vibe-viva-reviews-the-get-down-5
The Get Down

If It Wasn't For The Bronx: 'The Get Down' Places Importance On The Origin Of Hip-Hop

The Get Down takes us back to the essence of hip-hop.

Circa 1977, The Bronx was a war zone. In the midst of a community characterized by drugs that permeated nightlife, gangs that lurked even in broad daylight and poor infrastructure that set the poverty-stricken borough ablaze, a ghetto let out its piercing cry and hip-hop was born.

Renowned film director Baz Luhrmann—whose lily-white background initially drew feelings of skepticism when we heard about his working project centered on The Bronx during a culturally significant era—cracks open the vault of hip-hop's birthplace in his Netflix original The Get Down, a fictional series that chronicles hip-hop's first steps through the eyes of South Bronx teens Ezekiel Figuero (Justice Smith) and Kipling brothers Dizzee (Jaden Smith), Ra-Ra (Skylan Brooks) and Boo-Boo (Tremaine Brown Jr.).

Ezekiel's pen game is mighty, but the lovesick poet isn't ready to use his riveting voice to influence his community just yet. He has a more pressing matter on his mind—to make Mylene Cruz (Herizen Guardiola) his girl. Mylene, unlike her aspiring boyfriend, is laser-focused on crossing the East River in hopes of becoming a disco singer like her idol Misty Holloway, even if her father is a radical pastor who is hell-bent on slaughtering her dream. South Bronx political champion Francisco "Papa Fuerte" Cruz (Jimmy Smits), on the other hand, is set on flipping the humdrum narrative of urban youth like his niece, Mylene, in an untwisted agenda rooted in rejuvenating his home base.

While Ezekiel is Mylene's biggest supporter, he isn't too fond of her master plan to get her demo in the hands of DJ Malibu at popular nightspot Les Inferno. In a grand demonstration of love, however, he concedes into doing everything in his power to see her win a dance contest that will set her goal in motion.

In the late '70s, Bronx teens weren't afraid to fight—or kill—to get their hands on a sought-after record. Ezekiel boldly enters this ring on Mylene's behalf, putting his life in danger while simultaneously pivoting toward his destiny. After crossing paths with the elusive Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore) during his tumultuous mission, Ezekiel and his crew of best friends are thrust into the world of the The Get Down, where breakdancing, deejaying and emceeing collide. When the wordsmith blesses the mic for the first time, what happens next will not only shift the future of The Bronx, but will revolutionize the entire world.

Several factors play into the authenticity of The Get Down. To start, over half of the film was shot directly on the streets of the Boogie Down, but beyond the surface, Luhrmann relied heavily on hip-hop pioneers like DJ Kool Herc and DJ Grandmaster Flash to guide him as he maneuvered through disco's fleeting reign that gave way to hip-hop's inevitable trek from the underground to center stage. His collaboration with executive producer Nas is also a winning move that pours through Ezekiel, considering the rap heavyweight is the mastermind behind the protagonist's original bars and verses of poetry.

What's most transparent, yet refreshing is the director's decision to recruit raw talent for the project such as Harlem teen Tremaine Brown Jr.(Boo-Boo), 15, who he discovered rapping on the subway. These fresh faces may be breaking new ground on the small screen, but they aren't amateurs at their craft. Skylan Brooks' (Ra-Ra) comedic timing is first class, Herizen Guardiola's (Mylene) powerhouse vocals command full attention, and Justice Smith's (Ezekiel) A1 delivery warrants a second listen, because you'll probably drown him out with finger snaps the first time.

If The Get Down premiere is a trustworthy indication of what's to come as the series unfolds, then it promises to leave a lasting impression on its audience much like its muse, hip-hop, did on the world. Taking the story of rap culture's elementary years to the masses may be long overdue, but it's a tale that never loses value much like the timeless records it gave us.

The Get Down will make its Netflix debut on Friday, Aug. 12.

