Hollywood is going through its resurgent years. Films are sparking new narratives as more and more agenda-driven stories are being created. The scene is not 'all white' and 'all male' anymore. Intense dramas are giving way to musicals, and biopics have recently become a top-notch genre.
In a race for better content, film-makers are no more willing to play on one particular genre that used to drive movie buffs crazy. The hip-hop inspired stories which used to be a 'cool thing' in the 80s and 90s have taken a back seat. Over the last 30 years, some of the greatest hip-hop films have been made ultimately turning a whole generation into hip hop film lovers.
Here is a quick look at the greatest hip-hop films of all time:1. Wild Style
Released in 1982, Charlie Ahearn's 'Wild Style,' is touted to be the first movie to bring the underground hip-hop revolution to a broader audience. Whether you want to watch the legendary subway artist Lee Quiñones starring as a graffiti writer or catch Grandmaster Flash and Fab Five Freddy in action, 'Wild Style' has turned out to be a cult classic.
This film documents the origin of street movement which went on to conquer the mainstream pop culture and this beautifully intersperses with Graffiti Artist, Zoro's (played by Lee Quiñones) struggle with his family's discontent and his encounter with journalist Virginia (played by Patti Astor).
Though the plot may not be able to discover cinematic rhythm, it surely maintains the vitality of the characters. “I know all the colours by heart'' seems to remain with us!!!2. Breakin'
Directed by Joel Silberg, 'Breakin' stars Lucinda Dickey (Kelly), a classically trained jazz dancer who forms a team with Ozone (played by Adolfo Quinones) and Turbo (played by Michael Chambers), who give exhaustingly good breakdance performances in the film.
While Kelly polishes her technique, her partners turn up the volume on their ghetto blasters.
Interesting to note, 'Breakin'' earned $57 million worldwide making it the most financially successful movie from the stable of Canon Films. If you manage to overlook the amateurish script, it is a great movie which introduced the hip-hop culture to the world.3. The Last Dragon
'The Last Dragon,' a Kung Fu drama is aimed towards the hip hop generation. Produced by Motown Founder Berry Gordy, this film traces the journey of a black martial arts student Leroy Green (Taimak) who falls in love with a video jockey Laura Charles (Vanity). Gangsters intrude both their lives when crook Sho'nuff (Julius J. Carry III) tries to back his talentless protégé into rock stardom.
Michael Schultz, the director of 'Cooley High' and 'Car Wash', has attempted to load the film with contemporary singing, dancing, rapping, video-art, and Kung Fu. The plot seamlessly blended Martial Arts and Breakdancing which influenced the modern hip-hop culture.4. Krush Groove
Written by Ralph Farquhar, 'Krush Groove' is a Def Jam Biopic which turned out to be a hip-hop classic forever.
Hip Hop Bigwig, Russell Simmons along with film producer Michael Schultz displayed the hip-hop glory days in the Warner Bros Distributed venture. The Fat Boys, Run-D.M.C., Kurtis Blow, the Beastie Boys, and Sheila E. all starred as themselves in the film.
'Krush Groove' revolves around the lives of black teenagers who went on to sign recording contracts thus drawing a huge black audience, eventually leading to clashes between black and white audiences. The quasi-musical film gave hit songs like “All you can eat.''5. Fear of Black Hat
A homage to 'This is Spinal Tap', 'Fear of a Black Hat' is a 1994 mockumentary about a gangsta-rap group called N.W.H. (Niggaz with Hats).
The film is narrated from the perspective of a Sociologist, Nina Blackburn (Kasi Lemmons) who selects N.H.W as the subject of her thesis, only to familiarize with their beliefs later. This is a satirical yet refreshing film crammed with funny and weird moments quite like the uneasy meeting of the rappers who all bear “ice” in their names.6. 8 Mile
Directed by Curtis Hanson, '8 Mile' is an odd combination of 'Flashdance' and Purple Rain'.
It stars controversial artist Eminem as Rabbit who is a poor white kid from Detroit struggling to rise above poverty. He protects his mom from an abusive live-in partner, looks out for his sister, wins public rap battles and eventually bags a record deal that transforms his life.
Co-stars Kim Basinger and Brittany Murphy delivered equally power-packed performances as the protagonist of the film. 'Lose Yourself' earned Eminem his first Oscar in the Best Original Song category. An obscenity-strewn 'Rocky' for the gangsta rap generation, '8 Mile' does a convincing job to enhance the hip-hop culture.7. Tupac Resurrection
'Tupac Resurrection' explores the spectacularly complicated life of Tupac Shakur, one of the highest selling hip-hop artists of all time.
Directed by Lauren Lazin with Shakur's mother, Afeni Shakur as the Executive Producer, this film bears an autobiographical feel as Tupac does all the talking. Though much of his youth was spent in poverty, he released his first rapper album at the age of 20.
Echoing the ideology of 'Black Panther', Shakur encouraged the downtrodden to take up arms. On September 6, 1996, he was shot four times and his murder still remains unsolved. Prolific still, Shakur has released more albums dead than alive. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.8. Hustle & Flow
Writer-Director Craig Brewer transcends the crime genre and transforms 'Hustle & Flow' into an emotionally powerful drama.
In this film, Terrence Howard plays a Memphis Pimp and drug dealer (Djay) who aspires to make something of him. The plot involves Djay's attempts to meet his business duties while recording his own demo track.
The film is not just a portrayal of Djay's rags-to-riches story, it emphasizes his transformation when he finds something he loves doing and gets better at it. Terrence Howard modulates Djay with great love and consideration for the character and it earned him an Academy Award Nomination in the Best Actor Category.9. Step Up
Quite ahead of its time, 'Step Up' introduced Channing Tatum to us.
It is on the sets of 'Step Up' that Jenna Dewan (Nora), who plays dance student in the film, met her now ex-husband, Channing Tatum (Tyler) who essays the role of a rebel from the other side of Baltimore's tracks. He appears as an angry outsider until his skills as a street dancer draws Nora's attention.
As love blooms between them, Tyler realizes he has the single performance to step up to a life way larger than he has lived. Julia Styles, the writer dishes out a plot which was bound to win over dance-obsessed tween and teen girls. If you haven't watched this film, you have not watched anything.10. Beyond The Lights
Written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, this American Romantic Drama is the classic boy-meets-girl story.
Apart from rapper Machine Gun Kelly, 'Beyond The Lights' stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw who plays R&B Singer and attempts suicide repulsed by the trappings of fame.
It also stars Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, and Danny Glover. Both in outrageous LA costumes or sophisticated British attires, Gugu Mbatha-Raw appears equally ravishing. The song 'Grateful' from the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2015.
Beat Street, Brown Sugar, Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, Style Wars, Boyz n the Hood, Menace II Society, CB4, Dope, Do the Right Thing, Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme, Get Rich or Die Tryin', Juice