“Somebody cut her mic off ’cause she’s got nothing to say,” Mama Dollaz said referring to Erica on the Love and Hip Hop reunion part one. Mama Dollaz may have been the only person Erica refrained from jumping bad with all season because as MD will remind you, she’s “not the one.” Before the reunion we chatted with Rich and his mom in their dressing room. Rich was all business as usual. Through all their ups and downs, Rich didn’t have anything negative to say about his ex. But Mama Dollaz bites her tongue for no one.
VH1: How did you get started in this business?
Rich Dollaz: I interned at Bad Boy Records, and then my boss at Bad Boy, Shawn Prez, took me from interning in promo to doing it in the radio department. From there I met Ryan Leslie, Cheri Dennis [and] Cassie. We started doing a bunch of stuff independently and that’s kind of how Rich Dollaz was born. Ryan was signed to Universal at the time. We put out the Cassie record in ‘05, the “Me & U” record. That was like my first independent record and that was during the MySpace era. Social network[ing] was kind of flipping over and Ryan was at Universal. He was kind of on the shelf, so after we did what we did with Cassie, the next step was getting Ryan up and running. We put out a record called “Diamond Girl” for Ryan. I was working with Ed Woods and Tommy Mottola on that. And then Cheri Dennis was at Bad Boy since ’99 and we had given her a record that Ryan wrote and produced called “I Love You.” We ended up putting that out [about] ‘06. That was the beginning of Rich Dollaz. I started out as an intern at Bad Boy, went into the radio department under Shawn Prez and then all those separate records started happening for me. That was kind of my independent introduction.
VH1: What was your original goal when you got in the music and entertainment industry?
Rich: The funny part is, when I first went to Bad Boy, my frat brother Emit Dennis called me. He and Jameel Spence — Jameel runs Rocawear now and Emit is working for the Democratic national party as a marketing person — but there was a company called Blue Flame. I was in Tennessee at the time and they called me up and said that Puff was looking for an assistant. Jameel and Emit brought me back to New York and actually Fonzworth was leaving to go do his own personal stuff. I interviewed for that and I spoke to Prez and Harper and they said, “Is this something you really want to do? Its kind of crazy and I don’t know if there’s really longevity in the game for an assistant. Maybe you should evaluate and maybe you should look at doing something else.” That’s when they linked me with Prez and I became the radio promo guy.
VH1: How does somebody college-educated, in a frat, end up on a reality TV show?
RD: It didn’t start off like this for me. It started off like a support system for Liv when we first started doing this. Obviously, Mona knew Liv from Violator when she was with G-Unit. The late Chris Lighty managed them and Olivia. So when Mona was talking about doing this Love and Hip Hop thing, we were taking meetings with her. The original cast was Liv, Misa [Hylton], Chrissy, Jim, Mashonda, and for whatever reason that never really materialized, and I guess they brought in Emily B.
RD: Well, Yandy was on the road with Missy that first year, so she wasn’t on the show at all. That whole first year she was overseas with Missy. They brought Somaya in late. Just being a support system for O, I was on the show as manager, just kind of popping up every once in a while. Then, for the second season, it became a little bit more, and third season, here we are. I guess it’s just an evolution.
VH1: Let’s talk about mixing business with pleasure. You and Liv are best friends but you work with her, which is a totally different situation than what happened with you and Erica. Do you think mixing business and pleasure works?
RD: It can. I mean, I’ve seen people who have been affiliated or associated with their significant others’ careers and it worked [well]. It just depends on what one wants from it. I believe in power couples. I don’t know if you think [of] Jay-Z and Beyoncé, [that] their marriage isn’t personally intertwined through business as well. I don’t know how you could think that when Jay is clearly her manager as a person who’s signed to Roc Nation/LiveNation, so with that being said, it all depends on what you want from the situation. If it’s a give-and-take, if you’re truly in love, it becomes a power couple, which is what I always aspired to have. That was kind of my dream. I’ve been working with women and people in the industry for quite a long time and I’ve always wanted my person to blow up and be able to reap some of the benefits of being my significant other. In trying to find that, Erica came along. I love her spirit, can’t knock her hustle. She gets busy, does what’s necessary to succeed. I guess it’s just got to be a give-and-take, got to be a mutual respect.
