100 Proof: "Half man, half liquor."
VH1's The White Rapper Show
has been airing for the past couple weeks, and it looked like the perfect show to avoid.
One, white guys can rap — see gajillion-selling Eminem, or read the remarkably insightful celebration of Caucasian rhyming "Whitey on the Mic
," which declared the white rapper the new black quarterback a couple years back.
Two, who in the hell wants to see a bunch white rappers go at it, bickering like a squad of chumps from The Real World? Oh, it'd be something to see Sage Francis
in a cage match with MC Paul Barman
. But MTV/VH1 reality shows cast for spectacle. And a bunch of reformed backpackers talking about Kate Bush, Noam Chomsky, and gyros doesn't make for good TV. Unless you like that thing. And based on alt-rap's aggregate record sales, not many of you do.
But sometimes you can't sleep, and you need something to watch. And sometimes the only thing on is a VH1 reality program. The White Rapper Show isn't as bad as you think it would be; in fact, it's a lot better.
Ten white rappers move into a Brooklyn crash pad, where they compete for a $100,000 prize. Basically, they have to write good rhymes, show some reverence for hip-hop, write better rhymes, survive some nominal challenge feats, and avoid the temptation to drop the N-bomb, no matter how often their black friends at home let them get away with it.
The bad news:
Predictably, the producers and hosts pluck most of the contestants from the urban-wannabe paradigm. No backpackers, no hyper-literate indie-rappers, not even a token Matisyahu-type or a juggalo. Everybody
tries hard to talk fluent ghetto, none more than John Brown (groan), the self-declared "King of the 'Burbs," who relentlessly touts a vague platform of "ghetto revival." Nobody on the show can figure out what it's supposed to mean, and the more he talks about it, you get the idea that neither does he. But most of them are tolerable characters, and some of them can B-boy for real — especially the "drunk rapper" 100 Proof and G-Child, a vertically challenged lady rhymer who's the only one with the cajones to give it up for Vanilla Ice.
The good news:
It's host by MC Serch
, formerly half of white-rap pioneers 3rd Bass
, best known for dissing Vanilla Ice in "Pop Goes the Weasel
" when his ridiculous shtick killed their burgeoning career. Serch looks like he's spent the last 16 years splitting his time between a donut shop and the gym, though he still has some star power. The great white rhymer mercilessly grills the would-be stars. And the show's sponsored by Ego Trip
, the exceptionally bright chroniclers of all things rap. To make sure the rappers are appropriately reverent of hip-hop culture, Serch and Professor Prince Paul take da kidz on one hip-hop field trip after another, visiting key sites from rap history and ambushing them with impromptu game-show trivia contests. Say what you will — Serch keeps it real.
We'd list the times it's on, but VH1's schedule always changes anyway, and the show's on like every day. — D.X. Ferris