'For a lot of young people, this is old-school kosher': Nelson George on hip-hop and The Get Down

The producer on the Netflix series The Get Down on how the show uses history, fiction and magic to capture the spirit of hip-hop's early moments in New York.
(Courtesy of Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

The Get Down premiered on Netflix in 2016 to critical acclaim. The musical drama is set in the south side of the Bronx in 1977 New York. The show follows the birth of hip-hop, the subculture it created and the tension between generations.

The plot follows a young poet named Zeke who's trying to make it in the music industry. Along the way he meets a variety of characters who will help and hinder his climb to the top. The show uses a mix of historical facts, fiction, and fantasy to illustrate the effect hip-hop had on the 1970s. 

Nelson George is the supervising producer and a writer on the show. George was a music journalist in the 1970s when hip-hop first emerged. "In no way, shape or form did I have any idea that it would become one of the dominant global cultures," he says. "The fact that it would have appeal across the country…. who knew?"

The show is classified as fiction, but it's based on facts that happened 40 years ago. Despite this, The Get Down has a huge millennial audience. It deals with universal issues of race, prejudice and love while sharing the history of hip-hop, connecting current audiences to the material of the past.

Season 2 of The Get Down is now available on Netflix.

— Produced by Tyrone Callender.


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