September 30th 2016, this was a pretty exciting day for me (I am sure for lots of other people). I got off of work, rushed home, ordered pizza because why is a guy going to cook on a day like this? If you haven’t guessed by now I am talking about the premiere of the internet breaking Luke Cage series on Netflix.
On the surface when watching you will get an overwhelming mixture of some amazing Hip Hop, R&B and Old School Soul Jams from some of the greats such as:
The Sure Shot, Pts. 1 & 2 (Instrumental) – Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge
Shimmy Shimmy Ya – Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Dap Walk – Ernie and The Top Notes Inc.
Doxy – Miles Davis
Stop and Look (And You Have Found Love) – The Delfonics
100 Days, 100 Nights – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Blood On The Cobblestones (feat. U-God, Inspectah Deck & Mark Luv) – Ghostface Killah
And these are all just barely scratching the surface. Once you begin to peel back the layers of every episode is when the fun begins. Let’s start with the episode titles, every single one is named after a Gang Starr song. Moment of Truth, Code of the Streets, Who’s Gonna take the Weight, these are just the first three episodes. We have Method Man with his “Bullet Proof Love” produced by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Misty Knight played by Simone Missick talking about her days growing up in Harlem listening to Raekwon’s Ice Cream and Mob Deep’s Shook One’s.
By this time my head is about to explode with excitement, but when I take a deeper look into the movie is when I realize that the Producers Cheo Hodari and Jeph loeb set an incredible bar for shows involving Black History and Black Relevancy (especially in a Comic Book setting). The first and most obvious one is his nod to Trayvon Martin, in a time where racial tension is at its highest and still considered a hush topic, it took Marvel to have a pair to put this out there like that rather than play it safe, and I believe that more people and companies should follow suit.
Now this is the most exciting part for me. Behind the homage to Hip Hop and current affairs in Black Culture, there are some hidden but out in the open references to Black Literature and Black leaders throughout history. Now there are the understandable references to people such as Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Malcom X and Zora Neale Hurston, but the hidden gems are the ones that push you deeper into black culture. The way the producers managed to tie these references with Luke Cages origin is in my eye’s pretty amazing. We have one reference to
Coming off of the heals of the Tuskegee syphilis epidemic, this was the first talk about Black prisoners being used in experiments to create what is known today as Skin Grafts.
Geoffrey Canada wrote this book referencing his days as a kid growing up in South Bronx, he references the term “Sidewalk Boys” that had to learn the rules of the streets and as he got older rules became more violent. You hear Cotton Mouth (Mahershala Ali) reference this when he tells Mariah (Alfre Woodard) that she went “the Geoggrey Canada Route.”
This book was referenced by Diamondback (Erik LeRay Harvey) when he spoke to Mariah about the history of guns in America being built on creating fear towards black people.
I know that I can go on and on about the many references throw-out Luke Cage, but in the end you definitely need to check these out for yourself. I named quite a few references but please believe me when I tell you that these are just a tiny glimpse into the many intricate dwelling in which this story goes. For the longest time in my life I always went further towards DC Comics rather than Marvel when it came to T.V. series and movies but I do think that this show pushes Marvel into a good direction and I hope they keep with the momentum.