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Marvel's Upcoming Luke Cage Netflix Series Has Major Hip-Hop Influences

Episodes titled after Gang Starr songs, a Biggie portrait and ODB tunes await viewers of the upcoming on-demand series.
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Gang Starr’s music will live on forever because of it's timeless impact on hip-hop, but this fall we'll be hearing the iconic pair's classics in a new place: Marvel’s Luke Cage series.

After making his on-demand TV debut in the series Jessica Jones, Luke Cage - a Black superhero who has impenetrable skin and super strength - is returning to Netflix with his own program, which will be available in it's entirety on Sept. 30.

In an effort to infuse some of his hip-hop roots into the show, Cheo Hodari Coker, the executive producer of the series and a former editor at Vibe magazine, titled each episode after a song by the legendary rap duo made up of the late Guru and DJ Premier.

“It’s what I call the Wu-Tangification of the Marvel Universe,” he said, according to Newsarama. “It’s intense. It’s got a grip. But it’s elegant.”

Coker later explained that he wanted the series to feel like an album.

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“When a Prince record came out, or some big record came out in the old days, we shut down everything and listened to it,” he said. “The only time we do that now is binge watching.”

Variety is also reporting there's a large portrait of Biggie that is prominently featured in a clip and the newly-released trailer for the show, which shows Luke Cage ripping a door from a car and using it to bludgeon foes, features Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” blaring as the soundtrack.

Marvel Comics has already begun to build its relationship with variant covers, which enlists artists to integrate cover art of albums like Run The Jewels and Jay Z’s The Black Album into alternate covers of the books. They have also worked to integrate different races into their comics, as minorities are now donning the roles of Spider-Man, Thor and Iron-Man.

Seeing hip-hop be integrated into comics is exciting, especially in both discrete and overt ways. A lot of casual fans will get the references to Biggie and ODB, but only deep-rooted hip-hop heads will notice the Gang Starr nuggets that were built in to each episode. This is exactly the kind of reverence the culture deserves in yet another example of hip-hop's mass appeal.

By William Ketchum III, aka @WEKetchum

Photo Credit: Marvel

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