VH1: Mom, do you think business and pleasure can work with Rich?
Mama Dollaz: If the partner is the right person, absolutely! Yeah, I think it can.
VH1: But not with Erica?
MD: No, not with Erica, because Erica has too many issues. I mean, she doesn’t trust and Richard is controlling, so it’s very, very difficult for a person who is controlling to be able to deal with somebody who will not relinquish control. In this business, I mean, this is what he does. She’s not prepared to do that, she has a lot of reasons why, I mean, legitimate reasons. You feel how you feel, nobody can argue with that. Once she’s not able to do that it’ll never work. Never work!
VH1: We love you. I love watching Twitter when the show’s on just to see the people react. Last night, the funniest thing ever was when you said that people love a cartoon. You are so honest with Rich and with everything. Have you guys always had that relationship?
MD: Always! From when he was little, my philosophy in raising my first son and my second son was, “No surprises…tell me everything.” I can’t help you if I don’t know, so whatever the situation is, let me know. I think they grew up feeling comfort in telling me things. I don’t know if it meant that then the burden would be off of them and I would have to carry this load, or they just felt better because they knew that if push comes to shove, I got their backs and I know the truth. But I can’t fight for you if I don’t know everything in school [or] in sports. So we’ve always had an open relationship. I was just talking to one of the other cast members and she asked me the same question. She said, “Oh, I hope I have a relationship with my son when he gets older like that.” And I said, “Well, you’ve got to start early, because it’s just not something that happens overnight.” Richard woke me up and told me the first time he had sex, woke me up out of my sleep. Remember that? “Ma, Ma, come upstairs.” [Laughter] We’ve always had that relationship, but also it was easy for me because I was a health educator so I was always educating. I always talked to my children about those kinds of issues. They weren’t things that happened and, all of a sudden, now we’re teenagers and I have to talk about condoms and I have to talk about the correct way of talking about your anatomy. I didn’t have those issues.
VH1: Do you dislike Erica?
MD: Absolutely not! I do not dislike her.
VH1: You just don’t think she’s right for your son.
MD: No I don’t. As Richard said, I love her energy and I love her work ethic. I like the fact that Erica will go any place if you tell her to be [there], she will do three of four things in one day while other people would do one or they’re tired and they have to rest. I don’t see any of that with her. She’s got drive like I have never seen and she’s got ambition like I have never seen, but the thing is lack of control. She doesn’t know how to let go and she doesn’t know how to be in control. There’s so many things from her past that she cannot let go of and they’re going…
VH1: You think she needs therapy?
MD: Unfortunately, yeah, she really does. From what I understand, she seeing some people or she’s seeing someone and it may be helping her. I don’t know because we don’t talk as much as we used to, but she definitely does. She needs to go because a lot of things happened. You don’t just come out of that one day and just [say], “I’m just going to give it all up and give it to God and I’m going to be okay.” It just doesn’t happen that way. I wish her well. No, I don’t dislike her at all. I don’t like her for Richard for a lot of reasons, but mostly because they are very much alike.
VH1: Are they both explosive?
MD: They’re both explosive, different though. Richard, if he explodes it’s because he feels that he’s been wronged or misunderstood and he’s frustrated. I think hers is sort of a way of life. You do that first and then a few seconds later you’re okay, but all the people you did that to don’t recognize. It just doesn’t go away, it really doesn’t just go away.
VH1: Do you think your mom and Peter Gunz were right about Erica?
