'Wu-Tang: An American Saga' Episode 6 Recap
Craig Blankenhorn / Hulu

'Wu-Tang: An American Saga' Episode 6 Recap: Bird's-Eye View

This week's episode focuses on perspective, point of view, and how they shape realities.

The story of the Wu-Tang Clan is a story of rap as a way out of the hood, but it’s also a story about using talent to break cycles and beat the system. Episode 6 focuses on perspective, point of view, and how they shape realities. What happens as our characters dare to look past Park Hill and Stapleton Houses to the world beyond? And how many visible and invisible barriers are in place to prevent it from happening? Using NYC’s official mascot, the pigeon, as a tour guide, our journey starts and ends at the Coles’ house, where Darren’s (Amyrh Harris) view is usually limited to the world immediately outside their Stapleton window.

At the Diggs’ residence, Randy’s Undependable Ni**a Association of America-certified father, Jerome, has shown up out of the blue (they stay having people show up with no advanced warning). Of course, he’s played by Bokeem Woodbine because would it even be a ‘90s hood narrative without Bokeem Woodbine? He sweeps in, making promises of houses, lawns and clean air in the great state of Ohio… as soon as a deal to sell some land he’s been “sitting on” goes through. Sounds like undependable ni**a rhetoric to us, and to Linda (Erika Alexander), who has more pressing issues on her mind — namely paying the debt to Fat Larry (Vincent Pastore) and associates that her sister left behind. As Linda is counting her savings in the First National Bank of Black Mamas — aka the coffee can — we set a timer for the moment it’s discovered that Jerome took the cash and broke out.

Shurrie (Zolee Griggs) is pissed that Jerome’s visit has disrupted her household schedule — because she does technically run the household, especially where little brother Randy’s concerned. “That’s your problem,” Jerome tells her, “too busy acting grown when you ain’t.” When she complains to Divine, he basically tells her to calm down; he now understands what it’s like to get out of jail and feel like the world’s left you behind. Plus, at least Randy’s dad is coming around, unlike theirs. When Dennis (Siddiq Saunderson) stops by to drop something off for Linda, Shurrie takes the opportunity to confront her boo about his distance.

He’s been funny style since their conversation about a future together. Dennis, who’s been in the middle of solving yet another problem at home, emphasizes to Shurrie again that his family is always going to need him, and he doesn’t want to put that weight on her shoulders. Shurrie tells him that’s not his decision to make, and she’s tired of everyone seeing her as a little girl; she’s almost a grown woman (they could have just inserted a chyron that said “And then, she got pregnant” here, the foreshadowing was so heavy). Shout out to Dennis for being all about the hair scarf lovin’, though. He knows what’s up.

Bobby (Ashton Sanders) is still trying to uphold his responsibilities to the household, which now includes helping his mom pay back the mob. But his business is slowing down for the winter. Over in Park Hill, Rebel (rapper Joey Bada$$) can tell Bobby how many hood spins his single with Shot Gun has every day before the kids head to school and the mailman comes, but he ain’t actually trying to go outside to sell product. He’s content to observe the world of Park Hill from his window until the weather breaks, prompting Bobby to compare him to “that inspector from the Pink Panther.” (Seed for “Inspectah Deck”: planted.)

Bobby’s money coming up short means money for his mama comes up short — Linda owes interest for paying late — which means the family is vulnerable. On top of that, even after solving this week’s payment, next week’s is looming. Bobby gets an idea from the record shop owner to grab Dennis and venture beyond their side of Satan Island to do business at a burger joint literally called “White’s” (I guess they didn’t want smoke with White Castle). They have a great sales night, but Bobby decides he wants the full tourist experience and tries to get at a white girl, spitting game about Blondie’s and New York City’s bastion of punk music, CBGB. He and Dennis subsequently end up in a fight with locals who no doubt grew up to vote for Trump (if you want to know anything about Staten Island outside of Wu’s side of town, know it’s the only NYC borough that went to 45 in the election). They give Bobby a pretty serious gash over his eye and run his and Dennis’ pockets for almost all the money they just made. Bobby dispatches Dennis to give Linda what little money is left while he goes to get stitched up.

Linda heads to work stressed about how she’s going to handle the balance due for the week and is shocked and surprised when Paxti (Antoni Corone) passes her outside the rib joint without incident. She’s even more surprised when she walks inside to discover Jerome paid her debt in full. He figured out her trouble with Fat Larry while questioning Randy about Linda’s love life and decided to step up. Maybe we had you pegged wrong, Jerome. Our bad. He begs Linda to change her outlook and trust him, just one more time. Looks like Ms. Linda is ‘bout to get her groove back.

