The Get Down in the Boogie Down
If you are a true hip hop aficionado, you will enjoy the sounds of The Get Down, although the first Baz Luhrmann directed episode took a minute for me to get through. A Netflix series that sets place in the late 70’s in the South Bronx, also known as the Boogie Down. The show revolves around the main teenage characters Ezekiel and Mylene, played by Justice Smith and Herizen F. Guardiola respectively. He loves her and she tries to keep him in the friend zone as she pursues a career in disco, with dreams of leaving the ghetto. Along for the six-part series, are a few friends including Jaden Smith who plays Dizzee, an eccentric character that displays his artistic talents on the walls, and subways of the neighborhood.
The highlight of the first episode is a poem Ezekiel doesn’t want to recite in front of his class on the last day of school. I loved the poem so much, I searched for it but came up empty handed. If you watch the show and know the words that make up the emotional piece of art, let me know. Something tells me that it may relate to lyrics to one of hip hop’s greatest lyricists Nas’, songs. Nas is one of the Executive Producers of this Netflix drama.
The idea of The Get Down is confusing at first, is it about teenage love in the controversy of poverty? Is it about the dynamics of forming bonds and relationships with different people in the same environment? Is it about the desire to be something bigger than you ever thought to be because of all the obstacles that lie before you, that show you cannot be this and cannot be that? All of these what ifs, make up the six first episodes of The Get Down. It’s the 70’s so there are drugs, there are afros, and there are bell bottom pants. In another universe, this is my era. Corruption in the government, the introduction to NYC Mayor Ed Koch, the big NYC blackout, family drama and disco music, lots of disco music. Along with the disco, we see how the music industry slowly introduces us to a new sound we know as the start of hip hop.
Hip Hop iconic Grandmaster Flash is portrayed by actor Mamoudou Athie who mentors Ezekiel’s troublesome friend Shaolin, to the art of being a great DJ. It is DJ Shaolin that sees “wordsmith” potential in Ezekiel and the desire for them both to put their frustration at life into their art. With Shaolin learning how to spin the records at the right time, and Ezekiel, now renamed Books, being the Master of Ceremonies (MC), they form a group called the ‘Fantastic 4 + 1’.
The Get Down, similar to other musical stories, has room to grow. The second part of this show premieres in 2017, and I’ll be tuning in to see the growth of Ezekiel’s poetry to a beat, and his love for Mylene; Shaolin’s battle between the streets and his passion for being a DJ, will his choice be what’s best for him and the group?
Have you watched Netflix’s show The Get Down? What do you think?