The Maestros Behind the Sounds of “Luke Cage”
A few weeks ago, we talked about the viral video that criticized Marvel’s franchise music for being practically nonexistent. The viral video argued that Marvel was missing it’s own magical melody that existed in Disney films, “Harry Potter”, “Indiana Jones”, and other franchises. However, Netflix’s next Marvel property, “Luke Cage”, begs to differ.
Netflix is on a roll with their Marvel lineup of iconic television shows. Starting with “Daredevil” the edgy take on urban heroes gave rise to “Jessica Jones” and now “Luke Cage”. But in creating these shows, Netflix put these properties into the hands of some talented people with an eye for gritty atmosphere and drama. For “Luke Cage”, creating that atmosphere required the combined powers of showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, and musical talents Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of the group A Tribe Called Quest.
What It Means to Be “Unapologetically Black” in Television
When the series first premiered in September, Billboard published an article narrating how Coker, Younge, and Muhammad worked together to find that soulful vibe that a show about an African American superhero needed. Muhammad explained that Coker “...wanted the series to have a hip-hop foundation...We also wanted the Luke Cage series to have it’s own unique sound, identifiable only to Luke Cage. We also wanted it to sound unlike anything else being composed for television right now."
Critics have praised the show for it’s music, fitting in nicely with it’s urban Harlem setting. From the funk-jazz of the opening credits to the orchestrations during moments of drama, viewers are completely immersed in this world of violence, corruption, love, and redemption. In a recent interview with Billboard, Younge said, “We wanted to make something that was unapologetically black -- something that’s black with no filters showing that we can be classical, soulful and jazzy, and embody the renaissance of Harlem....You get the slap. You can feel it. That’s what we wanted to bring with the score.”
The music does have an air of opulence, mixed with the hints of the funk music that made 1970s blaxploitation films so iconic. Younge and Muhammad even integrated live performances from Raphael Saadiq, Faith Evans, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and more within the show. Even Wu Tang Clan’s Method Man makes a cameo and leaves a parting message for Luke Cage that not only rings true for the characters on the show, but also for our current political and social climate.
It’s plain to see that the world has embraced these gritty new heroes, and none more so than Luke Cage. And if you’ve already finished binge-watching the show, and are itching for season 2, don’t you worry: Younge and Muhammad are more than ready to take on that challenge. “I’d be more than happy to be a part of season 2,” Younge told Billboard, “We could start tomorrow.” Here’s to hoping that Netflix can confirm a second season, and that they can bring more of that jazz magic with a second collaboration from Younge and Muhammad.
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