The Get Down

*Australian director Baz Luhrmann has turned to hip hop pioneers Nas and Grandmaster Flash to lead the music production of his new Netflix “The Get Down.”

The series is set in the late 70’s and depicts an era when young folks were beginning to experiment with disco, funk and soul records.

“It’s a billion-dollar industry right now. We were a crew of people that had so little but did so much,” said Grandmaster Flash, who was both an eyewitness to and critical player in the art form’s creation. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer said “The Get Down” is a celebration of the “bakers” who made it from scratch.

Luhrmann asked Flash to help him visualize the series through the music, and Flash said Baz was “an amazing listener.”

“He’s a perfectionist. He would ask me millions and millions of questions over and over again,” he added.
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As a consulting producer, Flash offered input on the music, timeline, wardrobe, locations and production design. The L.A. Times reports that he also helped train cast members with rhyming, spinning, dancing and graffiti.

In effort to make an authentic documentary that captured the spirit of the era, Luhrmann wrote Grandmaster Flash into the series — as not just as an influential DJ and hip-hop trailblazer, but as a kind of spiritual leader. Actor Mamoudou Athie, a dead ringer for his real-life counterpart, was cast in the role.

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Luhrmann also relied heavily on Nas, who wrote original songs for the series. The rapper/producer describes the “The Get Down” as “a great history piece.”

“A show like this polishes off the dust from a treasure. This is a time period that basically birthed this hip-hop moment that we’re in now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Grandmaster Flash has just one regret about the mid-’70s.

“Nobody was really documenting—nobody in our crews had a camera,” the 58-year-old DJ tells Genius. “It’s sad. If I would’ve had just one jam on a Super 8 reel of any party in the ’70s, you know what that’d be worth right now? It’d probably go to a museum. We weren’t thinking about that at the time, we were just kids having fun.”

“The Get Down” is currently streaming on Netflix.