Mona Scott-Young’s Influence On Culture Goes Beyond Love & Hip Hop
Mona Scott-Young is best-known for producing the Love & Hip Hop reality TV series on VH1. The franchise debuted in 2011 has remained a TV fixture today through industry-wide changes with TV and around 30 different seasons aired. However, it’s Young’s ability to permeate hip-hop culture into the mainstream that’s been the true calling card.
Before Love & Hip Hop, Mona managed talent in music. She was a co-founder for Violator with the late Chris Lighty, and was behind memorable brand partnerships such as Busta Rhymes and Courvoisier, Missy Elliott with Reebok and Adidas, and the landmark 50 Cent-Vitamin Water deal, among many others back then, such deals were harder to cut than nowadays.
It was during this time in music when Mona was introduced to the fascinating lives of hip-hop wives, which led to Love & Hip-Hop’s creation. But Mona, who also founded and runs Monami Productions,has more stories to tell about the hip-hop industry. She’s teaming up with another well-known TV producer, 50 Cent, on “Hip-Hop Homicides,” which debuts later this year.
Mona’s influence on the world of hip-hop reaches further than most realize. To hear how Mona moved the culture forward, you’ll want to listen to our show. Here’s everything we covered:
[2:59 ] How does Love & Hip Hop stay fresh?
[4:45 ] Biggest challenge for reality TV in social-media age
[7:55 ] Love & Hip Hop success stories
[9:07 ] Influencing other hip-hop-related series
[11:15 ] Increased programming around hip-hop
[14:21 ] How reality shows fit into today’s streaming landscape
[19:00 ] Mona’s career in music and artist-brand deals
[24:52 ] Brand deals for Love & Hip Hop talent
[28:27 ] Network pressures to expand the Love & Hip Hop brand
[30:06 ] Scrutiny on the show’s content
[34:01 ] Future of Love & Hip Hop
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Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co
Guests: Mona Scott-Youngs, @monascottyoung
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[00:00:00 ] Mona Scott-Young: These were women who were living in the shadows of the men in their lives who had achieved all the fame and the success, and how were these women leveraging the relationships that they were in and the things that they were doing to get to where they wanted to be in life. So I always framed it as an opportunity, so you're getting these stories, right? All of the heartbreak and all of the joy, the highs, the lows. But in exchange, these women are also getting this platform where they can build their brands, build their businesses.
[00:00:39 ] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to The Trapital podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more, who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.
[00:00:59 ] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is the producer and entrepreneur, Mona Scott-Young. She is the mind behind Hop. She also was a music executive for a number of years, worked with Violator and put together some of the more memorable hip hop branding deals of the time, such as Busta Rhymes in Courvoisier and Mountain Dew. She worked with 50 Cent, Vitaminwater as well, and a bunch of other deals, and she's been someone I've wanted to have on this podcast for a while. We talked a lot about the business of TV and how things have changed specifically for a docu-follow show like Love & Hip Hop. This is a show that has been going on for more than 10 seasons now and has had different franchises, different spinoffs, and has had plenty of copycats as well. So we talked about the business of the show, what it's been like producing it, the platform that a lot of the talent have had that have come up from it, one of the most famous examples is Cardi B and what she'd been able to do after the show, but we also talked about some of the other talents that's come from the show as well. We also talked about how Love & Hip Hop is positioned and some of the perception that it's had, whether or not that perception is more so chatter and criticism, or has that actually made a material impact on the business of what Mona's doing. She also talked a little bit about some of the other projects coming up from Monami Entertainment such as Hip Hop Homicides and a whole lot more. It was great to talk to her, get her perspective on streaming, the industry, where things are, and overall the brand deals that are happening in hip hop. Great conversation. Glad we finally had her on. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here's my chat with Mona Scott-Young
[00:02:38 ] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we are joined by the one and only Mona Scott-Young, producer and one of the great folks in media and entertainment today. And I feel like for you, you've been more than a decade in with Love & Hip Hop, you have several spinoffs. How do you keep things fresh? How do you keep everything coming year after year?
[00:02:59 ] Mona Scott-Young: You know, I always say it's about reinvention. It's about evolution, making sure that you are constantly growing, whether it's me as a producer and applying that to the franchise. You know, what's great about the way that that concept was built is it's that it was a world, right? So we could always populate different folks in and out of that world. So it gave us an opportunity to, you know, cycle in new talent who had fresh stories to tell. And I think that has a lot to do with the staying power and the longevity of the franchise.
[00:03:31 ] Dan Runcie: I think the other thing that's impressive is just how the show's been able to stay consistent with all of the changes that are happening with media and streaming and anything else. Have there been any big shifts that you've made from that perspective as things that have continued to move, whether it's from cable to streaming networks to where things are now?
[00:03:50 ] Mona Scott-Young: You know, not necessarily in terms of the concept, right? 'Cause like I said, the stories are what keeps it fresh and different, but we definitely loosened up our shooting style a lot and we became, you know, more free-flowing, I think to be in line with the fact that folks were able to tune into social media and see things happening in real-time. You know, when we first started the franchise, a big part of it was this very soap opera-like feeling that it had. And over the course of the years, we loosened that up a little bit just so that the stories were able to, you know, track a little more closely to what was happening in real-time in their lives.
[00:04:30 ] Dan Runcie: That makes sense. Do you feel as if social media changed the overall feel and the flow of the show itself? I know that's something that, I've talked to a lot of people on TV and they felt like they've noticed that. How are some of the ways you feel like social media either impacted things for Love & Hip Hop?
[00:04:45 ] Mona Scott-Young: Absolutely. You know, because there's such a lead time with production and editing. It's really hard to stay up with the fact that these folks are out here living their lives on social media, and so the audience gets a chance to just tune into their IG lives and get a blow-by-blow of everything that's happening in their lives so that by the time our show is edited, it's hard for it to feel fresh, right, because they're like, oh, I saw that happen months ago. And so it's finding those other stories, getting the cast to keep things exclusively for the show so that there's this sense of discovery for the audience. 'Cause I think that's the biggest hurdle for reality TV is the fact that, you know, everyone has access to their audience and can broadcast their lives, you know, on a minute-by-minute basis. And so how do we offer something that's different, something that's entertaining, something that feels fresh and current and relevant? I think that's the biggest challenge.
[00:05:44 ] Dan Runcie: Have you noticed that shift with social media at all changed based on what platform has been popular at the time? Of course, the show is popular as ever in Black Twitter, but how about with TikTok now with things picking up there? Have there been any unique things you've seen with the reception there?
[00:05:58 ] Mona Scott-Young: Not necessarily. You know what, I'm not a big TikToker. I don't know if I should say that. I probably just aged myself a thousand years, but, you know, I haven't really noticed a big shift based on TikTok viewership. I know that, you know, or usership, 'cause I know that that's mainly what music, dance, or are they doing skits on there as well?