Baz Luhrmann Calls Nas a 'Huge Creative Force' on Netflix Show 'The Get Down'

Courtesy Photo
Nas gives a toast during the announcement for his partnership with Hennessy for their “Wild Rabbit” campaign.

When you're trying to tell the story of the birth of hip-hop in New York in the 1970s, it helps to have one of the all-time students/masters of the genre on your team. That explains why director Baz Luhrmann has recruited rapper Nas as a consultant and producer on his upcoming Netflix series about the beginnings of rap in the city, The Get Down.

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Speaking on a panel with Get Down writer Nelson George at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Moulin Rouge director described the character arc one of the show's main subjects by describing how Nas helped form it. "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.

Nas has been working with Luhrmann to create that rap-based narration, playing a rather large part in the production process for the 13-episode series slated to debut on August 12. "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. And so Nas has been this other huge creative force in the production. And it’s been playing really, really successfully."

Lurhmann said Nas' contributions are 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."

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The show will feature actor/musician Jaden Smith (The Karate Kid) as Marcus "Dizzee" King, a talented and enigmatic graffiti artist from the South Bronx. Luhrmann also revealed that hip-hop legends Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow have been tapped as advisors for the show. Flash will be portrayed by Mamoudou Athie (Madame Secretary) in the upcoming series, which will also feature Shameik Moore (Dope), Justice Smith (Paper Towns), Skylan Brooks (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete) and newcomer Tremaine Brownn Jr.