Laz Alonso Breaks Down His Character’s Hip Hop T-Shirt Collection On ‘The Boys’

7828

EXCLUSIVE – The Boys on Amazon Prime is one of the most talked about superhero series in recent years, due in part to the graphic and often cheeky nature of its content.  However, gratuitous violence and sex alone does not earn Emmy nominations, and The Boys team has earned six to date. Suffice it to say, you can’t get that kind of notoriety without quality. From the writing, directing and acting, all the way down to the special effects, The Boys has it all. 

The Boys is like no superhero series you’ve ever seen in that the super-powered individuals who would commonly be known as heroes are actually fiendishly abusive, arrogant and drunk with power. The role of the protagonists is to bring them down and expose the world to the truth about their nefariously corrupt predisposition.

A character who acts as the balancing factor on the series is Mother’s Milk. Played by actor Laz Alonso, MM centers the protagonists from a moral perspective, philosophically immovable when the motley crew with which he is teamed loses focus. 

Recently, HipHopDX spoke with Laz Alonso about the intricacies of playing this character while purposefully and skillfully injecting Hip Hop culture into the story and structure of the show.  


HipHopDX: Your character in The Boys is almost like a “brother’s brother.” He is demonstrably of the culture and his selection of t-shirts really bears that out.  I noticed you wearing BDP, X-Clan, Ruff Ryders, Public Enemy and more. What were some of your favorite songs or albums from some of the aforementioned groups?  Also, are you the one who makes the decision on these shirts?

Laz Alonso:  It’s definitely a team effort but I also make the decision and make sure it’s appropriate. What I’m trying to do is give you an Easter egg to Hip Hop fans and basically describe where MM is and what’s going on in the story based upon the artist on my shirt, and what songs are playing. 

The last couple of seasons were just artists, this season I wanted to take it a little deeper and do songs. We did “Fight the Power,” we did “Self Destruction” from the Stop the Violence Movement that BDP kinda spearheaded back in the day, we did Childish Gambino’s “This is America.”   We pick and chose songs that were very in line with what was going on in the story.

Yeah, this was my idea as sort of a nod to Hip Hop. MM is from Harlem. So, I wanted to somehow build Harlem into the character.  So, what’s the best way to do it?  Without him even opening his mouth, I wanted you to see and feel New York. What defines New York, in my opinion, is Hip Hop culture. 

This season I wanted to give a shoutout to DMX, who passed away while we were filming this season, and the Ruff Ryders, who lost DMX.  We also brought in NWA this season.

It has always kinda been artists that defined New York and now it’s not only artists that defined New York, but artists in general that help define the story.  

Photo Credit: Amazon

HipHopDX:  You have to have a very creative mind to be able to pick the Hip Hop song that fits a particular scene, or pick songs and sure that accurately describe the situation. What is the process like injecting HipHop culture and music into The Boys

Laz Alonzo: I’ll send artists to our costume director.  I take the artists and the songs and he’ll have his team design the shirts and then we’ll send them to Sony legal and Amazon legal and see what gets approved, what doesn’t get approved.  Sometimes they say ‘We’ll approve it if you make this change,’ and sometimes they don’t approve it at all.

It’s different things that you have to go through with legal clearance. There were some artists that we wanted that didn’t get approved, for whatever reason.

And often, when the shirts come back, we may still make changes. Like, with the ‘This is America’ shirt, you got the map of the USA and it says ‘This is America’ over it.  When I got it back, I said, ‘add some gunshots over it.’ So, he added some gunshots. Then I said ‘Make it look like the glass is shattering’. 

He had like three gunshots and I said ‘Nah, in America there’s a lot more shots busting off than that.’  Then he sent it back with 50 shots, and I’m like ‘Nah, that’s too many shots.’ We ended up with like 10 shots. 

The point was to convey a message about what was going on in America at the time. Whether it be mass shootings or George Floyd or police shootings.  The point was always to convey a message. The funny thing is, the t-shirts have always been the hero for MM for the last three seasons. This season, the footwear became the hero.  

Everybody was talking about the Jordans, and I felt bad. I’m like ‘What’s up with the shirts? Nobody’s talking about the shirts.’

Episode six, the ‘Splash’ episode, everybody was more worried about what happened to the Js than for what happened to me. 

HipHopDX: You appear to have a lot of creative input on the show, which is great considering that, on some sets, writers and creators are like ‘Our way or the highway.’  

Laz Alonso: It’s been so gratifying for me, man. I want to eventually be able to produce television, and this has kinda given me a sneak peek at all the different elements that it takes to get things on the air. Eric Kripke, our creator, has an open-door policy. 

When I get a script and read it, I send back an email with notes on the character, notes on dialogue, and he’ll write me back a big, long email. It’s a dialogue, a collaboration. I’ve never worked with anybody as open to collaborating as he is. For me, that’s my favorite part of the process. I’m not just a talking head.  He lets me take this character and make him Harlem.  

That’s what I like about it and that’s something that I know is rare.  I’m spoiled and it’s going to be hard going back to the old way once this ends one day.  Because being able to affect what actually goes up there on the screen is a blessing. 

Photo Credit: Amazon Prime

HipHopDX: Your character’s code name is Mother Milk, often abbreviated to MM. As a writer I know that basically means you are a nourishing, centralizing and much needed component in this particular scenario and your character proves just that. He is the centering factor that gets everybody in order and checks everybody.  Why is Mother’s Milk an essential character in The Boys?

Laz Alonso: You’re the first person I have heard breakdown the name exactly how I have broken down the name. I’ve always looked at him as essentially the hub of the wheel and then all the other characters are the spokes. But morally he keeps the team on the right path, keeps them on the mission and keeps them from going haywire. He keeps them from losing their minds.

Also, Mother’s Milk is the first nourishment that you get when you’re born.  It’s what activates all the DNA dispositions to either turn off or turn on.

The way I look at my assignment when I play this character is that I have to be a centralizing figure in the eye of the storm. I have to keep the team on mission from point A to point B.  

I feel like it’s a very important job to have because something I heard Kevin Hart saying one time in the interview was ‘I don’t need a Yes-men. I need No-men. I need somebody who is gonna tell me no.’

In life, we tend to have a lot of Yes-men. But No-men can save your life. Our parents are No-men. That’s where we first started hearing the nos at. It was with the family; it was with grandpa. 

As we get older and older, we have less and less people telling us no. Ultimately, we’re responsible for policing ourselves. 

In the universe that we’ve created for ourselves with The Boys, it’s easy to end up on the wrong side. We may claim to be on the right side, but we really just doing what they do. We’re just justifying it. 

 

 Watch all seasons of The Boys on Amazon Prime now!