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Making Something From Nothing: The Get Down to Document History of Hip-hop

On Aug. 12 Netflix will be bringing a new visual show called The Get Down, a story of the south Bronx and the elevation of hip-hop in the 1970s. With so much of it being kept a secret until the air date, it is hard to give a good analysis on the whole show, but I can tell you it will be an underdog story and the underdogs are the people of the south Bronx.

The Bronx at that time was hell zone with poor circumstances, housing projects burning to the ground, difficulties finding a good job, gangs running the city with a different gang around the corner from the other, little school funding, drugs being becoming the norm and police brutality among the issues. With everything going on, this dark era had all the signs that there was no hope at all. But one man helped bring the neighborhood together in an old-fashioned way that has always brought people together. Just as in the slavery days, as the slaves worked on the field shouting out chants that became lyrics to the everyday struggle they were facing, these words and emotions became music—soul music—in the worst times in American history. And Clive Campbell, a.k.a. Kool Herc, became somewhat of a savior. Coming from Jamaica, he brought the same formula to the south Bronx that was used every weekend at block parties in Jamaica, where huge, mobile sound systems would blast music into the streets. The resulting shouts and chants of Bronx residents would help unite the city and bring hope back into the lives of many people living in the ghettos. All of that emotion was expressed in four different ways: DJ-ing, MC-ing, breakdancing and graffiti. And these four elements became the structure of hip-hop.

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Some will see The Get Down as just a show, but The Get Down to me is showing how kids came from poverty to create the last great American art form that is still inspiring people around the world today.

With most everything being kept a secret until Aug. 12, it’s highly important to know a brief history of this monumental culture and how it came about, because it is American history.

Look for The Get Down on Netflix.

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