There's a lot to love about Netflix's new series The Get Down — it has a seriously impressive cast, awesome music, and the amazing cinematography that we've come to expect from Baz Luhrmann. And, although it's not based on a true story, the series is informative for viewers (especially those of us who weren't around to experience 1977 and the hip-hop revolution firsthand). I love listening to hip-hop music, but my knowledge of the genre's history is seriously lacking — so, I have to ask "what's in a name?" And, it turns out the show's title means something pretty significant.
In an interview with Vulture, hip-hop legend and associate producer of The Get Down, Grandmaster Flash explained that he came up with "the get down" while he was an aspiring hip-hop artist in the Bronx during the 1970s. He identified a 10-second drum beat and learned how to manually edit from one drum solo to the next. It could be applied in all genres of music, not just hip-hop, and its purpose was to extend the beat so that an MC could later rap over it. Flash explained told the outlet:
“Everything then was based on what the DJ was playing... I came up with a system to manually take a drum break — a drum solo in most records were like ten seconds — so I had to come up with a way to take duplicate copies of a record and seamlessly take ten seconds and make it ten minutes. Once I was able to do this, I changed the way DJs played records.”
And yes, he coined the phrase "the get down," which is now a part of the musical lexicon. In a nutshell, it refers to the hip-hop beat that, like Flash, The Get Down's characters are trying to perfect during the series.
It certainly makes sense that the series would be named after such an important aspect of the hip-hop genre as we know it today — especially because "the get down" was the creation of a hip-hop legend who, like the show's characters, began his music career in the Bronx during the '70s.
But, on another level, it seems symbolic to the show's premise and overall themes. The young characters in The Get Down are striving to find their own beat — both in their personal lives and through their music. Many of them are surrounded by chaos due to stressful home lives and the overall upheaval of their city. The teenagers in the series are a part of the hip-hop revolution, but they're also coming of age and finding their "beat" as they figure out what's most important to them and the type of people they want to be. Sometimes, they need a quick break to catch their breath — and Flash's "get down" proves that breaks are essential and can lead to great things.
Plus, the show's title is an awesome tribute to Flash, one of the most iconic hip-hop artists ever. He acted as a consultant and producer for the series, so we have him to thank for the fact that The Get Down is so realistic.
Images: Netflix (2)