If you all don’t know by now, I am a hip-hop head, a movie buff and a TV connoisseur, so when I heard about the Netflix series “The Get Down,” I was really excited because it seemed like it’d be right up my alley.
When I heard Nas was going to have his hands on the music and after I saw the trailer, I was on board. August 12th rolled around and I was strapped in for the story of 1970s South Bronx and hip-hop’s humble beginning.
Ezekiel and his crew, including Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), Ra-Ra Kipling (Skylan Brooks), Boo-Boo Kipling (TJ Brown Jr.) and Dizzee Kipling (Jaden Smith), set out to be the best DJ crew in the Five Burroughs. Through “The Get Down” crew, we learn the art of disc jockeying and where hip-hop got its start. Mylene and her friends, Yolanda Kipling (Stefanée Martin) and Regina (Shyrley Rodriguez) all scheme to get Mylene discovered by anyone in the music industry. Through Mylene and her friends and Mylene’s uncle, Francisco Cruz (Jimmy Smits) we learn the ins and outs of how the music business works.
“The Get Down” had a massive amount of potential, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that it fell flat in some areas. There were a lot of good things and a lot of bad things with this Netflix original series.
Aside from the tone discrepancy, there were times where the show was very cheesy. For example, when Shaolin kept addressing Grandmaster Flash (Mamoudou Athie) as “Grandmaster,” I didn’t know whether to laugh or face-palm myself. And why did they make him out to be some kind of ninja? I also thought the dialogue was a little goofy at certain points.
But don’t get me wrong, “The Get Down” wasn’t all bad. It actually had a lot of really good elements. I loved the color schemes and the vibrancy embedded within every scene. It made for a really nice 70s vibe, which was a very cool piece of cinematography.
I also really enjoyed the whole musical aspect of the show from Nas to the original numbers performed by the characters. Once we established the show wasn’t an actual musical, the music added another layer to the series. I thought it was really cool how they incorporated in church music and how DJs and upcoming rappers used it, and I thought it was fun to see how poetry was transformed into rap music. It really did seem like the writers and producers did their research with coming up on how to portray what actually went down in the music industry at that time.
Another element I really enjoyed was the historical aspect of the series. I thought it was interesting how they intertwined the New York City blackout of 1977, “Star Wars,” the graffiti epidemic, the Ed Koch mayor campaign and many others.
I also can’t help but think “The Get Down” may have gotten some inspiration from the recently cancelled HBO series, “Vinyl.” The shows share many of the same elements—one is hip-hop, the other is rock ‘n roll. “Vinyl” also had a lot of historical aspects embedded within it just as “The Get Down” did. Both shows also share some of the same cinematography elements from a color scheme standpoint. I think the vibrant color cinematography in “The Get Down” comes from the mind of Baz Luhrmann—one of the creators of the series. Luhrmann was also a writer and director on the very vibrant musical, “Moulin Rouge.” After realizing Luhrmann had his hands on “The Get Down,” it was easy for me to see the similarities and the inspiration.