On The Record: Fuse Gets Gritty With First Scripted Series

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One of my benchmarks when watching a new series is how much I look forward to the second episode.

So score one for “

The Hustle,” Fuse’s first original series, which is set in the world of hip hop.

The series, shot here and in LA, has been described as an “

Entourage” for the hip hop set, but its tone, at least in its first two episodes, is much grittier — and much more believable. Maybe it’s the shaky, hand-held camera shots, or the improv-type feel to some of the dialogue.

Or maybe that’s because it has a distinctive New York City vibe, as opposed to the glitz, glamour and phoniness of LA (where the bulk of “Entourage” unfolded).

Premiering Wednesday night and created by Prentice Penny (“

Girlfriends,” NBC’s upcoming “

Brooklyn Nine Nine”), “The Hustle” is centered around hip hop group Brooklyn’s Finest, comprised of best friends Kutta and D (Y’Lan Noel and London Brown, an LA-based standup comedian).

Locally well-known, Kutta and D have been trying to break into the music business for years. And guided by their childhood friend, Ya-Ya (Erica Dickerson) — an exec at a record label — they finally appear to be on the cusp of stardom, with comic relief courtesy of their driver/sidekick Rashad (Clinton Lowe).

But that elusive record deal, now within reach, is fraught with complications in a business that seems to thrive on heavy- handed pressure tactics, manipulation and people talking out of both sides of their mouths.

So, in no short order, Kutta and D’s loyalties are tested, Ya-Ya plays both sides of the bargaining fence while reconnecting with a part of her past and Brooklyn’s Finest has to navigate a slippery slope while trying — extremely hard — to stay true to itself without imploding.

While I can’t pretend to have an ounce of knowledge of, or insight into, the world of hip hop — or the music business, for that matter — I can imagine that this is a pretty fair representation of what it’s really like for unknowns to dip that first toe into shark-infested professional waters.

The cast is quite good, particularly Dickerson, Noel and Brown — who have a nice on-screen chemistry — and there are cameos from several well-known hip hop artists, including Jadakiss, and New York radio’s Power 105 “Breakfast Club” crew.

Unlike its chief rival MTV, Fuse’s first foray into scripted drama hews closely to the network’s roots — which might give “The Hustle” a leg up in the viewership department with programming geared toward the tastes of its audience.

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Source : http://nypost.com/2013/06/15/on-the-record-fuse-gets-gritty-with-first-scripted-series/

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