Here’s Five Must Watch Hip Hop Documentaries for Fans and Rappers Alike
Tap in to these five films
Much like Jazz and other black art forms before it, Hip Hop music got started as an essential language of oppressed people and continued to blossom into something larger than life. Thing is, these days, so much is considered “Hip Hop” that the lines have begun to blur. For those who want a crash course on the true essence of Hip Hop, it’s origins and the culture it produced, we have you covered. Below are five documentaries that are absolutely essential watches for true Hip Hop heads.
Style Wars is often considered to be the “First Hip Hop Movie”, as it dropped in 1983, the same year as the equally iconic “Wild Style” . The movie is almost like a time capsule that brings viewers back to the gritty and grimy streets of yester year’s NYC. Style Wars focuses on two subcultures of Hip Hop that are now considered almost extinct: Graffiti and Break Dancing. We’re introduced to colorful characters that go on to be legends, such as Skeme, DONDI and Kase2. What’s clear from watching this film is that from the very beginning, Hip Hop was about rebellion and expressing oneself artistically by any means.
Rhyme & Reason
Rhyme & Reason is a pure Hip Hop Documentary that takes a journalistic approach to the craft and its brightest stars. The film features interviews from icons such as Tupac, Master P, Biz Markie and more to paint a well rounded portrait of the industry as a whole. Topics that are explored are the business side of Hip Hop (And the importance of owning your work) along with the violence and politics that drive some of the lyrics. Since the doc dropped in 1997, it’s interesting to see that many things that were true then, remain the same now. To quote The Wire “The game stay the game”…
Time is Illmatic
If you consider yourself a Hip Hop head, by now you’ve heard the album. Illmatic rings out on almost everyone’s shortlist of top Hip Hop albums ever. What many people don’t know is the story behind it. From Nas losing his childhood best friend, to stealing the stage on “Live at the Barbecue”, this documentary gives you an in depth look at the faces and places behind the iconic album. Whether you like hearing dope producers talk about their process, or you just like hearing tales from the hood, this doc is for you.
Hip Hop is one of those things that inspired everything it touched, across industries and mediums. The fashion industry is no different and in this documentary, we see why. Fresh Dressed is deeper than just a Fashion or Hip Hop documentary though. It takes it a step further by explaining exactly why it’s in our soul to rock that gold. The documentary traces things back, waaaay back to the plantation days and breaks down the psyche behind black folks being Fresh Dressed. Even if you’re not down for the history lesson, just check it out for the fire fits.
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
This is one of those films I didn’t truly appreciate until I got older. In the days before social media, Dave Chappelle pulled off one of the most iconic moments in Hip Hop by putting together an unprecedented lineup and presenting it to Brooklyn for free. Where do we start? A young Kanye commands the crowd onstage like only he can, Badu, Black Thought and Jill Scott are all in rare form and Lauryn Hill did what the hell needed to be done as the headliner. It’s dope to get a look at the behind the scenes action too and if you pay close attention, you might see a young J Cole in front pleading to get onstage and rhyme. If they would’ve selected him, this would’ve been beyoooond great, but still this movie is an essential watch.