The brand new Netflix series, The Get Down, prominently takes place in the late 70s of New York City and details the cultural change in hip hop that would forever change the genre itself. During this flare of an era, we witness a rapid transformation from disco/dance to the new and upcoming sensation of hip hop, DJing and b-boying. From the rise of Grandmaster Flash to Run DMC, the musical based series tells the story of Ezekiel Figuero (Justice Smith), his quest of winning Mylene Cruz’s (Herzien Guardiola) love, the formation of The Get Down Brothers as well as his journey from being a city degenerate to becoming the king of therapindustry.
The pilot begins in New York, 1996 where an older Ezekiel is portrayed rapping to a large audience in the voice of acclaimed rapper Nas. Older Ezekiel raps about how his journey of becoming a renowned rapper began as a teenager in the Bronx after meeting a man who changed his life. The beginning flashes back to introduce the lifestyle, friends and family of Ezekiel. Ezekiel lives with his aunt and her aunt’s boyfriend at this time, being close with his friends who consist of three brothers, Marcus, Ra-Ra, and Boo-Boo (played by Jaden Smith, Skylan Brooks and T.J Brown Jr.) otherwise known as The Kipling brothers. The man who older Ezekiel raps about is introduced later on in the series as Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore) “the lady killing romantic”, young hustler, Bruce Lee fanatic and protégé who seeks to learn the master art of DJing from Grandmaster Flash, a founding father of hip hop who invented a new type of sound using the quick mix theory.
The theory is explained in the show when Flash teaches his protégé Shaolin, the technique and the ways to utilize it. As the main plot continues and thickens, we are constantly reminded of the use of graffiti throughout the city. Graffiti is shown as a platform for young rebellious kids utilizing their talent with locomotives as their canvas which introduces characters such as Shaolin Fantastic and Marcus who goes by Rumi in the graffiti world. As viewers watch the show, they visualize a sort of pizazz and experience flashes of exciting, upbeat moments with intense choreography involving pumped up songs as well as remixes. With the pizazz aesthetics occurring through scenes, there also came the costume design. The designs gave non-dull looks of the 70s that gave more appeal to the show alongside the visual effects.
The series is broken up into parts which are their seasons so to speak. Part 1 premiered on August 12, 2016 with 6 episodes directed by Baz Luhrmann who is best known for his works such as: The Great Gatsby (2013) and Moulin Rouge (2001). Luhrmann is known for his work to be to the max. Even though the show had the look to draw attention, those amazing visuals definitely had a high price. For 12 episodes, Netflix lays down the price of $120 million. It could also be the reason why the show was split into parts, which means only half of the first season is debuted. In relation to the production line, Nas the rapper is heavily involved. With Nas included as a writer, producer and voice narrator in The Get Down, it has raised questions about if the storyline of The Get Down is Nas’s life, though Luhrmann denies the correlation of the storyline and Nas’s life completely.
Not only does the show amp up the visual interest but also diverse interest. Culture is seen to be an important theme that circulates the show. The Get Down brings POC representation to the spotlight. It was very refreshing to see POC become an emphasized factor in the show. It brought diversity which was definitely needed for everything to come into place. It was also interesting how the show fuses black and Puerto Rican culture societal and music wise. The cast includes Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Herizen Guardiola, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Skylab Brooks, Jaden Smith, Tremaine Brown Jr., Mamoudou Athie, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jimmy Smits. The cast has a mix of new and known faces which was nice to see as the series progressed. For passionate music lovers, hip hop heads and the appreciative 70s aesthetic fans, The Get Down is a must see.
Written By: @holyjasqueen
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a med student tuned Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on Twitter and TikTok, both @MxKantEven, or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels.
From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.