Classic hip-hop films come and go but, in our view, these 7 underrated classic movies are worth a revisit.
Hip-hop is a genre that has been built on beats and rhymes but also aggression and power.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to an outpouring of movies based off of stereotypical representations of the goings-on in the lives of hip hop artists. There are some films however that have risen above those stereotypes, and that have given the world a more accurate view of the genre and those whose lives mirror it.
Here are the top 7 underrated classic hip hop movies that depict accuracy and that represent the genre better than others.
Step Up (2006)
Along with the swift hip-hop beats comes fancy footwork and head spins.
Step Up combined the classic art of ballet with the new age speed of hip hop. As it follows the lives of two individuals from drastically different upbringings and are both ‘stuck’, dancing becomes the mutual connection they share.
Though it received negative reviews at the time of its release, it grossed over $114 million worldwide against a budget of only $12 million and was a massive financial success. It also launched the career of Channing Tatum into the stratusphere.
Step Up has proven to be so influential that it has led to multiple sequels and adaptations since its initial release.
Fear Of A Black Hat (1993)
The film Fear Of A Black Hat is unique in that it takes the form of a mockumentary.
Studying the progression of hip-hop in American culture, this movie able to uniquely analyze the hip-hop genre yet describe with accuracy as to some of the struggles artists face.
To a degree, the film parodies a lot of real-life hip-hop and black figures, including the directors John Singleton and Spike Lee, M.C. Hammer, Salt-N-Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Queen Latifah, and the N.W.A.
The film’s title is a play on Public Enemy’s 1990 album “Fear of a Black Planet”.
Hustle & Flow (2006)
A lot of what goes into hip hop music is the significance of the lyrics. Artists will write songs about the struggles of life and how they are difficult to process at times.
Hustle & Flow is based around a hustler and pimp who turns to rapping as a way to express his thoughts and feelings toward the circumstances he finds himself in.
Although Hustle & Flow was a fairly small film when it was made with a budget of only $2.8 million, it generated significant critical acclaim and garnered several accolades and nominations.
Combining music styles is a difficult task, but when mastered, it becomes a sensational performance. Three individuals discover this as they mesh jazz and break dancing together, and become a highlight for others to witness.
Despite the fact that it earned negative reviews at the time of its release, Breakin’ captures a moment in time and became a cult classic among the hip-hop community. It even spawned a sequel a year later.
This is one of the best early examples of a breakdancing film, inspired by the documentary Breakin’ n’ Enterin’.
Krush Groove (1985)
Record labels work to sign the best acts to attract the most attention.
This movie follows a record label through the ups and downs of the economy. The two main characters in this film get caught up in a rough situation when they borrow money from a street hustler.
Krush Groove is very loosely based on the early days and founding of Def Jam Recordings, specifically focusing on Russell Simmons who was a co-producer and consultant on it.
In Krush Groove, you’ll see some of the top artists of the day including Run-D.M.C., Kurtis Blow, LL Cool J, and others.
Wild Style (1983)
Wild Style showcases what hip-hop culture was in its early days.
Art, dancing, and music are woven together, how the game got started. A graffiti artist meets a journalist and together, the two find beats, rhymes, jazz, blues, and the streets, melting them into one genre.
Inside this film, you will see appearances by artists such as Fab Five Freddy, Lee Quinones, Lady Pink, The Rock Steady Crew, The Cold Crush Brothers, Queen Lisa Lee of Zulu Nation, Grandmaster Flash, and ZEPHYR.
Wild Style today has the reputtion of being the first hip-hop film with nothing similar predating it.
8 Mile (2002)
This movie, though said to be fictional, holds a lot of truth according to what is known about the life led by its main star, Eminem.
Through it all, music binds and holds it together, becoming a sacred escape for those who treasure it. This gets the top spot due to the emotional depth of the story, showing the influence that hip hop has and how it can be used to create through artists.
Within the past decade, the list of great hip hop films has continued to grow with Straight Outta Compton an easy inclusion on any list discussing the subject.
As hip hop continues to become established in the mainstream, the next generation of films are bound to take on a different tone but for now, it’s always important to remember the roots of where the genre has come.