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EgoTrip’s Miss Rap Supreme: Episode Five

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I’ll say this about ‘Miss Rap Supreme’. While last year, I leaped to my laptop as the credits for the latest episode began to roll, this year I find myself getting home from work at 3am, slogging through the episode and then generally, choosing to read or jerk-off than immediately post on the latest episode, thinking, “it can wait until tomorrow”. Still, this week’s episode was a little more engaging than the previous two…

The pretty-much total bullshit dropping of Lady Twist last week hangs heavy over the opening scenes of this week’s episode because well, everybody in the house knows it was total bullshit. Chiba not only messed-up way more than Twist– who simply under-delivered– but is so much more of a problem for the house and the show in terms of starting shit all the time. The show’s in a weird bind at this point because it seems like maybe the EgoTrip guys just didn’t expect a lot of typical reality-show bullshit because somehow, magically, the show last year was absent of reality-show bullshit and now has it in spades. The show feels ungoverned in a sense and at least in terms of the “who’s going to go home this week?” tension, it feels random or inevitable, neither of which makes for very good television.

Last year’s ‘White Rapper Show’ was great because of how far it stumbled away from being anything like a reality-show and after the first episode of this season, I had high-hopes and set the show up as some kind of actual response to ‘Flavor of Love’ but that’s sort of gone away too. There’s too great of a divide between characters’ actions and their rapping in the sense that, at least in terms of what gets you kicked-off, it’s exclusively how well or not-well you perform. Now yeah, that’s fair because it’s a show supposedly about talent and if the assholism of cast members got them eliminated, it wouldn’t be a competition but still- it’s frustrating. An episode is either really boring because characters are acting humble or it’s just like ‘Flavor of Love’ because people are acting a fool and being annoying. At least this week, the Chiba/Byata battle was relatively calm and it was instead, Nicky2States and Ms. Cherry who brought the ego-tripping. Of course, they also got the most praise, so who knows what’s going on.

Although Nicky’s talent and even her supposed “swagger” are being overrated, it’s easy to see why she’s successful in competition and as a personality on the show. Even when she’s being really evil and screaming at Reece Steele and just bossing every one around, it has a certain charm to it because it’s more out of ignorance than malice. It’s funny that Nicky was the cast member that early on cited her “experience” (which really just means she’d been knocked-up like four times) as being her biggest asset because she seems like someone that’s depressingly naive and has been given everything she’s ever wanted her whole life because she’s shameless and I guess kinda sorta hot (maybe). But the show’s supposedly about becoming a rapper and it’s clear Nicky knows little about rapping and recording when she refuses to stop screaming into the mic and passes it off as just being who she is. Only the ODB could really get away with that blowing-the-mic out style…

Ms. Cherry, the other darling of Serch and Yo Yo is pretty terrible really. She’s pretty funny and stuff, but I’m not sure if what she does can really be called “rapping”. Her flow, a kind-of sing-songy, slow flow that’s said in a voice that always sounds about to laugh, seems more influenced by look Rudy Ray Moore or like Chitlin Circuit insult comics than any actual rappers. I’m being funny but only sort-of. Even her verse and the entire concept of the song/video she headed about being robbed of all her jewels was on some like Moms Mabley comedic-fable thing, which isn’t bad, but has nothing to do with rapping in 2008 (or 1988 for that matter…).

It was a good look for Serch to tell her she needs to actually discuss the week’s rap prompt and not just totally internalize it and spit it back out as more egotism. Even when she’s trying to address the issue at-hand, it’s always from a near-martyred sense or cocksure attitude that’s just not interesting. It’s like how every introspective, vulnerable Jay-Z song is, if you think hard enough, Jay-Z’s fault; he’s the asshole who caused all his own problems and is now rapping all slow and crying about it. The same problem with ‘No Matter What’ by T.I which is a fucking awesome song except that he’s bragging about doing what he should do: take his shit that’s his fault like a responsible fucking adult.

The video prop game is fun and I’m glad it was brought back and it yielded the most engaging segment of the show this season. Soulja Boy came in for like three seconds and didn’t say much of anything even though you’d think if he could talk about anything, it’d be how to promote one’s self and make an entertaining video. Why does the show even have guests? Last year, they were a little better incorporated into the episodes but here, they pop-in for a few seconds and move-on. I feel bad now for giving Just Blaze or Lord Jamar shit for being dicks- at least they gave enough of a shit to be dicks! The implicit message of the prop thing is what Soulja Boy put into action whether he knows it or not: you don’t always need to most impressive shit to make a great video or market yourself. But again, inexplicably, it was Team Byata’s terrible yacht video that won, which kinda conflicts with that message…Also- why was Rece Steele going nuts about how she’s never been on a yacht as if that’s something most people have done? I’ve never been on a fucking yacht either. Oh yeah and Rece, you look like those weird Richard D. James monsters from Aphex Twin videos, it’s creeping me out.

Team Byata’s video was embarrassing and had the same feeling as every other video where a bunch of bad rappers, through money or connections, get a nice car or yacht or whatever and rap awkwardly on it. Their beat was good though, heavy synth squelches and some like DJ Quick-sounding guitars…but who knows how there was even a debate as to which video was better. Byata’s fake parrot on her shoulder creeped me out too. Last week, I was the comic book store and this tiny, gross lesbian girl was walking around with a fake bird on her shoulder as she bought like, ‘Dark Tower’ comics.

Cherry’s video didn’t remind me of a traumatic comics trek and was simple and contained in every way that Byata’s video was all over the place (at some point in Byata’s, it goes sepia-tone for a few images?). Outside of the over-saturated ‘City of God’ cinematography, it stuck to a simple concept that still bypassed conventional performance video tropes and got the job done. So, the team that should’ve won didn’t and it led to the wrong team being put in elimination which led to Bree being booted, which was fine because she probably should’ve been booted right after Khia, Lionezz, and D.A.B anyway.

And uh, don’t sleep on this…

Written by Brandon

May 20th, 2008 at 8:57 pm

EgoTrip’s Miss Rap Supreme: Episode Four

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Initially, ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ seemed to act as something of a purposeful contrast to that other show where a buncha crazy broads are stuck in a house- ‘Flavor of Love’- but Episode Two and then especially Episode Three, pretty much turned it into ‘Flavor of Love’ with lots of yelling and arguing and fighting only it was worse because it wasn’t even funny and sad, it was just sad.

