The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
Search DAARAC's Archive

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Modern Blaxploitation: Marvel's Luke Cage (2016)


Blaxploitation Pride Review
I couldn't resist entering this show on to the website as Modern Blaxploitation. To be fair, I will exclude any opinion I have on the Marvel Comics aspect of the show, but explain why this show fits the mold of Blaxploitation.

The show takes place in Harlem, New York, which is home to some of the most famous Blaxploitation films ever made, such as Across 110th Street, Black Caesar, Cotton Comes To Harlem and Hell Up In Harlem. Even many of the Race Films that have been posted on this website is home to the great city of Harlem. But it's not just Harlem that makes Luke Cage a Blaxploitation film, but all the elements that we seen from characters like Black Belt Jones, Tommy Gibbs, Cleopatra Jones are found in the show. The coolness, smooth talking, gangster mentality, pride in Black American culture, style, music, jive talk, disposition are common elements of the show that gives such a Blaxploitation feel.

The plot of the show is rather simple in that Luke Cage, a mysterious man residing in Harlem, has found his purpose in life unexpectedly to him and those that he is around. Somewhat indestructible to the average human, he becomes the 'Robinhood' of the hood after a close friend is killed by a goon of Luke Cage's nemesis, Cottonmouth, owner of the luxurious club, Harlem's Paradise. Cottonmouth is a gangster with close ties with the unforgiving, Willis Stryker (a.k.a. Diamondback) whose vengeful hate for Luke Cage leads to a classic hero versus villain action. Cage looks to help the people of Harlem keep corruption and detriment from the streets, but his mysterious ways have spark an obsessive pursuit by NYPD detective, Misty Knight because wherever Cage goes, trouble closely follows.

But what really set the show in the mood of Blaxploitation, which is an important element of Blaxploitation films, is the music. Produced by Adrian Younge (from the Black Dynamite soundtrack) and A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the soundtrack offers the hard hitting funk and dramatics we love to hear in Blaxploitation films. True to the nature of library and production music of the 70s, these producers enlightened the show with some of the most brilliant display of versatility of a Blaxploitation movie soundtrack that you'll ever hear. It's obvious that these producers are talented, but they also have studied and paid much respect to their predecessors of Blaxploitation music producing. The producing features a mixture of hip-hop elements, which is true to the modern African-American culture, so while the music could have an out-dated feel, the hip-hop aspect keeps it very relevant to 2016.

01. Good Man
02. Mesmerized (Original Soundtrack Version)
03. Ain't It a Sin
04. Stop And Look (And You Have Found Love)
05. 100 Days, 100 Nights
06. Diamondback Arrives
07. Final Battle - Part 1
08. In the Wind
09. Diamondback's Trap
10. Blue Fusion
11. Final Battle - Part 2
12. I'm Luke Cage
13. Street Cleaning
14. The Ambush
15. End Theme
16. Coffee at Midnight
17. Red-Handedly Blameless
18. Always Forward Pops
19. Unveil the Bride
20. Shameek's Death
21. The Plan
22. Requiem for Phife
23. We Had Coffee
24. Pops Is Gone
25. Theme
26. Greed Becomes Me
27. Bulletproof Love feat. Method Man
28. Microphone Check Five'O
29. Luke's Freedom
30. Uptown Claire
31. Shades Beware
32. Misty Resolute
33. Fresh Air
34. Kinda Strong
35. Big Man Little Jacket
36. Scarfe's Dying
37. Claire's Wisdom
38. Gun Threat
39. Bad Love
40. Finding Chico
41. I Am Carl Lucas
42. Crispus Attucks
43. Hideout
44. Cuban Coffee
45. Like a Brother
46. Cottonmouth's Clamp
47. Survival
48. Cottonmouth Theme
49. Luke Cops
50. Crushin' On Reva
51. Beloved Reva  

Overall, this show fits the mold of how Blaxploitation is defined here at BP. The Blaxplotiation era may be nearly 40 years past, but that doesn't mean that we can't have an ode to the genre from time to time.