Before Hip-Hop Squares: Eight Links Between Rap Music and TV Game Shows
A game show that people have ever cared about -- even a little bit -- can go down, but it will never truly be out. Know the Dick Clark version of Pyramid that started in the 1970s and continued throughout the decade? No? Well, you've probably encountered the Bill Cullen version (also from the '70s), the John Davidson version (from the '90s) or the Donny Osmond version (from the '00s). And that's just one of many examples. If a dead title had any luster to it at all, odds are very good that it's going to be remade at some point.
Such is the case with Hip-Hop Squares, MTV2's revamp of Hollywood Squares, which debuts tonight (Tuesday, May 22). Hollywood Squares has drifted on and off the air waves since the mid-'60s, but you probably know the name best for the 1998 version that ran for six years and housed Whoopi Goldberg in the center square. The gist of Squares is that two non-celebrity players participate in a giant game of tic-tac-toe, with a rotating crew of celebrities ("celebrity" is often used loosely here) fielding trivia questions. The celebrity panelists are briefed with the answers before the game starts, so they can give various joke responses ("joke" is often used loosely here) to potentially trip up players. It's up to players to decide which answers are correct and which are bunk, and try to get three in the proper order.
Hip-Hop Squares already looks to be way better than Hollywood Squares based on the host alone. The show will be run by Hot 97 DJ Pete Rosenberg, who is approximately 30,000 times more genuine-feeling than Tom Bergeron. The rotating cast of rappers and other hip-hop-related celebrities impressively includes Common, Mac Miller, Fat Joe, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Biz Markie, Nick Cannon, Machine Gun Kelly, Childish Gambino, Tech N9Ne, Amber Rose, and DJ Khaled. Throwing a hip-hop makeover on the Squares concept is a cheesy, contrived move, yeah -- but it still looks like a whole lot of dumb fun. Plus, anything that brings Ghostface to the world is a beautiful thing.
Before Hip-Hop Squares launches tonight, let's look at eight (or so) past connections between hip-hop and game shows:
1. Wu-Tang Clan's "Tearz" and "Wu-Tang Clan Aint Nuthing Ta F' Wit" reference Press Your Luck and Family Feud
Speaking of Ghostface, his verse of Wu-Tang Clan's "Tearz" off Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers is as good of a point to initiate this inventory as any. Tony Starks' half of 36 Chambers' most sobering track focuses on "Big Moe from the shelter," a buddy of Ghost's who enjoys unprotected sex and thinks of it as no biggie, even as his friend warns him about the dangers of having it with some less than reputable women. Eventually, this habit is Big Moe's downfall: "But he carried on with the same old stuff with Stephanie/Like a Whammy, he pressed his luck." Ghostface using the red little game show devils from Press as a segue into someone getting HIV is rather twisted and brilliant.
On the same record, RZA shout-outs to another game show (and, less notably, a '70s martial arts flick) early into "Wu-Tang Clan Aint Nuthing Ta F' Wit": "I be tossing and flossing/My style is awesome/I'm causing more family feuds than Richard Dawson/And the survey said, you're dead/Fatal flying guillotine chops off your fucking head."
2. Jeopardy! uses Cam'ron in an answer
On the Jeopardy! episode that aired Oct. 7, 2011, contestant Joon Pahk chose "In the Pink" for $800. The answer: "Rapper Cam'ron had a pink one of these alliterative super-SUVs, but sold it as it got too much attention." Surprisingly, no one buzzed in. The correct answer is "Range Rover," and Cam'ron has compared the look of his to Laffy Taffy. The now-sold vehicle appears in the clip for "Killa Cam":
3. Beastie Boys' "Hey Ladies" praises Chuck Woolery
In the wake of MCA's death, everyone has been busting out Beastie Boys videos and tunes lately. You've probably heard "Sabotage" or "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" recently, but what about "Hey Ladies," off the sample-crazy Paul's Boutique? On the track, the Boys are on the prowl for womenfolk, and as a positive, Ad-Rock mentions that he dates "women on TV with the help of Chuck Woolery." Although Woolery has hosted a whole mess of game shows, he was just about finishing up his run on Love Connection when Paul's was released in 1989, so "Hey Ladies" is undoubtedly referencing that show. Mentions of Woolery also show up in Royce Da 5'9"'s "Nobody Fucking With Us," King Jacob's "Let's Go," and Chino XL's "Creep."
4. Sketch the Rhyme is a thing
You've probably never heard of Sketch the Rhyme before, and neither had we until we were researching this piece. Created in Australia, someone in the video below describes Sketch as "hip-hop Pictionary, freestyle music, freestyle art, freestyle rapping on steroids or something." The creators' Facebook page does a better job of summing it up, calling it "a multimedia/visual arts show that incorporates freestyle rapping and speed drawing into games." We're still not entirely sure how that all plays out, but it does look pretty promising: