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10 People Who Deserve Their Own Reality TV Show Right Now

Reality, as they say, bites. Reality TV, however, does not. Although we know that some of you out there are probably sick and tired of reality TV shows right now, the truth is that reality TV is more popular than ever today. Just take a look at the cover of our new "Sexy Issue" featuring Kandi Burruss, Tamar Braxton, Evelyn Lozada, and Chrissy Lampkin. A few years ago, they probably wouldn't have landed on the cover of VIBE. But, they're such a force in popular culture—and amongst our readers—that we simply could not deny them a cover any longer. After the success of each of their respective shows, it made perfect sense for us to picture them next to the coverline "MEET YOUR NEW ROLE MODELS" on the cover of our new issue.

But, they're obviously not alone. If we really wanted to, we could have put together an entire reality TV issue. There are that many reality TV shows out right now. And yet, in the process of putting together this issue, we couldn't help but think about all of the other people out there right now that don't have their own reality TV show but deserve one. They're interesting. They're engaging. And, above all else, they lead lives that we'd really like to know more about. So, we put together a list of the 10 People Who Deserve Their Own Reality TV Show Right Now. If there are any TV producers out there looking for an idea, give one of these people a yell. Just don't forget where you got the idea.—Chris Yuscavage

The Person: Rapper Birdman
Why He Deserves A Reality TV Show: C'mon: Do we really have to explain this one? Try finding a Birdman interview from the last five years that you haven't liked. The guy is a quote monster. Plus, he's currently trying to build Cash Money Records into a billion-dollar operation, so we're sure there's a ton of behind-the-scenes stuff that he's involved in that would be fascinating. Oh, and he obviously rubs elbows with a ton of important people, too. If no one has at least tried to develop a Birdman reality TV show, we'd be very disappointed. Someone needs to make this happen.

The Person: Video vixen/author Karrine "Superhead" Steffans
Why She Deserves A Reality TV Show: Okay, we'll admit: There's the chance that this concept could be a complete disaster. In fact, there's a very good chance that it would be a complete disaster. But, we think it's worth the risk. Superhead's life seems to involve a bunch of the things that make for great reality TV, including drama, the search for love, and, well, the drama that comes along with the search for love. And, it's clear she's got some strong opinions on things. That'd have the Internets going nuts every week.

The Person: Rapper Joe Budden
Why He Deserves A Reality TV Show: If you still think Joey B is just the "Pump It Up" guy, you're sorely mistaken. Joe dates models, travels the world with his group Slaughterhouse, and—from what we've heard—throws one hell of a pool party. He also proved that his life was interesting enough for reality TV when he launched the Web-based "Joe Budden TV" a few years back. We'll admit that this show probably would have gotten the green light already if he was still with ex-girlfriend Tahiry. But, hey: The guy still leads a pretty interesting life, and we wouldn't mind getting a closer look at it.

The Person: Boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Why He Deserves A Reality TV Show: Technically, Money May has had his own reality TV show already. But, it was part of a reality series called 24/7 on HBO and it focused more on his career than his life. Outside of boxing, Mayweather seemingly enjoys gambling, hanging out with 50 Cent, going to strip clubs, spendings lots and lots of cash, and dating ridiculously hot women. Who wouldn't want to sit and watch him do those things for an hour every week? Trust us: He'd turn every single episode into a main event.

The Person: Hot 97 producer/DJ Funkmaster Flex
Why He Deserves A Reality TV Show: Flex already has a little bit of reality TV experience. He used to be part of a show that dealt with his love for cars. But, that's not what we're interested in here. We want to see what goes into making Flex the best radio DJ in New York City. He's the perfect example of a guy who we all feel we know so well because we hear him on the radio every day. And yet, we can't help but think that he's got an entirely different side to him when he's not on the radio.

