Tempe-based rapper Thaahum just finished binge-watching the new Netflix original series Luke Cage, so it is understandable that his eyelids are a little droopy. Dressed in a T-shirt featuring the show’s logo, he is struggling to remain tight-lipped about plot details.
The artist does manage to avoid spoilers while explaining why the Netflix/Marvel action-drama resonates with him on a cultural level. In the first episode, there is a scene set in the Harlem neighborhood where the show takes place. A kid on the street is selling bootleg videos depicting the events in the finale of the first Avengers film. It’s a minor moment that, for Thaahum, made the superhero drama feel grounded in today’s world.
“Little stuff like that hit the nail on the head,” he says, “There was an authenticity to it, but you don’t feel disconnected.”
Thaahum has been inspired by pop culture before. He has created songs and videos referencing everything from Star Wars: The Force Awakens to Captain America: Civil War. It is apparent from the previews Netflix released that Luke Cage has an urban tone that sets it apart from Marvel’s previous efforts. It boasts a great R&B soundtrack and a villain’s lair featuring an oversized painting of The Notorious B.I.G. Each episode shares a title with a song by influential '90s rap duo Gang Starr.
“I was drawn to how rooted [the show] was in hip-hop,” he explains. “How could I not do a Luke Cage song?”
He channeled his anticipation for the series into a catchy, playful verse to coincide with the show’s release. Thaahum collaborated with local producer DJ Big Serg on the track. They knew the next step was to create a music video. The clip features scenes from the show and Thaahum, Serg, and local singer and vlogger
The video caught the attention of Luke Cage executive producer and showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, who started his career as a music writer for Vibe and Rolling Stone. He shared the video on his Twitter account, catching the attention of Luke Cage stars Alfre Woodard and Rosario Dawson, and the website ComicBook.com.
“It was so surreal,” he says. “Cheo is so passionate about the project. It was cool to get accolades from people in the business and be acknowledged like that. I would love for Marvel to say they want me to do something for a comic book release.”
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Even though Thaahum’s love for Luke Cage has garnered him the attention he deserves, the superhero he relates to the most is Scott Lang from Ant-Man.
He explains with a laugh, “He got himself into trouble, he’s not with the mother of his child, but he is trying to do right by his daughter and catch up on child support.”