The girls on ‘Flavor’ are competing for nothing really- they just get to act crazy on TV- but ‘Miss Rap’ still presents itself as a competition and so, the characters take it all way too seriously. Pretty much all of the girls can rap or at least deliver, so there’s not a lot of contrast here and when all that’s added to that is really insane drama- made dumber because the girls are taking themselves way too seriously- it’s hard for the show to be enjoyable. And so, this week the show wisely framed the end-competition around the issue of “drama”, a smart way to tell the girls to all chill-out without explicitly saying it or having MC Serch come in whoop-whooping with a real-serious look on his face and yelling at them like an old, dopey dad. The EgoTrip crew seems to have a set of ethics about how they manipulate the “reality” of the show and that’s pretty cool.

But still, the issue remains the cast and even hosts, especially Yo-Yo, taking it all a little too seriously and it ended with some real reality show bullshit: Lady Twist being kicked-off. The narrative that’s constructed about Twist in some ways, sort of giving-up is interesting but it actually feels a lot like the manipulation of reality I said in the previous paragraph, the show avoided. Twist is obviously the best rapper with the best personality on the show. Even if she’s derivative of many Midwest rappers, there’s you know, way worse things to be than highly-influenced by fucking Do or Die!

Twist also doesn’t fall-back on any of the conventional female rap stereotypes. She isn’t a big, fat, mannish thug-rapper and she’s not a big, fat, “I still fuck dudes even though I’m fat” female rapper either. By the time she’s pacing around the dance studio with a “fuck-this” look on her face, she’s more like a stand-in for a lot of ‘Miss Rap’ viewers in the sense that she’s pretty much thinking “this show’s outta control” and that’s she’s not too-good for this, but it’s just not really her thing. And even though she gets totally robbed by getting booted, Lady Twist will be alright. As she mentioned, she’s got an education to look into, and she’s confident but totally doesn’t take herself seriously and she’s not bat-shit crazy, so she probably does alright in life anywhere. If anything, her disinterest in the show at this point and her outside interests should make her more viable as a real rapper. It’s like stuff like the PTA in school or like any big job with a business: The person who’s not an asshole who should get the job is smart enough to know why the job’s a whole lot of bullshit and doesn’t want it.

Still, it reveals a big problem with the show: all that really matters in an episode is the final competition. How the show should be structured I don’t know, but there’s a weird sense that if you win the initial competition, it means you’ll end-up in elimination at the end. The show’s dependable structure. So, Lady Twist got fucked-over because she did really good at that totally retarded John Singleton/’Hood Shakespeare competition, which in a lot of ways, defines what’s wrong with this season versus last season anyyway.

Putting the show in LA seems to have eliminated a lot of the rap legends that are pre-90s and therefore, not too cool or “thug” to show up on a reality show and EgoTrip’s presumably got better connections in New York. There’s also the dichotomy of female rappers who are either once-famous now-nobodies, so it’s almost sad when they show up on the show or there’s those few “big-names” that would never, ever show up to talk to these potential Miss Rap Supremes. The ‘Hood Shakespeare event also highlights how the comedy’s not only more broad but just way more conventional and obvious. The contrast should’ve been something like the cast having to do a scene from ‘Boyz N the Hood’ or something in a straight-forward manner, but stick them in drama-fag black tights and make them hold a skull and have them deliver lines like, “Give me the motherfuckin’ gun, Tre”. Thug Shakespeare? That’s something that like Blue Collar Comedy audiences or Jay Leno fans would find funny…

Written by Brandon

May 8th, 2008 at 4:44 pm

EgoTrip’s Miss Rap Supreme: Episode Three


Dunno what it was, maybe it had something to do with the ton of typical reality show drama throughout tonight’s show, but it became even more clear in this episode than in previous ones (and last year’s entire season) that none of these people have any chance of an actual rap career. That, along with the dangling of the really rather small prize of 100 grand makes the show a little sad to watch- sad like the photo of Bree’s cokehead/Jimmy Buffett-fan looking dad who died when she was fourteen. The whole series is even more of an explicit joke than most reality shows, but a kind of weird sympathy occurs precisely because ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ doesn’t in any way try to look like it’s doing anything but make fun of these wannabe girl rappers. The show actually ends up being less condescending because it doesn’t try to convince all the snarky viewers that it gives a shit about these people and through that, we kind of project our own sympathies and frustrations onto the cast members. Also: No Homo on this awful PUMA ad that popped-up a few times during tonight’s episode.

As with last season, the contests, especially the ones that don’t’ involve rapping, feel like something of an after-thought. Why did the potential Miss Rap Supremes have to be part of this weird “dress like a rapper” contest/pageant? I think they should’ve had to rap in the style of the rapper they had to dress like or something. Still, it was cool that Byata dressed like Kanye West circa 2003, and Ms. Cherry’s Tupac impression was very good, in part because Tupac, with tweezed eyebrows and way-too beautiful skin kinda already looked like a drag-king.

The highlight of the show was an appearance by Too $hort which led to the contestants having to spit their own version of a freaky tale right back at Short Dog. All the girls failed because they saw what Short was doing as a gender-based version of battle-rapping when really, what Too $hort does is sexually-explicit storytellng; he’s rarely talking straight at his targets the way the girls all decided to do, which makes his raps less bragging or insulting and more like a friend telling you about the retarded blowjob he got last night or something. I know it’s a reality show and all, but it’s also a little sad to see Too $hort reduced to a filthy and offensive rapper. $hort’s got this really sensitive side (famously: “Life is/to some/Unbearable/Commit suicide/And that’s terrible”) and his verses on recent songs like ‘Bossy’ by Kelis or ‘Didn’t I Tell You’ by Keyshia Cole, show him taking on a kind of, wizzened dad-like persona, proud of these younger women. In the episode however, $hort couldn’t muster up that sympathy or pride and mainly just looked uncomfortable. Rap guest-stars on ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ and last year’s ‘White Rapper Show’ often fall-flat because the show basically confronts an older rap-legend with a bunch of terrible but earnest rap wannabes and it’s really hard to tell them to their faces about how bad they are, so you get Ghostface or Too $hort sort of stumbling through the event trying to help-out and not shit all over these sad kids. Also, rappers are really nice and kinda down-to-earth and you see that in Ghostface as he steps back and listens and looks for the good, even in the now kicked-out-twice Lionezz.