The Person: Rapper Lil' Kim
Why She Deserves A Reality TV Show: We hate to say this, but we don't see Kim making a successful comeback in the rap game. Maybe we're wrong, but we don't see her revitalizing her career anytime soon. And, part of that is because she's had so much drama in other aspects of her life. So, why not use that to her advantage? Her BET reality show, Countdown to Lockdown, was a success back in 2006. So, maybe she should document the comeback she's been trying to make in order to give us all a better look at the drastic changes that have taken place in her life since then. And, who knows? That could be what she ultimately needs to get her comeback back on course.

The Person: Def Jam President Joie Manda
Why He Deserves A Reality TV Show: Last year, Def Jam celebrated 25 years in the game. But, with the addition of Joey I.E. to the roster earlier this year, things just got a whole lot more interesting with the company. They've got a handful of acts who joined the label recently—everyone from Amber Rose and Asher Roth to 2 Chainz and Big K.R.I.T.—and it'd be interesting to see how the new President handles his new responsibilities. It has to be stressful (and dramatic!) to be at the helm of a record label, especially one as prestigious as Def Jam, right now. That'd make for must-see TV.

The Person: Tattoo artist Mark "Mister Cartoon" Machado
Why He Deserves A Reality TV Show: Is it just us—or are tattoos out of control right now when it comes to rappers? Mister Cartoon is widely considered to be the original hip-hop tattoo artist, so he could help shed some light on how rap music and tattoos are interconnected. Plus, we're betting he still has a lot of rappers come through his shop to get tatted up. So, it'd be interesting to see how he handles his biz.

The Person: Celebrity photographer Johnny Nunez
Why He Deserves A Reality TV Show: These days, there are tons of photographers snapping rappers at parties and other events. But, once upon a time, Johnny stood alone. As a result, he's got hundreds of connections and often gets exclusive access to the stars. So, turning the camera around on him would give reality TV viewers a look into the life of someone who makes a living taking pictures of famous people. It'd also give us great access to the things Johnny gets to experience when he's on duty. Who wouldn't want to see that?

The Person: Video vixen Rosa Acosta
Why She Deserves A Reality TV Show: It seems like Rosa is at a crossroads in her career right now. On the one hand, she's a little too famous to simply be labeled a "video vixen." On the other, she's trying to find out what her next step should be. There have been a lot of girls who have come before her who have been in this same position and failed. So, her reality TV show would need to focus on what she's doing to push her career forward. At the same time, she kicks it with a lot of beautiful women like Amber Rose, so there'd be no shortage of star power and drama on her show. If the four ladies on the cover of the new VIBE have proven anything, it's that the world will never get tired of watching beautiful women live their lives.

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‘Harriet’ Screenwriter Says Studio Head Wanted Julia Roberts To Play Harriet Tubman

More than two decades before Harriet made it to the big screen, a Hollywood studio executive suggested that Julia Roberts play the leading role of the black freedom fighter and slave abolitionist.

Harriet screenwriter, Gregory Allen Howard, shared the insane story in an interview detailing the 26-year journey to get the film made. “When I got in the business, I wanted to tell these historical stories by turning them into entertainment. I didn't want to give history lessons,” Howard explained.

“I wanted to turn Harriet Tubman's life, which I’d studied in college, into an action-adventure movie. The climate in Hollywood, however, was very different back then. I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let's get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.’”

He added that when someone pointed out that Tubman was a black woman the executive replied, “It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.”

Howard credits the box office success of 12 Years A Slave and Black Panther with helping to get Harriet on the silver screen. “I told my agent, 'You can't say this kind of story won’t make money now.' Then Black Panther really blew the doors open.”

Harriet stars Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo as Tubman, a role that Howard says she unknowingly nabbed after seeing her in The Color Purple on Broadway. “As soon as she opened her mouth, I thought, 'Yes, that's Harriet.' Afterwards I emailed the other producers, 'That's Harriet. She's a little stick of dynamite.'”

The cast also includes, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, Jennifer Nettles and Joe Alwyn. “Nearly all” of the characters in the film are based on real people, noted Howard, who has long been intrigued by Tubman's story.

