Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta, is the second iteration of the Growing Up Hip Hop franchise. The first version of the show (simply titled, Growing Up Hip Hop) premiered last year on WEtv, and starred Romeo Miller (Master P.’s son), Angela Simmons (Rev. Run’s daughter), Damon “Boogie” Dash (Damon Dash’s son), Kristinia DeBarge (daughter of James DeBarge), Egypt Criss (Pepa’s, from Salt-N-Pepa, daughter), and TJ Mizell (Jam Master Jay’s son).
The thing about the original reality show is that its stars were all a bit under the radar or completely unknown. The platform was a perfect introduction, or reintroduction, for pretty much all of the personalities. For me, this is where the problem lies with the ATL version—the majority of this cast doesn’t need this show.
Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta stars Zonnique Pullins (daughter of T.I. and Tiny), Brandon Barnes (son of hip hop manager Ms. Deb, and brother of Waka Flocka), Ayana Fite (daughter of DJ Hurricane), Reginae Carter (Lil’Wayne’s daughter), Shaniah Mauldin (Jermaine Dupri’s daughter), and the leader of the pack, Bow Wow (who although has no famous biological parents, he’s the only cast member who truly grew up hip hop, releasing his debut album at 13 years old). Even if you have never heard some of those names—if you’re a millennial, I’m sure you’re aware of at least half of the personalities—you know of their families. The cast come from families of very big heavy hitters in the music industry, that are still very relevant today. Which left me confused about why any of them would take the unrefined, often messy, opportunity to be on reality TV.
At a screening of the pilot episode in New York City, they each explained that the show is a platform to launch their own individual endeavors, and remove them from under the spotlight of their wildly successful parents. But, at what costs?
In the pilot, we meet each of the music heirs, and explore the tip of the iceberg of challenges they are sure to experience throughout the season. The most cringe-worthy storyline for me was Zonnique’s (Bow Wow’s is a tight, close second). On the show, she is framed as an “aspiring” singer, which confuses me because she was previously a member of a popular girl group called the The OMG Girlz, and even recently released an independent single of her own that features Young Thug, and currently has over 4 million views on YouTube. She’s already, at least, a semi-star. But throughout the pilot, she’s portrayed as not having talent, unfocused, and lacking confidence. I hope her path changes.
A lot of the trials and tribulations the other cast members struggle with feel petty, irrelevant, and even contrived. Most of all, none of it is shining a positive light on them. And if they aren’t involved in mess (like Jermaine Dupri’s smart daughter), their storyline had no pizazz or spark.
Unfortunately, the reality show is nothing special. It’s just like any other cheap TV fluff, and you would think these kids of these extraordinary parents would agree to not do something so…ordinary.
Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta is a great time filler, but if you never catch an episode, you won’t be missing much.
Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta (2017)
Stars Zonnique Pullins, Brandon Barnes, Ayana Fite, Reginae Carter, Shaniah Mauldin, Bow Wow