If you've watched past seasons of Love & Hip Hop: New York, then you're likely familiar with Dollaz Unlimited CEO Rich Dollaz and rapper Mariahlynn as individuals. But you probably weren't familiar with them as a couple until they joined the cast of WE tv's Marriage Boot Camp: Hip Hop Edition (MBC)for an all-new season. It turns out, they have been an on-again, off-again couple for 10 years, and sought advice from MBC's Dr. Ish Major and Judge Lynn Toler to help them decide whether to stay together or breakup.
After two weeks of isolation in a hotel room together, the longest continuous period of time they've spent with each other, Rich and Mariahlynn joined K. Michelle and her boyfriend Kastan; A1 Bentley and his wife Lyrica; and Three 6 Mafia's Gangsta Boo and her longtime partner Emmet in the MBC mansion to mend their broken relationships or realize it's time they part, with the help of experts Dr. Ish and Judge Toler.
UPTOWN caught up with Mariahlynn and Rich Dollaz, individually, just before episode 8 aired to go inside their relationship and experience on this reality show. They discussed the role ego plays in relationships between Hip Hop/reality TV stars, the difference between trust issues and "being played" issues, and more. Will they stay together or will they break up? Keep reading for clues before the season finale of Marriage Boot Camp airs on June 2nd.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about Marriage Boot Camp?
Mariahlynn: Honestly, I think that, from just seeing the commentary on social media, is more people are saying that some of the couples are fake. But that's certainly far from the truth.
You once called yourself the leader or the president of the Creep Squad. How did you come to trust the Marriage Boot Camp process and understand what you could get out of it? Because every season, there seems to be one person who can see the bigger picture. And I feel like that was you this season. There's more to what they're trying to do than just, you know, create a television show.
Rich Dollaz: I think part of it is being self-aware. And just knowing that you don't want to be the same person all your life. So you get to go into the house with real professionals and people who have been doing this for a long time. And I'm a firm believer that you're supposed to take advantage of that, you're not supposed to come in – I mean, I get it, everybody wants to get paid, everybody wants to be on television – but at the same time, there's also a bigger picture, right? There's a bigger picture, there are real professionals here that can help. Like, just because you're working with (Sean "Diddy" Combs) and you guys are doing things together, and you're hanging out, and partying and all the stuff that goes along with it, that doesn't mean that you're not supposed to take advantage of the fact that you are with a f--king billionaire, right? I'm going to pick his brain to figure out how he got to where he is. The same thing applies. Just because you're in a house and you're getting a paid two-week vacation, and you know, some big mansion or whatever, you still take advantage of what the process is, and that is being in the house and doing what you're supposed to do to get the most out of it.
In episode 7, you said, you were starting to feel at peace with yourself? How did you come to trust the process of MBC? And was this your first time going through therapy?
Mariahlynn: I mean, as a kid, I did a little bit of that but not much. Honestly, this was my first real experience. And I did go into the house, thinking I'm not going to tell these people s--t. But down the line, I ended up really building a trust bond with Dr. Ish, and also I just have huge respect for Judge Toler. Because, ultimately, they're there with us going through the motions with us. And they're just trying to get us to that final life-changing decisions.
Did Peter Gunz give you any advice since he had been on the show?
Rich Dollaz: Listen, that's my guy, one of my best friends in the whole world, but I don't take Peter's advice. He told me about his experience and about the cameras everywhere. That you're gonna get caught slipping, and you're gonna be walking around and you're gonna get comfortable. But, you know, I've been around this for quite some time. I was at Bad Boy, and we did Making the Band, so I was kind of familiar with this whole 24-hour filming thing. So I kind of I kind of understood it.
What would you say was your biggest relationship issue going into the house?
Mariahlynn: The biggest issue for Rich and I was that we weren't used to spending that much time together. Usually when we see each other or when we interact, it was different than being together 24/7. You can always walk out of the house, you can always jump in your car, but there, you're stuck. And you have no choice but to face the problem or the person, in this case, head-on.
Rich Dollaz: We had trust issues. Sometimes it's not such a good thing to be able to walk away from a situation. Bigger than the whole "not claiming each other," because I know that was kind of a narrative, for me was getting to the point of should I be claiming you. Are we to the point in which we should be claiming each other? So it's not necessarily that I'm trying to hide you or anything, I'm just trying to figure out if this is anything that's real. I'm not the person who's going onto Instagram for clout, and for social media prowess, and all that kind of stuff. If you ain't my girl, I don't have a desire to be out here pretending that you are. So unless we get ourselves figured out, then I'm not going to be out here promoting you. But the worst way the world works now is that it's the other way around for people. Like we're going on the internet today and the rest of the s--t we'll figure out later. I don't move like that. I don't have a desire to be on the 'Gram, you know, 50 people in 50 days, like it's a race for me.
What did you learn about yourself and relationships, in general, from this experience?
Mariahlynn: I learned that I'm more powerful than I thought I was as a woman claiming my independence. You know, obviously, the last time Rich and I were seen on TV was at that reunion where people created their own narrative and have their own perception of what they think Rich's and my relationship is, but that's far from the truth. So I learned that I definitely don't need a man to claim me to feel fulfilled in life. I feel like fulfillment comes from other things in life, like family and being able to provide for my family and making new moves.
Rich Dollaz: I think what I learned is that you have to be open-minded, and you have to let people in. I'm kind of a self-sufficient person, and I'm definitely independent. I don't really like to lean on anybody for anything, or ask anything. But sometimes, you keep people out when you do that. You don't let people come in and show you who they really are, and their real worth is to you. And that's not gifts or anything like that. It's just somebody who you can lean on and be there for you. I learned sometimes you've got to acquiesce to the system, do the right thing by other people, and lean in and let other people take charge of situations.
