“Get Down”: Your Up and Coming Netflix Fix
After speeding through an entire nine-season series on Netflix, you may be feeling a little lost. What to waste time watching next? But do not fret, because Baz Luhrmann, director of Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, has got your back. It’s a little ways away, but in the coming year Netflix is set to release Luhrmann’s new drama, “Get Down.” The Sony Pictures TV project takes place in New York City in the late 1970’s, amidst the outburst of hip-hop, punk and other groundbreaking music and art that paradoxically coincided with escalating crime, violence and urban decay. “Get Down” will focus specifically on a group of teenagers from one of the harshest, yet most creatively flourishing, areas: the South Bronx. It will revolve around the lives of five young friends, focusing on two in particular – a writer, and a performer.
The backdrop of the show, The Bronx in the 1970’s, had a rich, thriving arts scene despite the palpable poverty in the area. Before Public Enemy, De La Soul or A Tribe Called Quest broke into the rap scene and helped steer it to mainstream attention, Hip Hop was a more informal cultural scene. In the 1970’s block parties became increasingly popular, particularly among the youth of the Bronx. These Block Parties incorporated DJs, who often played funk and soul music. Met with encouraging reception, the DJs began isolating the percussive breaks from these popular songs. This technique, common in Jamaican “dub music”, was introduced in New York largely by immigrants from Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean, like DJ Kool Herc, who is often called the “founding father of hip hop.”
Later, the MCs varied their vocal and rhythmic sounds, incorporating concise rhymes, often with sexual or obscene undertones, in an effort to distinguish themselves and to entertain the large crowds of listeners. These early raps integrated the masses and became representative of the collaborative nature of the movement.
“Get Down” will be a lens into the explosive culture that grew out of this up-and-coming Hip Hop Scene. Luhrmann says, “I’ve been obsessed with the idea of how a city in its lowest moment, forgotten and half destroyed, could give birth to such creativity and originality in music, art and culture.” If Luhrmann’s’ stylish, baroque, and admittedly over the top films are any indicator, then we can expect a show full of bright colors, impressive sets and costumes and a wonderful soundtrack. I am already preparing my mental fight with Netflix as it asks, “Are you still watching?” Yes, Netflix I am still watching, stop judging me.