Hip-hop has been the soundtrack to my life ever since my older cousins introduced me to it. I remember rapping Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise” on the school bus in second grade to impress the older kids, and as the nicest white kid in the nicest small southern town, I’m sure this left many jaws hanging, so when I heard that Netflix had spent $120 million on a show revolving around the creation of this music that I hold so dear to my heart, I was immediately intrigued, and the fact that it was being directed by Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, The Great Gatsby) could do nothing to dissuade me.
Using a 1996 rap concert as a soliloquy to set up the backdrop, the rapper takes us back to 1977 New York where Ezekiel Figuero, a love-sick teenage poet later deemed MC Books, is writing a poem to his “Butterscotch Queen”, Mylene Cruz, before the last day of school. After confessing his love to her, she regretfully breaks his heart. You see, Mylene has big plans to be a disco star, and she can’t let her love for Zeke keep her trapped in the Bronx. Zeke has no ambition and no dreams, so as much as she wants to, she can’t let the relationship happen.
This dynamic really sets the stage for the whole first half of season 1. Zeke sets out to win her love at the disco, Les Inferno, notorious for being a dangerous, gang infested club, but through a random series of events, he meets Shaolin Fantastic, an almost god-like graffiti artist hero of the Bronx, who introduces him and his crew to an underground movement that’s about to shake up not only New York, but the whole world. The movement is called The Get Down, and it is what Zeke has been waiting his whole life for.
This leads us into a story filled with many twists and turns. The crew has to learn to work together and trust one another. There are many pitfalls in the struggle for success, and it seems like every character is equally susceptible to falling into one. There’s no shortage of drama, but it’s balanced out with some amazingly fun scenes. Add in a soundtrack that will make you want to get up and dance in your living room, each episode will leave you aggressively clicking the Next Episode button.
The series is a sprawling epic with a beautiful cast of characters set in a colorful city. Luhrmann’s fingerprints are all over the production’s size and scope, and the it does sometimes suffer from that, but overall, it is a very fun story that captured me hook, line, and sinker. It is sometimes chaotic, but never lacks in ambition or creativity. Don’t miss out on this show!