Episode five, season two "Justify My Thug" has been reviewed. Skip to the bottom of this page to read it.
Set withing the backdrop of the music industry, specifically hip-hop, Alonge Hawes "Blue Collar Hustle" sets it's sights on letting viewers know, just what it's like to make it in the world of professional music. At first that is. Season one is all about the hustle. The struggle of getting those first tracks finished - then finally beginning the impossible task of promotion. These modern times are not like a few decades ago. Back then you created something good and the people came - as did the labels. Today, getting noticed is hard, expensive work - and don't expect any help from those ever illusive labels. Even if they are interested, you still have to be the bank as well as promote yourself. Times have changed. No question about that.
The crowds however, love real hip-hop. The gritty hypnotic beats and lyrical precision always find it's way into the souls of even the most unsuspecting individual. Including myself, who was never really a huge fan, but found myself strangely drawn to the background tracks Hawes production features. "Blue Collar Hustle" for me, a white boy, really made me stop to think about how much of hip-hop I attribute to gang culture. Never fully giving it the chance to be heard and appreciated, as an art form - like any other musical style. I realize that doesn't say much about me personally, I've done myself no favors admitting that - but as they say... it is what it is and man was I wrong. Alonge Hawes and his troupe have proved that over and over again.
As season one ended on my screen some time ago, I was reminded of the struggles faced by this crew of talented individuals. The work/life balance, that is hard enough on it's own, compounded by the start of a newly formed company - obviously made for some excellent onscreen drama. Yet the fact that this new company was formed around a recording, and struggling artist, just made things that much more interesting. Season one focused on the beginnings and struggles of this crew. Getting shit done and still providing for the family. Then, as if that weren't enough...
...topics of racism and real life, outside the studio were introduced, but left to settle in the background. Season two really switches things up. It returns and zooms in to those constant issues of racism and race politics, using the music scene and family, as the backing momentum to keep things going. As stated in the show itself, season two uses the leverage it's already gained to ask some serious questions. The show is all the better for it. "Blue Collar Hustle" keeps things real, as it attempts to stir up some kind of emotional response from it's viewers. Especially for people like me, who maybe need to be reminded from time to time, what the world is really like... outside my personal comfort zone.
As for Ajani, Quan and the rest of the crew? Let me just say some major changes take place in season two, and by the end of episode four? Let me just write I'm excited to see how the music is going to evolve as things progress.
"Blue Collar Hustle" is a low budget indie series. So don't expect technical perfection. Season one has it's issues, mainly involving the image quality - but also featuring some iffy audio and unusual edits. Season two does manage an improvement - mostly. Some of those same issues re-occur, but no nearly as much. Far less sketchy video and an edit that's a little slicker at times. The audio, save the backing tracks, still go hay-wire however, but as an entire production? The improvement of season two is clearly evident. Like any show, some episodes are simply better than others.
Here's the truth. I've been watching this series since episode one. Along the way, I've really grown to like - and appreciate what I've seen. The story here tells so much and is a good one overall. Perhaps I'm being a little generous with my rating? Maybe my ability to write an unbiased review has been compromised? Hell, it probably has! You know what? That's the perfect reason to give "Blue Collar Hustle" a four star review. I've grown to like the show so much - that I know I'm not writing from the outside anymore. Any show that takes me out of my comfort zone, and out of my confined little bubble is a good one. Any show that elevates itself high enough, so that I can't remain unbiased, definitely deserves to be noticed. If I'm not impartial anymore it's because "Blue Collar Hustle" made me that way - so why wouldn't I think it's great? I've said it once I'll say it again. Give this show a chance and you'll be impressed as well. The bones are solid. The writing and acting are solid. "Blue Collar Hustle" may not be perfect... but either is life. A solid four stars.
Season two Episode five "Justify My Thug" review.
I mentioned above that "BCH" is maturing and evolving as a series. Episode five solidifies that statement, representing an apparent darker story poking it's head above the fold. This episode is a heavy hitter, dealing mainly with Jose, and the past life baggage he carries with him. Specifically, the years of his youth.
His backstory is the stuff of stand alone movies. Life in the hood and growing up tough. The musical aspects, that started the ball rolling in this series, not only takes a back-seat - but are almost completely ignored in this episode. Character development is key here - and Alonge Hawes and Jairus Burks waste no time directing their way straight to the meat and potatoes of the story.
In this episode, we start off with a bang before backtracking a little, seeing Jose's home and family life for what it is. Normal. A normal happy home. The seeds of the episode are planted when Jose gets a text from an old pal. A relic from another life. Although a bit apprehensive, he agrees to meet up with his old friend for reasons of loyalty. Jose however, has no intention of starting anew the life he so desperately wants to stay away from. As it turns out, his friend Luke, has other ideas. It's only when Jose tries to walk away things get sticky. In his mind, the days of Strong Arm and Quick Hands, their old street names, are over. If only Luke agreed.
I believe this is probably the darkest episode of the series to date, and probably one of - or maybe even - my favorite. The shift of "Blue Collar Hustle" has been written on the walls since season two began. Now that the series is established, it can easily shift into character development and branch off into some really dramatic sub-stories. While the series continues to use the music as the foundation, there is lots of wiggle room to expand. Aside from Jose's story, we also hear a little regarding the aftermath of an earlier episode. A slow time for gigs. I was glad that was included. It kept the series gelled together. It's always good to expand, but never forget where you started.
I'm not going to continue to beat the dead horse, regarding the technical aspects of the episode. Let me just write that it's more of the same. Mainly in the audio department. I can, and will add this. Once these technical glitches are ironed out - "Blue Collar Hustle" will explode.
Overall thoughts on this newest episode? Simple... Hell yeah baby.
Read original review here.