Why Peter Gunz Gives Love in Hip-Hop a Bad Rap
Peter Gunz is giving love in hip-hop a bad rap. The turmoil regarding the rapper’s love triangle has been the highlight of VH1’s ‘Love & Hip Hop: New York’ this season. Episode after episode, he hangs his head in shame after getting caught in a web of lies by the mother of his children, Tara, and his failed attempt to keep his wife, Amina, a secret.
No matter how much these two women cry over Peter, he tries to remain romantically involved with both at the same time. But are his scheming ways a reflection of how all rappers are in relationships? Or is Peter just in a class all of his own?
Born Peter Pankey, the 44-year-old hails from the Bronx, N.Y., and is best known as one-half of the short-lived hip-hop duo of Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. Their single, ‘Déjà Vu (Uptown Baby),’ released in 1998, peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 6 in Canada. The two split ways soon after the song’s debut, putting an end to their short reign on the charts.
During Season 3 of ‘Love & Hip Hop: New York,’ Peter surfaced as the voice of reason for his business partner, Rich Dollaz, who was having relationship and management troubles of his own with cast member Erica Mena. Peter told Rich to cut off Erica as her negativity and unprofessionalism began to affect their money. But little did viewers know that he who was casting stones was sitting on his own pile of dirty laundry. And this season, Peter decided to come clean — he blamed being broke as the reason he put all of his business on front street.
“I’m f—ed up out here. Last time I went to the ATM, that s— told me to get the f— outta here,” Peter said during an interview with Shade 45’s ‘Sway in the Morning’ last year. “I had one hit… When they called me about the show, I was three months behind the rent… I just gave y’all what was really going on. I was gonna get busted anyway… Let me get paid to get busted. F— it.”
From the first time viewers caught a glimpse of Peter’s love triangle, it was obvious he wasn’t the fan favorite on the show. He told Tara he wanted to rebuild their relationship even though he hadn’t revealed his marriage to Amina yet, and he continued to string the latter along, and this was just in the beginning of the season. Type Peter Gunz’s name into a search on Twitter while the show is airing and live tweets will pop up showcasing people voicing their disgust towards his antics.
Tara thought Amina was just an artist Peter was managing — she even supported them working together. But on episode 4, Amina dropped a bomb on Tara and pulled out her marriage license, which resulted in a fight between them inside a restaurant. By episode 8, Tara decided to break all romantic ties to Peter and he chose to focus on his marriage with Amina — at least for now.
“Just because someone is in a relationship doesn’t mean they have the character to maintain the vows or the promises in that relationship,” Dr. Alduan Tartt, a psychologist and relationship consultant who owns a private practice in Decatur, Ga., tells The Boombox. He explains that some men inappropriately have two lovers — each to fulfill certain needs. “While he’s trying to be that family man, stay-at-home man with his ex and children, he’s also sending the wrong message that the only way to do that is to be deceptive.”
L. Boogs, a radio personality on Hot 97 in New York City, says he never saw Peter Gunz as the playboy type but rather as one of the good rap acts to come out of the Bronx. “I’ll judge the show and him on 70 percent entertainment, 20 percent real and the 10 percent of needed B.S. to sell TV. But they got us talking about it so someone is doing a good job,” he states.
Artists bigger than Peter have faced scrutiny when troubles in their relationships reached the public eye. In October 2013, Sherlita Patton, the wife of Big Boi filed for divorce after being married since 2002. In the same month, Timbaland’s wife Monique Mosley filed for divorce after five years of marriage. Master P’s estranged wife served papers after 24 years. In 2012, Nas famously held the wedding dress of his ex-wife Kelis on the cover of his album, ‘Life Is Good.’ Instead of hiding his feelings about their breakup, he chose to pour their story out on wax. Even though it didn’t work out between these artists and their respective spouses, it doesn’t mean that all rap relationships are filled with scandal.
“We don’t see the entertainers that do right by their spouses. We see them, but we don’t write articles saying, ‘XYZ is faithful to his wife,’” Dr. Tartt explains. “It’s just not newsworthy for whatever reason. How many of these rappers had dads who were faithful to their mothers for them to even have a model or blueprint to take from?”
Boogs adds that there are many rap acts doing the right thing when it comes to family and love. “We all went crazy when Will [Smith] and Jada made it and the excitement we all had because of Nas and Kelis [marrying] was real. I’ll be an idiot if I don’t mention how amazing of a union Beyonce and Jay Z is,” he says. “In all, love exists in hip-hop. By now, the generation of men who were lost as to how a relationship should work and holding down a household because of broken homes has gotten better to a certain point.”
Looking back, 2013 was a big year for love in hip-hop and provided plenty of images of happy coupledom. There were many engagements: Kanye West to Kim Kardashian, Future to Ciara, Eve to Maximillion Cooper and Big Sean to Naya Rivera. Pharrell Williams tied the knot to Helen Lasichanh and Jay Z and Beyonce celebrated five years of holy matrimony.
Still, we can’t ignore that many popular hip-hop songs don’t glorify being in love with one woman. Instead, songs involve more replacing than chasing, and showering strippers with money rather than paying for dates. “Do we need more examples of our music heroes in love and raising a family? Yes. Can we stop promoting the party life and having multiple females as a lifestyle? No,” Boogs shares.
One example of a loving hip-hop couple on television has been VH1’s ‘T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle.’ For three seasons, the rapper and his singer wife have kept their household balanced without fighting each other on camera. They deliver a family-friendly reality show that involves harmless pranks, T.I.’s funny personal philosophies on parenting and cute kids who seem grounded.
It would be ideal to add Will and Jada or Jay Z and Beyonce to this reality television show line-up, giving the world an insider view on how their relationships work and build what seems like the picture perfect family. Although seeing more of those positive images are needed, couples who have a genuine bond don’t need to prove anything to the world. They should want to keep those special moments private and protected. But one can still dream.
In the meantime, Peter Gunz’s issues are easy entertainment. ‘Love & Hip Hop’ remains one of the leaders in cable ratings every Monday night, so people are buying into the storyline no matter how sorry it is. But what the show doesn’t tell you is that Peter’s problems are not an accurate representation of every rapper. Even if the story is a bit exaggerated for television, it’s clear he still needs to clean up his act or continue to fall victim to his own actions.
“No excuses!!! Still dead wrong!! Love me hate me all good… Keep watching,” he tweeted on Nov. 1, 2013, while watching his own drama unfold on television.
The first step is admitting the problem.