Written by Corey Ware
Episode 5 “We Don’t Play Around” Review
Web Series Blue Collar Hustle returns with the penultimate episode of its freshman season. After the previous episode’s refreshing and somewhat ambitious take on black male-female relationships; Episode 5, titled We Don’t Play Around, returns to the main plot line of Ajani and his companions attempting to make their mark on Atlanta’s Hip Hop scene. To this end the episode begins with a radio interview where Quan Banneker (self stylized as Que-Brick) and his producer/friend Jose Torres are hoping to utilize the airwaves to convince the listeners of Atlanta that a new Hip Hop sheriff is in town. The highlight of the episode occurs here as Quan, in full “Que-Brick” mode, freestyles impressively for almost 2 minutes. One thing I can say for the pacing of this series is that I’ve been so invested in the characters personal lives and motivations that it never once occurred to me that this is the first episode we’ve actually seen Quan rap! Moreover, it’s good that the kid actually has bars to spit given that the episode pointedly makes reference to the shortcomings of “mumble rap” and the lack of quality lyricism in mainstream rap music. The next two scenes are comprised of conversations between Jose and Quan and Ajani and Anthony as the almighty dollar (pun intended) takes center stage. The guys need money, not an insurmountable amount, but an amount that after a series of realistic personal responsibilities are met, proves a real challenge for our protagonists.
The acting in this episode is excellent. Quentin Williams really shines as Quan. He is probably the most outwardly dynamic of the main male characters as he continues to showcase deeper facets of his personality. Confident rapper, cocky ladies man, dedicated father, ambitious artist. Quentin is able to give his character a sense of warmth and charm that continues to make us root for him and see exactly why someone would place their faith in his potential. Series creator Alonge Hawes pulls double duty as Ajani Garvey, who as the leader of the collective finds himself obsessing over every detail and trying his best to keep their fledgling business endeavor afloat. Howard Woodburn, as the ever sarcastic Anthony Lee, continually pops up to add both advice and quips in equal measure. But this episode really belongs to Roberto Cruz, who as Jose Torres gets to have his moment of value. The character of Jose also benefits from additional screen time, imbuing the series with both a gritty edge and determined humanity; you really believe him when he says that he “makes part time beats and full time moves”.
The story of the episode moves along briskly, this episode is about 25 minutes but moves along to the point I was surprised to see the ending credits pop up. The writing continues to be exceptional, as this series is able to deftly explore a wide range of topics that are relevant within the African American community. The last two episodes were pretty heavy in speaking on police brutality and black men respecting black women. This episode is lighter as it seems the main “message” is black men being able to rely upon one another without taking illegal measures. The music continues to be a high point. Both the opening intro performed by Que-Brick and the background music used throughout are very nicely placed and sequenced. If an official soundtrack for the series could be made available I’d definitely listen to it, I really dig the tunes. Visually, Blue Collar Hustle continues to be a mixed bag.
There are really great moments in the episode, Que-Brick’s freestyle scene and the scene where all of the main characters are debating their next moves come to mind. The editing is very well done and the overall direction is fine, but there are little moments of grain and fuzziness where it becomes hard to see the characters. Some scenes are well lit, some scenes look as if they are actually over lit, and other scenes seem darker. Proper color correction would do wonders for the series, but again, we aren’t talking about a big Hollywood production. Sound is one thing that this series excels at, there are many similar web series out there whom I simply refuse to watch because the sound is atrocious. Blue Collar Hustle, thankfully doesn’t suffer this problem.In conclusion, I really enjoyed this episode, and the series as a whole. It’s not often that we get to see young, working class African Americans who are building together instead of tearing one another down. Add to that an ensemble of interesting characters and a storyline that is rather unique in execution (if not narrative) and you have a winning combination.
Episode 5 is available right now on Seeka.TV.is completely free to sign up for and by signing up to Seeka TV you will enjoy a two week exclusivity period, after which the episode will be available on YouTube, Bingewave, and Go Indie TV.
Episode rating: 8.5/10
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