One of the interesting sidebars of this week’s episode was a kind of vague interest in race, specifically white humiliation. Late in the episode, the winning team is given the Salt-N-Pepa suite and on the bed is that vaguely Napoleon Dynamite nerd bellhop, in briefs and part of his uniform. Nicky2States begins paddling his ass and demanding he scream out “I’m black and I’m proud” and later, he’s forced to dance around; it’s like some weird scene from an early John Waters or Robert Downey Sr. movie or something. Earlier in the episode, Byata, who’s on her William Blake shit, getting these like answers to the world through her incredibly literal dreams, calls Chiba “the devil” and gets all pissy when Chiba sends it back calling her, without fully saying it, a white devil. This is something that’s been going on in all the episodes in a scene or two: The white females using their whiteness as an excuse. When D.A.B and Lionezz are picked last in the first challenge, D.A.B sort of addresses it as being “the white girl” when in fact, it’s just her talent that makes her undesirable and in an early freestyle, Byata says something about how she “cant help it” if she “sounds black”, which is a shameless and indirect way to get around race appropriation issues that no one’s even brought-up. Throughout the heated but ultimately silly argument (because again, what are they really competing for?), I kept waiting for the big joke about Chiba’s fucked-up eye and then, in next week’s episode, there it is!

Written by Brandon

April 29th, 2008 at 5:18 am

EgoTrip’s Miss Rap Supreme: Episode Two

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So, let’s start with Khia. In retrospect, it’s pretty clear that her verse was pre-written as she was basically rapping to a beat that only she could hear but this non-musician sort of assumed that you know, since she wasn’t about to kill anybody on the mic anytime soon, maybe her talent was in writing vaguely-catchy hooks? Nah, she was just repeating the chorus of ‘Respect’ off her 2004 album ‘Gangstress’! She couldn’t have even just lifted a verse from one of her songs, it had to be a chorus?!

I’m confused because no matter how you look at it, her verse recycling is really sad. It either means she didn’t give a shit or is so deluded that she thought it wouldn’t matter or she thought she could get away with it, which would suggest that even she realizes that very few people heard the second album from the chick who sang ‘My Neck, My Back’ and you know, that sort of undercuts her massive ego and sense of entitlement.

It’s really fun to think of the EgoTrip crew, behind the scenes, discussing and researching the validity of Khia’s 16 bars. Serch tells her it sounded familiar but he’s being nice. No matter how big of a head Serch might be, it’s hard to imagine he’s ever bobbed his head to any songs on ‘Gangstress’. Some lyric-Googling took place and exposed Khia. So, German rapper who gives me the creeps Lionezz is back, Khia’s gone, and the show moves on.

Using Khia as a cast member reminded me of the weirdness of a show like ‘Dancing With the Stars’ who very early on, bucked its own concept by allowing fucking ice-skaters or the buff queerby dude from ‘Saved By the Bell’ who’s obviously taken some dance lessons to compete, but unlike those shows, which allow these ringers to move-on, Khia got the boot early. Only in the world of EgoTrip is there an actual sense of reality-TV justice; it’s one more way that the show does reality television on its own terms.

There’s a personal quality to ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ that prevents it from being either heart-warming garbage or exploitation trash. We learned a little bit more about Chiba’s car accident, complete with pictures of the car and her fucked-up eye and the point that it put an end to her modeling career. The show gives us this in a few quick bits of dialogue and images and then moves on, never becoming too saccharine. There was also the very touching interaction between Rece and her son Shawn. We hear Rece claim that she’s doing this “for” her son and that she even quit a job to be on the show, but there’s no music or cute montage to encourage the legitimacy of her claim. The forgettable dismissal of D.A.B at the end of tonight’s episode too, is a good example of the show’s disinterest in editorializing.

D.A.B’s story is sort of intense- this girl with a history of sexual molestation who became a drug addict- but the show doesn’t give her much of a break and never sentimentalizes. Last week and again this week, the show drops these real quick photos of D.A.B, in her underwear, surrounded by beer cans which is a little sad but let’s be real, if they were posted on SpaceGhetto or something, you’d just be laughing your ass off at how sad and pathetic it is (I think the EgoTrip guys realize this). Again, the show gives you some actual reality and not reality TV reality: Heroin addicts look busted and lay around on the floor in way-too-blue blue jeans and a sweater from the Hecht company, they are not cool.

I kinda liked D.A.B because like a lot of people who’ve gone through actual trauma, she’s humbled and good-natured, but also like people who’ve gone through a lot of trauma, she’s decided to define herself by her problems and there were only so many more embarrassing verses with heroin needle details that we could take. It was also funny when Nicky2States talks about how “hip-hop is hard” and how D.A.B isn’t “hard” even though, she’s probably the most gully in terms of having the most fucked-up life.

Oh yeah- can we talk about just how retarded the name “Nicky2States” is? Somehow, last week, I just sort of accepted it as her name, but what a fucking idiot. It’s like that girl in elementary school who had some cunty club with her friends and acted cooler than everybody but then, her club was called like “The Spending Time Together Friends Club” or something and even in third-grade you knew that was stupid. Only a person whose confidence comes from total obliviousness could seriously call herself “Nicky2States”. She’s clearly one of the more engaging and interesting cast members, but Nicky2States mainly annoys me.

But ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ is sort of complicated, so Nicky2States was featured in the most hilarious and out-there part of tonight’s episode: A blow-up doll love montage set to the song ‘Tender Love’ by Force MDs! It’s weirdo moments like this that move ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ not only out of the realm of big, dumb reality show and into the realm of smart, corrective, reality show, but towards just being this really strange, out-there show that at moments like that, have you surprised this is even on television.