RD: Yeah, to some degree. Listen, me and Erica’s relationship was very personal and it’s probably not going to end well, I get it. Overall, I came into this thing and I said I was going to do something. I never wanted to be that creep dude that’s taking advantage of somebody, promised that [he was] going to provide something that he never provided. All the stuff that happened during the course of the season was reactive. It wasn’t premeditated. I didn’t go into this like, “I’m going to bang her for six months and never give her what she came here for.” It was a real relationship, it was something that I was trying to explore in terms of giving my significant other her dream, something that I could make happen. Through the time period I was reactive. Some things you don’t deserve. When I was a child and I did something wrong, something was taken from me. That’s what’s called punishment. It’s what’s called, “you don’t deserve it.” Why am I giving, giving, giving, and you’re not doing what I need or what’s necessary to make me feel good about giving it to you? After a certain amount of time goes by and you’re doing s— and I’m hearing about this and I’m hearing about [that] and I’m cool because I have my indiscretions as well in hearing things, but when s— is coming to your door and there’s documentation, I have to take heed to the words that are being spoken.
VH1: Were you in love with Erica…ever?
RD: I would say yeah. I mean, I don’t know. I had strong feelings for her that could be love. I wanted to see her succeed [and] I wanted to see her win.
VH1: But you know when you’re in love with someone. That’s a yes or no question.
MD: But see, that’s not a yes or no question when you’re asking him about Erica. Because today you can feel like you’re in love forever and the very moment that you decide you’re going to let your guard down because things are going to be okay, something just slaps you in the face and you’re just like, “Wow, what am I doing?” So it’s not an easy question.
RD: Was I here for her? Yeah. Did I want it to all play out like this? Absolutely not! Did I think we were going to ride off into the sunset without any issues? No, but I didn’t think it would ever get to this point, the deception and the dishonesty and everything like that. Like I said, I did a lot of s— that was reactive, that if I had to take back…I’m an emotional person. It’s no secret.
VH1: When you see her today, how will things be?
RD: I’m cool; I did what I had to do. I don’t know, I’m cool. I don’t have any ill will, I don’t harbor any bad thoughts. I did what I needed to do.
VH1: Have you moved on from working with her professionally and dealing with her romantically?
RD: Yeah, for the most part. We’re not romantic anymore, but we still have been working together. See, this is the thing about reality TV…you don’t live in real time. Something happened last night that probably triggered a series of events that she may not be able to turn back from. It’s easy to say on Monday nights that our relationship went left and let’s repair it. It’s hard to actually watch that s— on television and then be cool with it on Tuesday morning. So last night was big.
VH1: Even though it was months ago?
RD: Even though it was months ago. Last night was big. She lost a record. Obviously, Liv put it out as number 10 on the charts on iTunes. She’s probably pissed off at me and that’s probably going to have some bearing on how she reacts to me today at this reunion. The reality of it is that we both [have to] acknowledge that there were wrongs previously. Maybe at this point, because I have acknowledged the wrongs and she doesn’t know my reactive state. What’s to come, or the reaction that she would have gotten last night, it’s hard to say.
VH1: Were you hurt by her affair with DJ Envy ?
RD: That’s none of my business.
VH1: Mom, how do you feel about being protective of your son and all of this being playing out for everyone to see? How do you feel knowing the world may not see him as the Richard you know as your son?
MD: I recognize that. I’m a realist. I understand that people aren’t going to see the real Richard on TV. I understand that there’s editing and all kinds of things that goes into what the audience sees and there’s all kinds of people who are watching this so their reactions [are] going to be different because again, they don’t know. They only know what little bit they see. I don’t feel very protective of him. I feel my role is not to protect Richard but rather to equip him, to give him a perspective that he probably won’t see because he does tend to be extremely emotional. I’m the woman and he’s the man and Richard is much more emotional than I am. I am more pragmatic. Let me think it through, let me see their side. I’m more empathetic. Let me put myself in their shoes and see how they feel and while I don’t necessarily agree with it, I get it. Let me move on, let me not judge and let’s go on to the next thing. For him, it’s a little bit different. [On] the blogs, people will make up stuff just for press and I understand that too. It’s unfortunate.
[Photos: Jennine Cusimano]