Let’s face it, there aren’t very many great films and/or TV shows about issues relevant to the hip-hop community.
I’m assuming this is why, as you can see on damn near any episode of MTV’s Cribs, every rapper keeps a copy of the god-awful Scarface DVD in his house. You know how fucking awful that movie is? I tried watching it once in high school and I could barely make it through it. I don’t even find it good in a “so bad it’s actually good” kind of way. It’s just bad.
Similarly, the Wire seems to have become every rapper’s favorite TV show. There was a time, a couple of years ago, when every other rap video on TV featured some actor from the Wire for no apparent reason. And actually, this could still be the case, but I wouldn’t know because it’s been a minute since a rap video.
As a matter of pure coincidence, I’m sure, the Wire actually is that good. Its first couple of seasons were enjoyable enough big city drama on the level of something you might catch on Showtime, but its third season took it to that proverbial next level. It was like three seasons worth of plot squeezed into one season worth of episodes. No Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
This fourth season looks like it might be even better.
With the heads of the Barksdale gang now dead or in jail, Marlo Stanfield controls damn near every corner in the hood. The guy kinda looks like a down syndrome baby in the face, but he’s obviously a bit smarter than he looks and has managed to come up with an “ingenious in the sense that it works” scheme to keep the cops off his ass, at least for the time being.
The real focus – and the source of the most amusement so far – this season is a group of young middle school-aged gang bangers in training. In the first episode, they’re still attempting to catch pigeons and other shit kids do when they’re too poor to stay home and watch HBO all day. But you get the idea that they’ll be out on the corner slanging rocks and shooting at each other before too long.
At this point, they’ve yet to do anything particularly interesting with subplots involving a cracka-ass cracka who’s running for mayor and a cracka-ass cracka ex-cop who decides to get his teach for America on down in the ghetto, but the Wire can be “challenging” like that at times. I’m still holding out hope that they can spin something as compelling as last year’s “Hamsterdam” fiasco from all of this.
If you haven’t already, you need to get up on the Wire. Not that this is saying a whole lot, but it’s easily the best film and/or TV show ever made about the kind of shitty areas that have inspired so much great rap music. You can catch it on Sunday nights on HBO, or any time if your cable company offers video on demand. If you need to catch up, the first three seasons are available on DVD.