There’s a hand-crafted feeling to the show that rejects clean graphics and replaces it with a ‘Price Is Right’ 70s throwback design and a swinging signs caked with A.C. Moore glitter. The joke of showing Nicky2States getting it on with a thugged-out blow-up doll set to ‘Tender Love’ is the same joke going on when a prop phonograph mutters out “yes, yes y’all, mirror mirror y’all” to signal the ladies that a new message from YoYo is about to come through. The joke isn’t so much that this shit is actually funny but that this shit isn’t funny and that makes it funny. It’s retarded. It’s “can you believe we just put a singing phonograph on TV and had it chant a totally forgettable catchphrase?”. You get the sense that the EgoTrip guys are as entertained by the show as the viewers.

A few other things…
-I kept seeing a commercials for ‘Best Day Ever’. Is it only a matter of time before the former ‘Best Week Ever’ turned ‘Best Day Ever’ becomes something like ‘Best Hour Ever’?
-Lady Twist as a three year-old in a bathing suit is really great.
-Ms. Cheri somehow bypassed rap altogether and somehow dropped a comedy routine straight off of Lady Reed’s ‘Will the Real Dick Rise’? or something. What was going on there?
-The show still lacks a stand-out or engaging personality outside of the out-there drama craziness of Chiba and at times, Nicky2States.
-Just get Bree the fuck out of there. She’s like this dopey pothead girl in a bucket hat at a party, just hovering in the background and making everything weird.

Written by Brandon

April 22nd, 2008 at 8:00 am

EgoTrip’s ‘Miss Rap Supreme’: Episode One

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Reality shows are generally thought of as some awful extension of the “MySpace” generation–as if every young generation isn’t self-obsessed– but the main appeal of reality shows is actually how communal they are. Anybody can enjoy them. For example, where I work, the division amongst co-workers falls squarely between people who watch ‘Lost’ and people who don’t. About all people like me, who don’t watch the show, can do is say, “Oh sorry, I don’t watch that show” or a half-hearted “…maybe I’ll borrow the DVDs and catch-up…”. If one doesn’t like a TV show there’s just no place to meet on it. With reality TV however, anybody can sit down and pretty much figure it out in a few minutes and start talking about it, because the characters are at least kinda real and do real things, shitty and nice (more often shitty) and so, even the dude at work you have nothing in common with, can still discuss why so-and-so is an asshole or why so-and-so isn’t because it’s like talking shit on your co-workers about which co-worker’s an asshole and which isn’t. There’s nothing to understand or interpret on a reality show: It’s all right there.

Okay, okay, okay, so snobs who dismiss reality television as trash or as some kind of further example of the devolution of “our culture” can’t enjoy them, but those fuckers need to put their Baudrillard books down anyways. The rest of us can sit down, well aware of the fact that what we’re watching isn’t reality–but it’s not fake either– enjoy it and even discuss it.

Last year, my friends and I got into the ‘White Rapper Show’ because it has egotrip’s name on it, was supposed to be about rap, and looked like an entertaining freak-show to kill an hour watching and five more over-analyzing. And it was. But the weirder thing was how my fifteen year-old sister and in-their-forties parents got into the show as well. They didn’t know and don’t care who Lord Jamar or Just Blaze are and they didn’t need to because there was this weird drama going on and a snarky but universal-enough edge to the humor that made everyone laugh.

Like a lot of really good things, ‘egotrip’s White Rapper Show’ was really smart and really stupid and it appealed to really smart and really stupid people in equal parts, and that is why it was popular. It was neither lowest-common denominator, nor was it an all-out hip-hop nerd insider jerk-off. It knew it was a reality show, had accepted that from the beginning and tried to just be a good reality show, not a show embarrassed to be a reality show. So now, the show’s back as ‘egotrip’s Miss Rap Supreme’ and it’s pretty good and it’s at least got me back for next week to see how everything evolves (or devolves…).

I started this with a little rant and some hints on the over-discussed nature of “reality” on reality shows because what’s so striking about this first episode of ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ is just how real the cast is and by real, I basically mean weird or unspectacular, but that’s a good thing. For example, Chiba reminds me of the very nice but clearly-weathered chick that helped Monique buy some NIKE Outbreaks at Downtown Locker Room earlier today. Her ability to be really concise and undramatic about the car accident that fucked-up her eye for life, is used as neither a melodramatic hook for her character nor as comedic relief. Later in the episode, she’s shown always wearing some pretty-awesome and if-she-ever-got-famous-could-be-her-signature sunglasses, but we’re also well aware that it’s to hide her one weirdo eyeball. Maybe it’s going too far (or maybe it’s because she’s got this pretty great ‘Strawberry Letter 23′-sampling song on her Myspace), but this weird, sort of awesomely stylish rap chick named Chiba with a fucked-up eye, makes me think of the time of weirdo rappers like Slick Rick or Bushwick Bill. Even a cliched “character” cast member like D.A.B, who fits a kind of weird post-Fergie stereotype of the stupidly innocent, ex-drug addict, white hip-hop girl, is sympathetic, especially once the moronically-named Nicky2States keeps harassing her. It’s hard not to sympathize with D.A.B, she takes the “crackhead” insults she’s probably heard her whole life pretty well…

Creatively, the choice not to simply repeat the concept of last season’s is wise because already, you can see that this season’s cast watched last season’s show and so, switching up the focus and smaller details of the show works. Around a certain season of say, The Real World, they’d all get there and be like “Okay…so who’s the gay one” or “I guess I’m the black guy!” and it just further hindered the pseudo-reality of it all. On the way to their house, Lionezz mentions that she “hopes” it won’t be like last year’s house (back to the “reality” tip for second, how do you cast a German chick that’s not hot at all? That’s part of the show’s genius) and there’s just a general comfort with the curveballs sent their way because they know what to expect, having watched or at least heard about last season.

I do find it strange that the sort of “hook” of the show is how in the past few years, female rappers have been more well-known for their drama and/or inability to live up to musical hype than their music because it sort of side-steps the more complex question of how female rappers fit into the uh, “rap game” since well, there was a rap game. You can mention Salt N’ Pepa and Roxanne Shante and Monie Love and other early pioneers,but they’re still the exceptions. ‘White Rapper Show’ took on the maligned status of the white MC with a great balance of satire and genuine sympathy head-on, while here, the jokes and stuff us rap fans talk about when it comes to female rappers don’t seem to be hovering around as much. In part, that’s because the reality of the female rapper is they just sort of suck and no one seems to know why. It’s the same way female stand-up comedians aren’t funny. It’s not the simple frat-boy thing of “girls aren’t funny” just as it’s not the pseudo-thug toughness of “girls just can’t rap”, it’s some weird, pretty complicated thing related to tons of stuff that hopefully, the show will touch on in future episodes.

