REVOLT TV has another new show on the way — and this time, it’s all about bars. On Wednesday (July 21), the Diddy-owned network announced Off Top, a video series featuring Grammy Award-nominated MC Rapsody and former Rap City and BET’s 106 & Park host Big Tigger interviewing some of Hip Hop’s most formidable artists as well as emerging talent.
Much like the iconic YO! MTV Raps, the show will play a variety of visuals throughout each episode, but Big Tigger is quick to point out it’s not just for nostalgic purposes.
“This show is sorely needed in our culture right now,” Big Tigger tells HipHopDX during a recent Zoom call. “It’s an opportunity to get up, close and personal in a different manner other than social media with your favorite artists. Not only will you have these candid, deep conversations, you’ll also get these amazing performances that you’ll be able to see on REVOLT, social and digital.
“There’s definitely a nostalgic feel to it, but it’s not just for nostalgia. That’s not why we’re doing this. We’re doing it because it’s something we were missing and we thought it was an opportunity to bring something special.”
REVOLT CEO Detavio Samuels further explains, “It’s really going to be the top videos of the week, but we’ll also be playing videos from emerging artists so there’s a discovery element to it. For us, we recognize Hip Hop was founded on bars, that the origin of Hip Hop is about the storytellers, the cats that can flip and spin metaphors and similes in ways we’ve never seen before like the dope punchlines.
“And although rap has expanded in terms of the different sub-genres of rap that exists, we felt it was critical to bring a show back that could highlight the dopest lyricists of our time.”
For the inaugural episode, Rapsody and Big Tigger sit down with Griselda powerhouse Conway The Machine, who was impressed by their conversational skills, something not exactly surprising considering Big Tigger’s tenure in radio and television and Rapsody’s penchant for powerful wordplay and lyrical magic.
“It was a great interview,” Conway tells DX. “You really get a glimpse into the lives of the fans’ favorite artists without having to go on their Instagram or whatever. We don’t really have that platform where you get a close glimpse. The type of questions and the type of information you’re gonna get is gonna be a lot of informative things where you’re probably like, ‘Man, I ain’t no that about him or her.’ I think that’s important and that’s probably the dopest part to me.
“Outside of the videos, I like the information I get ’cause I soak up game from every artist. I’m inspired by every artist. I appreciate an artist being able to sit down with some great hosts and answer some great questions and learn some things I didn’t know about that person or how they hustle or how they got to where they are. That’s all game that’s needed, so I’m gonna soak it up from everybody.”
According to a press release, interviews with NLE Choppa, Latto, G Herbo, Lil Tjay, Soulja Boy, Young Dolph & Key Glock, DDG, King Combs, Erica Banks, Yung Bleu, Reason, Buddy and Guapdad 4000 are already in the bag. When asked about the lack of potent lyrical content in a lot of mainstream rap, Rapsody explained Off Top will give everyone a chance to surprise the audience.
“The dope thing about this show is it gives the opportunity for artists to come in this space where you think with the music sometimes, ‘Oh they don’t have the bars,'” she says. “When you come to this show and you get in the zone and your space, that’s what you gotta bring. You get to see artists in a different light and see their talent is a spectrum.
“They might make vibe music, but if they wanna come in and do some bars, they can do that, too. I think it’s an opportunity to show there’s a lot of talent out here. Everybody’s talent isn’t always seen in all spaces, so it’s just another place for artists to come and show a different side of what they can bring to the microphone.”
For Rapsody, getting involved with Off Top was a no-brainer due to Big Tigger’s role in the show. In fact, the Snow Hill, North Carolina native likened it to a “divine intervention.”
“People used to call me ‘5 p.m’ coming up in my early days because my name sounds so much like Rap City,” she says with a laugh. “I be like ‘Relax.’ But also, REVOLT. I like this new space that’s been created by us and owned by us. That meant a lot. They’ve always been supportive of me. They’ve always been supportive of the culture.
“Everything I’ve seen them do has been authentic and a place of uplifting the culture and it gives me the feeling of the core of what Hip Hop is, expression and being honest. It was also a show that was needed to bring that feeling back of music videos and dope conversations back. I want to see conversations with artists on artists.”
Conway The Machine feels the same way but while he agrees transparency can be a good thing, he also recognizes some artists want to keep certain aspects of their lives private.
“There’s things people don’t necessarily want to put in the public eye and you gotta respect that as well,” he says. “For me, what I appreciate is understanding each artist’s process — how they create, how they come up with these ideas, how they hustle, how they do what they do. Like I said, I just like to soak up the game. I also appreciate transparency as well, but sometimes people are going through things they want to keep to themselves or in their close circle.
“So you don’t want to be messy or too pushy we ain’t here for that. We just want to get to know the artist from an artist perspective or creative perspective.”
Perhaps one of the hardest questions Rapsody and Big Tigger have to face is about their bucket list interviews — there’s simply too many to name. But Rapsody, whose 2019 EVE album paid tribute to numerous inspirational Black women, had at least a couple in mind.
“It’s so tough,” she admits. “We get to talk to a lot of amazing people. Hopefully in this next round of interviews, I would love to sit and talk with Kendrick [Lamar], one of my favorite people. We always have great conversations off-camera, so to bring that to people to soak up more game would be dope.
“Lauryn Hill has always been one of the people I’ve wanted to talk to my whole life. Even creatives from behind the camera — one thing I feel is missing in Hip Hop outside of bars and music is we never talk to the people that tap into the fashion part of it — the Pyer Mosses and Misa Hyltons — who bring the style of what Hip hop is. That’s a big part of our culture and our creativity and how we as artists speak in what we wear. Those are different conversations I like to have.”
Big Tigger adds, “Kendrick is important. Cole is important. Drake is important. I threw André 3000 out there earlier ’cause no one actually gets to talk to him.”
Samuels chimes in, “I want all of Griselda,” to which Conway replies, “That will be the best one. That will be fire.”
Off Top premieres on Friday (July 23) at 9 p.m. EST via REVOLT’s TV channel, YouTube and REVOLT.tv. Find new episodes every week.