Music Mondays – Hip Hop Squares

It’s a silly premise: bring back the beloved Hollywood Squares, but with hip-hop’s biggest names.

It’s also a very “MTV-ian” concept, as they have put twists on shows like Skins and The Inbetweeners, providing not-so-refreshing versions of still relevant programs. MTV is obviously a network that’s struggling to get some sort of substance after a decade of focusing on style, so it’s nice to see music back on Music Television.

The first episode was a decent introduction to the show: a great numbers of stars (8 of 9 I was pretty familiar with, and half were probably drunk), the classic middle square hamming, the one really hot contestant, and really uninteresting and inconsistent questions. Let’s look at who showed up.

I was really impressed with the first episode’s line-up. The center square was occupied by Mac Miller, though at first, Ghostface Killah had switched places with him, which would have been more fun, but Mac Miller actually did a great job. Filling out the other seven spots were DJ Khaled, Tech n9ne, Childish Gambino, Fat Joe, Kat Graham, MGK, and Donnell Rawlings, of Chappelle’s Show and “HE STOLE THAT GUYS PIZZA” fame.

Mac Miller took over Whoopi Goldberg’s famed center spot, and at first I thought that this was a poor choice with Ghostface, Childish, and Rawlings being other options. But boy, was I wrong. The kid had a blast as the center square, hamming it up the entire time. He didn’t seem sober, which is perhaps how he had so much fun with it. Aside from showmanship as the center square, Miller also got all three of his questions correct, so good on him.

Other highlights were Fat Joe just being the absolute man, getting both his questions right and providing the right choice  in the final round of the show. MGK was off his rocker the entire episode, looking like he was going to fall out of his square the entire episode. Sporting a goofy afro and a “Scout’s Honor” sweatshirt, Childish Gambino was called a nerd a couple times, which I’m sure he loved. DK Khaled showed up and didn’t provide, like any song he’s in. (Ok, fine he got some questions right.) And naturally, not only did Ghostface get all of his questions correct, but it looked like he had a blast the entire time.

Tech n9ne and Donnell Rawlings weren’t used at all this episode, which was really unfortunate because Tech always seemed like a smart, interesting guy, and Rawlings is hilarious. Kat Graham only got in at the very end because the contestant really wanted to talk to her. Speaking of that contestant…

…she was incredibly attractive. I don’t know if there was any particular order these episodes needed to air, but having a contest that looked like Inqu certainly helped. And of course, some of the stars knew it too, specifically MGK. One question asked “If Master P was killing aliens as Master Chief, what game would he be in?” MGK incorrectly said Call of Duty and Inqu disagreed, saying that it was from Halo, claiming that she plays the videogame often. Smoothly, MGK asked Inqu if her boyfriend played the game, leading Inqu to laugh it off and then gesture and mouth “call me.”

It was almost like she was made for TV, explaining in her quick intro that money from winning would help her pay for Colombia grad school. AKA Ms. Perfect, or way too suspicious to be an ordinary contest. Regardless, I can’t complain here. And hey, Alejandro was a good sport and his Puerto Rican connection to Fat Joe was great for the show as well.

Gameplay itself was alright, but the questions were all over the place. There were the pop cultural questions, like “If you were six feet and three hundred pounds and at Kim Kardashian’s wedding, who or what would you be?” and another on who Chelsea Handler used to date. Then there were other questions on things like slang and brands, covering watches and cars, and other random questions like “The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that there is an increase of traffic accidents after what event?” The answer here was actually NASCAR races, which makes sense, but still surprised me a bit.

There was also a bonus square in one round that would give the contestant $1,000 if they landed it on. It was called “The G-Spot,” which makes me think some writers for this show are still in high school. Then again, Inqu did manage to find it, which it’s name a little bit better.

Overall, it was an entertaining 20-ish minutes of television. It’s cool to see all these artists from different backgrounds come together and just have a fun time on the show. The middle row alone had a drastic range of talent, from Tech n9ne’s odd, dark, and lyrically heavy subgenre, to Mac Miller’s frat-boy stylings, to Ghostface’s Wu roots. Perhaps these differences provided some insight as to why the stars weren’t really interacting with each other. Ghostface was certainly the most friendly, between switching places with Mac Miller and responding to Childish’s comments that Ghostface was nerdier than he was.

There’s certainly room to improve in regard to the level of comedy on the show, to make it that “party” that MTV promoted the show as. But at the same time, it’s a harmless gameshow and definitely a fresh take on a classic show. And when you look at the other programming on MTV, Hip Hop Squares is certainly an upgrade.

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