The season seems to be a little more sensitive to these female rappers than last season was to the white rappers and I hope that’s more a symptom of there being enough drama between cast members than some kind of playing nice-nice with the girls. The need for a female co-host just makes sense because the dynamic would be weird if it were Serch and Prince Paul clowning a bunch of broads for an hour every week, but Yo-Yo is way too polite and in some ways, just too much of an obscure figure to be a part of the show. The fact that she wasn’t even sold to the audience that may not know of her (not even a mention of being connected to Ice Cube) and the relative lack of nerdy rap references makes me a little worried that this season will be a little more conventional. The all-female cast of essentially, busted crazy women is moving it into ‘Flavor of Love’ territory but as I suggested, even at its worst, it’s only like a quarter of the way there.

In fact, a good way to frame this first episode would be to contrast it with ‘Flavor of Love’ which takes all of that show’s women, pounces on their eccentricities and flaws and then frames the show around them for maxiumum (let’s be real here) “haha I’m laughing at crazy niggers on TV” effect. The fact that ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ literally follows episodes of ‘Flavor of Love’ and the fact that the brilliantly corrective egotrip dudes are making this show, make me think it really is designed as a kind of antidote to the awfulness that is ‘Flavor of Love’. On one show we see a member of one of the greatest and most significant rap groups of all-time clowning himself beyond belief, one another show (if it’s anything like last season) we’ll see old rap legends giving advice and generally coming out looking pretty good.

Unlike ‘Flavor of Love’ as well, the fact that a talent and craft frames the ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ prevents any sense of exploitation from taking over; characters are not rewarded for their negative actions on ‘Miss Rap Supreme’. Take the inclusion of Khia, aka the bitch who sing that weird ‘My Neck, My Back’ song, not as any kind of commentator or co-host but as a competitor. She’s clearly there because it’s like instant drama and division to have a contestant who’s already had a career, but it’s really great the way pretty much everyone is like “fuck this asshole” and Ms. Cherry’s “one-hit wonder” chant is pretty great. It’s probably a stretch, but there’s even a kind of like visual analogue between Khia and actual female rapper Lauryn Hill: Khia sort of looks like this grotesque version of Lauryn Hill.

Maybe it was because it would’ve just been too predictable or maybe it’s because the drama will be good for the show at least for another episode of so, but I think Khia should’ve gotten the boot. Lionezz is pretty awful, but she’s really genuine and the line about how even with subtitles you wouldn’t catch what she was saying was at least kinda hot, while Khia’s just an idiot. And then, you look at these people’s MySpaces and it’s revealed that Lionezz isn’t some kind of like sincere, German rap-naif, she’s just dumb and foreign and opportunistic: According to her MySpace, she appeared in the video for Shaquille O’Neal’s ‘Shoot Pass Slam’…the only time you see any shots of girls– presumably because Shaq’s these weird manchild not interested in girls, right?– is like 1:16 in, but I don’t think that’s her…and while you’re at it, check-out a quick cameo of Dennis Scott because 90s basketball gives me the same feeling as 90s rap…

One last thing…don’t sleep on Lady Twist. Her obvious Twista meets Bone-Thugs midwest flow is well, obvious, but I’ve got a good feeling about her.

egotrip’s ‘Miss Rap Supreme’ is on Vh1 Mondays at 10pm (eastern time)…

Written by Brandon

April 15th, 2008 at 4:45 am

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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 08.

I feel…deflated. I don’t know if it’s because the show is over or because John Brown didn’t win. I know I was pro-$hamrock and I didn’t even really write about John Brown last week, but I’ve been slowly leaning in Mr. Hallelujah Holla Back’s direction. The problem with $hamrock is he never really delivers. He can rap but whenever he’s in the booth or in front of a crowd he dances around and rap-sings and it’s just embarrassing. His humble attitude is certainly appealing in contrast to Persia, Sullee, or Jus Rhyme but he’s gotten way too many breaks because Serch seems to love him. I was also surprised because as far as I could tell, John Brown’s 16 bars were a lot better and although his song didn’t really make any sense, it was more than just a ‘They Don’t Know’ rip-off. And was $hamrock doing the Yung Joc motorcycle dance during his performance?

My anger is probably an early sign of withdrawal because I don’t know if I actually care who wins. What is so good about the show is how entertaining it is on multiple levels; there’s enough to think about that it barely matters who wins. So, I think I’m just shook because it won’t be on next week. This show is really good and made better because it was so willing to stick-it-out even if it occasionally led to a really wack ‘8 Mile’ trivia game or let Jus Rhyme slip through every crack. It doesn’t matter because if you’re watching the show the way most people I know are watching it, there’s twenty other ways besides competition that the show is stimulating your brain.

However, I have to point out that there was some really weird stuff going on in this episode. Who the hell was Blaise Delcacroix II? I assume at some point, all the white rappers had to list a friend or something and John Brown listed this guy instead of one of his rapper friends? Is John Brown gay? If he is, it makes him even more amazing. He seemed so embarrassed and for good reason, if I were less homophobic and had some gay friends, I definitely wouldn’t want to be shown on a rap show interacting with the dude. No matter how immature or high-school that is, as John Brown says, it’s not a good look. Was this some weird, sick joke on the part of the show? Did John Brown actually know this guy? I don’t understand and it makes me even more sympathetic to him but ultimately, John Brown screwed himself over.

Brown’s pseudo-‘Take No Prisoners’ attitude got him into the top two, it put off a lot of people, particularly Serch, who seemed to be singularly focused on supporting $hamrock once Persia was eliminated. John Brown was scheming too much. Where did his rap at the end come from? In every event and elimination, Brown affected this super-slow Jeezy-esque style that barely counted as rapping. Then, once it was clear he had a chance to win he comes in and does pretty amazing at the battle and tonight, his 16 bars were pretty sick. He can obviously rap; I had no idea. I understand his strategy and it will probably make him more popular than $hamrock, so I guess it worked but he could have had that and won the contest. I still don’t understand ‘Ghetto Revival’ but his King of the ‘Burbs schtick is pretty genius. It wasn’t that he could articulate it when confronted by Persia or Lord Jamar, it’s that he didn’t want to and good for him for refusing to. Some fat angry chick who thinks she’s hood and some aged racist would give him shit about it no matter how eloquently it was explained, so he doesn’t even waste his time.

