Netflix’s hip-hop series The Get Down will premiere next month, and it’s garnering plenty of buzz. The drama is set in 1970s Bronx and is a coming-of-age story of Shaolin Fantastic (played by Shameik Moore) and Ezekiel “Books” Figuero (Justice Smith).
There are several hip-hop luminaries working on the television project, including Kurtis Blow, Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash who serves an adviser and stars in the show. Fellow hip-hop legend Nas is a writer on the series.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Queens rhymer explained his contribution of writing rhymes for the Shaolin and Ezekiel characters on the show.
“I put myself in a position … I said to myself, ‘If it was you, if Ezekiel was you, you’d be telling your story. ‘I made myself Ezekiel,” he explained. “I said, ‘Yo, Nas, what’s your story growing up in hip-hop? How do you feel by making it to become a voice in the Nineties, because you remember all the hard times, you remember Mayor Dinkins being elected, you remember New York City when the streets were flooded with crack, and crime was everywhere.’ So I am Ezekiel. Ezekiel is older than me, but I am that.”
Nas had to step back and write rhymes that reflect the style of the 70s when hip-hop was in its nascent stages.
“This is an early style. This is the seventies. These are the tapes that the older guys were playing in my neighborhood, listening to, partying to,” he saidd. “This is a different style, this is not what I normally do. I placed pictures around myself of parties like Harlem World, the Roxy, jams out in the Bronx in the park, DJs like Jazzy Jay on the turntables, of course Grandmaster Flash photographs everywhere, the Furious Five photographs around me. I really just went into that world.”
Nas sees The Get Down as a history lesson for today’s generation who may not be familiar with the “True School” era of hip-hop.
“At my concerts, I see kids! I see all ages, but I see kids!” he said. “And, if I’m their first concert, or one of their first concerts, they have so much more to learn. I’m excited to be a part of Get Down, ’cause this could be just what they need.”
The first six episodes of The Get Down will premiere on Aug. 12.