Hip-Hop has definitely found its way into the spotlight of mainstream culture. If you think about it, some of the biggest stars in entertainment and social media all hail from the world of Hip-Hop. Names like Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre all started off in the world of rap, but now, they are major personalities in the celebrity realm.
Lately, Hip-Hop is even taking over the Hollywood scene. This past summer, the movie Straight Outta Compton was released, and surprisingly, it made a ton of money at the box office. In honor of the breakthrough success of the movie, we compiled a list of 10 Hip-Hop movies you really need to check out. Read on below…
10. 8 Mile
It’s funny how a chance encounter with the right individuals can totally enhance the career of an aspiring musician. Such is the case with Detroit rapper Eminem. His talents might have gone unnoticed if he hadn’t crossed paths with Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Now he is one of the most iconic rappers in Hip-Hop and he even has a semi-autobiographical movie entitled 8 Mile about his career. The title 8 Mile refers to a hardscrabble neighborhood in Detroit where Eminem grew up. The movie, released in 2002, features other Hollywood stars like Kim Basinger and Brittany Murphy and overall, it provides a vivid glimpse into the raw and gritty battle culture of Hip-Hop.
9. Wild Style
The four elements of the Hip-Hop culture are said to be: Breakdancing, Graffiti, Street fashion and Rapping. The movie Wild Style released in 1983 is centered on the Graffiti facet of Hip-Hop. It is often considered as the first true Hip-Hop movie, and it’s about a Bronx artist and graffiti tagger trying to stay authentic to his artistic creativity in a culture being rapidly consumed by commercialism. This struggle between art and money is one that goes on to this day and the movie features cameos from pioneering Hip-Hop personalities like Fab Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash. This is an old school Hip-Hop movie that you definitely need to see.
8. Get Rich or Die Trying
In the early 2000s, Queens, NYC rapper 50 Cent was riding high in the Hip-Hop game. He had just been signed by industry giants Dr. Dre and Eminem, and he’d already dropped a multi-platinum album titled Get Rich or Die Trying. At the height of his fame in 2005, he decided to drop a motion picture with the same title as his debut album. The movie was loosely based on 50 Cent’s tough upbringing and his involvement in the drug dealing underbelly of his neighborhood. The film co-starred Bill Duke, Viola Davis and Joy Bryant and even featured music by Quincy Jones. If you’re a fan of hard core East Coast rap music, this is a movie you definitely need to see.
In the late 90s, Hype Williams was the most sought after video director in the Hip-Hop industry. He was known for his flashy and glitzy, big-budget videos for some of the biggest rappers of that era: Nas, DMX, Puff Daddy, Mase, Biggie and more. In 1998, he decided to take his talents to the big screen with the movie, Belly. The film starred Nas, DMX, Method Man and more. It told the story about the street life and the violence, crime, lavish lifestyle, enemies and regrets that come along with it. Even though it was quite apparent that it was the director’s first venture into film, the movie featured some impressive visual sequences and a very high production quotient.
Even though he was murdered senselessly all the way back in 1997, the music and overall influence of Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G. continues to loom heavily over Hip-Hop. To this day, the Brooklyn rapper is still referred to as the King of New York Hip-Hop, and his lyrics are often quoted by current rappers on the scene. In 2009, a biopic movie was released on his life titled Notorious. It starred well-known actors like Anthony Mackie, Derek Luke and Angela Bassett and it ended up doing reasonably well at the box office. There is no doubt about it – the memory of Biggie will continue to loom heavily over the Hip-Hop culture.
Released all the way back in 1984, the movie Breakin’ was one of the movies that first introduced the art of B-boying and breakdancing to many people around the world. The movie was released by Cannon Films and it went on to gross $57 million dollars, making it a bona fide hit. Because of the immediate success of the movie, a sequel was filmed and released to theaters just 8 months later. One other thing to note about Breakin’ is that it was also accompanied by a top-selling soundtrack that went on to sell 3 million albums.
4. Paid In Full
Harlem is one of the main boroughs in New York City, and it definitely has a very storied and history. It’s been a renaissance center for African-American arts, a hotbed for Jazz music, and it was even one of the main transit hubs during the violent drug wars of the 80’s. The 2002 movie Paid In Full focuses on the latter by exploring the effects of drugs in Harlem through the eyes of three young friends from the hood. The movie starred Mekhi Phifer, Wood Harris and Harlem rapper, Cam’ron. The film is still considered to be a Hip-Hop cult hit to this day, and interesting tidbit, it was actually produced by Roc-a-fella films (owned by Jay-Z and Damon Dash).
3. Straight Outta Compton
There is no doubt about it, one of the great breakout movies of 2015 was the film Straight Outta Compton based on one of the top gangster rap groups of all time, NWA. The crew consisted of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Ice Cube and DJ Yella. During the late 80s, they were the biggest act on the West Coast rap scene and they caused a lot of controversy with their hardcore violent and misogynistic lyrics. Since the movie was released this summer, it has already made over $150 million dollars. This is an absolute success considering that its production budget was a mere $28 million. For all lovers of West Coast gangster rap, this is a movie you certainly need to see.
2. House Party
There was a time when the Hip-Hop scene was much simpler and easy to understand. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, the gangster rap mentality and overt sexuality themes weren’t as predominant as they are now. One of the major Hip-Hop groups of that time was the duo Kid N’ Play. They hailed from NYC and they were known for their innovative haircuts, flashy fashion, slick dance moves and their love of partying. They were so popular that they even released a movie titled House Party in 1990. The film was about a mega House Party to end all house parties, and as you can imagine, lots of hijinks and hilarity ensues. The movie was so successful that it even had two sequels in 1991 and 1994.
1. Hustle & Flow
It’s a common narrative with some of the biggest stars in the Hip-Hop industry. Before they picked up the microphone and started rhyming, they were usually involved in some type of illegal and criminal activity. This same story is captured in a very heartfelt manner in the 2005 movie Hustle And Flow. It stars Terrence Howard as a pimp who is trying to transform the trials and tribulations of his street life into a lucrative rap career. The film earned Howard an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and the Memphis Hip-Hop group Three 6 Mafia (featured on the soundtrack) won the Oscar award for Best Song.