8.12.2011

Why I'm Down With The LXD, a Guest Post

Some of you are familiar with blogger Neo-Prodigy (author Dennis R. Upkins). This is his second guest post here at the Narrative discussing POC media, his first post being "Counting Colored Cash."


Random Fact # 28: The first concert I ever attended was Run DMC & Aerosmith.

Hip hop culture is a long lost love of mine.

This usually shocks people when they learn that I used to be huge fan of vintage hip hop. It's understandable given my cerebral and uptight demeanor ie: the huge stick up my diamond crushing ass.


As a kid, hip hop culture was starting to gain traction and even then I knew it was something special. It was from the streets, it was humble, it was pure. It was by the people for the people. It was inclusive. Hip hop/rap was for everyone: male, female, black, Asian, Latino, and white.

Growing up I enjoyed Run DMC, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Will Smith aka the Fresh Prince and his boy Jazzy Jeff, Queen Latifah, Salt & Pepa, Heavy D, Hammer and a host of others.

If you don't know about Krush Groove, you can't talk to me. If you don't know about Beat Street, beat it, because you can't tell me anything.

Hip hop was socially relevant and it continuously found creative means to discuss the challenges that the poor, disenfrannchized, POCs and other minorities had to contend with. We were underground, we were pure and we were fun.

We also danced. I danced. Yes I danced. And if you catch me at a con or a party, I can showcase a few breakdance moves old and new.

Dance was crucial to the culture. It was how men and women showcased their prowess and superiority. It was also how we sometimes settled grievances if you had beef with someone.

Yes, if you had beef, you took it to the parking lot and you battled. Break out the boombox, play the latest jam and you showcased the freshest moves. You better be up to snuff on all of Michael's moves at a bare minimum.

And don't get it twisted. When I say hip hop, I'm not just referring to simply rap music. You see hip hop as a culture transcends, race, culture and musical genre, it's universal. Whether it's Run DMC and Aerosmith performing Walk This Way, Deborah Harry and Blondie teaming up with Fab Five Freddy, it's musicals. Yes musicals, case in point: Jay-Z. You know you're a badass when you can win a grammy off of an Annie track and no one dares question your gangsta. It's martial arts. It's Romeo Must Die, it's Justified and Ancient. Hip hop is classical music, it's jazz, it's R&B, it's rock music, it's country. Juxtapose a Johnny Cash album with Common's. You have two different men of two different eras from two different cultures and walks of life and the issues they discuss and the oppressions they call out are almost identical. Hip hop pulls from everything because it's by the people for the people.

Sadly, hip hop lost its way. As it became more commercial and more profitable, and blood suckers found a means of exploiting it, we saw hip hop lose its voice and give way to a bastardized version that glorified blacks murdering each other, drug-dealing, abusing women. Seeing the irrevocable harm it was doing to my race, my culture and my day to day, I began to distance myself from this love of mine.

And you can't even call it gangsta rap because that's neither fair or true. Real gangsta rap even in its rawest form has something profound to say and when it discusses thug life or life on the streets. It tells it all. The good, the bad, the glamorous, the ugly, and the harsh realities.Violent imagery and harsh language may be used but true gangsta rap has a message worth telling.

When it comes to hip hop, a buddy of mine said it best:
Here’s the thing: “hip hop” and “rap” aren’t the problems. What you hear on the radio and see on channels like MTV or in poorly written, disastrously casted “gangsta flicks” aren’t real hip hop or rap. They’re commercialized hip hop and pop rap (it helps to be specific). To hear real hip hop and old school rap, you have to go underground. You have to track down all those unsigned rappers who quote scholars and philosophers and discuss social issues in their rhymes. Unlike mainstream rappers, they’re often college-educated, have little to no criminal background, and are regularly engaged in community service, like rapper/educator Asheru.