On the show, you mentioned that there is a difference between trust issues and "being played" issues. Can you talk about the difference between the two?
Rich Dollaz: OK, trust issues are never letting people in. Before anybody could play you, you gotta let them in. So if y'all are both playing the game, then it's just the game who wins, it's not getting played, because you weren't really vested in it anyway. So if you have trust issues and you're not even letting people in, then it's, "I didn't even let people in close in close enough proximity to play me." So I hear people be like, "Oh, I got played. He did this. He did that." You let him in or you let her in for her to be able to do that to you. So you feel played because you let your guard down.
In episode 7, you all participated in a drill in which you had to read the insults you said to your partner to a loved one. Were you embarrassed when Rich read his insults to his mom? And was it just me or did she blame you because he felt the need to say those hurtful words to you?
Mariahlynn: OK, well, let's make this clear, Rich is a mama's boy. And, I don't know if the world knows this, but when I said I had never met (his mother Jewel Escobar), I've really never met her. But we've had phone conversations and under my pictures on social media. So I think people kind of were like, "Wait, you never met his mom?" And I'm like, "Man, this is not in-person," because we do have busy schedules, and, most of the time, Rich and I are at each other's necks. But I didn't really like the comments too much, even though that may be what she wants for her son. It kind of sounded like it was directed towards me. But yeah, Rich's mom is always gonna take Rich's side.
You mentioned being embarrassed to read to your mom the insults that you'd said to Mariahlynn. Do you think it's a fair assessment that your mom blamed Mariahlynn for the insults you said to her?
Rich Dollaz: I think my mother holds me accountable. First of all, it's embarrassing, because you're saying something to a woman who raised you and she didn't raise you like that. So now you're looking at the end result of somebody who's probably disappointed and disgusted with you because they're like, this isn't what I taught you. Secondly, I think ultimately, what got lost in translation was my mother was like, it's not Mariah's fault that you talk to her like that because you shouldn't talk to anybody like that, especially somebody you love. I think what my mother was saying was: Why do you want to be in a relationship where you have to feel a need to talk to somebody like that? So it's more about why would you even want to be in that if you have to stoop to those levels, and say those types of things, and come out of your character and be that disgusting person who spewed those words. Why would you want to be him? Why would you not want to be a better person?
Do you think ego plays a role in the relationships of entertainers or reality TV couples?
Mariahlynn: I guess it depends on the couple. Honestly, I feel Rich kind of has his mentality. And he's stuck in his ways. I mean, obviously, there's quite an age difference between us. He has his ways, and I'm still working towards my dreams. I'm not exactly where I want to be. And every day, I'm working harder and putting out new music. I just dropped a project, My Life, and I'm independent now. I went through a lot of stuff musically in the beginning of my career that I feel like Rich could have helped me through a lot of that. Especially when you love someone, you want to help them more than you want to hurt them. And with the knowledge, and him running around, and the whole Bad Boy thing, and everything he's done, you would think that he would've kind of maybe guided me. So ego definitely does get involved. Because even now, I look at him and I'm like, yeah, we sat across from the same table from each other. And now I feel like, you know, maybe it's more of an equal playing ground.
Rich Dollaz: Absolutely, absolutely, especially in today's day. Back in the day, I think you had a role and you kind of assumed your role. But now it's like, everything is so transactional and competitive, even in relationships. And when something is predicated on success, or what you've done, or who you've done it with, and the money you make, and who you making it with, and all that kind of stuff. Absolutely, ego has a lot to do with it. It takes a strong man, for a woman to be more successful in that relationship than him. It takes a strong woman in this day and age to look at a man and not feel like she's bringing what she needs to bring to the table. So absolutely. Ego is huge, especially today. Way bigger today than it was I guess, forty years ago.
I interviewed Judge Lynn Toler last week and she said that people stay in relationships that aren’t serving them because they don’t want to change. Do you think that reluctancy to change kept you and Rich in a decade-long relationship?
Mariahlynn: Absolutely. I mean, it's been years of on and off. [...] There were times where Rich was off doing what Rich wanted to do, being the leader of the Creep Squad, and I see that. And I'm the type of woman that I'm not gonna sit around and wait for no man, no matter how much people may think that is the story, it's not. I think it takes two and when people think relationships, they think, "Oh, I put 50/50." No, it's 100/100. And it takes a lot, especially with an age difference.
I know you said that Hip Hop is a young man's game or a young person's game. Do you think those in the industry should put romantic relationships on pause until they've reached a certain point in their careers or a certain age?
Rich Dollaz: I wouldn't go that far. I preface this by saying that I am a firm believer in timing. You can meet a man in 2011, and he's a certain kind of way because of the lifestyle he lives and who he is, and what he's doing. And you can meet that same man in 2015, and he's a different person, and all of a sudden, now your relationship can work. But are you willing to wait four years and put in that kind of work for something that doesn't seem like it's going to work? Now, with that being said. I do believe that if you find love and you find someone that's worth it, and you think that that person – I think Steve Harvey might have said this, and I'm not a big fan of Steve Harvey and the stuff that he says a lot of time because I think it comes from an old school mentality – but he says something to the effect that you can change a man, but only if that man wants to change for you. So the importance of that is, you can have a relationship with a 50-year-old and that doesn't mean that he's going to act right, if he's not in that time period or he wants he doesn't want to act right for you. Or you can go and you can meet somebody at 25, who's in the heart of their career. But if you guys just have that connection and that bond, and he wants to change for you, and you want to change for him, and y'all want to make it work, then it works. So what you just asked me was kind of a loaded question, because I feel like timing is of essence in relationships, because you got to meet the person at the right time. But I also think that if you meet the right person, you can make it the right time. So I guess it's hard a hard thing. I guess it's one of those play it by ear situations.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.