Rappers are responsible for some of the greatest moments in reality TV history. Whether these shows ran for two seasons or 12, esteemed faces in hip-hop have helped define what quality television is in today’s day and age.
This of course cannot be discussed without bringing up Diddy’s classic MTV series, Making the Band. Over the course of four installments, 12 seasons and over 130 episodes, the show, which features artists fighting for their big break in the music industry, led to a number of moments that have been cemented into pop culture history. Quick examples point to the infamous cheesecake mission and the living room sing-off. More on those two later.
MTV had a few classics under their belt that they could be playing instead of countless hours of Ridiculousness. One is Xzibit’s Pimp My Ride, which aired for six seasons and decked-out nearly one hundred cars. Only this show could turn a regular ice cream truck into a hot ride equipped with random items like a popcorn machine and movie screen in the back. Another is Rev Run’s family hit Run’s House. The show highlighted the ups and downs of the Simmons family and saw much success in its six seasons and 70 episodes of jokes, pain and quotes.
Elsewhere, Flavor Flav’s Flavor of Love is easily the best reality TV dating show of all time. Unfortunately, Flav never found his wifey. But by bringing in dozens of girls that fought for his love throughout three seasons, the show rose up the ranks at Vh1. And additionally, fans got the historic spitting, pooping and chicken incidents.
With all that in mind, XXL ranks the best rap-related reality TV shows of all time. Looking back at 10 classics, peep the listing below and relive some of the most entertaining moments to ever air on cable television.
People like to discredit artists that come from reality TV. But if they’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that you cannot anymore. The Rap Game, a franchise that started in 2016 and ended in 2019, was a music competition show that was presented by Jermaine Dupri and Queen Latifah. Over the course of five seasons, contestants battled for a record deal. And looking back at the history, the show bred some of the best rising acts in rap right now between Latto and J.I. At the least, they deserve a nod for that.
Who remembers The Vanilla Ice Project? For those that aren’t hip, the show starring Vanilla Ice was all about house-flipping and making magic happen in the real estate market. The show first aired in 2011 and ran until 2019 for over five seasons. Vanilla Ice's move to reality TV was so successful and entertaining that he became a go-to guide for property investment. Everybody likes to see things go from trash to treasure, and that’s exactly why this show was able to sustain and thrive.
Being the seed of a famous musician could possibly be both a walk in the park and a train wreck. Growing Up Hip-Hop, which started in 2016, and recently wrapped up its sixth season last year, emphasizes those notions. The lifestyles of Romeo Miller (the son of Master P), Angela Simmons (the daughter of Rev Run), Damon "Boogie" Dash (the son of Dame Dash) and Kristinia DeBarge (the kid of soul singer James DeBarge) were included in the show's main narrative, though others make recurring appearances throughout. Overall, the success of Growing Up Hip-Hop can be credited to the ongoing battle of the kids making it out of their family’s already established shadows.
Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood might’ve flown under the radar for most rap fans, but it was in fact a joy to watch. The show began in 2007, and ended a year later, with only two seasons on the board. Though it had a short lifespan, Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood followed the life of the rapper and his family as they dabbled in everything from sports to music. Snoop is always in the forefront with his blood, but this added another layer and actually gave the people a chance to see what it’s like to have the West Coast legend as a father. Peeling back the layers is what this show specialized in.
T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle
Run’s House walked so that a show like T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle could run. The hit show chronicles their life as a couple and their household of six children. Ultimately, they were onscreen from 2011 to 2017 with six seasons on the books. Aside from the constant joking and family pranks, the most notable moments came from watching T.I.P. navigate his legendary music career, Tiny go from being a R&B star to a music manager, their son Domani following in his father’s rapping footsteps and, of course, the kid-friendly moments brought to all by little Major Harris.
On Pimp My Ride, Xzibit turned people’s buckets into a real-life Hot Wheels vehicle. In his show that ran for six seasons between the years of 2004 and 2007, the rapper would have expert auto body mechanics and technicians restore and customize cars that were in need. From ice cream trucks to antiques, nothing was off limits. The installations are what caught people’s eyes the most, as things like movie screens, video game systems and popcorn machines were added to upgrade the quality of one’s transportation. It also helped that fans could get an actual look at how these things were being put together as opposed to just the final product.
Love & Hip-Hop gives a glimpse into the ins and outs of the music industry through the lens of artists, producers, managers and pretty much every other role that one would imagine. The show, which is broken down by region—New York, Miami, Hollywood—started in 2011, and has been on the air since, with over 25 seasons and hundreds of episodes. The biggest stars and entertainers to come from the show’s lineage include diamond-selling rapper Cardi B and Jim Jones, who were both on different seasons of the New York edition. And most recently, Saucy Santana, who made appearances on the Miami show. Entertainment and drama are keywords here; dull moments are rare when it comes to this franchise.
Run’s House followed the family life of Run-DMC member Rev Run. The show started in 2005, and ran for six seasons until 2011. Of course, Rev Run’s bathtub tweets and advice created some of the best moments for the series. But fans also got to watch from the perspective of Run’s children, wife Justine and even brother, Russell. This show was raw, highlighting comedic moments like Justine falling off the skateboard to the death of their daughter, Victoria Anne.
With Making The Band, Diddy gave up-and-coming artists the chance to sign with him and the storied Bad Boy Records label. Rising acts would compete for their spot on the roster and after they secured it, face the challenge of being embedded into the industry. The show ran from 2000 to 2009, spawning multiple iterations and over 12 seasons that highlighted acts like Da Band, Day26 and Danity Kane. The time in 2002, when Diddy made Da Band walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn just to get him a piece of cheesecake from the famed Junior's restaurant is the boss behavior the music mogul had become known for. People gravitated to the hustle aspect of it all and more significantly, the roping experience of working with one of music’s top-notch moguls in Puff.
Flavor of Love, starring Public Enemy’s famed hype man Flavor Flav, is the definition of reality TV excellence. The dating show, which features dozens of contestants who fight to get wifed up by Flav, was onscreen for three seasons between 2006 and 2008. In about 40 episodes, the classic screen gem created some of the most notable pop culture moments in history. From the infamous New York versus Pumpkin fight to Hottie making chicken in the microwave to Somethin pooping on the floor, there's that and much, much more to remember.