Zero Six Nine – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Skyline Shines – | Review Score – 3/5
What I Mean – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Storm – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Rose in Concrete – | Review Score – 4/5
Angel or Devil – | Review Score – 3/5
Combining the eclectic sounds of German Hip-Hop with a gritty, gang-feuding crime drama, Skylines is an interesting and well written series. Despite its cliffhanger ending and unresolved plot threads, the strong characterisation and methodically paced first season does well to set the scene for a bigger conflict to come. With three main narratives running parallel to one another and several other subplots tangled around these, Skylines somehow manages to feel overlong and not long enough when the credits finally roll.
At the heart of the drama lies prospective rapper Jinn. With a unique talent and ability of producing live hip-hop beats on the fly, Jinn finds the chance of a lifetime thrust upon him when he’s offered to work for the lucrative Skyline Records. While he contemplates whether to take the deal or not, prolific rapper Kalifa runs the show, only to find his world turned upside down when his brother Ardan returns to the scene, deciding to run a drug trade out Skyline’s basement. Rounding out this trio of narratives lies workaholic Sara, who struggles to balance work and her home life, as she finds herself caught between two cases, one official and above board and the other not so much.
As the episodes progress, Sara learns of Ardan’s return and works tirelessly to find him given their bad blood while Jinn bites off more than he can chew as he learns more about Skyline Records and their prolific list of producers. The overwhelming story toward the latter half of the series comes from Kalifa and Ardan’s brotherly feud, which threatens to boil over at any time before the finale leaves all three of these stories wide open and numerous questions unanswered.
One of Skyline’s strongest and weakest elements comes from its pacing. For large stretches of the series Skylines is pretty slow paced, taking its time to build up this world and the various characters operating within it. Whether it be Jinn, his sister Lily, Ardan or even aggressive thug-turned-rapper Zilan, every character has a compelling arc and enough backstory to really understand exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s refreshing to see this level of detail put into the series but the cliffhanger ending really hurts the season, making you feel like a lot of this time could have been better served to progress the story.
One of the stand-out parts of the series is inevitably the music though and throughout the six episodes there’s a conscious effort to pump as many hip hop tracks as possible into the run-time. It’s a welcome move too, and something that keeps the music as a central focus at all times, even when the Jinn storyline is sidelined in favour of the growing gang feud in the streets. Seeing a lot of the work done at the studio is a nice inclusion too and throughout the series there’s a pretty positive message about never giving up and continuing to work hard, typified through Jinn who is overwhelmingly the positive protagonist of the piece.
The dialogue is good too, for the most part, and despite some heavy expository-laden talks early on, Skylines really settles into its groove around the midway point of the series as we learn more about our characters. The English dubbing is pretty bad though and certainly doesn’t do the German original justice, which is pretty good here, boasting some strong performances throughout the series.
Skylines is one of those dramas that’s well worth a watch but also one to approach vigilantly given the ending. Nothing is really resolved and with no mention about whether a second season is on the cards or not, it’s always a bit of a gamble to jump into a series like this, especially with more prolific offerings like Top Boy on the table. Still, Skylines is worth watching and if you’re a fan of Hip Hop and gang wars, Netflix’s six-episode series has that in abundance. With some nice characterisation and a methodical pacing, all eyes now turn to whether this one is renewed for a second season. Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long to get an answer.
Verdict - 7.5/10