Set in 1970’s New York City, the Sony-produced show follows a group of Bronx teenagers who prove influential on the rise of hip hop. The show’s music has been praised, featuring performances from Michael Kiwanuka, Raury, Janelle Monae, Kamasi Washington and more. The press release for the announcement describes the upcoming episodes:
“Part Two of The Get Down picks up in 1978, one year after the events of Part One. The sweeping upheaval of late 70s New York City finds an as-yet-unnamed new pop cultural force striking a new beat in the Bronx, while disco still reigns supreme. Our young lovers Books and Mylene are caught in the swirl of a looming cultural revolution destined to change everything about their world – but they have this moment to make their mark.”
The show is mostly fictionalized, but portrays a number of real-life characters in recurring roles. Hip hop pioneers DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash are portrayed by Eric D. Hill and Mamoudou Athie, respectively. Archival footage and news reports are intercut into each episode, giving the show even more of a 70’s feel.
The real Grandmaster Flash is a consultant and associate producer on the show. Though he first had apprehensions about being portrayed, Flash soon played a pivotal role in the production, even giving DJing lessons to the show’s actors. Check out a Netflix featurette where he talks about his role below:
Flash is widely regarded for having established the role that the DJ plays in music today. Inspired by earlier DJs such as Kool Herc, Flash’s technique became the foundation that most old school hip hop was based on. His pioneering use of samples, drum loops, and scratching continues to have its influence on music to this day.
Flash is also known for his invention of the “quick mix theory”, a DJing technique that involves placing one’s fingers on the record to gauge its revolutions. From this one can isolate the roughly ten-second drum beat most songs use and extend it so that it can be played over other music, or rapped over by an MC. Flash would take this further by marking and looping a record’s climactic point, what he called “the get down”.
A great deal of original music appears in the show on top of its soundtrack, with many of those rhymes written by executive producer and narrator Nas. He says the show’s appeal comes from its historical aspects.
“When I talked to [series creator] Baz [Luhrmann] about The Get Down, and he was explaining the whole story to me, I was blown away because I was just hearing about the old days, the days before all that rap is today. It was the beginning days, that's what the focus is. I was like OK, this is what I wanted to do. I'm a fan of a lot of the pioneers from those days, so to work on a story from that time period, for me, was perfect. Great. Let's do it.”
With its sprawling story, historical characters and use of real-life archival footage, The Get Down is one of the most original period pieces on TV.
Part two of The Get Down will premiere on Netflix on April 7th, the soundtrack will be released on the 14th.
With those releases just days away, a promotional song from the soundtrack entitled “Break the Locks” has been released, performed by the cast under the moniker The Get Down Brothers. Click here to listen.
Post by Dan Goldsmith