We spend more time in and around Park Hill this episode than we have previously, and Shot Gun is now a local star. As Rebel reported to Bobby, “Killa Hill” is still being bumped non-stop. Shorties are getting his number, cats want the opportunity to beat him in a rap battle. He’s the only eventual Wu member, aside from Bobby, committed to using his talents to get him out of the hood and tells Haze he’ll bring him along as manager. We also finally get some insight into Haze’s leadership, composure, and code-switching adeptness: he’s former military. He tells Shot Gun how much love he got in Germany when the Berlin Wall came down and that he’d consider going back to stay. Even though young Clifford has his eye on a life beyond Park Hill, Germany ain’t it: “That’s like a lion saying he’s gonna leave his own land, and put himself in a cage at the zoo.” But Haze’s experience in the world has given him a self-confidence that goes beyond street braggadocio, “I’d still be king of the jungle.”

Sha is peepin’ Shot Gun’s shine, and feeling a way. He’s low key annoyed that Bobby gave Shot Gun such a hot beat, but Bobby had been trying to get Sha to lay something down forever. Sha finally gives Shot Gun the freestyle battle Officer Marcus interrupted previously. And Officer Marcus is about to come jack it up, again.

A few feet away, Ms. Burgess, the neighborhood elder, has a cozy slice of comfort inside her well-appointed, well-maintained home. Inside, Nina Simone is the soundtrack and Ms. B carries a running commentary about the good ol’ days with her late husband Curtis. But the civil rights era survivor is plagued by the non-stop noise and profanity of rap battles and drug deals right outside her ground-floor window.

After begging Haze to get the young guns in line, since they listen to him, she tries dealing with them herself. When that goes left, she’s disrespected with a thrown rock, broken china and a destroyed quilt before calling the police. Dammit, Ms. B.

Meanwhile, Divine is still trying to get back in the game, despite the urgings from literally everyone around him. He’s secured a buyer for his product in Park Hill, but when he gets there to complete the transaction, he learns dude was picked up by his parole officer. As he’s heading out, deflated, he sees the police responding to Ms. B’s complaint. Now he might eff around and get sent back to jail himself. His girl won’t let him stash product in her apartment, so he dumps it down the trash shoot. Money gone, but freedom saved, as he bumps into a cop and gets patted down immediately after.

Outside in the courtyard, Haze does what Ms. Burgess initially charged him to do, encouraging the young men to stay calm and cooperate so the incident with the cops doesn’t escalate unnecessarily. Officer Marcus, also from Park Hill, isn’t feeling the street muscle outranking his badge and decides to assert his authority — and escalate. Haze not only refusing to back down but insulting him in front of the hood and his officers, drives Marcus to pull out his taser, which then leads to a scuffle between the two men. As Shot Gun, Sha, and Rebel watch from elevated positions, separated away from the fray; Ms. Burgess watches in horror from her window, realizing what she put in motion; and Divine tries to get to his friend, risking violation of his parole in the process; Officer Marcus chokes Haze to death, insisting “I run the streets!”

Outside of the basketball court, however, life moves forward. Bobby heads home from the hospital; Ms. Linda and Jerome are cozied up, perhaps contemplating life in Ohio, and Dennis and Shurrie are finally moving publicly as a couple. Our friend and guide, the pigeon, comes back to rest outside of Darren’s window.

--

What This Episode Got Right: The immediate assumption is probably that the tragic scene with Haze and Officer Marcus is in homage to Eric Garner, the black man killed on Staten Island in 2014 via asphyxiation; the result of a police officer restraining him in a chokehold for a non-violent offense. Unfortunately, the tension between black men and the NYPD long precede #BlackLivesMatter and was especially thick in the early-mid ‘90s. Haze’s death was based on the life of Ernest “Case” Sayon, who grew up with Shot Gun in Park Hill and died following a struggle with a police officer — who put him in a chokehold — over what Method Man has said was a misunderstanding about fireworks. The officer was acquitted.

Oh, and people needing to get your permission to use your phone to call long distance was real. Phone bills were really the biggest scam ever.

What This Episode Got Wrong: Haze bucking up to a police officer as former military felt a bit off, but street code supersedes rank and file. And the police on the other side of Staten Island would probably have arrested Bobby and Dennis instead of just leaving them there. But nothing stood out as a big “nope” for us this episode.

What We Could Have Done Without: The use of the pigeon was overdone, although the various framing shots were fantastic, Ms. Burgess’s speech to the Park Hill kids was also too much; very Mother Sister in Do the Right Thing. We actually exhaled when somebody through a rock, because no way would that have worked in real life.

What We Have Questions About: Where did Jerome get the money to pay off Fat Larry and ‘nem? We still have our eye on him.

From the Web

More on Vibe

JC Olivera/Getty Images

‘Candyman’ Reboot Pushed Back To Next Summer

The long-awaited reboot of the ‘90s horror flick, Candyman, has been pushed back yet again. The film, written by Jordan Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta, is now expected to arrive on August 27, 2021.

Like many productions delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Candyman remake has been postponed more than once. In September, Universal Pictures removed the film from its calendar. Da Costa later explained that the film was made to view in theaters.

