SOTBMusic: The Get Down

(Ed. Note: This will not be an extensive review of the show; there are other folks who cover[ed] the show amazingly, such as the Geeks of Color Twitter feed during their livestream of [check them out]. Instead, this will be a brief "this show got me in my feels because..." sort of piece. Expect "you need to watch this" vibes throughout. Also, there will be no spoilers because eff that. You have been warned)

So, this weekend, The Get Down's second half was released. Why it wasn't given the fanfare of other Netflix shows, I won't bog you down with my theories. Here's one though, h/t to TooFab. Instead, I'll tell you why you should check out the musical series from the minds of Nas, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Baz Luhrmann (among others). This will not be a comprehensive list of reasons why, as some things should just be experienced.

First, the series tells about the origins of hip-hop and the demise/evolution of disco/dance music all wrapped around a brotherhood drama with hood elements that encompasses the entire city of New York. Got that? Good. It gets better. What this means is that you take the best parts of Hip-Hop Evolution, Empire, Power, The Wire and pretty much any classic Black cinema piece from the '90s and 2000s (mainly stuff like Friday and Boyz N The Hood) and mix them together with some Scandal-esque political ramblings (the good kind, not the Joe Morton shouts at the top of his lungs while Kerry Washington retorts in the same way kind). And that's still not really giving the series its just due.

Sex and drugs? Check. Catchy music? Check. Musical politics mixed in with politic politics? Check. Families who want the best for their kids and end up turning that into an obsession which ruins them in the end? Check. Backstabbing assholes who want what's best for them that get what's coming to them, but not in the way you expect? Check. Overall, the series has everything you need to make a classic project. Sure, it's not completely historically accurate (I mean, it places its main characters as the de facto Sugarhill Gang in some ways, the de facto Furious Five in others, helping to bring hip-hop to the forefront), but it's still a great watch. But, what good is the play if the actors aren't convincing?

Which brings me to my second reason why The Get Down needs to be experienced: the cast. The cast is believable in their roles and are, to put it bluntly, likable as much as they can be despised for their foolish actions (score one for young people being young, and old people being old).

You want to root for Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore) to get his shit together outside of "the game." However, you want to shake him because you know that, whatever he does, he'll end up back into the thick of it (because, albeit a bit stereotypical on the writers' part, that's all he knows). You want Mylene (Herizen F. Guardiola) to excel as a singer, but do you want her to forsake her family in doing so? You want Ezekiel/Books (Justice Smith) to become the dope MC you know he is by the flashforwards, but does he do it by sacrificing his chance at college? You want Dizzee (Jaden Smith in a recurring role) to express himself, but you know that he's doing so by tagging everything in sight. You want Pastor Ramon (Giancarlo Esposito in a role that's kind of part Gus Fring from Breaking Bad, part Reverend Lovejoy from The Simpsons) to get the word out about God, but you wonder if it'll, ironically. be his ruin.

Overall, the cast helps flesh out the characters' goals and ambitions through their acting. But, if you don't come for the acting, you've gotta be here for the jams. Well, let me be one of many to tell you something. The jams, they are quite tasty.

There's a reason why The Get Down is one of the few soundtracks I've bought. I'll just say that. And I'll be buying part two when it drops this Friday (along with that new Kendrick).

Now, dramatically, the series can become a mixed bag from time to time as it plays with tried-and-true story arcs. But, when it transcends beyond that (which is more often than not), we're left with an amazing show that deserves to be watched. Like, now. Go stop reading me and go to Netflix and watch it. 

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