For the first time in my life, I’m taking my time watching a Netflix produced show. Not because it’s not good either. Luke Cage is the best, most thought out and most informative show I’ve ever watched that is based on a work of complete fiction. The opening shows Luke’s body with overlays of his city on his back.
From the building names to the confrontation of the N word, this show is unapologetically black and unapologetically educated and unapologetically full of culture. The music on this show is a force unto itself. The background music harkens back to a time when Super Fly, Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones replaced the Madea movies that come out every year or so. At times you can even forget that this show isn’t a period piece. The music is so good you have to remind yourself that flat screen HDTVs weren’t around in the 70’s.
The first time you go into Cottonmouth’s, I mean Cornell’s club, you’re greeted by a 70’s vibe and the sultry tones of Raphael Saadiq, who’s been cool and one of the best contemporary soul singers in the black community my whole life (no, seriously, he was in Tony! Toni! Toné! Leading vocals with his brother in the 80’s, the epitome of black don’t crack). Let’s just backtrack for a second here to appreciate the thought behind the menial detail of Cottonmouth’s hatred of his nickname. This is a “thing” in the black community. Somebody sticks you with a nickname because of one incident and you will be followed by that name into your grave. Hell, they may even put it on your headstone. Anywho, Saadiq was an inspired choice for the first musical guest on the show and it wasn’t lost on me at all. He’s the guy that everybody knows. From millennials to their momma’s, every black household has had a album that Raphael Saadiq has graced.
This show is so New York, it makes me miss it. From the hustleman selling DVD’s of the incident to the Chinese restaurant owned by multiple generations of hard working immigrants. There are incredible details and so much attention paid to creating a very clear aesthetic. The apartment complex is named after a man most people don’t read about in the history books. However, he, Crispus Attucks, is talked about in many a black household when black children get their supplemental education from their parents that helps them realize their legacy is much bigger than slavery.
Harlem was the birthplace of Jazz and one of the places where Hip Hop grew, after beginning a few burroughs away in the Bronx. Alfre Woodard’s Mariah mentions The Harlem Renaissance and has Cottonmouth’s henchmen hand out flyers for a new Harlem Renaissance. Right now we are in a Black Renaissance of our own. The Black hair care industry alone has skyrocketed to be worth billions of dollars, black businesses are popping up left and right and black people are investing in their community at a high rate.
Luke Cage is a lesson in black pride and to all the studios that think the only black stories they need to tell are slave narratives or rags to riches stories about basketball players or rap stars. In the same vein as Field of Dreams, “if you film them, we will watch.”