Season one of “Raising Kanan” saw Omar Epps’ character, Detective Malcolm Howard, take a bullet from his son, Kanan Stark. The order was given by the teen’s mom, Raquel Thomas, who hasn’t told Kanan who his real father is just yet. In season two, we see Howard survive the bullet wound and move forward with a new perspective on life, which causes friction between him and his police partner Detective Shannon Burke (played by Shanley Caswell).
REVOLT had a chance to chat with Epps and Caswell about their characters’ relationship shift in season two, returning to the 90s hip hop scene while filming, and which celebrities influenced how they navigate their careers and overall hustle. Get into our exclusive interview below.
Detective Howard says surviving after almost dying makes him feel “reborn again,” and he’s hoping to be the best he can be. What version of Howard will viewers see in season two?
Epps: Viewers will see a great human being in Howard for season two.When Howard is faced with his mortality, that’s one thing, and then it’s like, “Is [Kanan] really my biological son?” which is a whole other thing. Howard is overcoming a very terrible physical affliction, so he’s trying to manage so much at the same time. He’s trying to hold on to the Howard we once knew as the man in the department and on the streets. Howard is still trying to keep a tough exterior, but on the inside is battling through emotions he’s never felt before but chooses to hide that from everyone around him.
Detective Shannon Burke continues to stick her nose into Jukebox’s life. How will she handle this for season two, and will her budding relationship with Jukebox possibly turn her into an ally of Kanan’s down the line?
Caswell: My character just rubs her nose in everyone else’s business and [goes] to places that she shouldn’t be going to (laughs). It definitely brings [Jukebox] and Shannon closer this season. Jukebox has this storyline where she’s going through some really emotional stuff and needs some help. Shannon steps in to support her and is there for her when she needs that help. As for becoming an ally to Kanan, looks like we’ll have to wait and see.
This season it seems you both are at odds with Burke, who may uncover the connection between Howard and Kanan. How will this shift their relationship in season two?
Caswell: It definitely shifts the relationship between Shannon and Howard because Shannon begins to find things out. She’s already suspicious of some of the information that she’s getting. This leads Shannon to begin poking around, and then Howard starts poking back and telling [her] to shut things down. It makes Shannon dig in her heels a little bit harder. So there’s friction between the two of them that was kind of there in season one, but it’s changed and evolved into something different. They’re both up against each other, stubbornly not wanting to reveal anything, and it’s interesting to watch. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface this season that is not specifically said, and I think that’s really fun for the viewers to see.
Epps: In season one, Howard just didn’t like Shannon and he was forced to work with her. He felt she was grandfathered into the department. Shannon didn’t come up the hard way how he did, but he learns to have a begrudging respect for her because she’s so persistent and she’s a good cop, right? Howard feels like she’s a fish out of water, and she’s in a world that she doesn’t really know while he knows every morsel of it. He starts to have respect for her by the end of season one and in season two, but he feels like she’s stepping into quicksand — like she’s into business but she doesn’t really know what’s going on. Howard begins to push her away out of love and protection.
What has it been like to return to the 90s hip hop scene on screen?
Epps: It’s been fun for me. I grew up in the 90s — I was a teenager and then in my early 20s during that time period. I’m playing a character who’s in his 40s, so in this role, I’m learning about that because I knew the 90s in a whole different way. I was more so like Kanan back when I was in the 90s … looking at the older guys walking around with the big Pelles and all of that.
Caswell: It’s been so cool, from the music to the costuming that we have on the show. It feels like a time capsule. The hairstyles and the clothing — it’s so cool.
Whose business acumen in hip hop influenced the way you approach your own career and overall hustle?
Epps: Diddy, obviously. I would also say JAY-Z and Dr. Dre. These guys are tastemakers and they push the culture and the envelope on every level. They’ve transcended the initial thing that they started from and have showed us that we are a multiverse. As human beings, we’re not monolithic.