NEW YORK - What happens when rappers grow up? A new reality show starring former Run DMC star Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons aims to show you.
And you might be surprised.
"It’s about Run, formerly Run DMC, who grew up on MTV, all grown up," said the rapper and father of five who now wears a white collar and preaches at an evangelical church.
"We grow up, we’re fathers, we’re family men. People don’t see that side of rappers," Simmons told Reuters Television in an interview. "Rap has come a long way and you see that on this reality show," he said, adding that a pilot has been made and he expected to get the green light from MTV soon.
Simmons, who also has his own sneaker line and continues to make music, teamed up with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs to make the show which he hopes will help his mission of spreading the word of God through rap - a genre better known for the crime, cursing and hard-living of many of its protagonists.
"I can go to church and preach to the saved and that’s good, but they’re saved. Or I can make a record and take my time and figure out how to catch everybody," said Simmons, who was accompanied to the interview by his mentor Bishop E.
Bernard Jordan, founder and head of the Zoe Ministries church.
Combs approached him with the MTV idea. "He said ... I’m P. Diddy, you are Frank Sinatra ... I’ll put you on MTV."‘
"Run DMC were the first group on MTV that was black besides Michael Jackson so it’s kind of perfect for me to be on MTV and say ‘Look, rappers grow up,"‘ Simmons added.
For Simmons, the cause of the problems that make rap such a controversial art is the breakdown of the family and the fact that so many black Americans grow up in single parent homes.
Already under fire for lyrics that glorify violence and drugs, the rap world made headlines again recently over a feud between 50 Cent and The Game which erupted into a shootout at a New York radio station before the two called a truce.
Simmons said rap was misunderstood. "They’re just showing what’s going on in their neighborhood. It’s not a pessimistic or optimistic view of the world, it’s just like that."
The reality show aims to offer another view of the world, and offer an alternative black role model to the comedian Bill Cosby whose 1980s sitcom showed the lives of an affluent, professional family in New York.
"You will see Bill Cosby on steroids," Simmons said. "You’ll see a lot of funny stuff, you’ll see a lot of daddy knows best stuff, you’ll see a lot of me and my wife trying to hold the family together."