MC Tasha returns, with some new bars,
Revealing the light back on the old stars,
New artists, true artists who’ve all got the beat,
and Netflix is showing us their victorious defeat.
With Hip-Hop and Rap weaving its way into the charts music of today, Netflix launches a series of episodes that documents a selection of artists on their current and previous career journeys within the Hip-Hop/Rap industry.
“We gain an understanding of this Hip-Hop culture from different perspectives”
Each episode follows the life of artists such as Nas, Dave East, Logic, Rapsody, 2Chainz (to name a few), taking us to their home towns and studios, giving us a background about where they grew up and what made them get into the music industry. Not only do we see the lives of these artists, but gain an understanding of this Hip-Hop culture from different perspectives — and what I personally love about this series, is that every episode follows an over-arching theme/morale.
Now, I don’t want to give too much away, as if you love Hip-Hop music as much as I do, then I know you will want to experience what each artist has to say in their own words. But, let me tell you this: each artist shines light on an aspect of their music which contributes to something bigger as a whole. For example, in the episode with Nas and Dave East, we are shown a contrast between the two excelling rappers. With Nas there’s a sense of legacy that we are reminded of, and he speaks of how rap and hip-hop music should all have a purpose, a purpose to the beat, the rhyme, the lyrics, the sound: it should all come together to shine light on a success.
To quote Nas himself, his music is either something you nod your head and vibe to, or it is something that is supposed to be introspective, and the lyrics are to be reflected and acted on. This reminds me a little bit of DVSN’s music, it’s something you can listen to when revising, or winding down, whereas listening to an artist like Tupac of Biggie, or Nas you want to listen to what it is that they’re saying, as usually it is an object of introspection.
“We are told of the discrimination he faces from his own race”
Another example is Logic. Aside from showing us the behind-the-scenes of his music making we are told of the discrimination he faces from his own race, as well as the mental issues that he faced. And what’s even more, is that he shows us exactly how he transformed that struggle into his music, and how his music has helped people express a feeling that they couldn’t voice on their own: we get to see this reaction from the fans themselves.
The documentary shows us that this isn’t just music. These are stories, works of art, collaborations of feelings and beats to create a voice for what is sometimes unspoken.
However, it is almost as if the show is deliberately trying to ‘big’ up the images of these artists through the show. When showing scenes with T.I. as a father playing and talking to his kids, you can’t help but think that this positive image has deliberately been exaggerated a little more so for the show—to create an even better image of him.
“It is obvious that responses may be a little ‘staged’”
Of course the conversations between family members and friends are inevitably unnatural as a normal conversation would be, given that they are all aware that they are being recorded, therefore it is obvious that their responses may be a little ‘staged’. Therefore, the entire essence of the scenes with the families cannot be fully grasped. That being said, any viewer can never truly grasp the full atmosphere of any artist’s relationship with family/friends in their life, nor truly know the extent to which their actions that are presented are wholly genuine, or whether this is just for the purpose of the show.
I can’t help but think that this series is also an opportunity for these artists to showcase new singles, old music, and to quite simply re-remind us of their talent and work. And, to be perfectly honest, it worked pretty well with me. After each episode I listened to different tracks from them, and I have to say it really did change the experience of the songs.
“You almost feel as though you are really part of their music.”
Listening to old or new music that you can vibe to is always a satisfying and fulfilling feeling. But, listening to these same songs knowing just that little more about the artist, or about their life, or actually picking up on a certain rhyme or word that they’ve used and know what it relates to in their life—that’s what you call really listening to music. It makes the experience more relateable, and you almost feel as though you are really part of their music.
So, for many reasons I do recommend this series. I wouldn’t say it’s the next Straight Outta Compton, but it really is insightful. We are shown how just a small handful of rappers can take their music to physically create a change, to try and right a wrong and voice a struggle.
What’s most empowering about the series is, is that it reminds us ourselves, regardless of whether we want to be a rapper, writer, doctor—whatever it may be we all have a place. We have a place in this world, in our homes, in our cultures and in our society. It’s remarkable what the power of music can do—all you’ve got to do, is listen.
Natasha Manohar (aka IMPACT’s Hottest MC)
Image courtesy of Brazil Production Services and Mass Appeal.