TV Review: Unplanned America – Episode 3 – 19th May 2014 (SBS2, Australia)

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In the next two episodes of Unplanned America the lads Gonzo, Parv and Nick tackle some interesting stereotypes and turn them all upside down and make us re-evaluate what we think we know about the rap music industry, gangs, the parody porn scene and nudists and nudity.

Landing in south-side Chicago the boys meet up with Kanye West’s former manager John Monopoly and are introduced to one of his upcoming stars King L (aka King Louie, who appeared on Kanye’s latest album Yeezus) and then given an insight into how the growing drill-rap scene is enabling the youth to escape the ghetto to find something better.

Chicago has been dubbed the murder capital of America, with most of the deaths being that of young under-privileged African-American men. Gang violence is on every corner, every street and a daily part of life for those in the city’s less affluent areas. But for those experimenting and becoming successful with their rap music, it lifts them up to another level to be able to rise above the rut of gang lifestyles. They meet two more young artists – Dgainz and Sasha Go Hard – both are like King L and members of the ever burgeoning rap music scene that are now success stories. It’s their enduring work ethic and sheer determination to find something better for themselves that has enabled them to get where they are.

Their successes are also inspiring the children after them to try their hand at creative outlets. They become role models and mentors to the youth and examples of what that hard work and dedication can achieve. King L admits “They seeing you doing something that’s legal and you’re gaining off it, I definitely know I’m gonna inspire some kids, some of the younger youth”. Even Sasha Go Hard reflects on her time growing up and how it motivated her “Violence has always been around so…I gotta do something positive, just to show that it’s not only negative stuff that go on”. Surprisingly all of these people despite having direct involvement in gang-related violence through the course of their lives, have all opted to go down a different path and they’ve been fortunate enough to be rewarded for those choices.

The boys then wrap up this episode with a trip to Los Angeles to meet Addison Karl a world-renowned street artist famous for his murals adorning the sides of buildings both small and large. Karl ends up doing a portrait that includes Parv on the side of a building and a jealous Gonzo decides to take to a Venice Beach bin for his own attempt at a spray-can graffiti portrait of himself which actually turns out pretty good for his first time ever wielding a spray can.

Living in areas of violence has resulted in a cycle of youth ending up victims to it but thanks to these means of creative expression, the young rappers of Chicago and the street artists of Los Angeles have managed to escape that dark road. They’re not conventional means but something is better than nothing, and if they can manage to inspire a few of their peers and younger fans to try for something better than that surely can only be a good thing.


Unplanned America airs at 9:30pm Monday nights on SBS2 or On Demand via the SBS website.


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Carina Nilma

Office lackey day-job. Journalist for The AU Review night-job. Emotionally invested fangirl.