by: Nathan Smith
News broke last week that MTV2, MTV’s sister network nominally dedicated to actual music, is reviving the classic Hollywood Squares format as Hip Hop Squares, an over-the-top tic-tac-toe game featuring urban personalities including actor/comedian Nick Cannon; record producer DJ Khaled; rappers Fat Joe, Biz Markie and Ghostface Killah; and, uh, Bam Margera.
Why this is happening is pretty much anybody’s guess, but hey, we’ll be tuning in. The prospect of Ghostface giving answers to trivial true-or-false questions to be considered by youth-demographic contestants is a pretty irresistible draw.
Presumably, the lineup of stars will rotate, but so far no Houston artists have been announced. That’s a shame, really, because our city boasts a pretty deep roster of engaging rap personalities capable of putting on one hell of a weird show.
Hip-hop fans have never turned their noses up at a knock-off of a knock-off, and one can’t help but think that a chopped and screwed version of the show (H-Town Squares?) could quickly become required viewing on one local network or another. At my house, anyway.
Because, at heart, we’re silly dreamers, Rocks Off has wasted the brain power necessary to come up with the ideal cast for a prospective H-Town Squares. Advanced warning, though: If this idea takes off, we’re going to demand at least an executive-producer credit.
Center Square — Chingo Bling: The center square is the glue that holds every episode of Hollywood Squarestogether. As even the stupidest five-year-old can tell you, that all-important center spot is the most valuable real estate in tic-tac-toe, and it’s typically the first square chosen by your savvier game-show contestants.
That’s why you need somebody with a quick wit and ineffable charm who never gets tired of talking manning the top spot. And who better than the Tamale Kingpin? Making people laugh has always been a big part of what Chingo does, and Lord knows he’s never shied away from controversy. The Ghetto Vaquero is the only choice that makes sense.
Bottom Left Square — Bushwick Bill: Any good episode of Hollywood Squares needs a wildcard, and there are none wilder than Houston’s smallest rap icon. Bushwick has been a born-again Christian since 2006, but that probably shouldn’t deter My20 or any other station desperate enough to air this program from installing metal detectors at the set’s entrances. No firearms are to be in this Geto Boy’s possession. A sawn-off baseball bat, maybe, if he shows up on time for rehearsals.
In order to ensure that we’re getting Bill’s optimum performance, though, corporate drug-testing policies are probably going to be a no-go. A few insurance papers may have to be forged.
Top Right Square — Kirko Bangz: The original show wasn’t called “Hollywood” Squares for nothing — this production is supposed to have star power. There might not be a bigger rising star in H-Town at the moment than Kirko Bangz. Hell, one of the stars of MTV’s Hip Hop Squares, Fat Joe, even tabbed Kirk for his latest joint, the “Another Round” remix that also features the likes of Mary J. Blige and Chris Brown. “Drank in My Cup” was that big.
Besides, we’ve got to have somebody to get the ladies interested in watching. Mr. Bangz is one of the few local rap stars who isn’t painful to look at in HD.
Top Center Square — Mike Jones: “I’ll take Mike Jones for the block, Devin.” Who? Mike Jones. Who? MIKE JONES!! Sure, that routine might get old after a couple dozen times, but it needs to happen badly enough to invite Mike on the show at leastonce. His schedule is probably clear.
You can’t tell me that seeing Mike Jones up there at the very pinnacle of the board, with a mouth full of diamonds and his cell-phone number displayed under his name, wouldn’t bring a smile to your face. I can’t be the only one who misses 2004.
Bottom Right Square — Willie D: Willie D would have to be a part of H-Town Squares if for no other reason than we’re afraid to tell him no. He’s seen it all in his long music career, and he’d be certain to deliver fearless, forthright answers to whatever inane questions the show’s writers could dream up (Where should we send our resumes, by the way?).
Willie’s encyclopedic street knowledge could be a real asset to contestants, assuming they can muster the massive balls it must take to disagree with him when necessary.
Middle Right Square — K-Rino: At some point, contestants are going to have to be able to rely on someone they can trust to know what he’s talking about. Long considered the conscience of Houston rap, South Park Coalition founder K-Rino has been spitting straight dope basically since hip-hop was invented.
Boasting a street education unmatched by most, K is bound to have some enlightening answers to questions like, “True or false, the U.S. government has carried out a systematic war against the inner city via PCP distribution.” I, for one, would DVR the hell out of that.
Bottom Center Square — Bun B: Due to an obscure bylaw in the city charter, Bun B must be present at any assemblage of Houston rap stars, so it’s only natural that the Underground King himself be afforded his very own square.
Though his UGK partner (R.I.P.) Pimp C would have made an ideal center square, Bun is not without his own sage street wisdom. The man teaches classes at Rice, for God’s sake. He knows a thing or two about multiple-choice questions.
Top Left Square — Just Brittany: Since this show is turning into a real sausage-fest, it’s imperative that we add a little feminine charm to the board. Cash Moneymillionaire Just Brittany should fill out the Charo role nicely. Best to book her now, before she blows up too big and has to be replaced by Kelly Rowland or somebody. Nobody wants that.
Left Center Square — Paul Wall: Purported to own a copy of every Screw tape ever produced, Paul Wall is something like Houston’s hip-hop historian. Coming up with a question to stump the People’s Champ would be a mean feat, indeed. He’s exactly the kind of rapper contestants are going to want on their side if they plan to win, and he’s certainly got the gleaming smile that the show’s close-up one-shots demand.
Host — Devin the Dude: Any good game show needs a host who’s quick, pleasant and a bit of a flirt. Devin the Dude is the ideal choice to keep the game fun, relaxed and loose at all times. His laconic charm is potent enough to send losers away feeling like winners — even if all they’re taking with them is the game’s home version. After all, anythang is plenty, mayne.