“Even before I knew I was going to be a screenwriter, when I was a history major in college, I thought this was a corker of a story. Don't forget she was the only female conductor on the Underground Railroad. And she never lost a passenger. Other conductors took larger groups but would invariably lose people along the way. Her goal was never to lose anyone. But there was so much more—she was a spy; she was one of the first women to lead soldiers in battle.

“But more than anything, this small woman single-handedly threatened the billion-dollar industry of slavery,” Howard continued. “Harriet was bigger than life. Harriet freeing slaves had a multiplying effect. Plantation owners were scared that enslaved people would start getting ‘ideas.’ There were always more slaves [than] white people on the plantations, but those enslaved didn’t know their own power. Harriet showed them how powerful they could become.”

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Paras Griffin

Soul Train Awards 2019: Watch All The Performances Here

The Soul Train Awards are always a must-watch event, with the show consistently giving roses to the veterans who built the music industry as we know it while showing love to younger, promising artists who carry on the traditions of their predecessors. Look below for the performances from Sunday's event.

SiR ft. D Smoke – "Hair Down," "John Redcorn"

SiR was the first major performance of the night. Outfitted in a blue flannel and accompanied by a team of dancers dressed as flight attendants, he performed his Kendrick Lamar-assisted single "Hair Down." There was then a brief moment that highlighted his older brother, Rhythm + Flow winner D. Smoke, at the piano, playing background as SiR performed another Chasing Summer highlight, "John Redcorn."

K. Michelle – "The Rain"

Songwriter/production team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were honored for their achievements on Sunday night, and this continued with K. Michelle's performance of "The Rain." The song is a remake of the 1998 New Edition hit "Can You Stand The Rain," which was written by the duo. K. Michelle performed the record in a glowing all-white dress.

Tiana Major9 and EarthGang – "Collide"

Tiana Major9 and EarthGang recently released the music video for "Collide," their beautiful new song from the soundtrack for Lena Waithe's upcoming film Queen and Slim. They performed the song tonight, first with EarthGang member Wow Gr8 performing a spoken word poem written by Lena Waithe, then he and Tiana Major9 intimately sharing space in front of a colorful arrangement of flowers and car rims.

Wale ft. Jeremih and Kelly Price – "On Chill," "Sue Me"

Wale's sixth studio album Wow... That's Crazy was one of the best of 2019, and he got well-deserved recognition at the Soul Train Awards. He and Jeremih rocked his sultry hit "On Chill" before leaving the stage, and in an unexpected twist, he returned to the stage with Kelly Price for a performance of the album's intro "Sue Me."

Queen Naija – "Good Morning Text"

Queen Naija kept it real during her performance of her new single “Good Morning Text.” The singer-songwriter provided power vocals to the stage while looking great doing so. In a soft-off white number, Ms. Najia belted her ballad in style.

Boyz II Men and Stokley Williams – Medley

To kick off the first part of the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis tribute, Boyz II Men started with a performance of “Tender Love” (1985), the duo’s written and produced single for Force MDs. Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Wanya Morris then moved on to their 1994 hit “On Bended Knee.” But all the aunties weren’t ready for the next performance… After the first dose of nostalgia from the R&B trio, singer Stokley Williams took us even deeper into the 90s with a performance of Mint Condition’s “Pretty Brown Eyes” and a live performance of his 2019 single “She…” setting the tone for the live performances of the night.

Pink Sweat$ – "Honesty"

In one of the better, yet shorter performances of the night, newcomer Pink Sweat$ shared emotive, melodic harmonies from his single "Honesty"

Teamarrr –"Kinda Love"

Filmmaker, director and actor Issa Rae has ventured into music with a new label called Raedio, and at the Soul Train Awards she had an opportunity to present her first signee. Haitian-American singer Teamarrr has a unique voice, and she showcased her talent with a performance of her hit song "Kinda Love."

Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, Carl Thomas, Keyshia Cole, Le'Andria Johnson, Anthony Hamilton – Soul Cypher

This year’s Soul Cypher was anointed with some of the most important voices in contemporary R&B. With Erykah Badu and Robert Glasper providing the instrumentals, Carl Thomas, Keyshia Cole, gospel vocalist Le'Andria Johnson and Anthony Hamilton sang passionately and confidently while noting their classic hits. Thomas reworked his jam "I Just Thought You Should Know" while Cole created a mini-universe using songs like "I Should've Cheated," "Last Night" and "Trust and Believe." Next was Sunday's Best winner Le'Andria Johnson, who called on all to rightfully "Call on Jesus" while Hamilton closed out the cypher with a twist on his classic, "Charlene." But before we said goodbye, Badu had to hit a few notes–including a pretty high one.

Yolanda Adams – Medley

Moments after being honored with the Lady of Soul Award for the way she's merged soul and gospel throughout her career, Yolanda Adams blessed the audience with what Kirk Franklin described as her "god-kissed voice." She first performed the uptempo "Victory," and continued into a medley of other songs like "Born This Day," the vulnerable "Open My Heart," "Be Blessed," and "The Battle Is The Lords" before closing her set with a stirring performance of "In The Midst Of It All."

Luke James ft. BJ The Chicago Kid, Ro James – "Go Girl"

Luke James provided ultra nostalgia for his performance of "go girl" with R&B bredrens Ro James and BJ The Chicago Kid. Each of the sultry singers arrived dressed to the nines in fits that paid homage the iconic fashion of the 90s. The track does the same with odes to Martin and more. “It’s a celebratory song that I created with two of my best buds in the business, Ro and BJ. ‘go girl’ is a feeling, an unconventional vibration about a specific woman," James previously told Billboard about the track. "It’s perfectly freeing... as if it came out of a ‘90s classic love song or film.” We totally agree.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis tribute

If you call yourself a musician and don’t know Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ discography, you better start doing your research and watch these performances. After delivering a moving acceptence speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award, the songwriter and production duo hit the stage (with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds) to join acts like the Sounds of Blackness for “Optimistic” and The S.O.S. Band for their 1983 classics like the smooth “Just Be Good To Me” and the popularly covered, interpolated, and sampled “Tell Me If You Still Care.” Cherelle and Alexander O’Neal hit the stage for rendition of their 1985 single, “Saturday Love.”

But the real party went down when they reunited with their felliow bandmates of The Time. Morris Day brought the smooth swag in his silver suit and shades as they performed their Prince-produced jam “Jungle Love” (1984), with signature dance and mirror holdin’ hypeman (Jerome Benton) in tow. But what’s a performance by The Time without Morris Day doing the bird dance? Gotta have it every time. It never gets old.

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Singers Ronald Isley (L) and Kim Johnson perform at the "18th Annual Soul Train Music Awards" at the Scottish Rite Auditorium on March 20, 2004 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Winter

Music Sermon: The Soul Train Awards Been Lit, We're Just Late To The Party

Black entertainment's oldest televised awards show has been patiently waiting for us to come back.

As I was watching the 2019 BET Awards, at some point around trying to decipher the difference between DaBaby and Lil Baby, I said – not for the first year – “I’m not the BET Awards demo anymore.” BET’s flagship awards’ aspiration to cover every segment of black entertainment has always stretched it a little thin; current rap and R&B artists, plus legends, plus some gospel, plus a few TV, movie and sports moments, and some social good and politics crowd a run-of-show. But in the last several years – probably due to me moving solidly into the Urban Adult Contemporary demo – watching the BET Awards has been comprised mostly of me tweeting “Who is this child?” while waiting to see maybe two performances and a tribute.

But then, in sweet November, BET gives me my entire two-step life with the Soul Train Awards, where I know (almost) every artist and live for every performance and I can’t even tell you who took an award home because that’s not even the point. The Soul Train Awards is family reunion time: an opportunity for your respected faves to get their props and a platform for soulful new school artists who don’t get mainstream airplay. It’s a night to dance and sing along in your living room. Ain’t no stuntin’, no pretense, no cappin’ (did I use that right?). It’s just a good a** time. So why did it take us so long to embrace it again?

