Netflix's 'Champion' is All About the Music

Déja J Bowens as Vita in 'Champion'

Déja J Bowens as Vita in 'Champion'


British author Candice Carty-Williams became the first Black author to win the top prize at the British Book Awards with her hit novel Queenie in 2019. The novel has since been optioned by Channel 4 and will be the next co-production between the network and Hulu, slated to arrive on both sides of the pond later in 2024. But before the series based on her best-known work hits streaming, first there's Champion, the series greenlit by the BBC as part of its commitment to underrepresented voices that also spawned series like Everything I Know About Love, Rain Dogs, and I May Destroy You. Netflix picked up the series for co-production almost immediately at the time, suggesting it was the most likely hit of the group.

However, since then, Netflix's interest in the series seems to have cooled. The show did merely ok in the ratings on the BBC when it debuted in the summer of 2023, unhelped by Netflix, who did nothing to promote the series or bother motion it would be showing up in America on the streaming service. When the January 2024 lists originally dropped in December, Netflix left Champion off the listing; it was only quietly added later after most entertainment sites had posted their versions. Perhaps Netflix is simply relying on its algorithm to turn the show into a sleeper hit. It worked for Suits, after all. But then again, we saw how well it worked (or not) for Bodies.

The thing about Champion is that it has all the elements to be a hit. A soap opera drama about a Black family in the British music business, a la Empire, Carty-Williams has described the series as a love letter to British Black music. Speaking to Deadline, she said she believed the show would do well in America. “From what I’ve seen and understand, Americans have a real love for our music and culture, and it’s also Jamaican culture [in the show], so American-Jamaicans can enjoy it. There are so many crossovers with American and British artists, and I feel like they always show a lot of love to us.”

I hope Carty-Williams is correct in her assessment, but the truth is that it’s white British music that usually crosses over to American shores. Britfunk, Afroswing, Grime, and Drill, that stuff rarely makes it across the pond. Genres like Trip-hop and Ragga Jungle get processed through Euro-pop (and Eurovision) before they break through over here. That said, if there is a moment when those types of music are overdue to hit it big over here, now is the time. If there is a place where underserved Black viewers are looking for programming aimed at them, it’s on streaming, and Champion is a wonderfully propulsive drama and a showcase of British musical talent. 

It helps that the trio of stars that lead Champion, Déja J Bowens, Malcolm Kamulete, and Ray BLK, are talented musicians who hold their own in their performances and on the soundtrack that the BBC released alongside the series when it debuted back in June 2023. Ray BLK is best known for her albums and music in the U.K. and also served as the series’ Music Executive alongside grime pioneer Ghetts, a household name. However, both are relatively unknown in the U.S., a reminder of how large a lift this is for the series. 

Bowens, who plays Vita Champion, is also a new face to TV, though Top Boy fans will recognize Kamulete, who plays her brother Bosco. The rest of the cast includes Nadine Marshall (Sherwood), Ray Fearon (His Dark Materials), Jo Martin (Doctor Who), Kerim Hassan (Once Upon a Time in London), Adeyinka Akinrinade (Everything I Know About Love), Tom Forbes (Wolf Hall), Genesis Lynea (Shadow and Bone), Karl Collins (Attack The Block), Francis Lovehall (Small Axe), Corey Weekes (Coronation Street) and Rachel Adedeji (Dreaming Whilst Black). 

Here's the complete track listing for Champion:

  1. "Champion To The World" by Malcolm Kamulete
  2. "My Girl" by RAY BLK
  3. "Keep Dat [1Hunna]" by Corz
  4. "Nubian Queen" by Malcolm Kamulete
  5. "Overload" by Corz, Deja Bowens, RAY BLK
  6. "Drowning" by RAY BLK
  7. "Catastrophe" by Corz
  8. THE CLASH: "Champion To Your Girl" by Corz vs Malcolm Kamulete
  9. THE CLASH: "Miami" by Corz
  10. THE CLASH: "Miami Response" by Malcolm Kamulete
  11. THE CLASH: "Ice" by Corz vs Malcolm Kamulete
  12. "My Ones" by Deja Bowens
  13. "Shade Of Blue" by RAY BLK
  14. "Eskikid" by RAY BLK
  15. "Oslo Energy" by Keiren Hamilton-Amos, Malcolm Kamulete
  16. "Rusty Dots" by Keiren Hamilton-Amos
  17. "Got It" by Deja Bowens
  18. "Stolen" by Shola Ama
  19. "Love 2 Love" by Deja Bowens
  20. "Stolen (Remix)" by Deja Bowens
  21. "The Butchers" by Chi Chi Ching, Pamputtae, Deja Bowens
  22. "Cancel Culture" by Corz
  23. "Firefly" by Malcolm Kamulete
  24. "Eyes On Bosco" by Malcolm Kamulete
  25. "Light My Soul" by Deja Bowens, Malcolm Kamulete
  26. "Champion To The World" by Deja Bowens

Champion is streaming on Netflix with all episodes.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

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