 

From the Web

More on Vibe

Planes belonging to Delta Air Lines sit idle at Kansas City International Airport on April 03, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. U.S. carriers reported an enormous drop in bookings amid the spread of the coronavirus and are waiting for a government bailout to fight the impact. Delta lost almost $2 billion in March and parked half of its fleet in order to save money.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Puerto Rico Calls For Ban On Flights From Coronavirus Hot Spots

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Puerto Rico, Gov. Wanda Vázquez has inquired a possible ban on flights from popular cities in the United States due to the high number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Associated Press reports Gov. Vázquez launched the petition to the Federal Aviation Administration this week after officials accused tourists of taking medication to reduce their fevers and failing to adhere to the self-isolation rules. The incidents were later confirmed by GNPR general aide, General José Reyes.

The FAA reportedly granted a request for all flights to arrive at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (LMM), so that Puerto Rico National Guard (GNPR) could screen passengers arriving at the island.

“Now we want people from the areas most affected by Covid-19 not to arrive," Vázquez said. "This as part of the necessary measures to prevent this virus from spreading and affecting the health of the people of Puerto Rico."

As part of the proposal, Vázquez has listed flights from New York, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Illinois as "hot spots" of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, cases in Puerto Rico have sadly risen. The island has reported at least 24 deaths and 620 confirmed cases. Much like in cites like New York, a curfew was imposed on March 15 that closed non-essential businesses and ordered people to stay in their homes with the exception of grocery shopping or picking up medication.

Continue Reading
Cardi B attends "The Road to F9" Global Fan Extravaganza at Maurice A. Ferre Park on January 31, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Cardi B Assures Fans She Doesn't Have Coronavirus After Hospitalization

Cardi B has clarified her recent hospitalization had nothing to do with the current coronavirus outbreak.

The rapper took to Instagram Live to clear up the rumors after she shared a photo of her with an identity band from a hospital. “I’ve been very f***ing sick these past five days–not corona,” she said Thursday (April 2). “I have really bad stomach issues. I started throwing up; I took a pregnancy test cuz a b***h never f***ing knows.”

As she tried to find out what was wrong, fans went into a frenzy with claims of coronavirus. “I threw up seven times," she said. "I didn’t want to go to the hospital, I went to the hospital. I was sick and [press] ran with it, then my publicist hit me up and it ain’t nothing coronavirus-related, thank God!”

The possible stomachache may be connected to the singer's first world problems of finding a perfect chef. “I don’t have nobody to cook for me. I hired a chef two times and they were nasty and expensive,” she said.

In lighter news, the rapper confirmed proceeds of her viral "Coronavirus" track will benefit those in need during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Yes! That's what [we're] going to do!" Cardi B tweeted last week. "Keep in mind you don’t get your money right away...but even months from now there would be families with financial issues for getting laid off due to the virus. We will donate!"

Continue Reading

Nicky Jam Shows The Good, The Bad And The Hustle In 'El Ganador' Bio-Series Trailer

It's been years in the making but Latinx superstar Nicky Jam is finally ready to share his truth with the authorized Netflix bio-series, Nicky Jam: El Ganador.

Sharing the trailer this week, the series will highlight Jam's journey in the music industry as well as the struggles he endured in the streets and more. The project is directed by acclaimed film and music video director Jessy Terrero and produced by Endemol Shine Boomdog, a division of Endemol Shine North America. The series will officially hit Netflix on April 21.

In the trailer, we see Jam in three stages: his youth, his rookie days in the game and the actual artist in the present. The creative take is bound to give fans another perspective of the Grammy-winning artist.

“I’ve been hearing from many of my fans on social media and when I talk with them in person, that they’ve been waiting for the chance to see ‘El Ganador’ in the U.S. on Netflix,” said Nicky Jam. “Now they will get to see it starting April 21 and I hope they enjoy it like so many others have across the world. I’m really proud of what we created.”

“I am excited about bringing this level of story-telling that is related to reggaeton music,” added Terrero. “The genre’s popularity gives our story and others like it the opportunity to reach a much larger audience. This is my mission with Cinema Giants. Nicky’s story is inspirational in so many ways. I am proud to be part of it.”

Jam recently celebrated another feat on the Billboard Latin charts. "Muevelo," his buzzy single with Daddy Yankee, reached No. 1 on both the Latín Airplay and Latin Rhythm Airplay charts. 

Check out the trailer for El Ganador up top and revisit our VIBE VIVA February cover story with Jam here. 

Continue Reading

Top Stories