Hulu /Jeff Neumann
Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga series, which includes Method Man and RZA on its list of executive producers, tells the momentous story of a group of young Black men grappling with their decisions to either pursue an unlikely music career or continue their lucrative-albeit-dangerous adventures in crime. This new biopic is just as thorough, but more factually loose than Showtime's Of Mics and Men docuseries that was released in May, featuring archival footage and interviews with all nine living members. Set in New York’s Staten Island borough in the early ’90s, at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, Wu-Tang: An American Saga emphasizes that despite millenials’ obsessive, nostalgic pining for the music and aesthetics of the ’90s, (guilty!), this was actually quite a tough time to be a young adult, especially if you happened to be Black or living in an underserved community.

Don’t expect any cool graphics to pop up and introduce each prolific character as they appear on screen, as was done in the beginning of Straight Outta Compton. In Wu-Tang: An American Saga, the viewer is largely left on their own to figure all that out. Ashton Sanders, the awkward teenage protagonist from Moonlight, stars as young RZA, Wu-Tang’s de facto leader. Erika Alexander (of Get Out and Living Single fame) is on point as RZA’s mother, Linda Diggs. Rapper Dave East plays a convincing Method Man.

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As its animated artwork at the opening credits would have you assume, Wu-Tang: An American Saga is beautifully shot and edited—but it also feels raw and genuine. In addition to all the drugs and guns in the first few episodes, Wu-Tang’s rise was further complicated by the fact that hip-hop wasn’t as widely socially celebrated 30 years ago, even in the Black community.

In 10 episodes (I've seen eight of them), a casual Wu-Tang fan can come away with a greater understanding of the intense familial, social, and drug-dealing business dynamics that were at play right before Wu-Tang became one of the most influential and iconic hip-hop acts of all time, escaping poverty and violence in the process.