You will almost NEVER see them in popular media because they are a more accurate depiction of black people in America. Moreover, they represent us positively, and white America doesn’t want to show people that. They don’t want non-black (or even black) people to [see black people] that way. They want everyone to see us as “ghetto”, illiterate, promiscuous, and self-destructive so that they don’t have to take responsibility for – or even mention – the glaring inequality in our society.
It appears my friend and I aren't alone. In recent years, I've noticed a lot more discussions and a movement to reclaim hip hop and to return it to its purest form. Whether it's Def Poetry and open mic, conscious rap and other media. Even a web series that has become a cultural and global phenomenon

Which brings us to The LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers.
From visionary writer/director Jon M. Chu (STEP UP 3D), The LXD chronicles the journey of seemingly ordinary people who discover they have extraordinary powers and must choose their place in an epic war between good and evil.

There’s high school outcast Trevor Drift (Bboy Luigi) uncovering his family’s dangerous secret, fallen soldier Sp3cimen (Madd Chadd) running from his dark past, and unassuming hero Elliot Hoo (Glee’s Harry Shum Jr.) haunted by newly discovered supernatural gifts. All of whom are called to fulfill their destiny and join The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. Each of their stories showcases the unbelievable flips, spins and twists that have already made The LXD a pop cultural phenomenon and one of the most highly anticipated films ever released.
The LXD is hip hop in its purest form. It's an online adventure. It's a live action comic book series that bends genre like whoa. It's dance: be it ballet, jazz, tap, B-boy, it's acrobatics, it's extraordinary. You can see influences of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gregory Hines in some of the performances. However most of the dancers have stated that their biggest influence and inspiration was Michael Jackson.

Not only was I floored by the series but the story behind the series itself. A web series about a group of gifted characters who discover they have amazing abilities through energy known as the Ra. Think a high quality, epic, operatic Heroes, only with an excellent plot, without the fail. The Justice League of dance might be a better description.

The plot evolves with each episode and Chu and company get more artistic and creative with the cinematography themes, composition, etc.

As I mentioned earlier, it went from internet sensation to global phenomenon, primarily through word of mouth. People believed in the project, people want to see our stories and talents shared, they have also proven that diversity = success. All of the choreography and stunts are real; no special effects, no wire work, no green screens. I’m also proud to support this series because 50 percent of the sales of the official LXD t-shirt supports the work of the Invisible Children, a cause that’s personally dear to me.

The LXD is also proof of two things: Web series are the way of the future and that diversity when done right garners success.

The LXD, has a multi-ethnic cast and has consistently dominated as the most watched series on Hulu. Paramount executives have pointed to creator Jon Chu’s use of Web 2.0 and social networking (not to mention a quality product) as setting the standard and being a game changer in reaching a mass audience, execs can only dream about.

Funny how while Hollywood is hemorraging money and trying to figure out ways gain audiences, web series like The LXD, KTown Cowboys, and The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl have fans breaking their necks to donate to their Crowdfunding and Kickstarter efforts. Funny how these have all been POC media as well.

Today is the long anticipated season premiere. I could go on and on about how incredible this series is, but I know all too well that seeing is believing. With that in mind, check out the official trailer for Season 3: Rise of the Drifts.


Seasons 1&2 are available on DVD as well as iTunes.

thelxd.com
www.hulu.com/the-lxd

LXD: The online adventure begins right now. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to watch the season premiere and reconnect with a long lost love.

17 comments:

  1. It's on Netflix streaming too <3

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  2. "Sadly hip hop has lost it's way"

    Agreed. I loved rap music in it's day,but not too much anymore. Like you said, rap music was very inclusive, original and just had rappers singing genuine experiences that was just pleasant to the ears. Man.. I really miss those days.. the grandmaster Flash and the Sugar Hill Gang, Cypress Hill, Salt and Pepa, Run DMC etc..those were the real rappers.

    Once in a while, there may be a hip hop rapper that stands out from the rest,but it's not very often that I say that. A lot of them stood out during the golden age of rap.

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  3. The thing I like about this show is that it's cast on merit. If you can't do flips and tricks on your own, if you have no grace, no talent, no stamina...you're not in.

