Great Hip Hop Movies - Tupac, Ice Cube, Eminem And More!

Apr 6, 2004

The Bottom Line There aren't many truly great movies based around hip hop.

I was really happy to find this category listed! I was actually pretty surprised because when one thinks about good hip hop movies few come to mind. It's dissapointing that most hip hop/urban movies are terrible. Most glamorize the gangsta image, drug activities, and poor social skills (disrespecting women, etc.). But there are some real gems in this genre. Some of my picks have the negative traits I outlined above, but most have a moral to the story. I know the category is "rap music movies" but I think hip hop or urban movies would better describe the category.


Boyz In The Hood - This is one of the best urban movies. It features Lawrence Fishburne, Ice Cube, and Cuba Gooding Jr. of all people! Boyz In The Hood was John Singleton's debut feature film, at the ripe age of 23, and was nominated for an Academy Award! The setting is, the infamous, South Central L.A. in the late 80s early 90s. Boyz In The Hood is about growing up and trying to succeed while surrounded by violence and poverty. This was Cuba Gooding Jr's debut role, as Tre, and he really shined. Ice Cube showed he could hang as well, playing a rough, but loyal, criminal named Doughboy! Tre and Doughboy's friend Ricky, played by Morris Chestnut, is trying to get out of the hood on his athletic ability. His football skills almost secure him a scholarship. If you haven't seen this movie then you should really give it a go. It's a great movie!

Higher Learning - John Singleton followed up Boyz In The Hood with the amazing film Higher Learning. The setting is Columbus University, the characters are all coming into their own as adults and there are a lot of stereotypes that provide the entertaining and enlightening drama. Singleton does a good job of pointing out the silly stereotypes that some people still carry around. There are few funny scenes, but plenty of thought provoking situations and even some tragedy. This movie is sure to spark some discussion after you've finished watching it! Great acting and a solid script make Higher Learning a solid film!

Menace II Society - Menace II Society is a powerful film by Allen and Albert Hughes featuring Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jada Pinkett Smith. All the actors involved do a great job portraying life in the ghetto (Watts, California). Menace II Society is similar to Boyz In The Hood, but more focused on the drama of ghetto livin. I think the acting is a little better than Boyz, but both are great. Living around so much violence and drugs, makes it hard for the main character, Caine (Tyrin Turner), to break the mold. There's lots of violent scenes and people getting shot. Caine has trouble realizing what's important to him. I think most people will like this movie, if they haven't already seen it.

Poetic Justice - John Singleton again? Yup! Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur star in this film about living in violent times. Tupac does a great job acting! This was Tupac's debut role, and he didn't let fans down! Pac plays a postal worker, of all things, who wants to become a rap star. Jackson does a great job playing a "normal" person dealing with real problems. Maya Angelou wrote the poetry that Jackson's character "writes." I think the two have pretty good chemistry on film. While not Singleton's best movie, it's still pretty cool!

8 Mile - Eminem broke out onto the silver screen with this semi-biographical movie about a poor white trash rapper, B Rabbit, trying to hold down a job and make a name for himself as an MC. The movie also features Mekhi Phifer, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Proof (of D12), Obie Trice, and Xzibit. The funniest part is when Cheddar Bob, B Rabbit's friend, shoots himself in the leg! The final battle scenes are the best, B Rabbit rips Pappa Doc up! 8 Mile is a tight movie, with some pretty solid acting. Mekhi Phifer holds it down as always!

Barbershop - Ice Cube stars in this film about a man who inherits a barbershop that barely makes any money and the importance of the shop to the local community. Of course there has to be some drama and Cube's character, Calvin, gets it when he borrows some money from a sleazy loan shark. Cedric the Entertainer does a great job bringing some comedy to the film. Anthony Anderson's pretty funny too, watching him try stealing an ATM is hilarious! The movie is unlike anything Ice Cube has done, I was pleasantly surprised by it! The sequel is pretty solid too.

Honey - Jessica Alba, sexy as usual, plays a hip hop dancer, Honey Daniels, that wants to dance for a living and open her own dance studio. She teaches dance on her free time at a community center. She gets noticed by a music video director which leads to some great opportunities. Alba is so hot, it's ridiculous! She's a damn good dancer! Lil' Romeo plays a kid from a bad home that has hot dance moves. Honey helps him out and enlists the support of other kids from the neighborhood to do a video for Ginuwine. Mekhi Phifer plays a barbershop owner that's trying to hook up with Honey. Missy Elliot is also in the movie doin her thing. This is a feel good type movie. Sometimes it bordered on cheesy, but overall I think it was pretty good. Worth watching at least once.

Friday - Ice Cube and Chris Tucker deliver a hilarious movie about living in the hood and getting high on Friday! Chris Tucker's character, Smokey, is selling weed for a dealer named Big Worm but the problem is Smokey keeps tokin up all the product! It's a good comedy, but lacks a real moral grounding. The soundtrack is tight, featuring tracks from Cyprus Hill, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and of course Ice Cube.

House Party - This is kind of a ridiculous comedy about two guys, Kid (Christopher Reid) and Play (Christopher Martin). Kid has a really strict dad, but Play is down to help a brotha out and get Kid to a party so he can hook up with a honey. It's a little cheesy, especially the hairdos, but it exposed a lot of people to a more positive side of hip hop.

Above The Rim - This is another Tupac Shakur movie that's really good. Tupac gave the best performance in this movie, I think. Above The Rim also features Duane Martin, Leon, and Bernie Mac. Shep (Leon) is a former basketball star who's now a security guard. Kyle (Martin) is a high school player with an interest in crime and a gangsta lifestyle. Shep has a thing for Kyle's mom, and Kyle wants to get to know Shep's gangsta brother Birdie (Shakur). It's an fun movie to watch, but a little predictable. If you like basketball this is a good one to watch.

Honorable Mentions:
* Juice
* Bullet
* Gridlock'd
* All About The Benjamins
* Drumline

Final Comments:

I hope you check out some of these movies if you already haven't. I like them all. I'm sure I forgot some great hip hop movies, so if you think of any leave a comment and let me know! I always appreciate feedback.

Thanks For Reading!

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