David Makes Man is dangerous.
True it is a charming show, with a brilliantly talented cast and production team (executively produced by Michael B. Jordan and Tarell Alvin McCraney). It has the stamp of Queen Mother Oprah Winfrey and has enjoyed critical acclaim… but on a visceral level it is a dangerous series because it is just such a heart-wrenchingly honest show. Episode after episode, it is saturated with truth… someone’s truth.
And that’s why it is possibly one of the most important shows on television this season. This work of art dismantles the narrative of Post-Racial America and puts the dirty laundry of so many of urban America’s story out there for all to see. To put it in a quick soundbite, this series is Hip-Hop.
Now there goes critic one: “There is not music, where are the rappers? How can it be Hip-Hop without rappers?”
The music is in the dialogue. When Chuck D said that “rap music is the CNN of the street,” does David’s character (complete with his Id and Ego) not tell you one of the real stories of growing up poor, Black and male in America? Is the music not in how he navigates being a kid with being damaged by an environment that he has not control over? Shame on anyone that does not see Nas, T.I., XXXTenacion or T-Top in this character.
Then goes critic number two: “How can it be Hip-Hop and there is no floss or fly women, where is the lit lit?”
What is lit is the level of cultural code switching that is evident through the season. It also speaks to the exceptionality of young Black children. They are “despite” brilliant. Despite hardship, abuse (physical, religious, social, economic and sexual) they find ways to make sunshine out of utter darkness, lemonade out of lemons and family tree assignments out of Mary J. Blige’s odes to children born with no fathers.
And alas critic number three: “How is it Hip-Hop when there is no get money scheme?”
And that is part of the issue. Dave Makes Man reminds us to elevate our definition of Hip-Hop from only being a commodity to acknowledging that it is an expression of Humanity. An expression one might add that is vulnerable.
Just check out the next episode on due to drop on Wednesday, Sept. 11th.