    This is a clever and very entertaining show, and it is most definitely evidence that the web series is the future. And in this future, if your show sucks and its audience does not feel represented, it won't get past episode one.

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  4. I need to check this series out. I'm so tempted to cancel my cable because I only watch HBO/ESPN/TNT. Everything else I watch is online.

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  5. I'm so tempted to cancel my cable

    Girl, do it. It is some of the most empowering shit when you cancel cable and instead spend money funding series like these.

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  6. "Girl, do it. It is some of the most empowering shit when you cancel cable and instead spend money funding series like these."

    TRUTH!!!!!!!

    And I'm speaking from personal experience here as well.

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  7. Denny,

    I remember you sent me a link to the original online. I'll re-watch now that I have a bit of free time.

    BTW, I read and finished your book. I loved it!

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  8. @Hateya

    [blushes] THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  9. EXCELLENT POST!!!! EXXXXXCEEELLLEEENNNT!!!

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  10. I'm liking it so far, its actually a great series, but I have one issue I don't see a lot of black women.

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  11. @ Amanda O

    That's the same issue I have. The one noticeably black woman we see is a villain.

    Furthermore, this is Chu's series, and a chance to do bring more Asians to the foreground in American media. So how come the Speshul/Destined/Chosen One isn't an Asian dancer? I mean...all those good-looking guys in Quest Crew and we've got Taylor Drift? Travis I'm-too-good-to-be-real Wong is right there on set and he ain't the main dude?

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  12. @Ankhesen

    Yeah the Asians are there but they aren't the maineventers for the series, which is definitely weird. I wasn't all to happy about the 'Dark Nurse' being a villian. I guess Chu felt that if the main was asian than there could have been some backlash.

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  13. @ Amanda O

    I guess Chu felt that if the main was asian than there could have been some backlash.

    And that's what so sad. He's bringing mainstream paranoia into online media. Like many, he's conditioned to think, "If the lead looks like me, this shall not work."

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  14. The sad thing is many are conditioned. Like for example if a movie/tv show is all white without any diversity than it can still be a successful franchise, i.e. Friends. However, if its all Asian or all Black or has the lead being people of color, the percentage of success will be tricky. People will come out the woodworks both POC and white complaining about the limited amount of whites or blah. I like that Trevor is hispanic, since its nice to see Latinos get some shine. I truly think he was going for whoever could pass for white.

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  15. I like that Trevor is hispanic, since its nice to see Latinos get some shine. I truly think he was going for whoever could pass for white.

    And therein lies the problem. He "passes". His name is neither Spanish nor Native American, and we don't hear him speak Spanish or any indigenous American languages. For all intents and purposes, he's tanned white boy and he's the center of attention - again - on a show created and run by an Asian American, and inspired by the music and dance styles of Black Americans.

    *rubs temples*

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  16. Damn! I got all hyped reading this article about this cool show featuring a predominately POC cast only to be let down once again with the fact that black women are invisible!

    Wooooow even in a production full of POC black women do not exist and are completely irrelevent.

    I mean that trailer literally showed every race and gender EXCEPT for black women!!

    Why?! Nooo black women passed the casting call??

    None of them were good enough??

    It comes off like black women aren't talented enough to be involved in major projects or something.

    It's like the only black people that exist are black MEN. People only want to see black men.

    HELLOOO!! Black men did NOT create "cool" without us!! It's the music and dance of black people not black men!!

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  17. I see now that if black women really want to shine in anything, we have to seperate ourselves because other minorities don't want to include us either. I'm tired of people giving me the same excuse of "maybe black women didn't audition" bullsh*t! So everyone else in the world is dancing except for us?? Interesting...every non-black female dances better than a sista huh? Whatever. So disappointing. As awesome as this show seems I don't even know if I want to bother now tbh

    That's alright I'm creating, writing and envisioning art and entertainment with black women in mind. Little black girls too. We don't need to be included in anything because we should create for ourselves.

    Pfft hiphop dance show without black women. Ridiculous!

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