The Get Down
By Etienne Tripelon
22 May 2017
IN SPITE OF ITS 50 YEARS OF EXISTENCE and undeniable worldwide success, rap continues to often trigger defiance, as illustrated by the recurring statement that “rap isn’t music,” uttered in a haughty tone inviting not even the slightest debate, or even with disdain, as symbolized by the sentence from the French right-wing polemicist Eric Zemmour that has since become legendary: “rap is a subculture of the illiterate.”
In any case, because cinema is always a reflection of its time, from 1993 with Wild Style up to 2015 where we had N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton, or even the more French- avored Comment c’est loin by Orelsan (to each his own!), including 8 Mile with Eminem, hip- hop has always made a rather remarkable headway.
With regard to series, it’s even less obvious. Of course, in the 1990s, we had the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which brought Will Smith to fame, but rap was only one of its ingredients. However, in 2016, with Vinyl was born the hope of a series following the entire story of hip-hop. In complete chronological logic, it was supposed to appear in the middle of Season 2. Yet when HBO announced its cancellation, it was a disappointment. Such men of little faith that we are, we then believed that once again hip-hop would be all but for- gotten.
Fortunately, we were wrong. Because this year marked the release of Atlanta, a comedy telling the story of the beginnings and setbacks of a stage rapper from… Atlanta. Directed and played by Donald Glover, who is himself a rapper, the joyful and melancholic series would win two Golden Globes in 2017 (Best Musical or Comedie Series and Best Actor in a Musical or Comedic Series). But the Holy Grail came without warning on August 12 by the easily permeable means (read: money) of Netflix.
As we’re used to, the now major player in the world of series as well as cinema (it’s said that the next Scorcese lm starring De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci will be released directly on the platform), has just thrown down the rst 6 episodes of The Get Down: in 1977, Ezequiel, a kid from the Bronx with a turbulent life, takes a passion with words, which he jots down in a notebook he always carries with him. With his friends Ra-Ra, Boo-Boo and Dizzy, he hangs out in the street looking for an underground world, and between drugs and music, manages to get into. Disco is in full swing, not knowing that it would soon be replaced with a new sound resonating from the block parties led by legendary DJs Grandmaster Flash, Kool Herc and even Afrika Bambaataa. After their encounter with Shaolin Fantastic, Ezequiel and gang decide to form their own crew.
With its archive images sprinkled throughout the episodes, its ultra-realistic and successful representation of the settings and costumes, The Get Down obviously has something of a documentary feel. With loads of details that will delight specialists, the series comes directly from the memory of major pioneering artists of the movement, who are heavily invested in the series itself, such as Grandmaster Flash or even Nas.
Nevertheless, the main plot is purely ctio- nal, and none of the main characters actually existed. And even though The Get Down fol- lows the creation of hip-hop in every aspect, it is above all a work of ction. The success of the project, because it really is a success, is due to its director and showrunner, Australian Baz Luhrman. The creator of Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby knows how to give his personal touch to the series. His sometimes exuberant, or in any case, flamboyant and intrepid style is perfectly aligned with the subject matter. This blend of fiction and reality, between lm and animation, between drama and comedy, between disco, rap and soul, produces a perfect patchwork. In other words, he has ideally mixed the best samples to create the best series about the beginnings of the musical genre in a purely and determinedly hip-hop style.
Everything would have gone great in the kingdom of hip-hop if The Get Down didn’t suddenly stop in the middle of the first season, leaving its fans in dismay. But after long months of waiting, the deliverance has finally been announced: on April 7th, Netflix will release the remaining 6 episodes. Do we really need to say that we just can’t wait?
CREATED BY Baz Luhrmann (2016)
WITH Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Herizen F. Guardiola
GENRE Show TV / Drame musical TV Show / Musical Drama
FORMAT 1 saison de 2×6 épisodes 1 season of 2×6 episodes