VH1 is on the hunt for the next Eminem.
The cable network has teamed with “America’s Next Top Model” exec producer Ken Mok for “Egotrip Presents the White Rapper Show,” a comedic reality series that will test the rap skills and cultural know-how of 12 white contestants with dreams of hip-hop superstardom.
VH1 has ordered eight one-hour episodes slated to premiere early next year. White rap legend Michael “MC Serch” Berrin will host.
Contestants will live together in the South Bronx as a series of challenges test their music talent and ability to mesh with black culture. Michael Hirschorn, the net’s exec VP of programming, emphasized that the show would be equal parts culture study and comedy.
“Hip-hop serves as an aspiration and wish-fulfillment function for a lot of white America,” said Hirschorn.”White Rapper” is being produced in conjunction with Egotrip, the multimedia production company established by the editors of the short-lived hip-hop mag of the same name. The group is behind some of VH1’s more high-minded dissections of race, including the series “TV’s Illest Minority Moments” and the three-part spec “Race-O-Rama.” Company principals Sacha Jenkins, Jeff Mao, Gabriel Alvarez, Brent Rollins and Elliott Wilson will co-exec produce.
Hirschorn was mum on specific situations and obstacles that the competitors will face, saying only that there would be both “creative and cultural trials.” Challenges could include anything from freestyle battles in Harlem’s Rucker Park to selling sno-cones in a hip-hop club.
At the end of the day, “they’ll have to earn credibility and the respect of the people in the Bronx,” exec said. The winner will win a cash prize.
“White Rapper” is part of VH1’s increasing focus on incorporating more music-themed programming into the lineup, with shows like “Supergroup” and upcoming Ice T-led “Rap School,” the second iteration of franchise “Rock School,” which toplined Gene Simmons. VH1 also has a docudrama pilot in the works for Houston rapper Paul Wall.
Mok is producing “twentyfourseven” for sister net MTV, a sort of reality version of “Entourage.”