Luke Cage, Netflix's new Marvel series, has a deep hip-hop connection. The 13-episode series was created by Cheo Hodari Coker, a writer and journalist who wrote the screenplay for the 2009 biographical film Notorious, based off The Notorious B.I.G.'s life. When it comes to the story of Luke Cage, the man, who also goes by the name Carl Lucas, was wrongly accused of a crime, experimented on and given super-human strength plus impenetrable skin. Now he plans to clean up Harlem, his hometown, as a superhero for hire.
The cast -- featuring Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Alfre Woodard, Rosario Dawson, Ron Cephas Jones and Mahershala Ali -- is stellar and the story line is much needed at a time like this in the U.S. Luke Cage is the first Black superhero to lead a Marvel series or movie. Coker explained the selection process for the lead role at Comic-Con in San Diego, Calif. this past summer. “When I think about what’s going on in the world right now, the world is ready for a bulletproof Black man,” he said.
What's also evident is the series' strong link to hip-hop. Coker made sure hip-hop played a fundamental role in the development of Luke Cage's story. For example, every episode of the series is named after a Gang Starr song. Also a few major hip-hop artists make appearances in the series. Method Man even creates a song titled “Bulletproof Love.”
XXL watched the entire series and found more than a few things hip-hop fans will dig. Check out the great hip-hop moments in the Luke Cage series below. Always forward, forward always.
Each Episode Is Named After a Gang Starr Song
Every episode of Luke Cage is named after a Gang Starr song. "Moment of Truth," “Just to Get a Rep" and "Who's Gonna Take the Weight?" are just some of the titles in the Netflix series.
Method Man Makes a Cameo and Creates “Bulletproof Love” Song
In episode 12, "Soliloquy of Chaos," Luke Cage is on the run from the police after being framed for committing multiple murders. During his flee, he ends up walking into the store at a gas station while it's being robbed. As he stops the criminals, Method Man is seen inside the store. After the two exchange pleasantries and hoodies, Meth then heads to Sway's fictional radio show and raps “Bulletproof Love,” inspired by the aforementioned hero.
"Look, dog, a hero, never had one/Already took Malcolm and Martin this is their last one/Beg your pardon somebody pulling a fast one/Now we got a hero for hire and he a black one/And bullet hole hoodies is the fashion/We in Harlem’s Paradise, tell the captain,” he raps. This is one of the best moments of the entire first season.
The Notorious B.I.G’s Iconic 1997 King of New York Photo Appears
Cottonmouth, a villain played by Mahershala Ali, uses a fictional Harlem nightclub as his headquarters in the series. Inside, hip-hop heads will notice the iconic photo of The Notorious B.I.G wearing his crooked crown. The photo, which was shot by Barron Claiborne, was shot in 1997.
Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge Create the Score
Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest and Adrian Younge were called upon to do the score for Luke Cage. Together, they connect jazz, soul and hip-hop to build the sonic heartbeat of the series.
Jidenna Performs “Long Live the Chief”
In episode five, “Just to Get a Rep,” Jidenna performs his song “Long Live the Chief” in the fictional Harlem nightclub.