On Sundays Esha Murphy is #TheWatcher – Got a show or a movie that you are kind of interested in but hella skeptical about? Let Esha know and she will give you the recap tea. Watching all kinds of shit… So you don’t have to.
I feel old when I think about “The Golden Age of Hip Hop.” Especially when I have to discuss why I don’t really fuck with “Mumble Trap” or the current dismal state of Rap and Hip Hop in general. The conversations always end with me feeling like the old crotchety relic that yells “Get Off My Lawn” at kids who aren’t even walking on my side of the street. In all of my old ornery glory, I have been faithfully tuned into VH1 every Monday night. VH1 traditionally set aside Monday nights for ye old ratchet mess known as Love and Hip Hop but has added a scripted series to regulate the ratchet balance while illuminating a revolutionary/better yet tumultuous period in Hip Hop history.
VH1’s “The Breaks” was introduced to audiences in 2016 as a movie. The movie was written and directed by the highly accomplished Seith Mann. Mann built “The Breaks” concept from Dan Charnas’ ‘The Big Pay Back: The History of the Business of Hip Hop.’ Why does this matter? Charnas worked with early movers and shakers in Hip Hop. ‘The Big Payback’ features story after story about the messiness of music business and how it pertained to Hip Hop. Charnas worked as a journalist during what some refer to as “the golden age of Hip Hop.” His perspective helps to add a certain element of authenticity to the scripted series. Seith Mann is a talented Morehouse Man who directed for shows like ‘The Walking Dead’ &‘ Son’s of Anarchy.’’ Both Charnas & Mann are executive produce the show. Creative choices made on the show display a commitment to the telling a story that is true to the ethos of the culture.
Bold characters with even bolder motivations drive storylines that seem to be torn right out of the history books. One of the main characters, Nikki Jones (played by Afton Williamson), is a beautiful Black Woman fighting the underlying misogynoir that has symbiotically been attached to rap music since its inception. Nikki has two goals… Make it in the music business. Make Hip Hop mainstream. Those two goals seem to be ranked interchangeably for Nikki. Ms. Jones has a penchant for manipulating the truth. This is her tragic flaw but it saves her just as much as it ruins her. She loves Hip Hop and she will seemingly do anything to make the rest of the world love it too. All of the main characters are drastically different in their motivations & desires. What brings them together is their love affair with this “new thing” that so many people want to fail.
Seith Mann’s positioning of Nikki as one of the main characters was one key reason why I committed to supporting the show. Using Nikki “Ms. Unreasonable” Jones as a driving character in the show helped to highlight a fact that is often overlooked. Hip Hop may be male dominated but some of the biggest contributors to the culture have been women (both on and off the mic). Other main characters like Ahm (Antoine Harris) represent the realness of Hip Hop that seems to no longer be relevant in the shadow of commercialization. Ahmed “Ahm” Harris is a hustler from Fort Greene, Brooklyn that is in the midst of an existential thug crisis. He is a wordsmith (shout out to Phonte) that lives what he raps but is too engrossed in his street life to fully focus on his craft.
Dee Vee is Ahm’s hesitant producer. Dee Vee views Ahm as a super talent who might actually get him locked up or worse, killed. Dee Vee (Mack Wilds) represents the youth who were juxtaposed in between the captivation of Hip-Hop culture & the blaring discouragement of generations past. Dee Vee’s struggle is choosing between honoring the desires of his father or living out his God-given purpose. Hip-Hop is a driving force of the storylines. The complex characters and their independent struggles move the story along. Episode 4 of the show elucidated two topics that are commonly closeted in not only Hip-Hop but the Black community homosexuality & mental health. A rapper that Nikki was required to find contemplated suicide because questions about his sexuality were raised in the throws of a rap battle. Supporting character Imani X also faced criticisms about her clothing and lack of sexy attire despite being a better emcee than most of the men that we have seen spit on the show.
‘The Breaks’ takes viewers on a journey through the business of Hip Hop in its mainstream infancy. Each episode is full of great stories, revelations, & of course Hip Hop. The stories are laid out in a way that both purists/Hip Hop heads & people who do not really know about the music or the culture can watch & be entertained. The creators & producers of the show demonstrate a weekly commitment to honoring one of the most important time periods of Hip Hop in an honorable fashion. If you love or have ever loved Hip Hop you have to tune in to ‘The Breaks’ Mondays at 10pm/9pm central (at least once).
Have you watched ‘The Breaks?’ What do you think about it? Tell #TeamTrueStory in the comments below!