Hip-hop movies actually had a heyday. In the middle of the 80s it seemed like every time you turned around there was a movie that attempted to show the true essence of the music and culture to a mass audience. Some showcased dance styles, others rap. Some tried to show everything and add in a storyline at the same time. These movies resonated with the kids who were already banging the music on their boom boxes while they chilled in the park. Everybody rushed to see the new break dancing moves in the next flick so they could practice them on their own cardboard back on the block.
As with every genre, not all hip-hop movies were good. In fact, some were outright bad, but that’s a whole other article. Here are some of hip-hop’s shining moments on the silver screen, from the 80s to now (in no particular order):
Nobody can forget Ozone and Turbo in this 1984 cult classic. Dance moves that people only saw in snippets were on display in long form. Popping, locking, and Turbo’s crazy footwork accompanied by modern jazz dance made this movie an instant hit and one of the most remembered things from the 80s.
This 1985 film is based on the beginnings of the real life record label Def Jam Recordings. Real performing acts played themselves in this movie, like Run D.M.C, LL Cool J, and The Fat Boys. Rap, drama, and Sheila E. as the love interest? The movie was destined to be a hit.
Hustle and Flow
All I know is Terrance Howard pulled is off in a major way. Who would have thought that a pimp who was really a wannabe rapper would the premise of a movie that would take the world by storm? It definitely did. “Hustle and Flow” was probably one of the best movies made in 2005.
Backed by a hot title track by Eric B. and Rakim, “Juice” was a hardcore breakout in 1992. Tupac, who was coming into is own as an actor, rocked every scene he was in, and that’s saying something being opposite Omar Epps. Cold and calculating, this movie is one you could watch again and again.
New Jack City
You know want to say it. Go on, let it out. I’ll do it with you. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” “Yes, I am!” Everybody in this 1991 flick worked it out. From Wesley Snipes (there could never have been another actor to play Nino Brown so smoothly) to Christopher Williams, this cast made you forget that singers were trying to act. Ice-T and Christopher Williams did their thing. Even Keith Sweat sang a tune in this classic movie. And it’s chock full of who we consider Hollywood royalty now. Wesley Snipes, of course. Halle Berry. And who can forget Pookie?
Get some popcorn and put in these hip-hop classics. Just don’t be surprised if you sound a little old school when you’re done.