While researching this part, and thinking about part 1, I got the feeling that I came across as though I didn’t enjoy Unpretty Rapstar, which isn’t the case. I did enjoy the show and I play many of the songs on a regular basis (KittiB and Microdot‘s song for sure). This series isn’t saying that Unpretty Rapstar is horrible. It’s saying there’s room for improvement.
So what can be improved?
For one, there’s the format. The show is pretty straightforward, you have the challenges that weed out contenders until only a small group is standing. Have them go head to head, let the producer pick a winner, move on to the next challenge. You can copy and paste that from any reality series, not just Unpretty Rapstar. This is the same thing that goes on on shows like MasterChef, or Cutthroat Kitchen, or American Idol. The regular season challenges aren’t an issue, but the finales are.
The stage is set for a huge show. Lights, an enormous audience, the whole package. But why is this finale so big when it’s the exact same thing as the rest of the season? The stages are more elaborate but in essence they are all still fighting over one song. The producer isn’t a bigger name than any of the others. The song isn’t guaranteed to chart. So why all the hype for a prize that isn’t any greater than what they’ve had so far?
I guess the producers want to go out with a bang. I can see that. Yet, instead of making this big fuss over a song that is, penultimately, only the last song on the album and nothing more, it seems like that time and energy could be put to use elsewhere.
Another problem, which has been addressed everywhere, is the complete lack of female mentors on the show. Every single producer on the show is male. Aside from Cheetah and Jessi in season 2, and Ailee for the final track in season 1, even the collaborating artists are male. It’s called Unpretty Rapstar, right? At the beginning of every episode, what is that San E says? Korea’s only female compilation album…So where are the females?
I’m not expecting Yoon Mirae to pop up on the show. I just sincerely do not believe that the only composers and producers in South Korea are male. Where’s Lexy? She was huge in the day. She could be a mentor to these women. As I said in the last part, it doesn’t have to be all competition. Take…(Insert country here)’s Next Top Model as an example. All those people who participate are competing with each other, yet they still take the same lessons on walking, smizing, and posing together. They learn more about their craft and then face off.
There’s no denying the talent of the participants, but they all lack in some areas. From performance and stage presence to styling and presentation, they could all use a little help. So why not teach them? Why not invite Lexy to show them how to really handle a crew of men? What about Remi, or even one of the dreaded idol girls to teach about stage presence. Hell, even Lee Guk Joo should guest and show them what it’s like to have some personality.
And going on with that sentiment, that this show is very male dominated to be centered around female rappers, I need to get something off my chest. The 2nd part of the last challenge was an absolute joke and it pissed me off.
Unpretty Rapstar vs Show Me The Money. Why? The contestants knew as soon as the challenge was explained that they weren’t expected to do well. They were immediately intimidated and went into the challenge with a defeated mindset. Why? Because hip hop has the reputation of being “hard” and no matter what you say to people, men will always go harder than women, though that’s another argument for another day. Simply put, there was no reason to make these women go against those guys–who already didn’t need another push from Mnet–just to show that, while girls may be allowed to play, then men will always be the top dogs.
This season of Unpretty Rapstar made me think a lot. Not just about how editing and writing can affect a show, but also about the mindset of hip hop and what it means to be in that world. Without getting too philosophical, I find that even in S.Korea, the parallels are very similar. Basically, if you don’t start out like the Lil Kims and Nicki Minajs–with lyrics meant to offend, (AKA some kind of gimmick)–or you don’t have a powerful crew or sponsor, then your talent will only get you so far.
If there is another season of Unpretty Rapstar, I’m not sure if I will watch. I will, however, continue to support and hope better for the female MCs that I’ve been introduced to.
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