BET has owned the legacy awards show since 2009, but for years the Soul Train Awards seemed a bit forgotten. The timeline wasn’t joining forces to watch the Tom Joyner Cruise Live (Side note: Tom Joyner should absolutely do the Tom Joyner Cruise Live). Over the last four years, however, an aging millennial demographic combined with a drive of ‘90s nostalgia and renewed demand for straight up and down soul music has shined a light on the awards broadcast. Since 2015, the BET ecosystem has also thrown more support behind the show, including moving it from a Centric/BETHer-branded property to a BET proper event and giving it the same Viacom-wide simulcast as the BET Awards. Production values, talent bookings, and show elements keep rising, and the TL (timeline) is paying attention. This Sunday, the Soul Train Awards will air live for the first time (the show is usually taped a week or two in advance), with Black America’s favorite on and off-screen besties Tisha Cambell and Tichina Arnold hosting for the second year.

It’s by grace, though, that the Soul Train Awards is even still here for us to enjoy. The show that launched as the only televised black entertainment awards ceremony started fading during black music’s growing mainstream dominance, and then was lost in the shadow of the bigger and splashier BET Awards. Superstar artists stopped attending, because teams no doubt felt like their presence wouldn’t move the needle on sales, and it became the Old Heads Awards. Quietly, though, the Soul Train Awards has been a ratings driver for BET since the network acquired the show; the rest of us (including talent) are just finally catching up. And we should be ashamed it took so long! This specific celebration of black entertainment is as important now as it was when launched over 30 years ago — almost more so — for the very reason that it’s not just a show packed with hottest, newest, latest. But to appreciate the show’s legacy and staying power, we should look back at its history.

In 1987, Soul Train founder Don Cornelius decided it was time to elevate his 20-plus-year-old platform to another level. At the time, the major entertainment awards weren’t properly acknowledging black artists. The handful that had reached massive pop success – Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Prince and Whitney Houston – were recognized and honored.

But in the '80s, the soul and R&B world was still vast and wide.

Cornelius decided it was time to create a night of celebration and excellence which, like Soul Train itself, was created for us, by us. He insisted at the time, “Black music is too big and too powerful not to have its own awards show. It’s overdue.” The Soul Train Awards was born.

Not only did Cornelius want to create a space for our artists who were overlooked by award shows like the Grammys and the AMAs, but also an awards system that didn’t hang on politics, or follow the same long-time criticisms of Grammy voting; selections by a group of people who just vote on the names they know. The voting block for the Soul Train Awards was made up of black retailers, radio programmers and artists themselves, to grant the prized Soul Train trophy design based on African sculpture. But the Soul Train Awards weren’t even meant to be about the awards; they were about highlighting our talent – current and established – featuring special legacy honors, originating the concept of tributes via performances instead of just film packages, and putting together super-performances of key artists across genres. This was our showcase.

For the first eight years of the show, the hosting panel was a mix of Dionne Warwick, Luther Vandross, and Patti Labelle, and our biggest and best showed up in their award finery ready to celebrate and be celebrated. When the Grammys weren’t yet making room for hip-hop, Don gave it a little light (not a whole lot, but a little), and the Soul Train Awards honored black entertainment across the board, not just music.

In fact, until 1994, the Soul Train Awards were the only televised black entertainment awards. The Source Awards debuted as the first hip-hop awards show in 1994, The NAACP Image Awards were first televised in 1995, and that same year the female-artist heavy landscape prompted the creation of Soul Train’s Lady of Soul Awards. For the first several years, the black entertainment community turned out in numbers for their long-awaited party. The first year, black luminaries from Magic Johnson to Miles Davis to Stevie Wonder to Don King to Run DMC to Isaac Hayes were in the building. In 1990, Michael Jackson snubbed the Grammys but showed up at the Soul Train. Whitney Houston was even famously booed at the Soul Train Awards because the crowd felt she was too pop, and this was not a pop space. This was a forum for soul.

