EXCLUSIVE: Bravo Finds the Real-Life 'Empire' in 'First Family of Hip Hop' -- Get a First Look
By Brice Sander
Bravo is bringing you the real-life Empire with First Family of Hip Hop -- and ET has your exclusive first look.
The network’s latest docu-series, premiering Sunday, Jan. 15, at 9 p.m. ET, focuses on the Robinsons, a group of brothers, sisters and cousins fighting for control of their family’s once-iconic record label, Sugar Hill. Joe and Sylvia Robinson founded the label in the 1970s, making it a hit factory of rap classics. “Rapper’s Delight,” “Jump On It” and “The Message” were just some of the singles released over the years. Now, the family wants to revive the brand.
“We ain’t had a hit on the charts in 30 years,” Joe and Sylvia’s niece, rapper Shanell “Lady Luck” Jones, notes.
“We’re the first family of hip hop,” she adds. “You may not know our name, but you know all of our songs.”
Leland “Big Lee” Robinson, Sr., is currently in charge of the label, but Shanell says it’s time for the new generation of Robinsons to get Sugar Hill “poppin’ again.” It’s eerily reminiscent of the Lyon family on Fox’s Empire.
“We have too many talented cousins for everybody to be trying to find their own path,” Shanell tells her family. “There’s strength in numbers.”
Shanell’s cousin, LeA Robinson, is an aspiring singer, who might be more interested in making a name for herself than relaunching the label. Shanell says Lea’s brother, Darnell, considers himself the “heir to the throne,” but his “cockiness could cost him.”
Then there’s Rhondo Robinson, Jr., a talented producer who can’t seem to get on Big Lee’s good side. Big Lee puts his trust in Antonio Jordan, whom Shanell labels his “right-hand man.”
“Either Big Lee’s gonna give up the throne, or one of us gonna have to take it,” Shanell confesses. “This empire’s about to get got.”
The series premieres after the next all-new episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. For the latest on that show, check out our chat with Kandi Burruss below.