Top Boy brings you some raw and hard hitting street viewing but with a British twist writes Phumlani S Langa
Available on Netflix SA
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I came across this incredibly well-made series earlier this year. One of my favourite American rappers Willie the Kid has a sample of an old white guy telling two younger guys that they’re running Summerhouse now and he can trust them as he knows their families.
I was intrigued by this British voice speaking in a godfather manner and I eventually stumbled on Top Boy, British drug pedlars who use dope slang and go about the business of breaking the law in a different way from American gangsters.
It was two seasons – short bursts of gritty street TV depicting the lives of youths in the British housing projects and the challenges of making ends meet.
Dushane (Ashley Walters) and Sully (Kane Robinson) have always pushed drugs to ensure this. But the budding underlords of London have to overcome a lot of hurdles.
This leads to failure at the end of the second season and the show also ran into production difficulties.
For some stupid reason, Top Boy was cancelled, leaving its sizeable following gutted. Drake stepped in, getting this show on streaming platform Netflix and the results are righteous.
While it isn’t as street anymore, the imagery is cleaner, the wardrobe slightly better but the story is iron clad.
Dushane fled to Jamaica where he now lives with his cousin, dealing in rental cars. His pride begins to eat away at him, he ran Summerhouse – the projects where his drug empire was based – and now this.
After an unfortunate event accelerates his reasoning, he’s forced back to the streets in London where he must now contend with new gangs and treachery within his own circle.
This makes for an episode nine with as many twists as one of Game of Thrones.
The links between the narrative and branches of hip-hop such as trap and UK drill are carefully injected as the modern viewer requires a creatively compiled soundtrack. A
few new characters, like the extremely gangster Jaq, and Modie who is a gang banger detached from reality, fuel the plot.
Bar a few holes like what happened to Ra’Nell from the first season and to Tilley in this one, Top Boy is still top TV.