and flamboyance found inside the ritzy areas of River Oaks, the never-ending financial surplus that is the Galleria, and all that constitutes the privilege of ballin’ out. Those who live here know this. Those who also enjoy their dirty secrets staying local also know this. Houston is different, and in a way cannot be properly presented on television, because in some ways, we already amplify things to the highest degree as soon as cameras are even believed to be in the periphery.

VH1’s Love & Hip Hop series is guilty-pleasure television on steroids. Most of the show's stars were either known in the '90s (see Bad Boy producer Stevie J), the '00s (see Joe Budden, Yung Joc, Lil Scrappy, Remy Ma) or have somehow made themselves stars by association (literally anyone else on the show). None of it is truly redeeming, and the characters you actually root for are the ones who have already far established lives outside of the show. Remy Ma, for example, is in the midst of owning New York rap like it's 2004 again with “All the Way Up,” a squelchy, New York rap record that truly feels like one with Fat Joe. The successes from the show, the revitalizations of careers for example — are what leads to spinoffs and infamous moments. VH1 thought, or at least thinks, they could stretch the franchise beyond New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

To Houston? You want to create a fictitious environment inside of an environment that never truly knows when to be fictitious or real? Did you come here thinking all of the rappers sip heavy and ride around like every Houston-related rap video from 2002 until “Swangin' In the Rain”? It won’t work. It’s oil and water sautéed under the hot-ass sun and plenty of bad attitudes already stewing. Wrong gumbo, wrong élan to try and shine.

Love & Hip Hop Houston
more than likely will be a disaster, albeit an entertaining one. Mainly because it will emanate from a city where optics and pride are damn near married, and raised whole-ass generations of children. We’re all technically family. If you’re from Houston, you can only slander Houston amongst Houston. Don’t ever let somebody else try and slander Houston; the whole city will be after you and you will deal. However, while Los Angeles and Atlanta and New York are far better-known, popular havens for such behavior, Houston isn’t. As liberal as we may be, we’re still conservative in regards to how other people take to us.

Not even two days after the initial shoot at Washington Avenue hotspot Social Junkie did rumors begin flying about guns being pulled on VH1 cameramen and producers. Just days before that, the club almost become ground zero for a near-riot. A usual Love & Hip Hop trope involves beautiful women, in some ways willing to prove a point for future acclaim and fame, throwing drinks in one another’s faces, having screaming matches and in some cases participating in good ol’ Victorian-era fisticuffs. That happened on day one between cast members Kat St. John and Just Brittany. Not a fight but clear drama. For what? Cameras.

Houston beef is usually settled through clenched teeth, behind-the-back talk and other forms of cloak and dagger. None of it’s blatant unless you’re Sauce Walka, who is from an entirely different mold of getting beef done. Not long after the official cast was announced did groupie tales and rumors surface about Walka, along with several Rap-A-Lot members tied to the show, being gorilla pimps. Which, they won’t flat-out deny, but they're not going to tell the whole world either. Unnecessary drama and conversation will exists throughout the show, and normally thin-skinned people are going to react in utterly amazing fashion.

And we’ll watch it. Because train wrecks are too interesting and amazing to ignore. Because reality television has a way of making some shit shine.

Considering that Kirko Bangz is on the show in the midst of finally getting his debut album out, the show is free promotion. Same for the Sauce Twinz, and even the Charlo Brothers though they’re boxers. Other ancillary names like V-Live’s DJ Eric and noted promoter Lil Keith may be key players on a show that center around the city’s major export when it comes to the urban world — club life, but inside the strip clubs and general nightlife.

We’ll just wait until they pull the show from off hold, y’know, since...gunplay in Texas is a real thing. That’s the reality of living in the H.

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Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell