What’s key to understanding Netflix and Marvel’s The Defenders saga, and what makes it all work so well, is that they’re crafting stories that go deeper into the world of the MCU than they’ve ever gone before. The gritty realism presented in the various series that comprise the saga serves a larger point, namely to create a sense of reality to the world. As easy it might be to get sucked into the fantasy of The Avengers, with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and now Luke Cage, the fantasy fades as we deal first hand with the people affected by the world of the movies. While each series achieves this in a variety of ways, in the case of Luke Cage the role of music is paramount.
As with Hell’s Kitchen in Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Harlem is less a setting in Luke Cage than it is a character of its own. It’s impossible to separate Harlem from the long musical traditions of the town, and every genre from blues to hip-hop has a foothold in the community. The musical interludes that take place in Cottonmouth’s (Mahershala Ali, Free State of Jones) Harlem’s Paradise club serve the story by adding depth to the character of Harlem. More than that is the score. Written and performed by Adrian Younge (Something About April) and Ali Shaheed Muhammed (former member of the wildly influential A Tribe Called Quest), Luke Cage’s score creates an emotional soundscape evocative both of Harlem and the Blaxploitation films that influenced the themes and feel of the series. Now, the score is getting a proper release, worthy of its musical depth.
Austin’s Mondo, best known for their high quality original prints of movie posters and artwork, as well as offering fantastic presentations of film scores and soundtracks, has announced that they’ll be releasing Younge and Muhammed’s score on a limited edition yellow vinyl, complete with artwork by Matthew Woodson. The 180 gram 2 LP collection will be available for preorder starting October 7.
Mondo’s LPs have become must-own items for fans of both music and film, and the company does inspired work that makes each item in its catalogue worth owning. The artwork and presentations of each of their releases serves to showcase the albums in a way that matches the beauty and originality of the music it holds. Having previously released limited editions of the scores for Jurassic Park, Mad Max: Fury Road, and It Follows, Luke Cage joins an elite rank of popular scores that live a life of their own, separate from the film or show that spawned it.
That’s a fitting tribute to the work of Younge and Muhammed, who together crafted a brilliant work that stands on its own two legs, even without the support of Netflix or Marvel. The genre bending score blends elements of R&B, blues, and hip-hop, with just a dash of influence from Ennio Morricone to create a beautifully layered and complex soundscape that’s easily one of the best scores of 2016. While Luke Cage might have been good without their work, there’s no denying that their score takes the series to a whole new level.
The limited edition vinyl will be available for preorder on Mondo’s website for $35 plus shipping. Given the artwork and presentation provided by Mondo, $35 feels like a steal. These collections tend to sell out fast, however, so you got to be quick on the draw if you want to ensure your copy for your vinyl collection. The official release date will be announced in the near future.
Daredevil season 1 & 2, Jessica Jones season 1, and Luke Cage season 1 are now available on Netflix. Iron Fist season 1 arrives on March 17th, 2017. The Defenders and The Punisher arrive in 2017. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2 and Daredevil season 3 have not yet been announced.