Posted by | Ray Cornelius
Mona Scott-Young is as much of a storyteller as she is an accomplished music executive and multi-media powerbroker. After 20 years of successfully managing the careers of LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott, Young has all but focused her attention now on television and film projects. After leaving Violater Management, Young began her multi-level entertainment conglomerate, Monami which means “my friend” in French.
As the brains behind VH1’s hugely popular Love and Hip-Hop brands, Young has surprisingly patented a formula of showcasing hip hop artists and the women who love them. Although she has been heavily criticized for exploiting and perpetuating negative stereotypes, particularly of Black women, Young believes she is telling authentic stories from a non-judgmental place. She also believes that she is changing lives on and off the camera by providing these individuals with a platform they otherwise would not have been afforded through mainstream media.
Young recently sat down with members of the Atlanta press to promote season two of Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta as well as her new reality show, The Gossip Game which is based on the lives of female hip-hop celebrity gossip journalists. She also talked about her newest business venture, Myxx Moscato and shared her views on everything from the current state of hip-hop to why reality shows are the new soap operas. Check out the excerpts below:
On selecting “The Gossip Game” cast…
We selected these girls through an interview process and lots of referrals. We actually sat down and talked with a bunch of women, trying to find different lives to represent. We have a single girl, we have a married one, we have one who is currently still on the day job while trying to hustle on the side. We also try to represent different mediums as well. We have your TV and radio journalists and freelancers who work with print publications and then we have the bloggers. We also explore balancing work and family and the interpersonal dynamics of “you’re just a blogger and I’m a journalist.” I think people will enjoy the show.
What to expect for season two of “Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta…”
We have a couple of new cast members as well as all of season one cast members. Last season I was like OMG this is incredible, outrageous, crazy, over-the-top. What could they possibly do to top this? This second season is better than the last season. It’s amazing! And yes, EVERYBODY is back.
On being criticized for exploiting African-American culture…
Everybody wants to have an opinion and I understand that and actually welcome all the opinions because I have my own opinions about this whole thing. What I don’t subscribe to is being judgmental. I’m not here to tell anyone that the way they choose to live their life and the life that their living isn’t worthy of something. And I think there is a lot of hypocrisy and a lot of soapboxing that people get on and wax poetic about things. These women exist and their lives exist. Again, I never said this was a total definitive picture of all African-American women the world over, this is Love and Hip-Hop.
On the current state of Hip-Hop…
I just don’t feel like there is anything out there that we’re going to remember 10 to 15 years from now. There’s nothing that were going to be citing. There are no lyrics that are going to resonate. There is nothing that is going to change our lives in a way that is going to prolong this movement that was started with words. I worry about that. If you don’t continuously feed something in a way that allows it to continue to grow, eventually it dies. So, where are the people who are going to be making an impact on music? They’re entertaining us but I don’t know if they are changing our lives.
On taking “Love and Hip-Hop” to global markets…
One thing I am interested in is the huge hip-hop scene in Germany and London and some other places internationally. You know, taking Love and Hip-Hop globally and having it in those languages for those audiences because they know who their stars are. Again, I go where the stories are. It isn’t about just popping myself somewhere in a city. I go to a city and meet people. If I feel like there is enough of a collection of stories to tell, that’s where we will plant our flag.
On the future of reality television…
I don’t know if reality TV is going anywhere because economically it’s cheap to make. It’s easy to produce and there is quick turnaround so you can keep feeding the content machine. I also think there is an obsession with voyeurism that isn’t going anywhere. I think people are always going to be obsessed with what makes other people tick. What we’ve tried to do from a production standpoint is not just throw a camera up and show people talking. Its cinematography. There is storytelling. It’s woven in a way that I like to call “Hip-Hopera.” It’s the new age soap opera.
The Gossip Game premieres tonight at 9pm on VH1.