A brief history of screen hip-hop

In honor of the Tribe Called Quest doc Beats, Rhymes & Life, we look back on a dozen hip-hop movie landmarks.

0

Comments

Add +
  • Wild Style (1983)

    In the beginning, the Lord gave us Charlie Ahearn’s seminal portrait of old-school tagging and emceeing in the South Bronx, and lo, it was good. Hip-hop cinema starts here.

    Wild Style (1983)
  • Breakin’ (1984)

    No disrespect to the equally frrresh Beat Street, but for those outside the outer boroughs, this head-spinnin’ flick was their first exposure to hip-hop dance culture.

    Breakin’ (1984)
  • Krush Groove (1985)

    A who’s who of rap all-stars (the Beastie Boys! Kurtis Blow! Run-D.M.C.!) turn this backstage drama into a class-of-’85 yearbook. That baby face with the beatbox? LL Cool J.

    Krush Groove (1985)
  • Do the Right Thing (1989)

    For the first time, hip-hop figures in a critically respected drama—and even plays a part in the climax. Public Enemy’s signature “Fight the Power” is introduced.

    Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Boyz n the Hood (1991)

    A majestically enraged portrait of South Central L.A., John Singleton’s tragedy also boasts the first creditable dramatic performance by a rapper, Ice Cube.

    Boyz n the Hood (1991)
  • Cool as Ice (1991)

    In a vindication for good taste, Vanilla Ice’s screen debut is savaged by reviewers and—more importantly—ignored by the paying public.

    Cool as Ice (1991)
  • CB4 (1993)

    After terrorizing mainstream radio and Tipper Gore’s parental watchdogs, gangsta rap finds humorous expression in Chris Rock’s parody (which leads to tons more fans).

    CB4 (1993)
  • I’m Bout It (1997)

    Great cinema it is not, but Master P’s lo-fi self-portrait provided the first visual iconography for the “Dirty South”—a region that was about to blow up big-time.

    I’m Bout It (1997)
  • Belly (1998)

    Video director Hype Williams cast gruff MCs Nas, DMX and Method Man in his slick crime-pays drama—and captured the look of the East Coast’s ’90s bling obsession.

    Belly (1998)
  • Biggie and Tupac (2002)

    Rap’s most fatalistic feud is examined in Nick Broomfield’s doc on the two rap stars; it’s as good an autopsy as we’re likely to get on this hip-hop tragedy.

    Biggie and Tupac (2002)
  • 8 Mile (2002)

    The peak of Eminem’s popularity comes with this surprisingly moving autobiographical drama, one that earns hip-hop its first Oscar, for “Lose Yourself.”

    8 Mile (2002)
  • Hustle & Flow (2005)

    The genesis of a rap track finds its Amadeus-worthy dramatization in Craig Brewer’s indie sensation, another Oscar winner, for Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”

    Hustle & Flow (2005)

Wild Style (1983)

In the beginning, the Lord gave us Charlie Ahearn’s seminal portrait of old-school tagging and emceeing in the South Bronx, and lo, it was good. Hip-hop cinema starts here.

Users say

0 comments