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17 of the Illest Hip Hop Movies

Hollywood brings hip hop to the big screen. These hip-hop movies capture the essence of the culture. So, if you’re a fan of hip-hop, let’s have a look at the top hip-hop movies of all time.

What is hip hop?

“Hip hop music, also known as rap music, is a genre of popular music developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s.” (Source)

What is rap?

Rapping is a musical form of vocal delivery that incorporates “rhyme, rhythmic speech, and street vernacular,” which is performed or chanted in a variety of ways, usually over a backing beat or musical accompaniment. The components of rap include “content,” “flow,” and “delivery.” (Source)

Are rap and hip hop the same?

“What’s the difference between rap and hip-hop?” … The standard answer is that hip-hop is a culture with four elements* – deejaying, MCing, graffiti, and dance – and rap is a form of popular music that grew out of Hip-Hop culture. In this view, hip-hop is deep and cultural. Rap is superficial and commercial. (Source)

17 Ill Hip Hop Movies

Electric Boogaloo & Breakin Documentary
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Lucinda Dickey, Adolfo "Shaba Doo" Quinones, Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers (Actors)

Breakin’

Breakin’ (also known as Breakdance in the United Kingdom and Break Street ’84 in other regions) is a 1984 American breakdancing-themed musical film directed by Joel Silberg and written by Charles Parker and Allen DeBevoise based on a story by Parker, DeBevoise and Gerald Scaife.

Breakin’ 2

Disappointed with her small part in the chorus line of a Los Angeles show, jazz dancer Kelly (Lucinda Dickey) quits and heads home. Her father (John Christy Ewing) disapproves of Kelly’s friendship with street dancers Ozone (Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones) and Turbo (Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers), and encourages her to pursue an opportunity to perform in Paris. Ignoring his wishes, Kelly teams up with her friends for a break-dancing benefit show to save an endangered community center.

Beat Street
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Rae Dawn Chong, Guy Davis, Jon Chardiet (Actors)

Beat Street

Beat Street is a 1984 American drama dance film featuring New York City hip hop culture of the early 1980s, breakdancing, DJing, and graffiti.

Krush Groove
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sheila E., Blair Underwood, Run DMC (Actors)

Krush Groove

Krush Groove is a 1985 American musical comedy-drama film distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures that was written by Ralph Farquhar and directed by Michael Schultz (who also produced the movie, along with George Jackson and Doug McHenry). This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons.

Fresh
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sean Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson (Actors)

Fresh

An emotional coming-of-age story, it offers a realistic glimpse of the dangerous life in New York City’s projects during the crack epidemic.

Juice
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Omar Epps, Tupac Shakur, Jermaine Hopkins (Actors)

Juice

The film touches on the lives of four black youths growing up in Harlem, following their day-to-day activities, their struggles with police harassment, rival neighborhood gangs and their families.

8 Mile
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy (Actors)

8 Mile

The film, which contains autobiographical elements from Eminem’s life, follows white rapper B-Rabbit (Eminem) and his attempt to launch a career in hip hop, a genre dominated by African-Americans.

ATL
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Clifford "TI" Harris, Lauren London, Antwan Andre Patton (Actors)

ATL

The film is loosely based on the experiences of the film’s producers Dallas Austin and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins (of the R&B group TLC) growing up in Atlanta, Georgia (ATL). The film is a coming-of-age tale concerning Rashad, played by Atlanta native and hip hop artist T.I. (credited as Tip Harris) in his film debut, and his friends in their final year in high school and on the verge of adulthood. 

Carmen: A Hip Hopera
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Mekhi Phifer, Beyonce, Mos Def (Actors)

Carmen: A Hip Hopera

It is based upon the 1875 opera Carmen by Georges Bizet, Ludovic Halévy and Henri Meilhac. The film is set in Philadelphia and Los Angeles in modern times and features a mostly original hip-hop/R&B score in place of Bizet’s opera.

Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard (Actors)

Get Rich or Die Tryin’

After losing his mother to murder as a boy, Marcus (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) has little support in his life. He starts working for drug dealer Levar (Bill Duke) and his assistant (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Although Marcus makes good money selling, his dream is to become a rapper.

Hustle And Flow
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Anthony Anderson (Actors)

Hustle & Flow

This film stars Terrence Howard as a Memphis hustler and pimp who faces his aspiration to become a rapper.

Brown Sugar
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Queen Latifah (Actors)

Brown Sugar

is a 2002 American romantic comedy film written by Michael Elliott and Rick Famuyiwa, directed by Famuyiwa, and starring Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan. The film is a story of a lifelong friends, A&R Andre and Editor-in-Chief Sidney. The two can attribute their friendship and the launch of their careers to a single, seminal childhood moment – the day they discovered hip-hop on a New York street corner. Now some 15 years later, as they lay down the tracks toward their futures, hip-hop isn’t the only thing that keeps them coming back to that moment on the corner.

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Roxanne Roxanne

Roxanne Shante’s history is largely overlooked, despite her status as one of the first female solo rappers in hip-hop. This Netflix biography focuses on Lolita Shanté Gooden, a youngster with great rap skills striving to survive within a cycle of abuse, in order to learn the specifics of Roxanne’s narrative.  With outstanding performances from Chanté Adams as the titular artist, Nia Long as her emotionally stunted mother, and a frightening Mahershala Ali as her violent lover, Roxanne Roxanne becomes even more remarkable when we consider how few films like this make it to the big screen. | Stream on Netflix

Rapture

Hip-hop performers express what identifies them as artists and the impact they’ve had on culture beyond music in their own words. A new documentary series is on the way. | Stream on Netflix

 The After Party

An ambitious rapper and his best friend/manager have one night to recover from their humiliation and realize their goals of becoming hip-hop stars. Ian Edelman wrote and directed the American film The After Party. Kyle Harvey, Harrison Holzer, Shelley Hennig, Teyana Taylor, Jordan Rock, Amin Joseph, Andy Buckley, and Blair Underwood are among the cast members of the film. Netflix released the film on August 24, 2018. | Stream on Netflix

RELATED:  10 Best Dance Movies

Love Beats Rhymes

A young woman aspires to make it big in hip hop, but her parents insist that she complete her university education first. She obediently accepts to finish her education, but her spoken word has a significant impact in the classroom. | Stream on Netflix 

Step Up
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Damaine Radcliff (Actors)

Step Up

This film features a vivid, candy-colored romance, as well as dance and other activities. It was a joy to see a love story between an aspiring

ballerina and a muscle-bound hip-hop dancer and to see how they encouraged each other to pursue their passion for dance and achieve their goals. 

If you love all things hip hop, listen to this Audible Original featuring renowned music producer and performer Maejor with a free trial of Audible Plus:

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