In the first episode of Netflix’s The Get Down, Grandmaster Flash tells his apprentice Shaolin Fantastic: “Tonight your quest will end and your journey will begin if you bring me back the Pakoussa.” He’s talking about a rare remix track that Flash wants to sample at an underground party. But unlike many of the songs heard on The Get Down, it wasn’t composed in the ‘70s. The remix was done by the show’s music director, Elliot Wheeler, of “Rule the World (I Came From the City),” the first song heard in the show, composed by Michael Kiwanuka and Nas. (Listen to the non-remixed version below.)
It’s also a remix of a song Mylene, the show’s heroine, loves and wants to sing by the fictional Misty Halloway, “Far, Far Away,” which sets the drama in motion when the show’s hero, Ezekiel, tries to get his hands on it to impress Mylene.
In the pilot episode narrative, the “Pakoussa” represents the coveted, hard-to-find albums that DJs at the time would scour the world to find, hoping to land one of 100 copies, Grandmaster Flash explained. “We reinterpreted the song as a classic disco drop that appears at the romantic high point for our two young lovers,” Wheeler told Vulture. “We also inserted a break beat in the reinvented disco version of the track that our young Grandmaster Flash sends Shaolin to track down for him to play that night. The Pakoussa remix and the record itself become an absolute talisman throughout the first episode, and it’s the object, physically and musically, that binds the entire episode together.”