I clinched my chest with the palm of my hand as the devastating reality of there being only five episodes in the first season of, “The Get Down” began to sink in. I had fallen in love with my high school sweetheart, made the Bronx my canvas, and escaped the stifling grip of a drug dealer named Fat Annie once and for all, just to wind up right back between her ashy knuckles again. Every emotion embodied by the characters portrayed became mine, and I loved every twist and turn that sent my heart racing and my memory jogging back to that moment I fell in love with hip-hop. I wanted, no, I needed more of, “The Get Down”. So, I waited. IMPATIENTLY. I began desperately searching through the cast’s and crew’s fan pages for highlights and updates like some internet troll spying on her ex. The withdrawal symptoms were unbearable, and it took a minute before I was able to ground myself and make my way to that final stage of grief, acceptance. And it was in that moment of acceptance I remembered that, “if you really love something you’ve got to let it go… and if it loves you back... it will return.” (insert Viola Davis Snot Cry here) And it did. That glorious day that Season 2 became available on NETFLIX. I might have spent the first couple hours before it aired free styling in the mirror and using an empty roll of toilet paper as my microphone, but after I completed the final episode of season two, I spent the following days exploring the cry for escape that influenced the disco era and the call for liberation that ignited the creation of hip-hop..
Disco and Hip Hop was conceived at one of the darkest times in American history. After JFK, MLK, and Brother Malcolm's assassination, a hopelessness had began to settle throughout the country. This hopelessness was so heavy we can still feel the weight of it today, almost 50 years later. Musically we seemed to have jumped out of “Doo-Wop” and landed in the Disco Era.
The Disco scene was not only a place where people could ease the pain of the current dynamics but a place for those who wanted to numb it as well. With the large amount of drug trafficking that took place in its midst, The Fat Annie's of the world owned the disco scene and profited greatly from it. The large population of people who were looking to escape the feelings of powerlessness had become a goldmine that was vulnerable to exploitation, and exploit it they did. I'm not blaming the music. The music is only a creation of our current state. The music tells us who we are right now, and that was who we were. We've got the scars and track marks to prove it. But the Disco sound would soon give birth the liberator we call Hip-Hop.
Hip-Hop was not about escape. It was the result of an absence. It was more than a sound. It could change its shape and still be easily identified as it showed its face in different art forms everywhere we looked. If Disco was about escape, than Hip-Hop was and has always been about blatant rebellion. And that rebellion came accompanied with ‘zero fucks given’. She was our liberator. A living, breathing entity that could not be tamed or boxed in. A wild child. I imagine this is one of the reasons why we consistently find ourselves a part of the redundant conversation about hip hop losing it's way. But did Hip Hop ever have a way? I don't think so. Hip-Hop has always made its own way. Even with those who seek to commercialize it and drain it of its resources, it is still a voice for the people. And the people are changing. And the sound is changing. But we still know Hip-Hop when we hear it, see it, feel it. Even with all its evolution and shape shifting.
Hip Hop is coloring outside the lines.
MaMa’s Favorite Quote
“Come with me my alien brother.”-Shaolin Fantastic