Series: Wu-Tang: An American Saga Cast: Ashton Sanders, Shameik Moore, Dave East, Julian Martinez, Marcus Callender, Erika Alexander, Joey Bada$$, Johnell Young, TJ Atoms, Siddiq Saunderson. Creators: RZA & Alex Tse Producers: RZA, Brian Grazer, Method Man. Distributed by: Imagine Studios Review By: Dion Hall Rating: 4X’s out of 5X’s
Wu-Tang: An American Saga tells the tale of one of the most prolific rap groups ever to grace the Hip Hop scene. Straight out of the slums of Shaolin; Wu-Tang: An American Saga follows a young RZA, then known as Bobby and "Prince Rakeem" as he tries to navigate life growing up amongst poverty, drugs, crime, and racism. Throughout the series Bobby is torn between following his true passion of hip hop and hustling to help to keep the lights on and food on the table. Early in the series Bobby is pressured by his older brother Divine to keep his eye on the game and to take care of business because that is what provides for their family. This aspect is the one over arching theme for just about every character, at various points throughout the series a number of characters are met with the same dilemma. No one battles this more than Sha later to be known as "Raekwon" played by Shameik Moore. Sha is second in command to Power who has control of the drug territory surrounding Park Hill and Stapleton projects in Staten Island, NY. Sha is also one of the best MC’s and shows tremendous promise as a rapper. Bobby is one of his closest friends and recognizes this as well as recognizing this in all his friends that surround him.
Dennis Coles later to be known as "Ghostface" is another friend of Bobby with tremendous potential as an MC and similar to Sha the street life is the more pragmatic approach to solve his problems and take care of his two special needs younger brothers. Dennis and Sha may have the most in common as characters and they battle it out the entire series as each tries to end the others lives with Bobby caught in the middle trying to get them to see their potential and use Hip Hop as a ticket out of their predicaments.
Overall the show runners did a tremendous job casting with rapper Dave East playing Shotgun later known as "Method Man", East is as good of a fit as any for this role. Joey Bada$$ plays "Inspecta Deck" known in the show as Rebel he was featured minimally in the series but seemed to be a good fit. Johnell Young plays Gary aka Genius later to be know as "GZA". Gary’s relationship with Bobby is a pivotal one as he helps Bobby navigate the music industry as well as teaching Bobby the Science, the teachings of the Five-Percent Nation. These teachings have a great impact on Bobby, one that may not be fully explored in this season. Probably the best acting standout is T.J. Atoms who plays Ason, later to be known as "Ol Dirty Bastard". For those that grew up watching ODB; Atoms without question captures his essence and helps us to relive the energy brought by one of the most memorable members of the Wu-Tang Clan.
This show does an amazing job illustrating what it's like growing up in the hood. You have unstable households, absent fathers, young men forced to be providers, poverty, drugs, crime, and violence. You really feel what each character is going through and why it leads them to make the decisions they make. All of this makes for one of the best biopic series on Television.