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

Getty Images

Popular Celeb Spot 'La Marina' Shut Down After Drug Bust

Adored by celebrities like French Montana, Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio, New York hot spot La Marina might be closing its doors for a good after a drug bust led to a suspension of their liquor license.

A statement released Dec. 6 by the New York Liquor Authority (SLA) broke down the case, which overlapped with an investigation by the NYPD in July. Bar manager Christian Mendez, 33, was arrested in November on felony charges after he was caught selling large amounts of cocaine, oxycodone and other drugs to undercover NYPD detectives. Their investigation into the venue also revealed 72 violations of the state liquor law like selling liquor to minors and impaired customers.

Chairman Vincent Bradley and Commissioner Lily Fan condemned the venue and hope to yank their liquor license for good. “When a bar manager is able to traffic and sell these types and quantities of narcotics from within an establishment it is incredibly alarming," Counsel to the Authority Christopher R. Riano said.

“Licensees have a responsibility to ensure their establishments are operating within the law, and the SLA is obligated to take emergency action as it is clear that this licensee has failed to take any meaningful actions to protect the public.”

La Marina was also hit with sixteen violations of the ABC Law, including seven counts of operating disorderly premises for permitting the trafficking of controlled substances, six violations for fire, health and more safety code violations. Their inspection grade in July was something close to an F minus for mishandlings of food, shoddy plumbing and the presence of mice and flies.

The venue has been a staple in the area since its opening in 2012, attracting big celebrities and brands like Red Bull and HBO. The New York Post notes La Marina has a 15-year lease, where they make up to $7 million a year in revenue.

Their social presence hasn't acknowledged their current status, but their calendar for upcoming events has been scrapped from their website.

READ MORE: DJ Collective WeAreHouse78 Are Making The Best Party Ever...At 9AM

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Judge Awards Cardi B Release Without Bail After Alleged Bartender Attack

Cardi B reported to court Friday morning (Dec. 7) in efforts to resolve an ongoing court case, which stems from an alleged altercation back in August at a Queens strip club involving two bartenders named Jade and Baddie Gi.

Prior to attending court, the "Money" MC was threatened to face jail time by the judge in charge of the case if she missed today’s court date. She reportedly had a court appearance on Monday (Dec. 3) that she failed to report to.

In October, the Bronx rapper (born Belcalis Almanzar) turned herself in to authorities after being accused of orchestrating a physical attack on the servers at Angels Strip Club. Per TMZ, she was arrested for two misdemeanor charges: assault and reckless endangerment.

One of the bartenders, Jade Gi, was accused of having an affair with Cardi’s (now possibly estranged) husband, Migos member Offset. The “She Bad” rapper was released without bail. Prosecutors reportedly wanted to charge her with a $2,500 bail, but the judge felt she wasn’t a flight risk, meaning she wouldn’t leave the country before the case is over in its totality.

However, the judge did warn Cardi to have “no contact” to Baddie and Jade Gi, after he granted both an order of protection against the 26 year-old. She’s also not allowed to make any threats or comment on the two on social media.

Cardi is reportedly scheduled to head back to court sometime next month.

Continue Reading
YouTube

Premiere: Fuego And A. Chal Take Over The Strip Club In "Dancin" Music Video

Dominican trap artist Fuego has created an ode to the art of stripping with his new single “Dancin,” featuring producer and R&B extraordinaire A. Chal. The visuals for the track are laced with bright blue club lights and brief salacious interludes of voluptuous young ladies dancing provocatively.

The two are seemingly in a never-ending party in efforts to promote strip club etiquette through their tantalizing lyrics. There's no denying that Fuego's sound is reminiscent of today's prominent trap artists like Migos and Future, but he packs in a Latino flair, like his contemporaries Bad Bunny and El Alfa. The Washington D.C. native's sound is similar, but it's worth noting he's been on the scene for a while, steadily etching his mark as his musical prowess rises within hip-hop and Latin audiences.

“For some reason, I've always wanted to do a sound that American hip-hop has, and then break that my way,” he tells VIBE. “When it comes to putting stuff together and making fusions of music, I've done it all my life. When I first started out, I did reggae beats, but I was rapping over them. There’s a little more urban, hip-hop sound in the Latin community. Before, it was mad reggae. It either had to be a tropical type song or reggaeton song. I've always wanted to come out with hip-hop music."

Watch the video for "Dancin" below.

Continue Reading

Top Stories