We have yet another reality show that is not reflective of how most of us live. Do we have to continue to be inundated by the excess and carelessness of the celebrity lifestyle? We get a glimpse inside hip hop star T.I.’s mansion as his girlfriend, who is now rumored to be his wife, capitalizes on his incarceration. Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, a former member of the 90s hip hop soul female singing group Xscape, is talented in her own right, but for the most part was forgotten. With renewed media interest in all of the “T.I. goes to jail” hoopla, Tiny is back in the spotlight. Antonia “Toya” Carter, the ex-wife of Wayne Carter a.k.a. superstar rapper Lil’ Wayne, uncovers the unknown side of the musician’s family.
As much as I despised that Black Entertainment Television was airing a program that would hurt rather than uplift the community it was created to serve, I decided to watch the sneak preview out of pure curiosity. I was apprehensive at first that the Tiny and Toya show would only enforce the stereotypes that Black women often fall victim to in the media, especially the baby mama, gold digger persona. I discovered that while the show had its ignorant moments, the stars surprisingly shared their personal stories with the audience – including the good and the bad. It showed that celebrities and their families are not invincible, nor immune to everyday problems. It made clear that money cannot buy happiness. As Toya drove a Honda through the streets of New Orleans searching for her mother, I was pleased that we were viewing her conservative and practical side in this economic recession. The display of raw emotion was also refreshing.
In the first episode, we witness Tiny coming to terms with her father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and Toya who is battling with her drug addicted mother to get off the streets. The story begins with Tiny who recounts losing the father of her first child to a ten year prison sentence while she was left all alone to raise their daughter. We also find out that Tiny was a sugar mama to T.I. before he was discovered. To contrary belief, Tiny was initially the one with the money in their relationship due to her songwriting and performance royalties. Then Toya goes back into her childhood to explain how and why she became a pregnant teen with Lil’ Wayne’s child at the age of 14. These young ladies displayed courage and opened their hearts to let us in. The topics are relevant – real love, real life.
Both Tiny and Toya appeared to honestly divulge the details of their failed relationships right before our very eyes while uncovering their human side. We have yet to see what is to come in subsequent episodes, but they are off to a good start. Even if you do not agree with their approach, Tiny and Toya are explosive in that they allow the cameras to film their joy and pain. Let us hope for the best, as the haters are already on the horizon.
Microphone check 1-2, 1-2…is this thing on?
- Kamille Wolff