Brown’s whole idea of him being a suburban rapper is post-Kanye. He doesn’t even feel the need to present his middle-class struggle the same way that “urban” rappers present their struggle, Brown isn’t embarrassed to just admit he was born with a lot of shit that most rappers and just people weren’t. His final song ‘Car Wars’ was some attempt to acknowledge his suburban upbringing without being stereotypically unaware of the world that has given him that upbringing. Yeah, the song is muddled and is some misreading of ‘Diamonds are Forever’ or something, but it took some thought. Maybe too much thought but that’s better than another song about haters. At the same time, I do see why $hamrock won. In the comments section of this post, ‘White Rapper Show’ producer Brent Rollins was kind enough to post. Among the many interesting things he said was a comparison of the show to ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’: “But ultimately, to fall back on the Willy Wonka metaphor: the Veruca Salts of the world don’t deserve to inherit the keys to the Chocolate Factory, no matter how much they love gobstoppers…Charlie does.” So yes, $hamrock is the Charlie of the show in the sense that he is incredibly humble and respectful and those values are generally in-reverse of most reality show, so it’s just one more way ego trip flips your expectations.

The show easily could have mocked all of the white rappers, especially the stereotypical “wigger” $hamrock, but instead it shows him to be a pretty stand-up guy. In my first entry on the show I spoke of the problematic aspects of the “wigger” and tried to drum up some sympathy for “wiggers” everywhere. I did it because I had the feeling the show would never go there but I was wrong. The show balanced a sense of making fun of these goofy white kids and really giving a shit about them. Every episode seems to have a few gems that totally complicate issues of race and authenticity. When the always good-natured Fat Joe shows up to give the rappers advice, he drops this piece of advice: “Let them know ‘Yeah, I’m white but I ain’t rich. I’m just as poor as you…” That’s the kind of thing that is as under-discussed on television as the problems for racial minorities. Why can’t the show just keep going? Make it ‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper House’. My editor Monique, suggested a spin-off of just John Brown and $hamrock living in the trailer. Do something! I don’t want to write weekly entries on ‘Dice Undisputed’ (Although, I’m definitely watching that shit)! A second season better happen or I don’t know what I’ll do…

My White Rapper Show Entries
-Episode 01.
-Episode 02.
-Episode 03.
-Episode 04.
-Episode 05.
-Episode 06.
-Episode 07.

and…The White Rappers in Wii Form.

Written by Brandon

February 27th, 2007 at 7:47 am

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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 07.

I have my whole family watching this show. My parents who are in their 40s, my 15-year-old sister, and my twenty-something friends all gather in my parents’ living room each Monday at 10 pm. On weekends, my girlfriend who doesn’t have cable at school, comes here and we all watch it again. I’m probably becoming one of those annoying people who mentions their dead friend anytime they get the chance, but since my friends’ suicide two weeks ago, the only constant in any of my friends’ or family’s life is ‘The (White) Rapper Show’. I know, at least for that hour, I’ll be entertained and have something to pick apart and discuss besides why my best friend blew his head off.

This show is just good. It has all of the seedy and exploitative aspects of reality television with some additional aspects that make it insightful and discussion-worthy. All of this is mixed together without being “have your cake and eat it too”, as in, it doesn’t suddenly redeem itself from reality television cynicism with a touching ending. The unsavory and the kinder moments are closely connected, often right after one another and sometimes at the same time. Jus Rhyme’s painfully sincere political statements make me roll over laughing but the dude never gives up or just doesn’t give a shit: How can that not move you on some level?

Last night’s episode was probably the best episode of the season, which is weird because there was literally no tension. Jus Rhyme was eliminated before the show began. I think Serch had a bit of a hand in getting Jus out of there because $hamrock’s performance was definitely the worst but it would be too outrageous if Jus Rhyme’s luck didn’t finally run out. Serch’s slight manipulation of the outcome actually helps because it connects the show to the more questionable aspects of reality television. Those connections to more conventional reality TV are as necessary to the show’s success as the elements that separate it from something like ‘Flavor of Love’. Even if $hamrock sucked in the battle, he is modest and fairly creative and better upholds the ideas of the show than Jus Rhyme. $hamrock has a pattern, beginning with his ‘White Guilt’ verse a few episodes ago, of being even-handed about issues of race. $hamrock is not apologetic about being white but is also mindful of his place as a white rapper. He is intelligently skeptical of certain racial “givens” without being rude. When Serch, who really becomes a mentor to the rappers in this episode, tells them they “can’t make fun of [black battlers'] blackness” $hamrock thinks of a few battle-lines that flip racial expectations. Serch’s reason for not making fun of their blackness is that the white rappers are “coming from outside of the culture” but when we see the crowd at Saint Andrews, it is at least 30% white and not only white, but many audience members are (gasp) hipsters! There’s a hilarious shot of some white chick that looks like she majored in French or Peace Studies or something, shaking her head in disapproval at Jus Rhyme. Ridiculous.

“Nobody is setting up a program in unemployed studies, homeless studies, or trailer-park studies, because the unemployed, the homeless, and residents of trailer parks are not ‘other’ in the relevant sense.”-Richard Rorty (80).

When the white rappers meet the locals at the trailer park, it’s incredibly entertaining but also a confrontation with the real that is never, ever, shown on television now that ‘COPS’ is no longer a phenomenon. The crazy lady in too-short shorts, the scary-as-hell-but-kinda-friendly black guy, the guy just walking around with a fishing net and a framed fishing magazine (is he on the cover?); this is not “ghetto fabulous” or Trace Adkins’ version of white trash. To temporarily idealize these people, they probably all get along in the trailer park much better than racially diverse people on most college campuses. Buff Black Man doesn’t perceive being called “Tupac” as racist and I’m sure everyone treats the crazy lady like she is crazy and none of it is that big of a deal. Yeah, these people probably beat their kids or do meth and the whites probably toss the word “nigger” around but there’s still a weird, complicated civility at work in a place like that trailer park. No doubt Crazy Lady knows who Tupac is because she has a “wigger” son.

