‘Luke Cage’ Season 2 Features Legendary Hip-Hop Artists in Cameo Roles

Season 2 of Marvel’s Luke Cage will feature a lineup of real-life urban artists, Billboard [...]

Season 2 of Marvel's Luke Cage will feature a lineup of real-life urban artists, Billboard reveals.

The sophomore season of Luke Cage will see appearances from Faith Evans, Joi & D-Nice, Gary Clark Jr., Esperanza Spalding, Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram, Stephen Marley, Jadakiss, KRS-One, Rakim, and Ghostface Killah, whose fellow Wu-Tang Clan member RZA directed an episode of Marvel's Iron Fist.

Rapper Rakim performs an original song for Cage's season 2 finale, a switch up from artists usually performing existing tracks.

"Not only do we have him on Luke Cage, we have him performing a song about Luke Cage," series creator and showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker said. "It's manna from heaven."

The showrunner featured well-known R&B artists performing live at Cornell Stokes' night club, Harlem's Paradise, in season one of the Marvel-Netflix series, but with that first season, "the show wasn't a home run in terms of the music community," Coker said.

"There were a lot of questions. No other Marvel show had featured [live] music."

Coker called in favors from twenty years' worth of his time as a music journalist to recruit Evans, Raphael Saadiq, Method Man and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings to the show, which proved a hit with fans.

Following the success of the acclaimed first season, Coker had his pick of acts for season 2.

"When you say, 'We're going to shoot you like no one else has shot you on a show,'" Coker said, "and you can show long tracking shots of Raphael Saadiq or you can show the intercut footage of Sharon Jones, they were like, 'We have to do the show.'"

Coker was backed by immediate streaming bumps for artists featured on Luke Cage: on-demand audio and video streams of Jidenna's "Long Live The Chief" climbed 2,134% the week after he performed the song in Luke Cage 1x05, "Just to Get a Rep," while Faith Evans' "Mesmerized," featured in 1x02, "Code of the Streets," leapt 516%, according to Nielsen Music.

"The people I would see out in the store who were not the typical Faith Evans fans would say, 'Hey! I saw you on Luke Cage!'" Evans told Billboard. "Or the [person] who fixes my computer. He's a total techie geek and he's like, 'Oh my God!' It was funny the different people who connected to me being on the show."

Having the Marvel Cinematic Universe (mostly) grounded in the real world with its use of real world locations, like Harlem, "allows you to play in the rich musical history not only of New York, but in general," Coker said. "Music is at the center of every decision I make for the show, probably to the point where it annoys most people."

While the premiere season borrowed its episode titles from Gang Starr songs, Coker selected Pete Rock and CL Smooth tracks for season 2.

"Pete is a huge Luke Cage fan. He's a comic book collector," Coker said. "He put out a mixtape that used snippets of the show, so it was a way of saying, 'You love us, we love you too.'"

The season will once again be scored by Adrian Younge (Black Dynamite) and A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Luke Cage season 2 drops June 22 on Netflix.