There’s no question that Baz Luhrmann’s take on the birth of hip-hop in 1970s New York will be a colorful look into the history of a culture-defining genre. But during a panel with The Get Down writer Nelson George during the Tribeca Film Festival, The Great Gatsby director revealed that Nas, one of rap’s most prominent artists, would be lending a serious creative hand in crafting the Netflix series’ story.
“One of the great collaborations is that I’ve been working really closely in creating these rhymes, and he’s a producer on the film, with one of the most iconic voices of the 1990s and that’s Nas,” Luhrmann told the festival audience. “And so Nas has been this other huge creative force in the production. And it’s been playing really, really successfully.”
Nas has been tapped as a consultant and producer for the genre origin story, generating rap-based narration for one character’s storyline—this is in addition to him having a broader role in the 13-episode series’ production process. One can assume that it’s somewhat similar to the advisory role hip-hop legends Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow have had on the project, news that Luhrmann also revealed during the panel.
“One of the things which I don’t think anyone knows, because it’s not in the trailers—and we’ve been doing this for about a year now—is that one of the characters goes on and we discover that he’s actually a successful rap star in the 90’s, and he narrates it through rhyme, through rap,” Luhrmann said of Nas’ character-specific storyline influence.
Speaking specifically to the work Nas has already done for The Get Down, Luhrmann confirmed that it fell somewhere between “pure rap, narration, and sort of Greek chorus comment. We weren’t sure about it when we began, and we couldn’t do without it now.”
Luhrmann’s announcement of The Get Down’s musical influences and Nas’ involvement is a move that not only instills more confidence about the series’ authenticity, but also will certainly serve to bring both a visually and musically gripping concept to the screen in a much more striking way.
The series, scheduled to debut on Aug. 12, stars actor and musician Jaden Smith as Marcus “Dizzee” Kipling, a talented and enigmatic graffiti artist from the South Bronx. Madame Secretary’s Mamoudou Athie will portray Flash, while Dope’s Shameik Moore and Paper Towns’ Justice Smith will also be featured alongside Skylan Brooks and Tremaine Brown Jr.