Sunday, March 11, 2012

"The Melissa Harris Perry Show" and the Awesomeness of Her Hip Hop Segment

There were a handful of reasons why I wished I was a more ardent fan of Melissa Harris Perry, the MSNBC commentator turned host of her own eponymous weekend talk show:
1. She's smart. Sadly, this is rare in a show host anywhere. 
2. Similar to Rachel Maddow, MHP breaks the white-male mold they make every other cable talk show host from. As a relatively young, articulate black woman I knew we existed! It's about fucking time refreshing to see this reflected on a channel I watch a lot of.   
3. Cornel West has come out against her which automatically got my antennae up. It's not like I'm totally down on West. I'm glad he's there. But it feels like West, who even when he supported the President held his nose while doing so, expects new black intellectuals to kiss his ring. I suspect that what is truly at the root of West's dislike of  Perry is what she represents--a departure from the caricature we typically see in American media,which West furthers, of the Black intellectual as a rhyme-prone, convoluted verbal showboat 
4. She has a pretty endearing lisp. 
Still I wasn't completely sold on her as a host of her own show. Sure in small doses she was okay but I wasn't sure she had the right stuff to warrant a two-hour long platform every Saturday & Sunday morning.

And then yesterday happened and I watched as The Melissa Harris Perry Show finally found its sweetspot. Saturday's show overall was a winner. I even decided I like the way she refers to her viewers collectively as Nerdland. It would be the segment discussing the evolution of hip hop and its convergence with politics that clinched it for me because the following things happened:
  •  Full on Notorious BIG lovefest. Here were members of the black thinking class openly lauding Biggie on the 15th anniversary of his death. I felt genuine affection for MHP when she said she'd been running to Biggie for the past 3 days and with sheepish glee--as if she couldn't believe she was saying this in front of the white folks-- referenced his Ten Crack Commandments calling it essentially a great blues song. I wondered what the reaction was in the control room given the "side eye" she said her producers were giving her for wanting to do this segment in the first place. I loved her for it.
  • There was an all-black roundtable! I found myself double-checking the calendar--no, it's not February. Had I inadvertently changed the channel to BET or NY1? Was this Like It Is? It really was  MSNBC. Ah, don't you love it when 2012 looks like you always hoped it would?!
  • Elon James White. He has a couple great moments but his recitation of Biggie's Warning lyrics as if they were Shakespeare? Brilliant. 
  • MHP gave Rush Limbaugh the He Who Shall Not Be Named treatment referring to him only as "that conservative talk show host." Pretty good.
But dearest tellyphiles, why tell you when you can watch a couple of my favorite moments below. PS: Entire segment here at a little over16mins long.

Talking Biggie:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Hip hop's expression of black masculinity and the "beef" between Common and Drake : 

What makes President Obama so scary? The intersection of hip hop and politics. :  


  1. That's crazy! Why isn't that Jay-z video viral?

    1. apparently it kind of was on twitter but i know you'd think more people would be talking about that. Hello America! indeed.

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