I could complain about the litany of stereotypes being put forth, but the piece quickly tackles that aspect:
Right away, it was clear that Coolio was not going to follow the traditional celebrity-chef model. As television critic Troy Patterson wrote when the show first aired, Coolio's format was designed to offend, relying heavily on "inner-city minstrelsy." For example, instead of pulling salt or pepper from bowls or mills, Coolio uses "dime bags" full of spices, the tiny Ziplocs used to transport cocaine or marijuana. He throws out fusion terms of his own design, including "Ghettitalian," and "Blasian," and knowing that every television chef must have his catchphrase, constantly uses the term "Shakazulu!" as his Lagasse "Bam!"-a punctuation mark for every action.
Coolio later reveals he wanted to use "motherfucker!" as the catch phrase, but his daughter said that went too far.
But she was fine the Sauce Girls, apparently. The show itself - available for viewing over at My Damn Channel - is ridiculously over the top, as if Coolio watched some Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre videos and worked cooking into the concept. The first episode starts off with the producer and Coolio's cousin/hype man getting into a verbal altercation because Coolio is late. The former rap star explains why he got the idea for a cooking show in the first place:
"Me and my cousin, we were watching Food Network, commenting on how boring it was," he says. "And I thought I could do a cooking show where I'd be clowning on everyone, with more profanity, and better looking girls, and a better house band, and it grew into a monster from there." Within weeks of hatching the idea, the rapper and his cousin inked a deal with My Damn Channel for a season of 10 shows. The pair also revealed to The Daily Beast that they will be returning to the Web network for Season Two early next year; "We've had some interest from the major networks in taking it to air," says the rapper. "And of course I want to turn myself into a brand name, with chef's jackets, chef's hats, all that. But it's rough out there now and I want a big paycheck if I am going to compromise for some network. Our content is a little racy for the mainstream. My swagger is different."
Racy indeed! Here's the first episode.
Yes, he really did offer an autographed bell pepper at the end of the show.
However, his newfound zeal for the kitchen may not be entirely attributed to a love of the culinary arts. The Daily Beast reveals that Coolio's latest album failed to release in the US, and this is not his first foray into television:
Coolio's first foray back into television was a reality show for the Oxygen Network, Coolio's Rules, in 2008. The show featured his hectic life with six young children (by four different mothers), but went off the air after one season: "My kids didn't want to do that no more," he says. He went on to appear on Celebrity Big Brother in the U.K. in January of this year, trapped in a house with the likes of Verne Troyer and La Toya Jackson, ultimately finishing third in the competition. He says that the cooking is, so far, the only path that seems to be lucrative, but he would consider appearing in another reality program. " I want to do one of those Coolio of Loves, like on VH1," he says. "Though I'm not looking for love, I'm looking for mothaf-king checks. You think any of them cats is really lookin' for love?"
The dose of realism is refreshing. If it's all about the cash, Coolio has created a program tailored to a certain set of the population, is a new twist on a cooking show, and entertaining in the train-wreck reality tv way we know and love. Coolio recently renewed his show for a second season on My Damn Channel - I'll be surprised if BET doesn't come knocking.