But like many of our most important early platforms for black culture, progress eventually rendered almost of these celebrations obsolete. As black music crossed over, more black artists were being recognized by the mainstream, and black culture became the culture, the entire Soul Train brand felt outdated and unnecessary. By 2000, the awards were in a bit of an identity crisis. After twelve years at LA’s Shrine Auditorium, the show bounced to a new location every year for the next six years. Cornelius started having trouble getting stars to commit to the awards because they were held within a month of the Grammys.

Then, in 2001, BET debuted their award show: a younger, hipper, and larger budget version of the Soul Train Awards that adopted virtually the same format, with Viacom promotional power and a dedicated channel and time slot (unlike Soul Train’s syndication) to their advantage.

In 2006, Soul Train signed off after 35 years and over 1,100 episodes as the longest-running nationally syndicated TV program in America at the time. Around the same time, the syndication company for the show and the awards, Tribune Entertainment, changed hands and shut down. In 2007, the Soul Train Awards’ biggest winners of the night, like Beyoncè and John Legend, didn’t bother to show. Finally, in 2008, there were no Soul Train Awards. And had that been the end of the line for the show for good, there probably would have been very little complaints or rumblings – we’d stopped paying attention, anyway. BET seemed to have all Black excellence bases on lock with the BET Awards, the BET Honors (which debuted in February of 2008), and the BET Hip-Hop Awards (2006). But fortunately, someone at the company had the good sense not to let the Soul Train Awards die.

As part of BET on Jazz’s rebrand to Centric (now BETHer), BET acquired the Soul Train Awards and revamped the program to fully embrace its old head’ness, perfect for the channel geared towards an older demo with a soul music focus. They moved the awards from LA to Georgia (it has since moved to Vegas), changed the date to November, got Terrence Howard and Taraji Henson coming straight off of Hustle & Flow to host, and gave tributes to Charlie Wilson and the Gap Band, Chaka Khan and Motown. That’s a party.

Now, here’s the part we probably haven’t been paying attention to: since the very first year in 2009, the Soul Train Awards has been a fourth-quarter ratings hit for BET. In fact, 2009 was the award show’s highest-rated broadcast ever in its history. Media and consumer trends often focus on the young, overlooking that while the 35-and-older set may not be as reactive, we’re loyal. Especially with music and entertainment (a look at any number of R&B theater tours featuring people who haven’t released an album in ages will tell you that). The cultural powers-that-be finally seem to be catching on: things that were long considered “Auntie & Uncle” territory, like Essence Festival, are hitting the hip radar. The Soul Train Awards is part of that wave. Also – and this is my personal, not data-supported, get-off-my-lawn opinion – there’s a lightness and fun with good ol’ R&B, soul and even older hip-hop that you just don’t get from the pull-your-panties to the side R&B and mumble rap of the last 10 years.

The BET Awards is now at a similar crossroads as the Soul Train Awards was in the early 00s: major talent is skipping the show, and the network is challenged to put together a cohesive program while trying to serve all demos. After two years of plunging ratings, the broadcast finally seems to have found balance again in 2019. But still, I’m not personally here for all the Lil’s, the YBNs and YGs and other letter configurations, and Babies and whatnot. I need music that works as a backdrop for brown liquor in red solo cups, please. But as viewers and fans, we also have to check ourselves on our awards show criticisms. Complaints amplify every year around the Grammys, AMAs and the like that we need to give less weight to mainstream awards and celebrate our own, ourselves, which is exactly what Don Cornelius and then Bob Johnson and team set out to do. During the BET Awards, though, there are gripes about the diversity and quality of talent, content, and production. There was even a period of Black Twitter referring to them as the “EBT Awards.” Criticism is often valid, but straight disdain isn’t. Also every year, there are cries about how we need more and different awards shows. Meanwhile, Soul Train’s been right there, chillin’, with your old school faves and your burgeoning soul stars. I’m ok with knowing I’m not the right in the pocket of the BET Awards demo anymore, but that means I’m going to support the Soul Train Awards with all my Auntie might because black music and black culture need the intergenerational love and community that the Soul Train Awards represent.

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