It comes as no surprise that Power Book III: Raising Kanan has already been renewed for a new season before this season has even premiered—the show is just that good.

Out now on Starz, this prequel spinoff of the Power franchise is a family drama that revolves around the teen years of Kanan (played by 50 Cent in the original Power series and by Mekai Curtis in the current series), as he is raised by his kingpin mother (Raquel Thomas) in 1990’s New York. Creator Sascha Penn effortlessly captures the essence of growing up in South Jamaica, Queens in the early 90s.

From the throwback fashion to the iconic Black hairstyles, the show evokes feelings of nostalgia and has the potential to outperform the original Power

In addition to the impressive writing, the well-assembled cast includes both emerging actors like Mekai Curtis and Lovie Simone as well as award-winning fan favorites Omar Epps and Patina Miller. In episode one, the chemistry between Miller and Curtis is convincing enough for viewers to admire their codependent mother-son relationship.

Miller’s performance, though cold-hearted and ruthless, honors Raquel Thomas’s identity as a mother that dreams of creating a better life for her son. Kanan, on the other hand, only wants to protect her by joining the family business.

Despite not making an on-screen appearance in the series, 50 Cent narrates the internal thoughts and actions of young Kanan—a plot structure that makes sense as it connects both versions of Kanan and subtly reminds viewers of Kanan’s demise. 

The rapper-turned-executive-TV -producer also performs the show’s theme song “Part of the Game” featuring Riley Lanez. 

The song sample’s Keni Burke’s 1982 hit “Risin’ to the Top”, a hip-hop favorite (the song has also been sampled by LL Cool J and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth). The song has a feel-good summer vibe as 50 Cent rap-sings about the essence of South Jamaica’s drug scene. Power fans have a history of being possessive over the show’s theme songs, and though “Part of the Game” is not as massive sonically as “Big Rich Town” it still has the potential to become a fan favorite, as it directly connects the show to its hip-hop roots. 

Although viewers won’t get to see a young Ghost and Tommy, Jukebox, another character viewers are familiar with, returns. Jukebox, Kanan’s closest cousin who he killed in Power season 4, is introduced to viewers as a talented high school songstress who enjoys kicking it with the boys and has her romantic eyes on girls. Seeing how Jukebox shows up for Kanan in episode one, makes her death even more heartbreaking. 

Thus far, the show’s strength lies in its ability to create authentic moments that feel familiar to its viewers. Whether that’s through character relationships (everyone has a favorite childhood cousin) or their actions (who didn’t rap or battle in the lunchroom?), the setting, or the period-specific music played throughout, it accurately depicts NYC in the 90s. 

The thriller action remains with gunfights, shootouts, and deaths, and yet Power Book III: Raising Kanan still feels fresh with strong performances from a brand-new cast. 

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