Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you’ve probably heard of, if not watched, Netflix’s new show The Get Down. Set in the late 70’s in the Bronx, Baz Luhrmann’s tale of the emergence and birth of hip-hop, in almost true-to-life form. With hip-hop mogul and creator of one of the best albums in the genre’s history, Nas on hand to give snippets of raps in each episode, it’s hard not to be mesmerized. Hip-hop fans are treated with episodes that culminate in an epic showdown via a DJ v DJ battle.
With the likes of Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc, and of course, Funky 4 +1, hip-hop heads are treated to life as it was in the so called Golden Era of hip-hop. Even if you’re not a fan of the emerging genre at the time, the show is still worth watching. The costume designers have produced quality gear. You almost feel as though you’re living in the 70’s with these characters.
However, I felt that the pilot episode was a little bit on the weak side. The story lines didn’t match and the production seemed to be off key. However, with Mylene Cruz’s (Herizen Guardiola) angelic, soothing, and radiant singing voice kept me from giving up on the show. There’s also a scene with Zeke (Justice Smith) and Ms. Green (Yolonda Ross) that chocked me up. It’s absolutely cut-throat and has the abilty to make even the most hardened of souls emotive. In addition, Jayden Smith who plays Drizzee often times comes off as being…amateurish. His vocals are good, and so is his flow, but the acting lets him down.
Initially, I thought that the show wouldn’t be anywhere as good as my expectations. I’m a hip-hop head and grew up listening to the likes of Nas, Rakim, Run DMC, Roxanne Shanté, and many others. Sufficed to say that Luhrmann exceeded those expectations. The show explained the rules of the genre (no biting, no stealing [DJ’s beats]) efficiently and I felt that was needed for any outsiders who aren’t as invested in rap.
As my friend posited (above) the show doesn’t fall into the trap of caricaturist portrayal of People of Colour. It just portrays what was at the time, and how the youth experimented with music to make, what we know as, hip-hop.
All in all, I found this show thoroughly enjoyable and well worthy of a second watch, which is something that I don’t usually do. I liked that the team used Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree¹ and that Nas, DJ Kool Herc, and Kurtis Blow gave help to the young actors learn the culture and backstory of hip-hop.² I think that’s what made the show seem authentic, and not just another money grabbing scheme as we’ve seen many times before. So, my parting words would be that you give this a watch. It’s absolutely worth it. And yes, Season 2 is in the works.