The Lowdown on “The Get Down” by Delayne Whiteside
March 2016, I planted my two feet on the sidewalk of Hip Hop hallowed ground. To be clear, one doesn’t GO or visit 1520 Sedgwick, you can only Mecca (journey) there, and once you’ve reached that destination, one will never view Hip Hop the same. As KRS-One said, when you get there, just stand there, take one deep breath, and imagine the birth of a culture being started right there in that very spot. It’s breathtaking. The Netflix series “The Get Down” is an ode to that time, place and era.
I first came to know about “The Get Down” last Friday, scrolling on Instagram checking out Slick Rick’s (@therulernyc) page. At first I thought he just reminiscing because the logo the The Get Down was sprayed in graffiti letters on a brick wall, but then I started scrolling on Twitter and Facebook and I saw a bunch of hashtags promoting it. I went directly to the page to see the trailer. Immediately when I saw the afros and the 70’s gang attire, I was all in and I set my watch to the premier. On the night of, I turned it on and my girl is leaving for a conference, and when it comes to movies there is one thing we both mutually love…timepieces. She said “I’m leaving but don’t you watch that without me!” LOL!
From the opening scene The Get Down had our full attention. (My girl loves poetry) Nas so eloquently narrates the story in a story rhyme just as Hip Hop did in it’s early days. The scene immediately cuts to Ezekiel (main character), a half black, half Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx telling us about his condition through poetry. This is a coming of age story about two gentleman coming together and experiencing the lessons that life deals to youth coming out of the harshest ghetto The South Bronx, NY. This is also a story about LOVE. The obvious is the story of love in a boy meets girls sort of way. However, it is a true love story about an escape…an escape from a gloom and doom environment intentionally set up by the people of power and politics to keep poor people oppressed while maintaining their greed. What came out of the rubble was something beautiful….Hip Hop.
What brings about this review is not that I consider myself a film expert, but I’d like to think I know a few things as a Hip Hop enthusiast. Well, this series has lit a fire under some true hardcore hip hop heads and I’d like to bring a little of it to light. As I went on Breakbeat Lou’s (Hip Hop pioneer of Breakbeats aka The Get Down part of a song) IG post, there is a scene where Get Down’s other main character Shaolin Fantastic is practicing the Lyn Collins classic Think and BBLou posed the question…What is wrong with this scene and why? Well, true DJ’s cracked the code immediately and said that the record on the turntable was an RCA label which may have been a Jimmy Castor record while Ms. Collins albums were released on King Records.
As I saw other posts, I saw more and more scrutiny from some of the players in the Hip Hop community that were from that era. One in particular was the chosen hair style of DJ Kool Herc’s crew. As I read the post, the host stated that absolutely no one was wearing dreads in Hip Hop in 1977. Another post had criticism about the rhyme style chosen for this series. “Rhymes were basic and still elementary in 1977. At that time, the MC was just the party starter or the mouthpiece for the DJ” said the critic.
What we could all agree on was the Break Beats that we heard during the episodes. From the 1972 CAN- Vitamin C to excerpts of Brick House by the Commodores. The 70’s themes put the viewer born in the time back in a place in time when things were complicated AND simple.
Big Ups to Baz Luhrmann for paying homage to The Legendary GrandMaster Flash and Hip Hop Founder DJ Kool Herc and making them like comic book superheroes in this film. I appreciate the Grand Master Flash block party scene and Kool Herc The 1520 Sedgwick Jam scene. I even dug the scene where the boys needed to raise money for Shaolin and DJ Boo Boo Nasty had to fake the funk using Flash’s mixtape. LOL. It really painted a picture of how the party got started back in that time. Shout out to DJ Malibu who everyone guessed that he was an interpretation of my DJ hero …DJ Hollywood. (MC/DJ)
Jaden Smith give one helluva performance as Dizzee the graffiti writer (He gets it honest). And newcomer Herizon Guardiola has the same Dorthy Dandridge captivation as the NEW Carmen Jones.
Hands down I gave this series 4 1/2 stars out of 5. In any dramatization, will the story be true and exact? Should the story be true and exact? No! In my opinion, It should be relatable to the audience. I believe this series was needed to a generation that , before Get Down, probably cared less about the foundation or it’s origins of Hip Hop Culture. There is something in this series for everyone. If you are a hip hop head you’ll love the theme. If you like love stories, you’ll like the story line. There’s even a bunch of comedy and one-liners (See the purple crayon) If you haven’t seen The Get Down. Block this series out as your weekend binge. And while you’re on Netflix check out the documentary The Rubble Kings because that gives the prequel to The Get Down.
Congrats to State Of Hip Hop website on your Ohio Hip Hop award nomination.