Opinion: The Problem With ‘Sisterhood Of Hip-Hop’

Oxygen’s Sisterhood of Hip-Hop was sold on the premise that it would chronicle “the next generation of female artists, rewrite the rules of the hip-hop scene.” A month since its premiere, I wonder when the show viewers were promised will surface. What’s been shown thus far has been many things, most of which have been disappointing.
I do not fault the women who make up the cast—Diamond, Brianna Perry, Siya, Bia, and Nyemiah Supreme—but those who helmed the show’s storyboard. With all due respect to these women, I thought this show was about them trying to rap.
Why have we been subjected to way too minute minutes about insecure girlfriends, troubled family members, and ultra petty beefs between members of the cast? Why do I know more about Nyemiah’s staged date with Mack Wilds than I do about her recording process? Why did we have to wait for episodes three and four to even hear some of these ladies’ music? Why do their career ambitions sometimes feel so secondary?
There have been bright spots. It’s particularly interesting to see Brianna Perry deal with her overbearing “momager” who sometimes acts as if she’s still pissed she missed her chance to be the Jacki-O of her day. And I’m intrigued to see how Diamond considers purple hair partially to be the solution to her perceived image problems.
However, when you look at the write-ups about the cast in the press release, I find it remarkable that so much is said about newcomers like Siya—i.e. her challenges being an openly gay rapper—though little of it has been mentioned on the show thus far.
As for “rewriting the rules of the hip hop scene,” all of these women are under the wing of a man: an unfortunate rap tradition if there ever was one. Even so, it would be interesting to hear how the women feel about that. Maybe that’ll come, but even if it does, it’s taken too long.
Conflict is essential to storytelling, but when it comes to telling the story of a woman trying to make it in the male centric world of hip-hop, what more do you need? Sisterhood of Hip-Hop reminds me of those too sweet drinks that make it easier for you to get a hangover. Sometimes it’s best to just serve it straight, no chaser.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.