Dear VH1, The Breaks Was Dope, But You Played Me.

VH1 screenshot
VH1 screenshot

Last night, VH1 finally premiered The Breaks, a “movie” they’ve been promoting for the better part of the past two months. Why did I put “movie” in quotes?


I’ll tell you why. It’s because VH1 is rude as fuck and played my life, b.

Let’s start at the beginning: The Breaks is a “movie” based on a book called The Big Payback by Dan Charnas about three friends (Tristan “Mack” Wilds as DeeVee, Afton Williamson as “Nikki” and David Call as “David”) in 1990 who are trying to break into this rising world of hip-hop, each in their own way. DeeVee is a producer trying to find his rapper muse and willing to venture into the projects, Steve Stoute style, to find him; Nikki is the super passionate woman trying to break into the hip-hop industry “by any means necessary”; and David is Nikki’s boyfriend and the rich kid son of a music industry heavyweight who believes in hip-hop and is trying to figure out how to be the white guy that just wants the music to win.

Tossed in are various rappers (Method Man plays DeeVee’s hip-hop hating father in a twist of comedic irony), other stars (Wood Harris plays Barry Fouray, the owner of a successful hip-hop management company – think Violator), and up and coming actors. It was very entertaining and I enjoy seeing hip-hop on screen, especially the early New York years.

Which is why VH1 is rude as fuck. VH1 billed this as a movie. Except it wasn’t. It was a two-hour pilot that ended with AT LEAST three cliffhangers. As it turns out, The Breaks, is a “movie” that will stand as the opening salvo of a TV series, should it become one.

My nigga. That’s fucked up.

So VH1 hasn’t even decided to pick the TV show up for a series BUT thought it was okay to play with my emotions by creating a TV show about my first true love, call it a “movie”, not end it like motherfucking Straight Outta Brooklyn – if you’ll remember, this movie did not end, it stopped…who are we kidding, you do not remember that movie – and then make me sit on my hands as I wait to see what happens with the characters they forced me to be invested in because my television has been telling me that The Breaks was coming on at 9pm on January 4th since November.


Yo, VH1? You rude as fuck.

When do I find out if enough people watched the premiere to warrant picking the show up as a series? Today? Next Tuesday? March, my nigga? That’s not right. I did my part. Do your part, VH1. Either end the shit within the two-hours that you asked me to pay attention, or big-up the upcoming series DURING the “movie” so that I don’t get pissed when its 1045pm and I realize that there are 4 storylines that need to be wrapped up in the next 12 minutes because of commercials only to have it dawn on me, “oh, this ain’t even a movie. It’s just a pilot for a TV show that VH1 hasn’t announced is happening yet. I have now entered my feelings.”


To be clear, I really enjoyed the movie. It’s a tad paint-by-numbers in some places, but what isn’t nowadays? The characters are developed pretty well early on and above all else, it’s FULL of music from the early 90s that I love and miss. I miss it so much I throw a monthly party JUST so I can pay somebody to play this music while other people listen to it with me. That’s how real I am with my 90s standom. Really real. And you know that makes it real, because I said real twice. Well actually I said “really” real, but you get the point. It’s real is the point.

Point is, The Breaks is like 8 Mile meets Empire meets Brown Sugar meets Beat Street.


And VH1 knows this and banked on it. Everybody knows that for hip-hop, the whole damn 90s has overtaken 1988 as the hip-hop golden standard and the era where hip-hop found its way. You say 90s and its like a dogwhistle to anybody born from 1970 to 1985. To that end, I truly appreciate VH1 for even going this route with a show that looks to be both fun, entertaining, and provide a look at some of the pure ridiculousness of hood-niggas-gon’-business as we saw from Fouray Management owner Barry Fouray (Wood Harris) when he found out his best friend was stealing money from him.

Point is, I invested my heart and soul into The Breaks and its rude for VH1 to not do the same for me. And you. Your mother and your cousin, too. You know some of your mothers and cousins were watching that movie last night. And if you don’t know, now you know. See what I did there? It’s hip-hop, yo.


VH1? Do better. Do not continue to play with my emotions in this fashion.

And if you tell me that these are the breaks, I will be forced to respond with touché.


But I will not be happy about it.

Because it’s rude.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.


Ess da 5'6"

"Point is, I invested my heart and soul into The Breaks and its rude for VH1 to not do the same for me."

Same. Well, I invested my heart minus the first 20 minutes of the pilot—let's be real and call it what it was—and then at 10:50, I was like, "But, wait, DeeVee and his music? Where is it?"

My one real gripe about this is Nikki's boyfriend. I feel like, to be more inclusive of, like, the b-boy era and all that, there should have been some (more?) Nuyoricans in the show…unless the Biggie-like character is Puerto Rican? Or was he just a light-skinned brotha? In any case, I feel like if they were going for a non-Black boyfriend for Nikki, a Puerto Rican dude coulda been it. Because as it stands, the white dude being the realest real that ever realed about late '80s/super early '90s hip-hop? OK.