“We wanted the horror and humanity of Candyman to be experience in a collective, a community, so we’re pushing Candyman to next year, to ensure that everyone cans the film in theaters, and share in the experience,” DaCosta tweeted at the time. Her Twitter account has since been deleted.

Described as a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 original, the reboot stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the supernatural monster lurking within the character Anthony McCoy. The film’s premise finds McCoy (Abdul-Mateen) returning to the now gentrified Chicago area where the legend of Candyman first began.

“I’m really honored to be stepping into those shoes,” Abdul-Mateen said in an interview with Collider.com. “They’re big shoes to fill because, obviously, that’s an iconic character and a story that people relate to. Even people who have not seen it, have ideas about it, or they’ve still been able to interact with it, and that iconography has penetrated their lives. So, it’s an honor to be able to step into that, and to re-tell that story, and to introduce the mythology of Candyman back into the world, in 2020, and to put our own social lens and our own spin on it. I think that’s gonna be a lot of fun, to put that iconography back into the conversation.”

Continue Reading
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Daniel Kaluuya Explains Why His Upcoming Live-Action ‘Barney’ Movie Is “Really Needed”

Daniel Kaluuya shared an interesting take on Barney, and the motivation behind his up-coming live-action adaptation of the children’s series. The 31-year-old British actor is producing what will be a sobering interpretation of the lovable purple T-Rex, one that Kaluuya says is “really needed” at the moment.

“Barney taught us, ‘I love you, you love me. Won’t you say you love me too?’ That’s one of the first songs I remember, and what happens when that isn’t true? I thought that was really heartbreaking,” Kaluuya told Entertainment Weekly  in an interview promoting his upcoming film Judas and the Black Messiah. “I have no idea why but it feels like that makes sense. It feels like there’s something unexpected that can be poignant but optimistic. Especially at this time now, I think that’s really, really needed.’’

Mattel Films is co-producing the live-action Barney film alongside Kaluuya’s production company, 59%, and Valparaiso Pictures.

Barney & Friends originally aired on PBS from 1992-2009. The purple dinosaur and his sidekick,  B.J. and Baby Bop, taught legions of young viewers educational messages through songs and dance.

Aside from Barney, Kaluuya opened up to EW about portraying Black Pantry Party member Fred Hampton in Judas and The Black Messiah, co-starring Lakeith Stanfield.

“One of my aspirations was to show how brilliant these people were in every way, and what they were really doing, to show the full picture, away from the narrow narrative that has been portrayed. Show what they were really doing in this time, and how revolutionary their ideas were. It didn't necessarily mean destruction. They were actually about healing and loving and taking care of your community. These activities do not feel like they're associated with the Black Panther party but that's the foundation of it, which is why it spread.”

Continue Reading
Netflix/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Ludacris Announces Netflix Animated Series ‘Karma’s World’ Inspired By His Oldest Daughter

Ludacris has an animated series in the works. Karma’s World, which is inspired by his oldest daughter, Karma Bridges, is in development at Netflix, the rapper announced on Tuesday (Oct. 13).

“I’ve had a lot of accomplishments in my life, but everything that I’ve experienced seems to have led up to this point to where I can leave a legacy for all my daughters,” Luda said in a statement. “Karma’s World is one of those legacies. I hope this series will show kids that there are many ways to overcome difficult situations.

“This show is going to move hip hop culture forward, and show young girls that they have the power to change the world,” he added. “This project has been a long time in the making and I can’t wait to bring Karma’s World to the entire world.”

The series follows 10-year-old Karma Grant, a smart, resilient, and “deeply empathetic” aspiring singer and rapper with “big talent and an even bigger heart.” Karma pours out her deepest feelings and channel her emotions into the music that she hopes will one day change the world. The animated show chronicles how Karma begins to recognize the true power of music, and will tackle issues such as self-esteem, body positivity, friendship, family, and celebrating differences.

Karma’s World has been a decade in the making, Luda revealed in an  Instagram post.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

10 years in the making. THIS IS HOW LEGACIES ARE BUILT! • I’m pleased to announce that I will be joining the @netflixfamily, and bringing my new animated series #KarmasWorld which is inspired by my oldest daughter in partnership with @9storymediagroup and @BrownBagFilms to @netflix for the world to see! • It was important to me to provide a positive @StrongBlackLead to show our youth that there are many ways to overcome difficult situations, and that their dreams no matter how big are possible! I’m looking forward to finally being able to share what I’ve been working on behind the scenes for so many years! Welcome to Karma’s World! Click the link in bio RIGHT NOW!!! • #Ludacris #Netflix #AnimatedSeries

A post shared by @ ludacris on Oct 13, 2020 at 11:03am PDT

Besides creating the series, Luda is also executive producing alongside Vince Commisso, Cathal Gaffney, Darragh O’Connell, Angela C. Santomero, Wendy Harris and Jennie Stacey from 9 Story Media Group.

Karma’s World is a partnership between 9 Story Media and Luda’s production company Karma’s World Entertainment.

Continue Reading

Top Stories