Snowfall: The John Singleton Hit Echoes A Few Hip Hop Stories

Snowfall, which airs on Wednesday night at 10 PM on FX, has become a quick cultural gem that aligns directly with the tales from hip hop.

Damson Idris is the gem of the series, Snowfall. It’s fair to say because the series is based on Franklin Saint, the character Idris portrays immaculately at the least. The John Singleton-created classic has bloomed into a space continuum of stories that hip hop has been telling for years.

The eighth episode of the series’ third season opens with Mel, Franklin’s former love interest, bug-eyed and smoking crack in her room. As she reached her apex and her eyes drifted aimlessly, a common storyline presented itself.

“You should stay away cause all he’s about / Is just makin’ you broke and stringin’ you out / It only takes one kiss and a deep, deep breath / Then you’re hooked for life cause it’s the kiss of death”

Lyrics from Kool Moe Dee’s “Monster Crack”, released back in late 80s, explain the potency and addictive nature of crack-cocaine’s “kiss”. Mel twirled around her room in bliss until she felt each pocket on her body and found that it was all gone. Her room began to empty out as she found things to pander to feed her habit.

It’s easy to forget that only several episodes ago, Mel was a Spelman-bound high school graduate, bright-eyed and ready for womanhood. But, with just a “kiss” from the pipe, she finds herself in an alley with an old friend, Wanda, who after experiencing her first crack high a while back has settled completely into her new role as a fiend.

Actresses Gail Bean and Reign Edwards flawlessly embody a dim shift in their characters as the series ages.

Then there is the other side of the game. Those who feverishly benefit from the coke wave. Franklin and Leon (played by Isaiah John), who were mere pawns to a bigger cause in the series’ first season, have matured into stout businessmen and have built networks within their community. It’s almost as if they’re living out Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ten Crack Commandments” in front of viewers every Wednesday night.

In Snowfall, Saint has learned never to keep drugs where he lays his head. He only trusts a thimble of souls and before mixing money and blood, his friend, Leon, his aunt Lenny, Uncle Jerome, mother and father proved their value to the organization, although their hurdles varied.

But, it’s a line from Kanye West’s “Crack Music” that embraces the central conspiracy fueling the show’s plot.

“How we stop the black panthers / Ronald Reagan cooked up the answer.”

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It references a theory that the government is responsible for the “Snowfall” in Los Angeles and other major cities that were struck with the effects crack-cocaine set upon their environment. In the series, Saint works closely with Tedy McDonald, a former CIA operative, tasked with funneling money from the drug trafficking with Colombian dealers to fund a rebellion in Nicaragua.

It is an idea that echoes true life reports from the now-deceased Gary Webb, formerly of San Jose Mercury News,  that revealed the journalist’s investigation into CIA’s ties to mass supply of drugs hitting the streets of America. The theory has been deeply embedded into the cultural history of many black and brown faces ever since.

Snowfall on FX is more than a show. It’s an experience. A theatrical look into the real-life happenings of the epidemic that struck minority communities more tragically than any. It gives a peek behind the curtain to those who both profited and suffered from the wave.

John Singleton left his audience with a captivating classic that underscores the tales hip hop has been telling for years.


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