By Ryan Fitzgerald – Co-Editor-in-Chief
There are certain periods in history many would like to travel back in time to and experience life in that era. The Netflix original musical drama series “The Get Down,” practically does just that for viewers by portraying life in 1970s Bronx, New York, through the eyes of a group of teenagers. The series, which premiered in August, has six episodes of the first season currently available on Netflix with the second half set to debut in 2017.
“The Get Down” follows Ezekiel (Justice Smith), Boo-Boo (TJ Brown), Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), Ra-Ra (Skylan Brooks), and Dizzie (Jaden Smith) as they make their way into the fast-paced and growing hip-hop scene that’s taking the community by storm.
Not only are these character’s names terrific, but they actually look like they were born in the 70s. Smith seems like he’s playing a 70s version of himself and his quirky behavior certainly draws a lot of attention. Shaolin is on a quest to become the next best DJ in not just the Bronx, but the world. He is groomed by none other than the legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash (Mamoudo Athie), who teaches him how to find ‘the get down’ and tells Shaolin (whom he calls Grasshopper) he must find a wordsmith (rapper).
The protagonist Ezekiel has a natural way with words and uses the gift to write a poem to win over his crush Mylene Cruz (Herizen Guardi-ola). Mylene however, is determined to become a singing star, and sneaks out of her house with two friends to visit the club ‘Le Inferno,’ where she believes her tape will be noticed by mu-sic industry moguls.
The show depicts a pivotal time in The Big Apple’s history when the race for mayor was in full swing and riots, looting, drugs, and other crimes threaten to destroy parts of the city. Countless abandoned apartment buildings are being burned every day in the South Bronx, while high poverty rates and racial tensions grow. Not only does the show do a good job of accurately portraying the political and socioeconomic troubles facing the community, but also shows how music can bring people together even in the worst of times.
The disco scene is booming, but hip-hop is only just beginning. Grand-master Flash, DJ Kool Herc, and Afrika Bambaataa (yes that’s his name) lay the blue-print for hip-hop music and become the fore-fathers of the genre that everyone in New York is trying to get down with.