Directed by: Geoffrey Henderson
Written by: Alonge Hawes
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Blue Collar Hustle
It's not lost on me the irony of building up a web series - based on another form of artistic expression. In this case music. In many ways the two industries mirror one and other, yet with a web series you can actually combine the two industries. Who can complain about getting two for one? The problem that is shared in both industries is one of cash flow. Without some serious scratch backing you, it's an uphill battle creating something an audience can stomach. Without the cash on hand, you had better have some good people helping out, some serious motivation, and an above average sense of thinking outside the box. Especially in today's world where the "wannabee" web production is king, making sure everyone just assumes if it says "web" in front of it, it's crap. But everyone, and every show has to start somewhere. Start building. Start learning. Now we return to that irony comment I wrote of above. Alonge Hawes has put together a series about just that. Building and learning. Creating and hustling. Living the dream is the goal of "Blue Collar Hustle" and fighting to make it happen, is the premise of season one.
The well paying nine to five is the dream and nightmare of the average person. Room for advancement, a reliable income for a new or established family, and that age old saying: it beats the streets. Responsibility. Ever increasing hours and commitment with the hopes of a good retirement. Yet it does leave a persons dreams on the sidelines and finally, usually, completely removed from the field. It's easy to fall into the life of the working stiff and honestly? There's nothing wrong with an average middle class life. For those who want more, the cycle has to be broken. For those who want to chase their dreams - a line must be drawn. Ajani is one of these people. Happy for what he has but longing for a return to the dreams. The music. When presented a chance to get involved with a new hip hop artist, from the ground up, he makes the decision to go for it. "Blue Collar Hustle" is about the attempt to balance his working life with his artistic side. Keep his family afloat while bankrolling a musical venture, and artist, he truly believes in. "Bankrolling" may not be the right word since the idea is essentially his, but you get the point. Season one is about fighting for the arts - with secondary elements of friendships, family and work. The work and dedication that goes into producing and promoting. Much the same as the work that goes into a decent web series. After binging on the show for a few days I must admit - I'm more than a little curious to see how season two will stack up. Promising to shift over to the next phase of the music industry. The trailer does look pretty sweet. That's for sure.
There are plenty of ups and downs here. Episodes range from good to mediocre as do some of the individual scenes themselves. During the better parts of the title, you can really see Aonge Hawes and Geoffrey Henderson's vision for the series. These are the moments when you realize just how great this title can be. Then things drop a few notches, but never so much you want to erase your bookmark. I would like to blame a lot of the dips in quality on the micro budgeted nature of the show. In a lot of instances I can do just that - but not all of them. There are a lot of scenes that just go on and on. Simply because they are really dialog heavy. It's almost like reading from a book, where you have to verbally explain every single thing happening. These scenes come and go throughout the entire season. Some even taking up the bulk of the episode. Another issue I had was with the length of the actual episodes. They are long. 24 minutes is a standard length for a half hour show on television. Since a web series is watched more on a mobile device, or computer screen, a good length for a web series is generally a lot less. Other than that, we do have plenty of technical issues due to the lack of a true budget. Not as many as I would have thought though, and by the look of the S2 trailer, the crew has been working hard to remedy them.
As for the more creative elements of the series, such as the characters and music, it's all golden. Maybe a little hollow at times, especially in episode one, but damn man... there is some real potential here. I can see seeds of a story, and other smaller stories, everywhere. The music itself? A definite high point. You'll agree as soon as the show starts.
"Blue Collar Hustle" has what it needs to succeed. Characters. Music and a little "umph" to carry it through. This first season may not have achieved top ten status, but continuing to build and improve on what they have, for season two, will bring this title up a long way. Anybody can hone their skills and get experience, but you just can't fake natural ability. That ability is here. It's in many of the actors and within the story itself. "Blue Collar Hustle" is an interesting diversion. What would I like to see in season two? Since the recording is finished and the promotion is starting, maybe introduce a rival? That would be sick.