On Friday, I was at this Salvation Army in Newark, DE and a woman very much like Crazy Lady stood in front of me in line. As the stuff she was buying was being rung up she had to run out to her car to get her wallet. She went outside to her car, came back in and somehow forgot why she went out there because she returned without her purse, then, she went back out, only to return to tell the cashier, who was an ornery 60ish gay black man with blonde hair, that she didn’t have her credit card and couldn’t pay. She pleads with the Old, Gay, Black cashier to hold her stuff but he angrily refuses and argues for a few moments before, yes, an undoubtedly mildly-retarded white worker with dreads (?!) finally agrees to hold the stuff for her. The real-life Crazy Lady thanks the dreadlocked tard and walks out, but not before she reaches over and picks up the record-box-set I was buying and told me: “That’s a real nice chessboard”. Oh yeah, and the whole time some kind of reggae mix CD is playing really loudly and I assume Gay Black Man made the CD because no company would sell such a confused compilation. The CD segued from Shaggy to Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Many Rivers to Cross’ to some non-‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ Baha Men track and back to Desmond Dekker. Try to explain that to somebody. That is what ‘The White Rapper Show’ explicitly presents with the trailer park sequence or moves towards when it puts weirdos like 100 Proof, G-Child, or any of the rappers on television and dares to show them humanely.

The final episode is next week. What will I do when it’s all over?

-Rorty, Richard. ‘Achieving Our Country’. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998.

Written by Brandon

February 21st, 2007 at 8:07 am

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The Cast of ‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’ in Wii Form

Bonus VH1 Reality Mii: Boston from ‘I Love New York’

Written by Brandon

February 20th, 2007 at 8:10 pm

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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 06.

I really don’t know what to think of John Brown. I really love the guy but ultimately I’ve been duped. Most people have hated on him for being totally full of shit and I guess I’m finally ready to admit that he is. This video pretty much defines him as everything Persia and now, $hamrock say about him: He’s what is wrong with rap music, he’s a liar, he’s not that good of a rapper, etc. However, while being a complete liar, John Brown is also the most realistic cast member on the show.

I respect Brown’s ability to have no qualms with the business aspect of being a rapper because too many rappers or just artists in general, deny that very crucial money-making aspect. If you’re not in it for money, why aren’t you rapping in your basement? Brown’s whole “I’m not a rapper. I’m an entity” thing, as well his style in the aforementioned video, reminds me of Young Jeezy’s “I’m not a rapper” mantra. I’ve always defended Jeezy’s assertion because I saw it as Jeezy being brutally honest about the business aspect while also being kind of modest about his obvious artistic ambitions. I’ll admit the dude can’t really rap but he’s certainly artistic in his interest in making a cohesive album and consistent product. I’m very weary of romanticized notions of the artist. I don’t believe in someone unequivocally “expressing” themselves so it’s refreshing when someone refuses to be called an artist. In ‘Leather So Soft’ there’s that line where Lil Wayne says “Then I get in the booth and let my soul bleed”; exactly the kind of self-important “I’m expressing myself” bullshit I hate.

So, like Jeezy, even if he sets himself up as the ultimate hustler, John Brown has some real things to say; he seems like a pretty perceptive and concerned guy. He is clearly more self-aware than the rest of the rappers and is sympathetic enough to be embarrassed for his fellow cast members when they are being clowned or clown themselves. When Jus Rhyme invites Brown to go along to dine with N.O.R.E, he has that panicky look on his face and is sort of embarrassed that he’s been picked. It’s like middle school where you’re nice to some nerdy kid because everyone gives him too much shit and then he gives you an invitation to his birthday party or something and someone in the class sees it and you’re just like “I’m not friends with that guy, seriously, I’m not.” Even John Brown’s screw-ups seem contrived as some form of publicity or expression or both. When he says that stuff about Clear Channel it was his semi-subtle way of telling Miss Jones and her group of vultures to shut up. The Hot97 trip was a debacle and not because John Brown was a retard. Like every black morning radio host, Miss Jones loves easy targets. The white rappers’ sincerity for the most part, keeps them afloat because they (except for John Brown) know when to shut up or take it as a loss. Either way, it’s still sad to see people being so cruel and worse, to see anybody, not just our beloved white rappers, totally defer to somebody, anybody. It just gave me a really sick feeling.

The event made me think of this time I was driving and a car in front of me struck a deer. The deer flew up in the air and hit the ground. With all four legs broken, it tried to get up, and instead, it just did that Curly from the ‘Three Stooges’ floor spin on the asphalt. This was so upsetting because out of fear or some weird obligation I don’t think animals really grasp, the deer seemed aware that the cars were all stopped, waiting for him to waddle off into the woods. I just wanted to tell the deer to lie down or even get out of my car hold it down; all these cars could wait or something…The Miss Jones part of the episode gave me a similar gross feeling because we were witnessing a group of people completely powerless just like that deer, the white rappers were more concerned with what they should do than what they wanted to do. No matter how wack some of the rappers are, they don’t deserve Miss Jones’ bullshit and worse, when they sort of succeeded, as when $hamrock gave them a decent freestyle but slipped on the station number, she told him he “failed”. What the fuck was that? At least Lord Jamar or Just Blaze’s assholism was relatively brief.

Well, in the end, Persia goes. I was really hoping it was going to be Jus Rhyme because he’s plain awful and it was totally fair, not cruel, when Serch put it to him like this: “I think you’re very fortunate that you didn’t go into the ice chamber earlier because I don’t think you would have lasted the first ice-ice chamber elimination. That rhyme was horrible.” Had Persia made any attempt to sell her rhyme, even if she forgot it three times over, she’d probably still be on the show and it wouldn’t have been any kind of injustice to Jus Rhyme. Next week: Insane Clown Posse!

Written by Brandon

February 14th, 2007 at 9:52 am

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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 05.

Within the first few minutes of this week’s episode, Sullee is already falling apart. You get a real sense of dread looming over his every action and it isn’t just some reality television foreshadowing through editing, he really is getting nervous. Sullee’s in a weird position of actually being talented but not as talented as he thinks, so it leads him in positions where he looks like a complete dumbass. Totally about to snap, he becomes convinced somehow, the honorable thing to do is punk-out under the guise of not wanting to “snitch”. Sullee really just freaked out and didn’t want to get booted or actually lose, so he turned it into some idiotic “I neva snitch” type thing. Serch’s departing lecture to Sullee was pretty much spot-on:

“Yo, you’re selling yourself out right now…and the worst part is Sullee, you’re thinking you’re doing it on a higher principle, you’re not. This is an exercise. You had cameras following you the whole time, we know everything you did. You’re caught-up in the hip-hop hype of what snitching is. Snitching is about illegal activity. Snitching is about seeing somebody do something they shouldn’t be doing and dropping dime on them. You’re not dropping dime on them. Kicking off the shoes, doing all of that, if you really want to quit bro, there’s the door. Be out.”

While Serch appears pretty eloquent there, there’s a strange part when he turns to talk to Jon Boy and the camera just holds on Jon Boy’s face as Serch rips him. It’s obviously dubbed-in later; Serch’s voice sounds totally different. Notice how much more eloquent and hardass he sounds here: “You know I can appreciate your defiance for what it is, but don’t get it twisted. You cannot get slick with me and flip the challenge. I’m not havin’ it.” I know it’s a reality television norm to edit and change, it’s not a big deal, but it struck me as a bit odd and unfair, particularly because Serch is being held-up as very real and very honest. Clearly, the speech he gives to Jon Boy was re-recorded or written afterwards and dubbed in. There’s also the sad fact that Sullee totally hustles Jon Boy into buying the whole “snitch” thing because it saves Sullee’s ass while it does nothing for Jon Boy but get him eliminated.

It’s interesting how the show finds a way to address every aspect or cliché of rap culture, including something like snitching, which you would think would be hard to fit into a good-natured reality show about rappers. Serch is totally correct when he calls the snitching “hype” but I almost wish that he or the show would have come out more forcefully against “Stop Snitching”. Perhaps they would lose their “cred” but it is worth coming out against, particularly when Baltimore police’s response to “Stop Snitching” is an idiotic campaign like “Keep Talking” which just brings more attention to “Stop Snitching” and encourages no actual opposition.

Yeah, if I commit a crime with some friends, I’d be a pretty big faggot if I told on them. However, there are some very valid arguments against “Stop Snitching” and the so-called “code” has been outrageously perverted and is one more way in which criminals and drug-dealers exploit their own communities in the same way that politicians and government types exploit the same communities. It also shows why the celebration and honor of drug dealers as somehow system fighters or anti-government rebels is absurd. Drug dealers and criminals are weak because once they do the crime, they won’t even stick it out and take the time. If poor old woman in the apartment next door reports loud noise and it leads to a drug bust, there’s a possibility she will have to fear for her life. Now, if I was involved in illegal activity like that, I’d probably live by the same code (it’s really an anti-code) but I wish these people and those that celebrate them would just let them be what they really are: scumbags. There’s nothing wrong with being a scumbag but don’t act as if you’re on some “by any means necessary” trip. The fact that “snitching” is now defined as speaking to the police in any form about any crime is truly unfortunate. The only people that benefit from an unsolved crime are criminals. Now, certainly, people in areas where crime is pervasive may not tell police for fear of their lives but that has always happened; distrust of the police is nothing new, but what is new is how the definition of snitching has stretched so far.

The form in which snitching enters the ‘(White) Rapper Show’ world is symptomatic of the way in which snitch-talk has pervaded areas that have nothing to do with street-level crime. My friend John, an accounting major, told me a story of a student from Senegal who often wore a Yankees hat and when the Professor spoke of insider trading or “whistle-blowing” this guy called it “snitching”. What? Now this guy from Senegal, probably the son of a diplomat, who has even less to do with “the streets” than I do, is calling someone who is ethically concerned about how a crooked business is run, a snitch?

Sullee took the easy way out by following self-made, personalized rules on “snitching”. The problem with everybody, with everything (I’m implicating myself here as well) is the way in which we live robotically, the way in which the “hippest” music listeners reads Pitchfork or ‘Wire’ magazine as a bible, the way the “hardest” so-called “thug” on the block frees himself of any ethical or moral quandary he might truly be in by falling back-on “stop snitching”. I think of that Nietzsche phrase, where he called all ways of comfortable living “wretched self-complacency”. That’s the problem with most “thugs” particularly the thug attitude Tupac made pervasive. It’s not even tough, it’s not even self-destructive, it’s safe, it’s lazy, it is wretchedly self-complacent.

Speaking of self-complacency…fuck happened to Jon-Boy? The guy’s head quadrupled in size since the previous episode. He begins rapping in front of the mall to disinterested black shoppers and even compares himself to Jesus! Did it all begin when some confused shopper asked for his autograph? Suddenly, Marc Ecko dresses him, he’s got some shades and a popped collar and he’s King Shit of Fuck Mountain. My favorite part, which really was like a scene from some movie about an asshole Hollywood big-shot is when Jon-Boy, when asked by the video director, as he puts his shades atop his head, goes: “Alright listen. What we do: We rap. What you do: You direct. Alright?”

I’ve been defending Jon Boy and Sullee because they could spit but it was fun to see them go down even if it leaves the show in a weird place. Persia and $hamrock can rap and I really like $hamrock because he’s got a good attitude, but neither of them say very much. Jus Rhyme can’t even rap and has totally lucked-out. I personally love John Brown, he’s really hilarious (and aware of it) and he actually seems like a really bright guy. He obviously understood the “rap about your partner’s faults” prompt as not “snitching” but as an exercise and is smart enough to realize how much time is wasted and opportunities ruined when ill-concieved ideas of pride take over. The guy is also a hook-machine, ‘Smoke in the Club’ and ‘She’s a Stunna’, someone like the Lox or post-Cuban Linx Raekwon should hire him to write their hooks. The show is beginning to lose it’s personalities; John Brown is the only one left with personality but if he ended up winning, I’d be a little confused or disappointed. Pray for $hamrock?

PS: Everyone should be nicer to Crazy Astronaut lady. Seriously, folks.

Written by Brandon

February 8th, 2007 at 6:55 am