‘Sisterhood of Hip Hop’ Season 1, Episode 1 Recap: Siya Deals With Relationship Tension, Nyemiah Supreme Leaves Home, Pharrell Williams and Bia Have a Moment
The New York Times caused some small social media controversy with one article headlined, "For female rappers, the steadiest gigs are in reality TV" this week. It was a presumably unintentional example of the marginalization of female rappers in the mainstream lens for an article about 'Sisterhood of Hip Hop,' a show that would ideally highlight triumph in the face of it.
When an exhausted Lil Jon meets former Crime Mob member Diamond, he pretty much summarized the fears of a few when 'Sisterhood of Hip Hop' was announced: "That's the motto, 'No drama.'" Can 'Sisterhood of Hip Hop' -- which airs right after over-the-top reality drama series/Mimi evisceration set-up 'Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta' -- focus on the cast's determination to thrive in an industry with the cards stack against them instead of becoming another reality soap opera?
That's a maybe. The 'Sisterhood of Hip Hop' first episode plays out like your typical exposition hour, laying out the stars' background, ambitions and an ongoing dilemma. The five stars share the dream of making it big, but they obviously have different stories.
After years of drama, Diamond decides to leave her home to get a new start in New York. She keeps her account of what's been troubling her the past half-decade short: tabloid news, a troubled relationship with Lil Scrappy and her fling with Soulja Boy. The brevity is necessary, because -- as she probably wishes -- it does leave past drama at the door and focuses on where she is now. Plus, she comes across as a likable person; her shot at Lil Scrappy is arguably the pilot's best one-liner: "You not gonna be cheatin’, broke and abusive. That's a conflict of interest."
Brianna Perry is a University of Miami senior majoring in business who's focused not only as making it as an artist, but also as a brand. (Spoiler alert: Wikipedia says she graduated. Props). Boston MC Bia (born Bianca Landrau) is signed to Pharrell's label and hopes the work ethic gifted to her by her family will take her far in the game. Nyemiah Supreme is ... well she's from Queens and knows Timbaland. We know the least about her because she gets introduced as some random source of conflict and Renaye apparently gets jealous when her boo, main cast member Siya of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, diverts attention to her during a battle rap event. That's a really odd entry point for one of your main cast members.
Anyway, that brings us to arguably the most interesting character -- Siya. While they're an unfairly minuscule bunch, mainstream female rappers do exist. What's never crossed over is a strictly lyrical rapper that's of Siya's ilk. She's from the 'hood -- not gentrified Bed Stuy, but do-or-die Bed Stuy -- and has an androgynous figure that hides her sex appeal and she seems interested in lyrically dense raps. Siya doesn't have the crossover appeal her predecessors had; 'Super Bass' she is not. Plus, she's openly gay, which further marks her as a minority.
What's going to be interesting is if 'Sisterhood of Hip Hop' is going to be a tale of what's sure to be her difficult battle against the industry or her vs. Renaye. The episode implies Renaye is the jealous type, and the season preview reveals there is going to be plenty of drama between the two. Hopefully, the series takes the less tread road and focuses on the career aspect.
There are flaws, but 'Sisterhood of Hip Hop' definitely has some interesting pieces in place. One thing, though: Where's the rapping? Rick Ross and Lil Jon make appearances as sunglasses-wearing enigmas (DAYLYT shows up at the battle rap event, but he's kinda just there), but Pharrell's conversation with Bia is by far the highlight cameo.
"Snoop's downstairs, T.I.'s next door, but I'm talking to you. Because you matter," he says in a cool, but honest manner before giving his advice. It's a great moment that underscores an anxiety about the series. Is the "you" the artist?
Quick side note: How unapologetically 21st century is Siya's account of meeting Renaye? "We met two years ago and it was love at first sight. I saw a picture on Instagram and I thought she was bad." Mind you, Renaye moved from California to New York City to be with her. Siya's game is strong.