Netflix's The Get Down follows the early years of hip hop in the Bronx during the late 1970s through the eyes of Zeke Figuero. His journey into the music industry is not a lone one, however, as he and his friends form a group to take the budding world of hip hop by storm. Alongside his childhood friends Ra-Ra, Boo-Boo, and Dizzee and the man who introduced them to hip hop, Shaolin Fantastic, they form a group initially called "The Fantastic 4 + 1" before settling on the much simpler name of "The Get Down Brothers." The Get Down is telling a story that mixes fiction and truth, but where does the gorup fall on that divide? Were The Get Down Brothers a real group?
Many of the characters and stories in The Get Down are fictional, but even that fiction is rooted in reality, taking inspiration from hip hop history. So while The Get Down Brothers specifically may not ever have been real, the concept of a collection of talented performers finding each other as hip hop developed certainly is. Many performers in the early days of the genre discovered that they were stronger together than they were apart. Here are some real early hip hop groups that may remind you of Netflix's fictional Get Down Brothers.
The Sugarhill Gang
The first hip hop act to craft a Top 40 hit, The Sugarhill Gang was a direct response to the popularity of hip hop parties throughout New York, according to AllMusic. Producer Sylvia Robinson saw the potential for a hip hop song to go global and commissioned local rappers to rap over a beat reminiscent of Chic's "Good Times." The end result was "Rapper's Delight," a platinum record and a legacy that inspires rappers to this day. This fun, often goofy rapping is reminiscent of much of the content that The Get Down Brothers and other hip hop acts during the time of The Get Down were producing.
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
Grandmaster Flash's presence in The Get Down , onscreen and off, is essential to the series. Often seen as one of the forefathers of hip hop, Grandmaster Flash was a local legend in the Bronx but didn't find mainstream success until he got some of his favorite MCs to rap over his music and put it on vinyl. Grandmaster Flash's Furious Five consisted of five MCs including Cowbo (who is portrayed in the opening episode of The Get Down rapping over Flash's mix), Kid Creole, Raheim, Mr. Ness, and Melle Mel, who can still be found featured on popular tracks like Macklemore's "Downtown." The interplay between Flash and his Five was essential to their success and future seasons of The Get Down may even see The Get Down Brothers continuing to grow and change and become as important as the Furious Five.
Funky 4 + 1
While the Funky 4 + 1 may not have been hugely influential in the same way the Sugarhill Gang or Grandmaster Flash was, there's no denying they are similar to The Get Down Brothers. The most obvious similarity is their name, as before they were The Get Down Brothers, Zeke and his friends were the Fantastic 4 + 1. The Funky 4 + 1 themselves were notable for being one of the first hip hop groups to feature a woman, MC Sha Rock, who the group proudly calls "the best female in this here town" on their most successful hit, "That's The Joint." Perhaps in future seasons The Get Down Brothers will continue to mirror this crew and include a female MC.
The history of hip hop features countless acts all trying to find success in a world that keeps putting obstacles in their path. However, it's clear from the first half of the first season of The Get Down alone that The Get Down Brothers aren't going to let anything get in their way as they rise to the top, just like the real groups of hip hop history.